Tag: Zak Butters

Consistent Radovanovic always looks to lead the way

IT IS commonplace that the more ever-present and reliable players of a squad are the ones to take a back seat to the superstars, but that is not the case for Stefan Radovanovic at the Western Jets. In a team that boasts the likes of draft fancies Xavier O’Halloran, Zak Butters, Buku Khamis and Daly Andrews, the Keilor product went about his business in an admirable way this season, looking to prove his durability and leadership capabilities.

Off the back of a bottom-age year good for the Western Jets best and fairest award, Radovanovic came into the season looking to build on the foundation he had laid through steady development and simple goals. The plaudits he had already earned and that steady improvement was enough for Radovanovic to earn a call up to the Vic Metro squad, playing a key role in defence alongside Jets teammate Khamis, and behind their TAC Cup skipper, O’Halloran.

Football has been a constant in Radovanovic’s life, a passion which spawned at a time of great change for his family. When his parents divorced when he was just three years-old, it was Radovanovic’s football mad step-dad who introduced him to the game and helped to set him on the right path.

“My mum found my step-dad and he was heavily into football in his family so he got me into football, I started kicking with him, went to the park and kicked with him,” he said. “Then I got enrolled in Auskick at Keilor and went all through my junior levels with Keilor,” he said.

A club with a proud history and strong contingent of young stars to burst onto the AFL scene of late, Keilor proved a happy hunting ground for Radovanovic’s junior progression.

Seemingly surrounded by similar stories and success, Radovanovic also attends Maribyrnong College with fellow Jets top-agers Butters and Khamis, as well as bottom age starlets Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka. The balance between school, footy and social life is often central to the journey of a TAC Cup hopeful and is something that Radovanovic knows well, but is made easier by having those around him who are going through similar experiences.

“Obviously you’ve got school five times a week and that takes up a big chunk out of your life, then you’ve also got training,” Radovanovic said. “We train Tuesday and Thursday after school and on Thursdays we have dinner so that takes out your whole night basically, and then you’ve got the off-field commitments like gym so it does take a big chunk but it’s just about finding that balance with your social life as well.”

Despite these personal hurdles to contend with from week to week, Radovanovic maintained a selfless outlook towards his football and on-field leadership responsibilities, looking to provide a benchmark for his teammates.

“I just want to play a good, consistent brand of football, and also for the bottom agers I want to show them what needs to be done to play at this high level,” he said. “The leadership group is also working hard to try and bring the team as a collective together to play well as a team. So I just want to play consistent football and then also bring other teammates into it.”

Leadership is something that Radovanovic sees as one of his strengths, with the hard-running rebounding defender always looking to expand his horizons.

“(My) personal strengths are my one-on-one contests, and I believe that I’m very strong around the ball – I’m hard to get knocked off,” he said.

Having proved his worth in defence, Radovanovic has looked to utilise his contested ball nous by spending more time in the middle of the ground throughout the year, with a midfield role “definitely” something he is interested in adding to his game.

“We’re working on going to different positions to show that I’m more durable and can play different positions… it’s definitely a different look in the midfield but I’m enjoying it,” Radovanovic said.

And with expansion comes highlighting room for improvement, with Radovanovic well aware of the areas he needed to work on in order to reach his ultimate goal.

“I definitely want to improve my fitness, I think that’s a big flaw in my game,” he said. “Then also my leadership, I want to keep working on that and then also my kicking at full speed.”

And the Jet is not taking his spot in the Western Jests Under 18 program for granted, saying it was a privilege to be a part of in helping him to learn, and recognising the dedication required to make the step-up from local football.

“It’s definitely a privilege because there are definitely a lot of kids who would like to be here. It’s only cut down to about 40 and yet there’s like 80 that show up at try-outs so it’s definitely an honour and does take a lot of hard work to get here and you have to actually be dedicated with everything to do with it,” Radovanovic said. “You definitely have to prepare well for each training session and also for games, games are very high intensity. And fighting for spots is also a big thing as well so you have to do the best that you can to push yourself to play consistently.”

With the Jets navigating their way through this year’s Wildcard Round, only to be knocked out comprehensively by eventual grand finalists Oakleigh, it has no doubt been a season of ups and downs for Radovanovic and the Western side. But with over 25 TAC Cup games under his belt over two years, experience on the biggest Under-18 stage with Vic Metro, and one last chance to prove his worth to keen eyes at the Victorian State Combine, Radovanovic will surely view his year as a successful one – regardless of how it may end.

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 35:

 

September rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius looked tired in the now-infamous SANFL Preliminary Final where the Eagles gave up a seven-goal lead to North Adelaide to be bundled out of the finals series. After a long season, the talented utility has earned a nice break and expect him to test well at the National Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh’s Falcons side was knocked out in the elimination finals stage, but the ball magnet still had a day out, collecting 28 touches, three marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and booting a goal. He is now the favourite to go at Carlton’s first pick, with Walsh locked into a top two selection.

 

September rank: #3

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Given West Adelaide missed out on finals, Rankine has not played in the past month, but the excitement machine did win a handy payout on Grand Final, taking out the ‘Dash for Cash’.

 

September rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

September rank: #5

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King played both finals and looked dominant against the Murray Bushrangers, hauling in 11 marks (six contested) from 19 disposals, and booting five goals from 10 scoring shots in a clear best on ground performance. He was more subdued against the Dandenong Stingrays in the Dragons’ Preliminary Final loss, amassing 11 disposals, four marks (one contested) and booting two goals from limited opportunities.

 

September rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith missed the past month due to an achilles injury.

 

September rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Has been one of the most talked about prospects in the past month, and is the first player to break into the top seven since early in the season. A real chance to go in the top three, Rozee has been all class, taking speckies and shining on the biggest stage. He had the nine touches on Grand Final day, but played his role in North Adelaide’s premiership, a week after amassing 15 disposals and seven marks in the Preliminary Final comeback against Eagles.

 

September rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

September rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

With the League team eliminated from the finals race, Hately headed back to the Reserves where he tore it up, collecting 20 disposals and six clearances in the Preliminary Final loss to Norwood, after racking up 27 touches and seven clearances a week earlier. Firmly in the race for the top 10, yet could be the fourth South Australian taken, which is a remarkable result for the National Under 18 Championship winning side.

 

September rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas was ultra-impressive in North Launceston’s Tasmanian State League premiership, booting two goals and named among the Bombers’ best in the 30-point win over Lauderdale. One who should test well at the National AFL Draft Combine.

 

September rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker held his head high during the finals series, amassing 18 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and two clearances in Sandringham’s Preliminary Final loss to Dandenong when he was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury. A brave effort and one of a Morrish Medallist who will surely find a home in the top 20.

 

September rank: #20

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, Collier-Dawkins was terrific throughout Oakleigh’s finals series after a quiet month in August. Collier-Dawkins had 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and one goal in the Grand Final loss, after a near best on ground effort of 26 disposals, four marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal in the Preliminary Final win over Gippsland Power the week before.

 

September rank: #14

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

One of the few Power players to hold his head high in Gippsland’s horror Preliminary Final loss to Oakleigh Chargers. He had 18 disposals, three marks, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s. A consistent season has come to an end, and is a player who is expected to test well in the National AFL Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams had a solid, without being outstanding finals series and still looms as a genuine first round tall for a finals side that is out of reach of the top echelon talls. His vertical leap was on show in the Grand Final win over Oakleigh Chargers, taking five marks from 12 disposals and two goals, as well as nine hitouts.

 

September rank: #15

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

West has not played since the last Power Rankings, but holds his spot at 15 and expect him to cost the Western Bulldogs a top 25 selection.

 

September rank: #16

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite his season finishing in early September, Jones has held his place in the top 20. While he had a quiet elimination final, he did finish the season averaging 23.3 disposals, 17.7 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 2.4 marks, 8.3 clearances and 6.6 tackles from seven games, while booting five goals. A really good all-round player with a deadly kick and top leadership.

 

September rank: #11

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Has missed the past month and a half of football due to injury and has slipped as others have stood up over the past couple of months. Still a value pick and a first round selection who will add leadership and skill to any AFL side.

 

September rank: #17

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor had a quiet Grand Final, beaten a few times by draft bolter, Sam Sturt, but he also showed off his versatility, going into a couple of centre square bounces, and even having a shot on goal. Given Oakleigh’s dominant first two finals, Quaynor did not have a lot to do in the back half, but had the 14 touches, two clearances and four rebounds in the Chargers’ huge win over Gippsland Power.

 

September rank: #24

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Clark was huge in Claremont’s League Elimination Final, taking 10 marks from 15 disposals and laying four tackles, before having 13 disposals and one mark in his side’s Semi-Final loss to West Perth. Very skilful and a draft bolter after the National AFL Under 18 Championships, not completely out of the realms of possibility to be taken ahead of state teammate, Ian Hill.

 

September rank: #19

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

September rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

O’Halloran’s season came on an end in the worst possible way from a team perspective, going down by 20 goals to Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination finals. He was one of only a couple of Jets who could hold their head high, as he never stopped trying for 18 disposals, five marks, five clearances and five tackles, as well as a long-range goal to try and keep the Jets positivity up. A natural leader.

 

September rank: N/A

A huge draft bolter out of Peninsula Grammar, Sturt is a medium forward who is good overhead, an unbelievable kick, and so dangerous inside 50. He added another dimension to Dandenong’s forward line in the finals series, and proved crucial from the final round of the TAC Cup season, through to the Grand Final. It is hard to make the top 30 of this list at this point of the season after not being considered earlier in the year, but his form has been a huge upward trend.

Past month:

A terrific last four games of the season, Sturt booted 11 goals from four games, which included three finals for Dandenong. In the Grand Final he was strong earlier, showing too much speed for Isaac Quaynor, and his strength overhead was a highlight. He finished the Grand Final with 15 disposals, six marks and two goals and has well and truly pushed into top 25, if not top 20, contention.

 

September rank: #22

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings and remains one of those players hard to place. Taylor could easily go top 15 if a team takes a punt on him, but will be somewhere in that top 25 range.

 

September rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

Much like Hately, McLennan dropped down to the Reserves for Central District after the League side was knocked out of the finals race at the end of the regular season. In his final game, McLennan picked up 15 disposals and four marks, as well as two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds in the Bulldogs’ loss to Norwood. In the semi-final win over Glenelg, McLennan finished with 23 disposals, six marks (two contested), six tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds, playing a more contested brand of football and standing up against the senior bodies.

 

September rank: #18

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Has only slipped as others jump up, McHenry did not have the ideal Elimination Final after a huge Wildcard Round performance against Calder Cannons. In the Falcons’ loss to Gippsland Power, McHenry had the 18 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and nine tackles, standing out with his defensive pressure, but not quite having the influence of the week before. Still one likely to land in the top 30, but like many at his height, size can work against him. A value mid-draft pick.

 

September rank: #25

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings after a hamstring injury ended his year at quarter time of the Pioneers’ loss to Western Jets. Does not have too many weaknesses, and is another who is hard to place. Top 15 on quality, it will depend on where the clubs see him as he could be a really value pick for a premiership contender.

 

September rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley overcame a quad injury to return for the WAFL Colts finals series, and what an impact he had. Foley finished the second semi-final with 22 disposals, five marks and two goals against Swan Districts, before doing it again in Subiaco’s premiership win over the same opposition. He had 22 disposals, seven marks and laid six tackles on Optus Stadium, a ground he may well become very familiar with in the future. Readymade option for clubs who are searching for a midfielder to slot straight in.

 

September rank: #27

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Narrowly missed out on being a premiership player this year in the TAC Cup, but has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Expected to cost Collingwood the equivalent of a second round pick, Kelly matched it with Bailey Williams early in the Grand Final and has been good both one-on-one and as a loose defender floating back to assist teammates. Had 19 disposals, five marks and four rebounds, while also being thrown into the ruck, winning seven hitouts.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who has divided opinions this year, but has had a sensational second half of the season for Swan Districts. He was a five-goal hero at the National Under 18 Championships for Western Australia, and while he is lightly built, is a member of West Coast’s Next Generation Academy. Looms as a player whom the Eagles will need to match a bid for, and is the brother of Lion, Charlie. More physically advanced than his brother and having more of an impact in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Booted two goals from 11 disposals and two marks in the Grand Final defeat to Subiaco, while also laying four tackles. Had a quieter Preliminary Final with just seven touches, with his best final coming in the Qualifying Final where he booted four goals to be a dominant force inside 50. One who with a consistent second half of the season and any past worries behind him, is a genuine talent in the front half of the draft.

 

September rank: #29

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has not played since the GIANTS got knocked out of the NEAFL finals race, but all eyes will be on the big man at the National AFL Draft Combine. His endurance in particular is one area to keep an eye on given he rarely takes a break on-field. The best pure ruck in the draft crop.

 

September rank: #28

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past two months due to bone bruising in the knee and others have risen. A quality get if he did land this late, expect somewhere in that second round.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who is a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Bedford has improved as the season went on. He is a player who showed some impressive signs pre-National Championships, but the experience of playing with Vic Country made him improve further in the second half of the season. Played most of the TAC Cup season with Melbourne Grammar in the APS, but has the agility and X-factor that just make draft watchers take note.

Past month:

Bedford is a player who might just drop behind Melbourne’s first pick, but it would not be unconceivable for him to be bid on just ahead of their first selection. Very light and needs to add strength to his frame, he is very quick with ball-in-hand, and can work his way out of trouble with ease. Great goal sense, and defensive pressure, Bedford is an ideal small forward who can pinch hit through the midfield.

 

September rank: #30

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott has not played in the past month since being awarded the Suns’ Academy Player of the Year. One who continues to bring intrigue about his future, still being available for three clubs, and many expect a decision to be made soon. Gold Coast the expected favourite given location.

 

September rank: N/A

The Brisbane Lions Academy member has been in this region for most of the season, having a consistent year. He is built to play senior football from early on, and has rotated between midfield and forward for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships. Very strong overhead and knows how to kick a goal, it will be interesting to see how he tests at the National Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month, but McFadyen managed the five games with Brisbane in the NEAFL, averaging eight disposals and 3.4 marks per game. Still has a bit to work on, but is developing nicely for the Lions.

 

September rank: N/A

In the final place in the 35 for October, another Perth player makes his way into the rankings, with the very balanced Sydney Stack slotting in. He has the hardness of an inside midfielder, combined with the skill of an outside player, with the endurance being the big question mark over Stack. He missed the first National Under 18 Championships due to needing to improve training standards, but since then he has really impressed, both for the rest of the championships, and for Perth in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month due to Perth not making the WAFL Finals, but in his final three games, Stack made the League side, picking up 12, 13 and 17 disposals respectively, holding his own against senior bodies, and with a full pre-season is one to watch.

 

IN THE MIX:

#36 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia) Outside Midfielder, 184cm, 76kg
#37 Ely Smith (Murray/Vic Country) Inside Midfielder, 188cm, 86kg
#38 Riley Bowman (Dandenong/Vic Country) Ruck, 198cm, 82kg
#39 Buku Khamis (Western/Vic Metro) General Defender, 190cm, 81kg
#40 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia) General Defender, 186cm, 74kg

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:

August rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius was named best on ground for Henley High in the School Championships final, when he and Izak Rankine lead the way to defeat reigning premiers, Prince Alfred College. He has continued averaging 14 disposals per game in the past month at SANFL League level, and while he has not been dominating games, he has still been a key contributor to the Eagles’ outfit.

 

August rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh is just a complete midfielder and continues kicking on, having 37 disposals and booting two goals in Geelong Falcons’ last round win over Calder Cannons, before a more focused effort by the Cannons on the weekend saw him with the more limited 26 disposals, but spent more time on the inside with five clearances and seven tackles. He is really giving Lukosius a run for his money in these Power Rankings, and could be a photo finish.

 

August rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Since he starred at the National Under 18 Championships, Rankine has returned to the SANFL where he has put together a really strong month of football. He has lifted his disposal rate in the League competition, and in the final round of the regular season, booted three goals from 20 touches and 11 marks in an impressive display. Has gone from a talent with inconsistent form, to a genuine four-quarter player and everyone is hoping he keeps it up.

 

 

August rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

August rank: #3

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King dominated the APS football competition, booting regular bags of goals for Haileybury as they went on to defend their title. He has come back to TAC Cup and managed just the two goals in the final two matches, but in fairness it has been tough in the forward 50 with the Dragons facing arguably the two best sides in the competition. The finals series will determine where he lands in the draft order, but cannot see him slipping outside the top six.

 

August rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith has not been able to get on the park lately due to an achilles injury, and Sandringham is sorely missing him as another inside body to help Liam Stocker at the stoppages. Just the two TAC Cup matches this season, but he made them count with two huge games.

 

August rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

August rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately had a quieter end to the month of August, having just the 13 disposals, but still taking nine marks. He showed he still has the capability to win the football at senior level, amassing 22 and 18 disposals in the earlier two games, but his spread and ability to be that player who kicks inside 50 and hits up a leading forward is still growing.

 

August rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas will have a break this weekend after his North Launceston side automatically earned a spot in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) Grand Final. They knocked off Glenorchy with Thomas named in the best and booting a goal. Some rumours floating around that he will slide, but we are confident he is still a quality talent and a clear first round prospect.

 

August rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Despite his light frame he continues to use his precise kicking skills at League level in the SANFL. He is a low possession but high-impact player, mostly playing up forward. Rozee had just the eight touches in the final round of the regular season, but had four inside 50s, showing he makes the most of each disposal. Long-term he is that player you just want the ball in his hands.

 

August rank: #10

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Since a 25-disposal, three-goal game in the Colts in Round 16, Hill has played two Reserves games, averaging the 10.5 disposals and having booted three behinds. He is more of an exciting long-term prospect and it showed against the bigger bodies. Still one that will be exciting to develop over the years.

 

August rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams has had a quiet past fortnight, but started the month strongly with a 17-disposal, nine-mark and two-goal game. He was rewarded for his impressive season with a place in the TAC Cup Team of the Year. Plays predominantly forward, but can move through the ruck and still have an impact.

 

August rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker capped off his fantastic season with the 2018 Morrish Medal. He has been enormous on the inside in Bailey Smith’s absence, and has continually put his body on the line time and time again. Does not do too much wrong and has well and truly held his place in this spot with another 30-plus disposal game a couple of weeks ago and will be needed when the Dragons tackle the Murray Bushrangers in the elimination final.

 

August rank: #15

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

Has not slowed down this season, picking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three games during August to continue leading the Gippsland Power from his on-field actions. Was one of the top placegetters in the Morrish Medal and has spent more time on the inside in the second half of the season, winning his own ball then spreading to the outside and creating good run in transition. Just keeps rising.

 

August rank: #20

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

One who ultra impressed me over the last few weeks, West is a player who I think has settled into first round discussions. His midfield work is solid, and while he is smaller compared to most inside midfielders, it is his clean hands and ability to read the ball off a ruck tap and seamlessly move through a stoppage. He has done it multiple times in the forward half resulting in goals, and it is just his field kicking at times that needs cleaning up, but overall he is coming together nicely at the right time of the year.

 

July rank: #25

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite a lower impact game in his final match of the season in the Tasmanian State League (TSL), Jones has been Launceston’s best since his return from National Under 18 Championships. He is great at the stoppages and impacts the scoreboard as well. One of the best kicks available, his height like others can worry clubs, but he has the outside capabilities that means he can overcome any concerns.

 

August rank: #24

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor is a player who you cannot help but put up high on your draft boards when you see all the little things he does right. His footy IQ and ability to intercept through reading a situation perfectly, is top notch. Remarkably despite his height, he is strong one-on-one in both the air and at ground level. He has played on 200cm players such is his ability to cover height, and no doubt Pies fans will look forward to him running off half-back for them. They will also be quietly hoping he does not rise too much more pre-draft.

 

August rank: #16

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Just as it looked like McHenry’s overall production had dropped, he put in a best on ground performance against Calder Cannons in the do-or-die Wildcard Round on the weekend. While he only had the 20 touches, he was superb around the ground, booting a couple of goals and laying six tackles. He stood up when the Falcons needed a player to do so, and like so many others in the first round, he might lack height, but not ability, nor talent and he might finish in the second round, but boy he has the talent of a first rounder.

 

August rank: #18

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

August rank: #17

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Shows glimpses every week and is one of the hardest to judge. On production he is a second rounder, but on scope he is a first rounder. Needs to close the gap between his top and bottom games, but that burst out of a stoppage and long, penetrating kick will have plenty of recruiters, interested.

 

August rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

Has rotated between midfield and forward lately, being that player used on the outside to pump the ball inside 50, or the one to extract a ball out of a stoppage. Had 10 inside 50s with his 20 plus disposals a fortnight ago. Does his job each week and is one that will need to have a big game if Western are to upset Oakleigh this weekend. TAC Cup Team of the Year honours too.

 

August rank: #14

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

After quiet games against Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons to finish the regular season, Taylor had a much improved effort against the Falcons in the first half of the Wildcard Round clash. He fired early with two goals and has that serious X-factor, but it’s that four-quarter effort that has the question mark over him. Has huge upside however.

 

August rank: #27

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Remarkably Clark is one player who maintains the same output despite going up to a higher quality level. He has matched it with senior bodies in the WAFL League, and now has a month of good production behind him. A member of the Elimination Final winning Claremont side, he averages almost six marks per game as a general in defence. Another player whose stocks are rising.

 

August rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

After making his League debut for Central District in July, he has strung together a month of football at the level. He had one breakout game where he had 17 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, however his other three he has averaged 8.25 disposals. His elite kicking has been on display in the back half, and similar to Rozee is a high impact per possession player.

 

August rank: #22

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Had a strong hit-out against the Western Jets and started promisingly with some electrifying skills on the weekend against Murray Bushrangers, before suffering a hamstring injury on the quarter time siren. Won’t hurt his overall draft chances, but it is unfortunate we were not treated to his sublime talent for longer periods of time.

 

August rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley injured his quad in mid-July and has not played since, but is expected to return this weekend for Subiaco’s finals campaign.

 

August rank: N/A

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Since returning from the National Under 18 Championships and school football, Kelly has put together a consistent block of football in the TAC Cup. He restricted Ben King to one goal in blustery conditions at Werribee, albeit in a match where Oakleigh strangled the life out of the Dragons. Then he showed off his versatility playing both one-on-one in defence, peeling off and then going forward and kicking two goals for the Chargers in their 15-goal rout of the GWV Rebels.

 

August rank: #23

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past month due to bone bruising in the knee. Still in contention for top 30, some top performances by others have seen him slip a little.

 

August rank: #28

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has played the three games in August for the UWS GIANTS, dominating in the ruck against Gold Coast Suns with 17 disposals, four marks, a whopping 59 hitouts and a goal, before respectfully losing the battle against AFL-listed Darcy Cameron in the GIANTS loss to Sydney. Briggs still had 33 hitouts to Cameron’s 53, while also laying eight tackles. While the GIANTS, and his season is over, he has finished the year in the best possible position and looks set to be a second round selection.

 

August rank: #29

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott was just about the only shining light in the Gold Coast’s disastrous 91-point loss to Brisbane in the NEAFL on August 18. With the Suns season over, it was the last chance for Scott to impress, and he did just that, racking up an impressive 31 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and kicked a goal. His season has seen Scott awarded with the Academy Player of the Year.

 

Keep an eye out:

Riley Bowman (Vic Country)
Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
Tom McKenzie (Vic Metro)
Toby Bedford (Vic Country)
Ely Smith (Vic Country)
Brayden Ham (Vic Country)
Sydney Stack (Western Australia)
Connor McFadyen (Allies)
Jacob Kennerley (South Australia)

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

FOR players of four TAC Cup sides, they will run out for the final time this weekend with the new concept of a Wild Card Round giving every team the chance of winning a premiership, regardless of finishing position during the season. The four games will be played across two days, with a Double Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before a Double Header takes place at Ikon Park on Sunday.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 11:30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will be a case of déjà vu for fans who make the trip to MARS Stadium tomorrow. The Calder Cannons take on the Geelong Falcons at 11.30am, an identical match, time and place of their Round 16 clash a week ago. In that game, the Falcons proved too good, coming from behind at quarter time to run away with the game before the Cannons kicked back to go down by just 15 points. Arguably the Falcons should have won by more, as despite having 29 scoring shots to 19, they ended the match with an inaccurate 11.18 for the match. Co-captain Sam Walsh was a clear best on ground. Brayden Ham, while inaccurate in front of goal with 1.4, was exciting in the forward half, as was Connor Idun. Cooper Stephens and Ned McHenry were tough on the inside, while Cooper Cartledge and Charlie Sprague played their roles up their respective ends. For the Cannons, Rhylee West was sensational drifting forward to boot three goals, while Daniel Mott and Mitch Podhajski were strong through the midfield, with Podhajski getting forward to finish with two goals. Harrison Jones enjoyed a great game in the ruck, while Lachlan Sholl and Brodie Newman continue to impress behind the ball. Daniel Hanna has been named in the Cannons’ extended team, and will be a crucial inclusion to take a tall in the Falcons forward line, allowing the smaller rebounders to create more run out of defence. Geelong rightfully hold favouritism after last week, and pushing the minor premiers the week before, but both these teams are sleepers in the premiership race, and it is somewhat disappointing one has to go.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 2:00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The second game marks the third time that the Northern Knights will travel to MARS Stadium for the season to tackle the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The venue holds no fears for the Knights, who have been victorious twice, once with a come-from-behind victory in Round 9 by four points, and then again in Round 12 when they won by 22 points. In the first encounter, it took until the 21st minute of the final term for the Northern Knights to hit the front for just the second time that day, with a Patrik Della Rocca goal. That was also the breakout game for bottom-ager Izaac Grant, who booted seven of the Rebels’ nine goals for the day. Elliott Lamb, Scott Carlin and Lochie Dawson were named the Rebels best on the day with Grant, while for the Knights, James Lucente‘s five majors saw him named the best, along with Della Rocca and Stefan Uzelac. In the second encounter, Sunny Brazier and Charlie Wilson booted three goals for their respective sides, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Patrick Glanford were the Rebels’ best. Adam Carafa had a day out with 37 disposals, while speedster Lachlan Potter was also impressive. On form, the Knights will head in as favourites, but some crucial inclusions for the Rebels in Carlin, Grant and Craig-Peters should be equally as important as Lucente and Ryan Sturgess for Northern.

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 11:00am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, the Western Jets will take on the Eastern Ranges in a game that is one of two that should be fairly straight forward. As we have seen with finals or pre-finals however, anything can happen and regular season form means nothing now that we are at the knockout stage of the season. Eastern had just the two wins, but pushed Western all the way back in the only encounter between the sides this season. In blustery Williamstown, the Ranges led throughout the match and only trailed by a goal at the final break – mostly due to the Jets inaccuracy, booting 2.12. The home side found its kicking boots in the final term however, booting five goals to one and ran away with the 31-point win. Steven Kyriazis booted two goals that day, while Zak Butters earned best on ground honours (he will not be out there this weekend) and Connor Thar and Stefan Radovanovic were also impressive. Billy McCormack was the multiple goalkicker for Eastern, while Jarrod Gilbee, James Ross and Mitch Mellis were the top Ranges. Mellis will be the only one of the trio playing on Sunday, with Eastern hoping to cause an upset. The winner will face Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination final, so will want to hit the game with some great form.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 1:30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Murray Bushrangers were the side unlucky to drop out of the top four race, but by being the top-seeded team in the Wild Card Round, they take on the bottom-placed Bendigo Pioneers. The Pioneers have just had the two wins so far this season, while the Bushrangers won both their previous encounters against Bendigo. Murray won by 57 points in Round 2 up in Shepparton, before claiming a 40-point win at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 9. In the first game, Laitham Vandermeer was named best on ground, with the injured speedster not able to be out there on the weekend, but his partner in crime that day, Lachlan Ash will be, as will Nick Murray who was impressive in defence. Noah Wheeler was unsurprisingly named best for the Pioneers with another top performance, while Jye Caldwell amassed 24 disposals and laid seven tackles in his only TAC Cup game until last weekend. He will be crucial for the Pioneers this weekend if they are to get the upset, however the Bushrangers look to be too strong on season form. In the second encounter, Ely Smith was best on ground with 28 disposals and nine tackles, while Jordon Butts slotted six goals in a terrific effort up forward. Oscar Perez and Zane Keighran booted two goals each, while ruck Daniel Keating was named the Pioneers’ top player. With no Wheeler, Keighran or Keating this weekend, it will be a big ask for the Pioneers to get up, but there is no coming back. 

The run home: Western Jets

WESTERN Jets have had an up-and-down season to date, but still loom as a dark horse in the finals series. They sit sixth, and while they would need both Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers to lose both games to finish top four, they have enough about them to secure a top six spot and play a bottom two team in the Wildcard Round. The Jets have looked very good at times, and realistically, the blowout 20-goal loss to Dandenong Stingrays makes their points against look worse than it actually is. Defensively they stand up well, and they rate around where they sit offensively, which makes them unpredictable and good enough to cause headaches for the top sides.

Wins: 8
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Position: 6th
Points For: 899 (6th)
Points Against: 1001 (9th)
Percentage: 90
Points: 32

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Northern Knights – Avalon Airport Oval
R16: vs. Bendigo Pioneers – Queen Elizabeth Oval

National Combine Invitations: [4] Daly Andrews, Zak Butters, Buku Khamis, Xavier O’Halloran

State Combine Invitations: [1] Stefan Radovanovic

Five players received combine invitations, with the speedy Daly Andrews and Stefan Radovanovic, intercept machine Buku Khamis, and the X-factor in Zak Butters, all earning the right to test at the National and State combines. Along with the quartet, they have consistent midfielders Connor TharJaden Rice and Jack Watkins roaming through the midfield, talls Aaron Clarke and Hamish Murphy up either end, and a host of bottom-agers who have shown enough to suggest they will have plenty of draft potential next year. Steven KyriazisLucas Rocci and Emerson Jeka provide a forward presence, while Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey link between midfield and forward.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Connor Thar – 355 (1st overall)
2 – Jack Watkins – 284
3 – Darcy Cassar – 239
4 – Jaden Rice – 221
5 – Daly Anderws – 214

Marks:

1 – Darcy Cassar – 58 (eq. 20th overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 53
3 – Buku Khamis – 52
4 – Aaron Clarke – 51
4 – Steven Kyriazis – 51

Contested Possessions:

1 – Jack Watkins – 155 (2nd overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 147 (5th overall)
3 – Jaden Rice – 142 (8th overall)
4 – Xavier O’Halloran – 104
5 – Darcy Cassar – 103

Tackles:

1 – Jack Watkins – 111 (1st overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 77 (6th overall)
3 – Lucas Rocci – 57
4 – Josh Honey – 54
5 – Jaden Rice – 53

Hitouts:

1 – Darren Walters – 285 (2nd overall)
2 – Tom Warner – 59
3 – Aaron Clarke – 58
4 – Ayden Tanner – 31
5 – Emerson Jeka – 15

Clearances:

1 – Jack Watkins – 67 (3rd overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 62 (4th overall)
3 – Xavier O’Halloran – 58 (5th overall)
4 – Jaden Rice – 52
5 – Darren Walters – 28
5 – Zak Butters – 28

Inside 50s:

1 – Xavier O’Halloran – 62 (eq. 1st overall)
2 – Jack Watkins – 50 (9th overall)
3 – Connor Thar – 47
3 – Daly Andrews – 47
5 – Darcy Cassar – 45

Rebounds:

1 – Spencer Johnson – 38 (12th overall)
2 – Hamish Murphy – 37
3 – Jack Papachatzakis – 34
4 – Stefan Radovanovic – 32
5 – Daly Andrews – 30

Goals:

1 – Steven Kyriazis – 16 (eq. 13th overall)
2 – Aaron Clarke – 13
3 – Josh Honey – 12
4 – Daniel Pantalleresco – 9
5 – Darcy Cassar – 8

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:

July rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

While he had a quieter final National Under 18 Championships playing at both ends, Lukosius has returned to the SANFL and continued where he left off. Picking up 14 disposals per game and booting a couple of goals a game, he stands up at senior level consistently.

July rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh maintains his top two spot in the rankings after a successful carnival, winning the overall Most Valuable Player (MVP) to go with his Vic Country award. He has returned to Geelong and had back-to-back-to-back 30 plus disposal games and seems unstoppable in the competition. Arguably the leading contender for the Morrish Medal as well and could repeat the feat of Hugh McCluggage who went top three in the National Draft after winning the Morrish Medal.

July rank: #4

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

After making the most of limited opportunities for three goals against South Australia in the final match of the National Under 18 Championships, King has returned to Haileybury in the APS. In his two matches back, King booted back-to-back hauls of seven goals against Caulfield Grammar and Scotch College, the latter opposed to Will Kelly. While it was considered a good battle, it showed how resourceful King was to kick a bag in the win. He celebrated with his teammates taking out the overall shield title on Saturday. For the first time this year Ben moves above brother Max.

July rank: #3

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

July rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Lit up Etihad Stadium booting five goals against Vic Metro to have some watching to question whether Rankine could steal the number one spot from close mate Jack Lukosius. He is pushing hard up the order, and his best is as electrifying as others, but just needs that consistency and discipline on-fireld at times to really be considered for pick one. On talent alone he could well be top two. Went back to SANFL level and has been good without starring.

July rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith took out the Vic Metro Most Valuable Player (MVP) as well as Metro’s Best and Fairest award, with the vice-captain leading by example in every game he played. Rested for a week between the National Championships and the return of school football, expect Smith to be a key player for the Dragons in the upcoming TAC Cup finals series.

July rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Finished the National Championships on a high with an impressive performance at Etihad Stadium against Western Australia. The biggest tick was his ability to get things happening when it was not going his way – pushing into the midfield and genuinely being a huge influence at the coal face. As versatile as you’ll see, he is a gift for the Swans and will not even cause them to hesitate in matching a bid for the exciting tall.

July rank: #9

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately was one of South Australia’s top performers across the National Under 18 Championships, and does not do a lot wrong. He ticks plenty of boxes and has returned to SANFL action, playing League for Central District. In that senior grade he does not look out of place, and is able to find the ball in the contest without being overawed by more experienced and stronger bodies.

July rank: #8

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas had a bit of an inconsistent carnival at the National Under 18 Championships, and while he showed the unbelievable class he has – clean as any other player out there – he did fade in and out of games at times. Regardless, his ceiling is enormous and North Melbourne will be closely keeping an eye on their draft position with their first round pick to be in this region. Since the championships, Thomas has returned to the Tasmanian State League (TSL) where he has played two games for ladder leaders North Launceston, booting a goal against Clarence in his first game back and then being a member of the 143-point win over North Hobart.

July rank: #10

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

After coming into the National Championships underdone given his concussion and various niggles, Hill had a bit of an up-and-down carnival, suspended for the final round for a sling tackle on Vic Country’s Laitham Vandermeer. After an impressive 25 disposals and three goal haul for Perth in the Colts a few weeks ago, Hill stepped up to the Reserves where he had the 10 touches and three tackles, still very slight compared to senior bodies.

July rank: #14

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Playing in various positions at the National Championships, Rozee almost seemed to be forgotten in terms of the top-end talent available in the 2018 draft crop. He has elite skills and while his light body means he has to play in outside roles, he ticks a lot of boxes. He returned to the SANFL League for North Adelaide, booting a goal and having three score assists, as well as 15 disposals and three inside 50s, showing how damaging he can be with ball in hand going forward.

July rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams continues to be the next best tall after the top handful of elite talents and it is easy to see why. His aerial ability is as good, if not better than the others and is unbeatable when he gets a leap at the ball. He dropped a few marks at the National Under 18s Championships, but has been clunking them in the past few weeks at TAC Cup level. His goal kicking has been a little suspect, but in terms of his impact on games, he is maintaining the rage for longer rather than fading in and out. So much scope as a developing tall.

July rank: #21

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Could the first four Metro players picked be from Sandringham Dragons? It is certainly possible with Liam Stocker’s form over the past month. He is one, if not the most consistent player in the TAC Cup for July. It was disappointing injury kept him out of the National Championships, but now he is back and he is making up for it. Will be tested in the TAC Cup finals against the best of the best and could enhance his stocks even further, ala Tim Taranto style.

July rank: #11

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-Factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Returned to Calder Cannons and had a quiet day out against Dandenong in blustery conditions at RAMS Arena. Against Murray Bushrangers at Albury, he was back involved again, picking up 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances, three rebounds and a goal with much more midfield minutes. One who could go from top 10 to second round, has plenty of scope.

July rank: #16

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

Hardly does anything wrong and is one of the most well-balanced players in the draft crop. The Gippsland captain is starting to win more of the ball too, putting in consistent four quarter efforts. In Round 13, he had 26 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and two goals against Western Jets, then backed it up on Saturday with 29 disposals, seven marks, eight inside 50s and four rebounds. What is most remarkable is in those two games he played different roles, one predominantly inside and the other predominantly outside.

July rank: #13

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

McHenry returned from the National Under 18 Championships to play the one game with Geelong Falcons, notching up 16 disposals, five tackles, five clearances and six inside 50s. He then headed back to finish off the APS football season, which wrapped up on the weekend. Expect him to return to the Falcons side for the remaining few games of the season.

July rank: #15

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Upon returning to the Oakleigh Chargers, Collier-Dawkins has made a modest return for himself, averaging 14 disposals in his three games back in the TAC Cup. He is not a huge accumulator and is one that continues to impress in patches. He needs to iron out some four quarter performances, but the ability to accelerate out of a stoppage, lower the eyes and hit-up a leading target like he did against Gippsland Power on Saturday, is a reason why he is considered so high.

July rank: #22

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

After a great National Under 18 Championships, Butters injured his shoulder in the final game at Etihad Stadium against South Australia. He went in for surgery and has been put on ice for the remainder of the TAC Cup season. A huge talent who should not fall too far based on his performances at national level.

July rank: #30

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Since returning to the WAFL Colts, Foley has continued his ball winning ways for Subiaco, averaging 24 touches and eight tackles per game. He has a high impact per possession and a bigger body that enables him to use his frame at stoppages. Is one who just does not do a lot wrong, and is one who should surely play senior footy this season. Expect him to be considered in the first round, and certainly top 30.

July rank: #18

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

After the National Championships, where West was one of the top Vic Metro players across the competition, he has headed back to St Kevin’s to play the remainder of the APS competition which wrapped up on the weekend. In line to play the APS vs. AGSV match on Saturday, before returning to Calder the week after to finish off his year in the TAC Cup for the Cannons. The championships enhanced his reputation and remains in top 20 calculations.

July rank: #25

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

After a really promising National Under 18 Championships playing forward, O’Halloran returned to the Western Jets where he has had a solid run of form prior to Round 14. O’Halloran racked up 25 touches, six marks and nine inside 50s against Gippsland Power, before having 16 touches, seven clearances and six inside 50s against Murray Bushrangers. He did not have as much impact in the weekend’s wind-affected match at Williamstown, having 11 touches and four clearances, but at full fitness expect the Jets captain to bounce back next round and be a big influence in finals.

July rank: #24

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

After injuries ruined his National Under 18 Championships, Caldwell has returned to the APS competition, and will have two games under his belt before returning to Bendigo Pioneers for the remainder of the season where he is expected to remind recruiters of his talent.

July rank: #20

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has played the one game since returning from a huge National Under 18 Championships where he was awarded the South Australian MVP, and named in the All-Australian side. He played Under 18s in the SANFL and booted two goals in a best on ground performance to show once again he was too good for the level. Expect him to be back playing seniors soon.

July rank: #26

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor has been playing further up the ground for Oakleigh since returning to the Chargers, spending more time on the wing and finding more of the football. He showed off his natural game sense and ability to read the play on multiple occasions against Gippsland Power at Warrawee Park on Saturday, intercepting passes at full speed and not breaking stride. While he just had the 10 touches, he had five rebounds, drifting back opposed to talented bottom-ager Sam Flanders on occasions, showing he can work hard defensively as well. The week before, Quaynor had 21 disposals and four inside 50s off a wing.

July rank: #19

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Since a successful National Under 18 Championships which saw him earn All-Australian honours, Jones has returned to the TSL, playing for Launceston. In his three games back for the club, Jones has booted three goals and been named Launceston’s second best in each of his matches.

July rank: #17

There is a little bit of Tim English in the way Riley Bowman moves around the ground. The athletic ruckman has a decent leap on him, he is also a good user of the ball by foot. While Bowman is very raw and will need developing by any club that takes him, he has shown enough this year to suggest he needs to be tracked closely during the season. He worked hard in the ruck for the AFL Academy against the bigger North Melbourne opponents, at times going up against big Brayden Preuss.

Past month:

Bowman played his role at the National Under 18 Championships, being the second best ruckman behind Kieren Briggs, and expect him to be among the top three taken in that position. The emphasis of rucks going later seems to be continuing, but Bowman has still been solid at TAC Cup level without dominating. He was far too good against Bendigo Pioneers a few weeks ago, and has just been okay in the past fortnight. Looked at for his upside and athleticism. The drop is more others jumping up rather than him falling too much.

July rank: N/A

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Since winning Western Australia’s MVP award, Clark has returned to the WAFL, but instead of Colts, he has stepped up into the Reserves and gone to another level. In his two games he has recorded 17 and 22 disposals and importantly, is averaging five tackles. Firming as Western Australia’s third best prospect behind Hill and Foley.

July rank: N/A

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs capped off his terrific National Under 18 Championships with the Allies MVP award and was one of a number of players at the carnival who shot up the draft boards with his consistency across the matches. While often going against athletic rucks, Briggs earned his keep by his second efforts and enormous work rate around the ground – he just runs opponents into the ground. He is also strong overhead and showed he could play as a resting forward as well. All-Australian honours to go with it opposed to a number of talented rucks. GIANTS will need to match a bid to keep the big man.

July rank: N/A

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott enhanced his draft credentials at the National Under 18 Championships with the Allies. He made the All-Australian side and was consistent off half-forward or through the middle, having a penetrating kick and constantly cracking in hard at the contest. A medium midfielder who will be more inside than outside, Scott can virtually slot in anywhere and if his National Championships are anything to go by, he will be a very solid player at AFL level.

July rank: N/A

Another new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

McLennan finished off the National Under 18 Championships with All-Australian honours, and no doubt in the top five players for South Australia in terms of performance across the four games. He has since returned to the SANFL where he has played seniors for Central District, making his debut and having eight disposals at 100 per cent efficiency. Importantly he laid five tackles and did not look out of place, playing his role. The week before at Reserves level, McLennan also ran at 100 per cent kicking efficiency from 11 kicks, and 95.7 per cent efficiency overall from 23 disposals.

Keep an eye out:

Will Kelly (Vic Metro)
Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
Tom McKenzie (Vic Metro)
Toby Bedford (Vic Country)
Ely Smith (Vic Country)
Zac Foot (Vic Country)
Sydney Stack (Western Australia)
Connor McFadyen (Allies)
Jacob Kennerley (South Australia)

Jet flies high in top-age year despite injury

HAVING been involved with the Western Jets since Under 15s, the exciting Zak Butters has become a familiar face at the club and has become equally as important to the side in the same time. While his final TAC Cup year is over due to shoulder surgery post National Under 18 Championships, he will still be a highly regarded player, earning a National Draft Combine invitation last week.

Butters, who plays between wing and half-forward represented Vic Metro this year, backing up his efforts at Under-16 level, has had a sensational season in the yellow and blue.

“I started my junior football career at Darley Football Club. I started there in Under 10s, just developed all the way up through U12s, 14s, 16s,” Butters said. “I’ve been here since Under 15s, which is the first squad you can make. “I just worked my way up through the Western Jets U15s and made the Brad Johnson squad in the under 16s and then played some pretty good footy there, then played Under 16s Metro. “Got to pre-season the following year, played bottom-age Jets and now I’m playing top-age Jets.”

His main goal over the journey has been trying to add weight to his light frame, which at the start of the season weighed in at just 70kg. The 178cm livewire has some eye-catching moments with his speed and agility in transition going forward among some of his strengths on the field.

For a player who has become a regular on the field for Western, Butters admits he has a regular routine which he adheres to every week.

“Before the game, I’m normally  in bed really early before a game and have the same dinner before a game every night, the same breakfast and the same prep going into a game,” Butters said. “Powerade, things like piklets and just the little stuff.”

After a game, Butters is equally as diligent in searching for feedback and self-appraising his performance.

“After a game, when we get our vision back and stats, we watch the whole game and then I do my own feedback and see what I can assess whether that be options,” Butters said. “At school during the week I do vision with Torin (Baker, Western Jets coach) to get more feedback.”

Butters said his goal was to become a permanent midfielder despite enjoying “mixing it up” between midfield and forward. However, he concedes there are things that will have to change to enable him to do that.

“Obviously being able to put on weight, being a bit fitter,” he said. “I want to move into a more permanent midfield role, but I need to put on some weight.”

Butters has also been working hard on making better decisions with the ball in hand deciding when to hold or when to “pull the trigger”. His ability to work closely with Baker at both training and school has helped.

“I go to Maribyrnong College with Torin, which is pretty good,” he said. “They understand footy wise and school wise. “I have the gym there so I can access that before and after school and at lunch times. “It’s pretty good balance. “I still find time for the important things like homework and study but then I still have fun and do things I enjoy which is football.”

While the dream of being drafted to an AFL club edges closer for the talented speedster, Butters is hoping to become a more rounded individual both on and off the field from his final TAC Cup year.

“Probably just develop myself, get a better understanding of me, how I work and how I learn,” Butters said. “Just build my character not just on the field, but off the field as well. “Just really improve my football and whatever the next step is, going forward steps knowing how I can improve my game.”

With the Jets seemingly headed towards a finals berth and still in contention for top four position, albeit needing results to go their way, Western will hope it can continue its good form from earlier in the season and become a threat at the pivotal end of the season. While Butters will not be able to help on the field, he likely will be working hard behind the scenes to improve his development as a footballer, and also his teammates.  

Eighty invited to National AFL Draft Combine

VIC Metro has dominated the nominations for the National AFL Draft Combine with more than one third of the invitees coming from Metro, and more than half from Victoria. South Australia’s title-winning side has the next most with 13, including mature-ager Shane McAdam. Sturt’s McAdam is one of two mature agers to be invited to the combine, with Werribee’s Josh Corbett also gaining an invite. Western Australia has 11 invitees, while Tasmania and Queensland (four each) and NSW-ACT (three) round out the total nominees with no Northern Territory player invited.

There are six Northern Academy-tied players invited – Nick Blakey (Sydney), Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS), Keidean Coleman and Connor McFadyen (Brisbane), and Dirk Koenen and Bailey Scott (Gold Coast). Additionally there are a raft of father-sons, such as Oscar BrownlessRhylee WestWill KellyBen Silvagni and Joel Crocker, whilst Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne), Jarrod Cameron (West Coast), Irving Mosquito (Hawthorn) and Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood) are others tied to Next Generation Academies.

In terms of individual clubs, Oakleigh Chargers (eight), Sandringham Dragons (seven), Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays (both five), Murray Bushrangers, Western Jets, Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power (all four) lead the way, with the remaining four TAC Cup clubs having a nominee each. For interstate clubs, Sturt and Perth both have three players invited.

The 80 players will test in front of clubs from October 2-5.

National AFL Draft Combine invitees:

NSW-ACT [3]
Nick Blakey (Sydney Academy)
Kieren Briggs (GWS Academy)
Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushrangers)

Queensland [4]
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Dirk Koenen (Gold Coast Academy)
Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Academy)

South Australia [13]
Jez McLennan (Central District)
Ben Jarvis (Norwood)
Izak Rankine (West Adelaide)
Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide)
Jackson Hately (Central District)
Jacob Kennerley (Norwood)
Connor Rozee (North Adelaide)
Luke Valente (Norwood)
Shane McAdam (Sturt)
Hayden Sampson (South Adelaide)
Riley Grundy (Sturt)
Jack Lukosius (Woodville West Torrens)
Hugo Munn (Sturt)

Tasmania [4]
Nicholas Baker (Lauderdale)
Chayce Jones (Launceston)
Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston)
Fraser Turner (Clarence)

VFL [1]
Josh Corbett (Werribee)

Vic Country [19]
Zane Barzen (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays)
Thomas Berry (Greater Western Victoria Rebels)
Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays)
Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons)
Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power)
Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays)
Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays)
Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons)
Matt McGannon (Gippsland Power)
Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons)
Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power)
Kyle Reid (Gippsland Power)
Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Sprague (Geelong Falcons)
Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers)
Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)
Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)

Vic Metro [25]
Daly Andrews (Western Jets)
Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers)
James Blanck (Eastern Ranges)
Zak Butters (Western Jets)
Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons)
Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
Joel Crocker (Sandringham Dragons)
Will Golds (Oakleigh Chargers)
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons)
Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers)
William Kennedy (Sandringham Dragons)
Buku Khamis (Western Jets)
Ben King (Sandringham Dragons)
Max King (Sandringham Dragons)
Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights)
Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets)
Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers)
Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers)
James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons)
Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers)
Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons)
Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons)
Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons)
Rhylee West (Calder Cannons)

Western Australia [11]
Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts)
Jordan Clark (Claremont)
Luke English (Perth)
Damon Greaves (East Perth)
Luke Foley (Subiaco)
Ian Hill (Perth)
Tom Joyce (East Fremantle)
Dillon O’Reilly (East Fremantle)
Tyron Smallwood (Claremont)
Sydney Stack (Perth)
Durak Tucker (Peel Thunder)

Scouting notes: National U18 Championships – Round 5

WE made the trip down to Etihad Stadium yesterday and saw the conclusion to the National Under 18 Championships. Here we take a look at every player in both games and see how they fared on the night. Lenny Fogliani, Cameron Ross, Scott Dougan, James Goller, Craig Byrnes, David Chapman, Jamie Morgan and Damon Mattiazzo all combined to provide the notes.

Allies vs. Western Australia:

Allies:

#1 Conor Budarick

Budarick was a strong tackler for the Allies having eight for the day – he was really fierce in the contest. He played like a smart footballer and made good decisions with the ball. His kicking was good all day and included three inside 50s. The 2019 draft prospect spent most of his time on the wing and through the forward line.

#3 Josh Stern

Stern had 10 possessions for the day. He showed courage going back with the flight in a marking contest – he didn’t flinch. He kicked the ball really well, especially in the last term. Stern also displayed good hands in the contest, playing mostly up forward pushing up the ground.

#6 Rhyan Mansell 

The hard nosed defender was impressive, laying seven strong tackles. He brought a bit of aggression out there and proved very hard to beat one on one, rarely losing a contest. He didn’t have a lot of the ball only collecting five possessions but used it well. Mansell showed a little bit of spread and speed off the back flank but needs to add more of that to his game so he can be a solid contributor both defensively and offensively, not just defensively.

#7 Jesse Quint

Quint had a okay day, gathering 10 possessions. A highlight was his hands in congestion. He kicked a nice goal to go with four inside 50s and kicked the ball well.

#10 Chayce Jones

The Tasmanian had a strong day at the office playing midfield and resting up forward. Jones is really hard at it in the contest and laid seven tackles for the game. When he doesn’t have the ball he was the willingness and desire to put as much defensive pressure on as he can. He kicked the ball well and made good decisions with ball in hand. He was both strong on inside and outside.

#11 Keidean Coleman

Coleman had seven possessions for the day playing down back, he was very strong defensively laying five tackles. He does have the ability to break the lines but he wasn’t able to do it enough having only two rebounds.

#12 Mitchell O’Neil

Definitely one to write down for the 2019 draft. He has really good hands in congestion. O’Neill also took a nice contested mark. He had 18 possessions and kicked the ball well, also booting a nice goal. He took the game on and was able to rebound well having three rebound 50’s for the game. O’ Neill made the All Australian team.

#15 Guy Richardson

The backman had 19 possessions for the day, I thought he played really well mopping up defensively. He was also good offensively rebounding four times and showcasing his really good foot skills. Richardson showed some good run and carry and the ability to break the lines. Defensively he was good one on one.

#17 Thomas Matthews

Another Allies defender who had a strong game, Matthews has really solid pressure in the contest. He only laid three tackles, but the work he does off the ball that doesn’t get any stats for was noticeable. He took five marks and a couple of those were intercepts. Matthews was great offensively as well having five rebounds. He kicks the ball well and showed some run and carry.

#19 Bailey Scott

The captain had a fantastic day for Allies. He played more in the midfield collecting 30 possessions. His clearance work was really good having six. He had really good hands in congestion and tackled really strongly showing some aggression with five tackles for the game. He kicked the ball well, especially late when he hit team mate Nick Blakey on the chest with a 40-meter kick. Scott was able to hit the scoreboard as well with a goal. He rebounded strongly with three rebounds and also had three inside 50s. The skipper also took a great mark.

#20 Fraser Turner

The wingman is a great runner and ran hard all day, slotting two great goals on the run at critical times. He had 24 possessions and showed strong hands in the contest. Turner rebounded really well having three for the game and his kicking was solid all day. Turner plays mostly on the wing is a outside damaging player.

#23 Michael Mummery

Mummery had a quiet day with only the four possessions, however, he was really good defensively laying five tackles. He also was good one on one in marking contests, taking a fantastic contested mark.

#28 Matthew Green

The tall midfielder put good pressure on the opposition and used his trademark long handballs into space to set up teammates running passed. Just the 11 disposals on the night, but he had a couple of crucial intercepts late, including one tackle which earned him a holding the ball free kick. Also had a couple of clearances and inside 50s on the night to end up with a solid performance.

#29 Joey Reinard

The forward showed some good glimpses in patches, kicking a goal early in the piece, working hard for leads and being creative through midfield. Not a high accumulator, he presents when required and plays that medium-tall role well.

#31 Connor McFadyen

The 190cm utility continues to impress with his super quick hands and strong contested marking ability. He took a great grab on the goal line in the second half to nail a vital goal, then handed one off to Mitch O’Neill who kicked truly from long range. He uses his body well one-on-one and has shown promising signs he can develop into an inside midfielder who drifts forward and has an impact.

#36 Matthew McGuiness

Playing in defence, McGuiness rebounded well from the back 50, working in tandem with Jacob Koschitzke and Nick Baker. Positions himself well and is able to put pressure on opposition forwards, while taking some strong marks.

#37 Jacob Koschitzke

One of the most improved players across the tournament, Koschitzke played another strong game out of full-back, taking some good contested marks and rebounding strongly. He showed good courage backing back with the flight on a couple of occasions and applying his penetrating kick to clear of the defensive zone.

#40 Kieren Briggs

The clear dominant ruck on the ground once again and deserving of the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the carnival. It was clear Briggs has a huge tank and covers the ground well, barely taking a break. His second efforts are a highlight and he continually does the defensive things right as well. I would be surprised if it was not just the GIANTS keeping an eye on the overager.

#41 Mathew Walker

The Murray Bushrangers forward started slowly but worked into the game in the second half. He kicked a good goal on the move, and missed a chance to add a second. Walker showed good hands in close, giving off lightning quick handballs to teammates and opening up space for them.

#44 Caleb Graham

The athletic big man was often found pushing up onto a wing and showing off his versatility. He laid a really big tackle early in the piece and took a great intercept mark and drove the ball long inside 50. Not a huge accumulator, but a long kick of the football and can play anywhere.

#46 Tarryn Thomas

The potential top 10 pick was relatively quiet again by his lofty standards, but he did pick up in the last quarter where he kicked a great set shot goal to get the Allies team up and about. He has the cleanest hands at ground level, and could pick up a soaking ball with velcro-like hands. Had a big clearance in the first term that resulted in a Nick Blakey goal. Thomas was terrific defensively laying a number of good tackles to stop opponents in their tracks.

#47 Nick Baker

Played up the ground through the midfield as well as at half-back and was strong one-on-one. He managed to get his hands on the football a bit and continued to remain involved in the contest. He was one of the Allies’ more prominent ball winners in the match.

#49 Nick Blakey

Just enormous. After being held early, Blakey came into the game with a bang once moving into the middle, winning two early clearances in the second half. He used his big body to impact the contest and then drifted forward to provide a contest. He had a brilliant dart of a pass to Mathew Walker in the third term and his disposal by foot was terrific. Just got better with every game he played and yesterday was huge when the game was on the line.

 

Western Australia:

#2 Jarrod Cameron

The lively small forward wasn’t as influential as compared to his dazzling performance against Vic Country, but still showed glimpses of his potential. His desire to run and chase opposition defenders is outstanding for someone his age, and his ability with ball in hand is unbelievably good.

#4 Graydon Wilson

The dynamic defender was outstanding for Western Australia, with his run and carry, skills and vision all on display. He also produced the match-saving spoil and tackle that secured WA the victory.

#6 Wil Hickmott

A late inclusion into the squad, Hickmott’s class was on full display. His vision, skills and reading of the play are at a fantastic level for someone his age. Carlton will be monitoring him closely as he is the son of former player Adrian Hickmott

#8 Luke Moore

The South Fremantle product finished with 13 possessions and two goals but the stat line doesn’t emphasise how good he was. In the first quarter, he stood up in a tackle and got the ball to Brad Oldfield who duly converted the opening goal of the game. Then late in the first quarter, he gathered the ball at full pace, sidestepped an opponent and snapped one through. The youngster has been likened to Alan Didak and shapes as a genuine match winner for any AFL club.

#9 Tyron Smallwood

Smallwood was extremely lively in the forward half for the Sandgropers, often setting up attacking forays. Not unlike Adelaide star Tom Lynch, Smallwood was the connector between the midfield and the forward line and he played the role to perfection.

#10 Rylie Morgan

The Claremont product was outstanding in the midfield. A beautifully balanced player with exceptional skills and sound decision-making, Morgan wielded an influence on the inside and the outside. He shapes as a potential bolter come draft night.

#11 Luke English

The acting captain of the day, English showed why he is such a highly rated prospect. He was tough, combative, skilful and smart against the Allies. He finished with 25 possessions and six tackles in what was a tremendous display.

#12 Jeremy Sharp

The bottom-ager did his stocks for the 2019 AFL Draft no harm whatsoever with an accomplished display against the Allies. His vision, speed, skills and smarts all make him an attractive player, and he would be thoroughly deserving of All-Australian selection.

#13 Jason Carter

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy player showed glimpses of why he is such a highly rated prospect. His dare to take the opposition on should excite the Fremantle recruiters and his speed was unmatched by any Allies player.

#14 Sydney Stack

The Northam product’s stocks continue to soar by the week. Against the Allies, Stack was aggressive, tough, skilful and dynamic. In the last quarter, he soared for a mark, roved his own crumbs and dribbled through a goal. He finished with 20 possessions and seven clearances.

#15 Jordan Clark

Arguably the best player on the ground, Clark deservedly took home the WA Most Valuable Player award. He finished with 29 possessions and 11 rebounds, and was often a catalyst for WA’s drive from the back half to the forward half. His skills, vision, composure and toughness will all make him an AFL star.

#16 Ethan Hansen

Hansen started the game in terrific fashion, taking an early intercept mark and gathering plenty of possessions. He showed the ability to kick on both sides of his body and his decision-making with the ball in hand was superb. Hansen was able to use his speed to escape the congestion and to provide run on the outside of the contest, which proved handy for Western Australia going forward. In the third quarter, Hansen read the play superbly and was able to take an intercept mark at full speed in the middle of the ground, resulting in a Western Australian goal. Hansen had 19 disposals and more than 300 metres gained.

#18 Deven Robertson

The bottom-age midfielder looks to be one to keep an eye on in next year’s draft. He didn’t have massive numbers by any means but what impressed me the most with Robertson, was his work-rate. He chased hard defensively and he was able to make plenty of contests in all areas of the ground, due to his gut-running.

#20 Luke Foley

Foley was pivotal in the midfield for Western Australia, setting the standard required for his teammates by making a strong impression early. He accumulated disposals in all areas of the ground, on the inside and outside of the contest. His clearance work was really good, but his tackling was even better. Foley never gave up and he tried his hardest to make an impact, both offensively and defensively.

#21 Tyson Powell

Powell started in defence and was solid. He tackled strongly and had some nice defensive spoils. In the second quarter, Powell coped a big knock and was unable to have the same influence. He bounced back in the second half and was responsible for the in-form Connor McFayden at times. Powell continued to spoil strongly and he started to find more of the ball as the game went on.

#23 Louis Miller

Miller was prominent down back and was one of Western Australia’s best on the day. His competitiveness and strength in the contest were noticeable throughout the match. Miller positioned himself well defensively and rebounded effectively. He amassed 22 disposals and used the ball well. The highlight of the day came in the second quarter when Miller took an eye-catching pack mark over four players on the wing.

#24 Regan Spooner

The classy defender spent a considerable amount of time on the in-form forward, Nick Blakey. Spooner kept Blakey to one goal in the first half and played his role fabulously. His ball use was top-notch and he was clean below his knees. His finest passage of play came in the second quarter when he kicked an absolute bullet inside 50 to the leading Tom Medhat.

#26 Jake Pasini

Pasini started the game in the defence and was solid. He did not have the same stats to most of his teammates, but he undeniably played a crucial role in limiting the Allies forwards impact during the game.

#27 Tom Medhat

The versatile forward was Western Australia’s most dangerous in the first half and he proved difficult for the Allies defenders to stop. He kicked his team’s second goal of the match with a running goal from 40m out, demonstrating his composure in pressure situations. Medhat found plenty of space in the second quarter and kicked his second goal only three minutes into the term. He pushed into the midfield at times and showed the ability to win the contested ball. Medhat kicked his third goal of the term in the dying minutes and was one of the main reasons behind Western Australia’s dominance in the first half. He didn’t have the same effect in the third and fourth quarters, but he continued to work hard at making himself an attractive option in the forward 50.

#29 Dillion O’Reilly

O’Reilly started in the forward half and shared ruck duties with Jack Buller throughout the game. He showed his athleticism early, winning some impressive jumping hit-outs to give his midfielders first use. O’Reilly kicked his first goal of the day in the second term, with a terrific snap around the body. He continued to hit the scoreboard for Western Australia, booting his second goal in the third term after leading successfully into a large amount of space inside 50.

#34 Brad Oldfield

Oldfield was outstanding in contested situations, winning the ball in tight and dishing the ball out by hand to his teammates. Oldfield found plenty of space in situations that you shouldn’t, which helped him make the correct decisions with ball in hand. In the first term, he was involved in an important passage of play where he kicked the ball inside 50 to a teammate and then sprinted extremely hard to make himself an appealing option to receive the ball back, resulting in the first goal of the game. His work rate and hard running was evident across four quarters.

#35 Mitchell Georgiades

The bottom-ager played on Nicholas Baker and arguably beat him in the first half. He booted two essential goals in the space of 10 minutes in the second term, instantly becoming one of the most dangerous forwards on the ground. Georgiades showcased his sticky hands and the ability to mark the ball at its highest possible point. His set-shot goal kicking was spot on and his technique was sublime. He was unable to have the same influence in the second half, but his 10-minute burst in the second quarter was enough to get me excited for his draft year in 2019.

#36 Jack Buller

Buller’s competitiveness and ground level work for a big man was on display from the get-go. He was beaten in the hit-out department to the bigger and stronger opposition ruckmen Kieran Briggs, but as soon as the ball hit the deck, Buller basically turned into a midfielder. His follow up work was magnificent, his pressure on the opposition was clear and he won plenty of contested possessions. After his dominant first half, Buller went into the main break with 11 disposals to his name. He was much quieter in the second half, but there’s no doubt he was one of Western Australia’s main contributors in the first two quarters.

 

Vic Metro vs. South Australia

Vic Metro:

#1 Jack Mahony

The bottom ager started a little shaky by foot early. He has really good hands in congestion and has the endeavour to put on pressure and really goes in the contest with pace. He showed courage when taking a mark back with the flight, knowing there would be contact. Mahony kicked a ripping snap goal at the start of the third term. With a goal and 17 possessions to his name, he played well.

#2 Joe Ayton-Delaney

Ayton-Delaney has the ability to really break the lines and hurt his opposition with it had five rebounds to his name which shows this. However, he did make some poor decisions with the football. He tends to use the ball fairly well, however his decision making leads him to turn over the footy and this happened a few times. Interested to see how he goes in the back-end of the year for Xavier College and Oakleigh Chargers.

#3 Zak Butters

Yesterday was set to be Butters’ last game for the season as he is going in for shoulder surgery next week. Sadly his season send-off ended early with a injury to the same shoulder. He showed a willingness to take the game on with his three possessions. Butters is quite small in stature, but is a slick and crafty player.

#4 Rhylee West

West did not have a big day against South Australia only having the 12 possessions. He has really solid hands in close, also making decent decisions with it. He kicked fairly well especially when he tried to open the play up. The Western Bulldogs father-son prospect is looking like at this stage a late first round, or early second round selection.

#5 Matt Rowell

Rowell had a fantastic day at the office, with the hard nosed midfielder collecting 20 possessions for the day. Rowell has break away speed from stoppages which caught the eye. On top of that he has really good hands in congestion. He is a fantastic tackler and managed seven for the day. He used the ball well on his left and right having four clearances and three inside 50s. Definitely one to watch for the 2019 draft.

#6 Curtis Taylor

Taylor is pure class inside the forward 50. He had eight possessions for the day, but really made each one of them effective in play – two of his forward tackles resulted in set shots. He also had two inside 50s and was dangerous up forward for Vic Metro, booting two goals.

#7 Angus Hanrahan

A quieter day for Hanrahan with 12 possessions. He is a real interesting type; starting forward he did not have much impact, but after moving to the wing he started to get his hands more on it. He has good hands in close and managed nine handballs. Only having three kicks for the day is slightly disappointing as his real strength is his kicking on his left and right. It’s hard to tell exactly where Hanrahan fits. I think he could fit around the mid second round to fourth round. Really depends on his second half of the year.

#8 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom is a real inside mid. He did not have a lot of the ball with just the 12 possessions compared to his other Championship games, but he was a strong tackler for Metro laying seven, with one of the tackles being a goal-saving one. He gave a little bit of spread from stoppages and his kicking was okay. Rowbottom’s draft stocks have risen from the championships

#12 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie played off the half-back flank and was one of Metro’s best in the first half. He provided run and carry out of the defensive 50 and his ball use was very good, on most occasions. He stayed composed under pressure, especially when South Australia were repeatedly entering their forward 50. He did most of his damage in uncontested situations but has proven in the past that he can win the ball on the inside when necessary.

#14 Isaac Quaynor

Along with the majority of his teammates, he started slowly but quickly found himself more involved as the game went on. He spent most of his minutes further up the ground, rather than deep, which is a position I do enjoy him in. His best passage of play came in the third quarter when he showcased his agility and speed with an exciting blind turn in the middle of the ground, effectively releasing the ball by hand to an outside runner.

#15 Bailey Smith

The hard-running, endurance beast was one of Metro’s only shining lights in the first half. Smith never gave in and tried hard all game, even when things were not going his way. His tackling was strong as always and he won the ball in contested and uncontested situations, which is why he’s so highly rated. His clearance work was impeccable and he was able to find plenty of the ball, finishing with 22 disposals. His positioning and effort in the defensive 50 were below par at times, but it is something that he will work on during his development.

#16 Noah Answerth

It was an up-and-down game for Answerth, who received a red card at the half-time break and missed the first 15 minutes of the third term. He showed that he can have a big impact on the contest with his ball-winning ability and link-up play, but was completely exposed in defensive situations. Answerth was responsible for the red-hot forward Izak Rankine, who was near-impossible to stop. There were a couple of moments that Answerth was caught ball watching, forgetting to give Rankine enough attention, which resulted in Rankine booting some very easy goals, with no defensive pressure applied. This is common with junior footballers and of no big concern. He will improve in this area as he progresses through his development.

#18 Xavier O’Halloran

The captain gradually worked into the match and was vital in stages throughout the second half. O’Halloran only had the 10 disposals but definitely made them count, which makes him such a damaging player. He did his best work in the forward half of the ground and was involved in one of cleanest passages of play in the game. In the third quarter, he was able to drill a 40-metre kick inside 50 to the leading Ben King, who marked and kicked truly, keeping Metro in the game. O’Halloran hit the scoreboard himself in the last minute of the third, after taking a strong contested mark 20 metres out.

#19 Jack Bytel

Bytel was at his best in tight, where he could gather possession and release the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. His ball use by foot was inconsistent. He turned the ball over on multiple occasions but also displayed that he can hit targets in high-pressure situations, on both feet. Bytel spent some time down back in the second half but was unable to have any real influence on the match.

#23 Buku Khamis

Khamis spent some time on the highly-rated Connor Rozee, with the athletic rebounding defender doing his best in trying to limit his impact. Khamis read the play well, his ball use was good and his intercept marking was a standout. Khamis has progressed rapidly over the past year and did his draft chances no harm.

#24 Noah Anderson

The exciting bottom-ager from the Oakleigh Charges contributed to Metro’s midfield and looms as one of the top prospects for next year. He didn’t have the biggest effect on the game but his ball-winning ability, speed and clean ball use was a sign of things to come in 2019.

#26 Riley Collier-Dawkins – The big bodied Oakleigh midfielder was in and around the stoppages for long periods of the night, but struggled to have the impact of earlier matches. He often won first possession, but struggled to find the opportunity to release as the South Australians wrapped him up quickly. While he would only win eight disposals, Collier-Dawkins still produced moments that showcase why he is now regarded a first round prospect. He took a great overhead mark and played on with acceleration inside 50, but couldn’t finish off his work by foot. In the third term he raised his arms high at a stoppage to release a teammate brilliantly on the outside, before showing his defensive presence by producing a heavy tackle on Valente later in the quarter.

#27 Will Kelly – Starting on Lukosius, Kelly was one of the only Vic Metro defenders to keep his opponent accountable with offensive run during the early onslaught. He intercepted and rebounded with style, but also defended admirably by holding the most talked about player of the draft pool to one goal. He went forward in the final term and looked capable leading to space, while also setting up Bailey Smith in the corridor. The son of Craig and brother of Jake at Adelaide finished with 17 disposals to be one of Vic Metro’s better players. You suspect the Pies won’t let another Kelly father/son prospect slip on this occasion.

#28 Ben Silvagni – The second of the Silvagni boys came to Etihad Stadium with some expectation from the Carlton faithful and he started okay forward considering the lack of early opportunities. He took a nice overhead mark on the lead inside 50, before a brilliant piece of play on the wing where he shrugged a tackle, disposed the ball to a teammate and ran hard forward to receive the kick on the arc. A disappointing set shot after the half time siren could have given his side some life going into the break, but instead instigated a small melee. He was moved to defence in the second half and faded as the match wore on.

#29 James Blanck – After an excellent performance in defence against Vic Country at the MCG, Blanck was given a small reality check by a rampaging South Australian side. He was exposed physically against the bigger Hugo Munn in the first term, who out muscled him one on one on two occasions. He positioned himself better as the game went on, but couldn’t have the same impact offensively as his previous game. He finished the night spending time in the ruck.

#34 James Rendell – Rendell is another father/son prospect who has ties with Brisbane through his father Matt’s 164 games for Fitzroy. The 198cm forward/ruck has shown signs of promising AFL attributes throughout 2018 and again produced moments of interest against South Australia. After a quiet first half he came to life in the third term, kicking a banana out of congestion that bounced to Jack Mahony in the corridor to set up a goal. He then produced one of the highlights of the game to take a towering pack mark deep inside 50 and kicked truly to continue his side’s fight back at the time. A goal, 12 hit outs and 11 possessions was a solid outing when considering minimal Vic Metro contributors.

#35 Thomas Hallebone – The lanky 201cm Northern Knights ruckman had moments throughout the day to suggest that he can develop into a capable prospect with time. While only winning five disposals for the game, he took a strong intercept mark in the first term. In the ruck he has skills, highlighted by a soft touch that the midfielders can easily read. He is currently more effective at the centre bounces where he can jump at the ball, as the bigger bodied, albeit shorter James Siviour was able to easily push his 83kg frame out of position at around the ground stoppages.

#36 Ben King – King again proved his potential No.1 pick worth with a four goal haul on arguably the biggest pathway stage against a mighty South Australian outfit at Etihad Stadium. While he lacked opportunities in the first term with the ball seemingly forever at the other end, he took his chance in the second quarter with a series of strong marks and smart leads. He attacked the ball at its highest point, often leaving his opponent with no chance. That was highlighted perfectly in the third term as he brought down a contested mark on the move with Riley Grundy right on his hammer creating immense physical pressure. He made the most of his shots on goal too, kicking four goals straight from only seven disposals. The recruiters also got their wish of the dream King/Lukosius match up in the second half, but unfortunately it was a bit of a letdown as they rarely competed aerially.

South Australia:

#2 Hayden Sampson

Sampson as dangerous around the ball and put his head into the pack on numerous occasions. Probably would have liked to be a bit cleaner off the ground but his 15 disposals and three clearances were important

#4 Kade Chandler

Another SA player that goes in hard. Played his role as small defensive forward and crumbed a good goal from the pocket and set up a teammate’s goal with some great pressure.

#10 Martin Frederick

Really stepped up and provided a number of dashing drives from half-back. With 16 disposals he used the ball also really well, broke some tackles due to his pace, and nearly got a goal bursting inside 50. Has really improved his draft chances and is a Port Next Generation Academy.

#11 Finn Betterman

The midfielder had a quieter game but still managed to lock in four tackles, which is what you need to do when the ball is not coming your way. Can play the first receiver really well and his possessions normally matter.

#13 Connor Rozee

This was the return to form we were waiting for, Rozee had the 18 disposals and four clearances. Managed the miracle goal out of the back of the pack with a smart kick and was smooth when he had it. But it was his desperation that really showed off as he was diving for smothers, chasing at speed and on multiple occasions jumped up to intercept or bring to ground a Vic Metro kick, killing off their rebound.

#14 Izak Rankine

One word – Magic! Booted five goals and about four of them were goal of the game contenders. Just so special, and no doubt his highlights package will be something to marvel over. A class above on the night.

#16 Tom Lewis

Literally living at the bottom of a pack, this inside bull was outstanding. Had 18 disposals and eight tackles. Lewis continues to find the footy under enormous contested pressure and dish out to teammates. A memorable play was where he was on the ground in the pack, got the footy, stood up, bursted out of the congestion with 2-3 Vic Metro players on him and dished to a teammate. Scored a nice goal in the last quarter.

#18 Oscar Chapman

The third tall was outstanding and able to demonstrate all his flexibility. Opened up with a holding the ball tackle that hit Munn for the goal and was continuously harassing Metro defenders and providing blocks for his other forwards. In the last quarter he was taken off the leash and exploded kicking 2.2 including a fantastic pack mark 15m out. Finished with a game high seven marks and 14 disposals

#22 Jacob Kennerley

Was important key ball winner for SA and was dominant early on the wing linking play to the SA forwards. Always looked damaging with the ball and used it well and when Vic Metro came back in the third quarter he worked back well. Certainly one of SA’s best for the day finishing with 22 disposals.

#23 Aaron Nietschke

Was a quiet game for Nietschke possession wise, but he did show glimpses of what he can do. Worked hard in and under when the opportunity was there. He has had better games, but his body size and work rate made him a valuable member of the team

#25 Tom Sparrow

Another player who had an impact when it was his turn, and finished with 17 disposals and five inside 50s and did like some of his work down back when he won some key one on ones and fed the ball out. Another contributor who rarely lost a contested ball when in his area.

#27 Jez McLennan

Another solid and productive game for the defender. Managed to grab some intercept marks and always was poised with the football and efficient. Looked well balanced and calm when Vic Metro had a run in the third quarter. A key for the SA defence all tournament and absolute leader down back. His seven tackles were evident of his work rate and willingness to chase and compete. Great leadership shown.

#30 Ben Jarvis

The goal sneak is a real enigma as he always looks dangerous near the footy and around goal and was rewarded with another two goals. He roved a ball off the pack at speed and class which showed off his ability. He worked up the ground at times and was also good in at the contest. Drifted in and out of the game, but when he is near the footy, things happened that really benefit his team.

#31 Mihail Lochowiak

Was prominent early in the game with dash, but did try to do too much at times and turned the ball over. Once he adjusted to the pace of the game he made a solid contribution and when Vic Metro were coming made a nice lead and goal to stem the flow. A bit more poise and polish to his game will be key to his development as his pace, willingness to take the game on and size are all impressive

#32 Luke Valente

A quieter game for the captain, but as a true leader really worked into the game after a quiet first quarter. Still finished with 18 disposals for SA, but what stands out is his composure in traffic, and decision making is generally spot on. Seemed to have a bit more time than others which showed his class. Liked how he dug in during the third quarter to win some key football. His evasion and side step is excellent

#33 Tyler Martin

Had limited possessions but this game really saw his class when challenged. Would rarely be beaten for the footy and just a classic “played your role” game which was vital for the team. He reads the play well and is the third man up at times with timely spoils as well as finishing with five marks intercepting when required.

#34 Jackson Hately

Hately produced another fantastic performance when it mattered most in the title decider. Hately capped off a consistent carnival with 23 disposals in the final game a team high and also a game high of six inside 50’s. He had ten disposals in the first quarter as the Croweaters could no wrong, his brilliant quarter was shown in finding Rankine with a pin-point kick inside 50 to his advantage on the lead. Hately was deservedly named in the forward line of the U18 All Australian team.

#35 Jacob Collins

Norwood’s Jacob Collins was called up for his first game of the carnival and rewarded selectors with a solid game. Collins had plenty of touches early on as the South Australian defence exited Vic Metro’s forward line with ease. Collins ball use from defence early was terrific as South Australia punished Vic Metro’s poor forward entries. Had a knock in second quarter which curtailed his influence somewhat, but still managed to have 13 disposals and five inside 50s.

#37 Riley Grundy

Grundy had the easiest job on field in the first quarter as the service to Ben King was nothing sort of horrific. But once Vic Metro responded, delivery to King was maximised as the height difference between King (202cm) and Grundy (195cm) in the marking contests started to show. Grundy struggled at times to compete with King aerially, as King finished with four goals. Grundy has had a solid carnival down back with Will Gould and has done decent jobs on the each team’s key forward.

#42 Jack Lukosius

Lukosius took a back seat to the Izak Rankine show early on and was quiet in the first term. In the second quarter Lukosius kicked his first goal after a great passage of play by the SA onball brigade, as Munn tapped it down to Lukosius who converted on ground level. In the second half the recruiters got their carnival wish as Lukosius was sent back to stop King from continuing his dominance. Lukosius certainly assured the SA backline and took intercepting marks down back to prove that he is almost the prototype footballer that can play in almost any position. His brilliant carnival was capped off with the centre half-forward position in the U18 All Australian team and is likely to be taken at pick one in the AFL National Draft.

#43 Will Gould

Under-age defender Will Gould was a monster down back for his side as he also had a carnival high of 17 possessions for the match. Gould took it upon himself to be more adventurous out of defence once he was joined by Jack Lukosius down back proving his versatility. Gould was deservedly awarded with a spot in U18 the All-Australian team on the interchange, as massive achievement for the 2001-born player.

#44 James Siviour

Siviour produced his best performance for the title decider as he took care of ruckman Tom Hallebone, Joe Griffith’s replacement. Siviour contributed with 28 hitouts, 10 disposals and goal, his intercepting down back was a highlight as took six marks for the day, as Hallebone could only manage one.

#47 Hugo Munn

Munn was on fire in the first quarter as he dominated opponent James Blanck tacking a pack mark and converting truly and another contested mark against his opponent and fed a running Rankine who kicked it from the goal square. Munn has showed some brilliant signs and efforts throughout the carnival as finished as one of the top goal kickers with Lukosius, Rankine and King.

National U18 Championships previews: Round 5

IN the final stanza of the National Under 18 Championships, all roads lead to Etihad Stadium where the Allies take on Western Australia, and Vic Metro hosts South Australia in an enticing double header. Vic Metro and South Australia become the headline act with the winner-takes-all mentality given the title is on the line for both sides.

ALLIES V. WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Wednesday, July 4, 2.10pm
Etihad Stadium

The opening game of the final round pits the Allies against Western Australia. The winner takes third spot on the final table of the National Under 18 Championships, with both teams having sole wins over Vic Country, and losses against South Australia and Vic Metro. The Allies come into the game with a strong squad, omitting bottom-ager Thomas Green who had been solid so far, and rotating Dirk Koenen for Matthew McGuiness. Overager Michael Mummery gets his chance to shine on Etihad, while the Western Australian side has three fresh faces to add to it’s victorious team over Vic Country. Ian Hill is a huge loss for the Black Swans, with the West Australian captain banned for a sling tackle on Laitham Vandermeer last Friday. With injuries to Damon Greaves and Thomas Baldwin, Western Australia flew over Wil Hickmott to join the squad, and he will run out tomorrow with Luke Moore and Ethan Hansen as the other changes.

The midfield battle will be intriguing with Hickmott joining Sydney StackLuke FoleyDeven Robertson and Luke English in the middle. Jack Buller will have his work cut out for him against man mountain Kieren Briggs who is in super form for the Allies. He has been giving his midfield of Tarryn ThomasConnor McFadyenChayce Jones and Fraser Turner first chance at the stoppages. Jacob Koschitzke is in fine form and could be the man for Dillon O’Reilly who has been showing promising signs as a key forward, while Jason Carter and Jordan Clark provide plenty of dash off half-back. Bailey Scott and Connor Budarick will look to keep them honest, while Nick Blakey looms as the danger man for the Allies and one that Western Australia – and perhaps Regan Spooner in particular – will look to contain. Overall, the Allies will head in as favourites, but the West Australians move the ball quick and cleanly to the forward line and it is hoped Jarrod Cameron can provide the spark again after he booted five goals in Geelong.

VIC METRO V. SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Wednesday, July 4, 4.40pm
Etihad Stadium

In the game that everyone will tune in for, the National Under 18 Championships title will be on the line for the undefeated Vic Metro and South Australian sides. In what ended up being a perfect fixture for the AFL, the two best sides are going head-to-head in the final match of the series with the winner to be handed the trophy and celebrate afterwards without any interruptions to other fixturing. South Australia has made its expected two changes, with Mihail Lochowiak and Jacob Collins replacing Kai Pudney and Boyd Woodcock in the team. Vic Metro has rotated rucks for the final game, with Tom Hallebone recalled to ruck against James Siviour after injury struck down Joe GriffithsJack Bytel has been named in the side despite suffering what looked to be an injury in the last round which would keep him out of the final match. Isaac Quaynor and Ben Silvagni return from injury and will strengthen both ends for Metro.

The match-up on everyone’s lips – Jack Lukosius pitted against Ben King – is unlikely to happen despite recruiters hopes, with both players named forward. As we saw in Geelong, Lukosius also played on the wing and down back, standing side-by-side with Tarryn Thomas and Nick Blakey at different times showing his versatility. If things start to head south for Vic Metro, King can also play in defence, while Will Kelly is a capable forward if required. It is predicted Kelly will get first chance on Lukosius, while James Blanck will line-up on Hugo Munn. The midfield battle of Izak RankineLuke ValenteTom Lewis and Jackson Hately up against Bailey SmithRiley Collier-DawkinsJames Rowbottom and Zak Butters is mouthwatering and likely to decide the contest. With both teams having plenty of firepower up front, the midfield is where the game will be won or lost. Curtis Taylor showed he is a danger up forward for Metro, while Xavier O’Halloran and Noah Anderson have already shown through the championships they can boot multiple goals. Will Gould and Riley Grundy are in great form – the latter is the man predicted to head to King. Jez McLennan and Martin Frederick provide great run out of defence and will be keen to break the lines, while Quaynor and Tom McKenzie will be keen to do the same up the other end. It is hard to pick a winner in this game, with both sides filled to the brim with quality.