With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.
Players Drafted: (7)
- Paddy Dow (Carlton)
- Lochie O’Brien (Carlton)
- Jarrod Brander (West Coast)
- Brent Daniels (GWS Giants)
- Kane Farrell (Port Adelaide)
- Angus Schumacher (Carlton)
- Derek Smith Jnr (Richmond)
While the on-field results were once again not what the Bendigo Pioneers had hoped, draft night was a raging success with a massive six players drafted from the club – and Derek Smith Jnr added as a Category B rookie at Richmond – its best ever result. Many believed this year was the year the Pioneers could finally break the finals hoodoo of the past decade, and while it was not to be, their development – as with those at Geelong Grammar where a number of the draftees boarded – should be praised for their work.
Carlton was the biggest benefiary, taking two Pioneers in the top 10 in Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien, while also picking up a third Bendigo boy in Angus Schumacher late in the draft. Jarrod Brander was touted as a top five pick early in the season but drifted as far as West Coast before the Eagles decided enough was enough, while pint sized speed machine Brent Daniels headed to the Giants and Kane Farrell found a home at Port Adelaide.
It was a great result for the club with outside midfielder Bailey Henderson considered the unluckiest to miss out, but given his future scope all is not lost. Darby Henderson topped all statistical charts for the season taking out the Pioneers best and fairest and it will be interesting to see where his future lies whether it be in the state leagues or back as an over-ager. Meanwhile the likes of Jobee Warde, Matt Harvey, Laine Fitzgerald and Lewin Davis were also impressive at times throughout the season.
Looking ahead to 2018, the Pioneers might not have the bucketload of talent they had in 2017, but there are still a couple of top-end prospects from which are likely to go high on draft night. Leading the way are Jye Caldwell and Jacob Atley who the former has been touted as a top picks since the under 16s, while Atley has been consistent over the past couple of seasons.
Jacob Atley (Bendigo Pioneers) 189cm | 75kg | General Defender
2017 TAC Cup: (14) 16.8 disposals | 5.9 marks | 2.4 tackles | 3.5 rebounds | 59% KE | 62% DE | 41% CP
Atley is a clean mover who knows how to find the football and was one of the better rebounders in the TAC Cup last season. Expect him to spend time through the midfield in his top-age year and he has a good balance between offensive and defensive traits, providing plenty of drive for the Pioneers.
Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers) 181cm | 78kg | Inside Midfielder/Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (2) 17.7 disposals | 2.7 marks | 5.3 tackles | 3.3 clearances | 76% KE | 81% DE | 47% CP
Caldwell is a special talent and could well go top 10 on draft night with a consistent season. A lovely kick of the football and a high contested possession rate at the same time, Caldwell mostly played forward when representing Vic Country at the National Under 18 Championships, but is expected to be more of an inside midfielder next season. He tackles hard, wins the clearances and is so balanced inside or out so it is not hard to see why he is a promising prospect.
Others to keep an eye on:
Daine Grace (Bendigo Pioneers) 195cm | 79kg | Key Position Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (7) 4 disposals | 2.1 marks | 1.6 hitouts } 0.6 goals | 50% KE | 71% DE | 61% CP
Liam Marciano (Bendigo Pioneers) 173cm | 62kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (6) 19 disposals | 4.3 marks | 2.7 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 55% KE | 68% DE | 28% CP
Phill Moimoi (Bendigo Pioneers) 181cm | 83kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (6) 9.8 disposals | 3.8 marks | 1.8 tackles | 1.5 inside 50s | 46% KE | 54% DE | 38% CP
Bendigo Pioneers will look back at 2017 fondly with a record number of players drafted and some great talent heading to AFL clubs. While 2018 might be different, the Pioneers will be looking to see the load shared between its players who have seen what is possible with hard work. It will be interesting to see what the squad looks like in 2018 with a few key position players and smaller pocket rockets a chance to impress in front of recruiters.