At the start of 2017, there were question marks over WA’s prospects for the draft, but with a strong U18 Carnival and some impressive Combine results, opinions are surely changing.
The initial scepticism was widely accepted, although it was hard to fathom, especially when seven WA boys were picked in the first & second rounds at last year’s AFL Draft: Sam Petrevski-Seton (pick 6), Griffin Logue (#8), Sam Powell-Pepper (#18), Tim English (#19), Zac Fisher (#27), Shai Bolton (#29), and Josh Rotham (#37). And in total 16 players from WA were taken in the National & Rookie Drafts last year.
Entering the National Under 18 Championships the commentators were saying WA would struggle, yet the Sandgropers, under the tutelage of former AFL stars Peter Sumich, Ash McGrath, Glen Jakovich, Mark Seaby and Darren Rumble, finished second on equal points with Vic Metro but had lower percentage.
With some very eyecatching results in last week’s National Combine, could the boys from WA be ready to prove everyone wrong and gatecrash Draft Night?
Below, we outline some of the best prospects from Western Australia in this year’s draft:
BEN MILLER | SUBIACO | RUCK-FORWARD | 196cm | 98kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 11P, 18HOs, 4T, 2M, 2I50s
2017 WAFL Colts: 9 Games/7 Goals/Ave. 14P, 21HOs, 4M, 2T
If there was an MVP for the National Combine, Miller would have been a contender for it. He won the goalkicking test with 30 out of 30, the agility test (8.10 seconds) and finished 3rd in the 20m sprint (2.91 seconds). When in full flight, the Kalgoorlie product is incredibly hard to stop as he outmuscles his opponents to win hit-outs and take contested marks, but he is also very good at the ground level. This was evident in his performance against Vic Metro when he accumulated 15 possessions, won 28 hit-outs, laid five tackles, won three clearances and kicked a goal, while his direct opponent Sam Hayes finished with 17 possessions and 12 hit-outs. For a key position player, Miller is incredibly quick, his skills are neat, his athleticism is something to be admired and his desire to pressure the opposition is elite.
KYRON HAYDEN | SUBIACO | MIDFIELD | 185cm | 88kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 16P (7CP), 4CLs, 3T, 2M, 2I50s
2017 WAFL Colts: 14 Games/Ave. 22P, 4M, 3T
2017 WAFL Reserves: 5 Games/Ave. 14P, 6T, 3M
A raging bull in the midfield, Hayden improved his draft prospects when he beat Nic Naitanui and Jared Brennan’s record in the running vertical jump test with 103cm. However, it is not just his awesome athleticism that makes him an attractive prospect. When in the midfield he is a brute who charges through people, but is also composed, makes good decisions, has neat skills and is rarely flustered with ball in hand. He had an excellent season for the Subiaco Colts in which he finished 3rd in the Taylor Medal (Subiaco Colts’ B&F) and 5th in the Jack Clarke Medal, but it was his form in the senior reserves that would be most pleasing. It could be argued that he was Subiaco’s Reserves’ finals MVP, especially after a starring performances in the Reserves Grand Final victory over South Fremantle when he accumulated 15 possessions, laid 8 tackles, recorded three inside 50s & took three marks. He has a mature body and could play straight away from round 1 next year.
BRAYDEN AINSWORTH | SUBIACO | MIDFIELD | 183cm | 75kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/2 Goals/Ave. 24P (13CP), 5M, 4T, 2I50s, 2R50s
2017 Subiaco Colts: 6 Games/5 Goals/Ave. 27P, 6M, 3T, 3I50s
2017 Subiaco Reserves: 13 Games/9 Goals/Ave. 18P, 4T, 3M
Without doubt the premier midfielder from WA this year, Ainsworth has shot up draft boards after an impressive season for Subiaco and the WA U18s Academy. At the National Championships he was the number one clearance player and was second only to Jack Higgins for contested possessions. As a result of his starring performances, he won selection in the All-Australian team. He digs in to win the contested possession, rips it out of congestion and because of his great vision he makes quality decisions with ball in-hand. He was also a key figure in the Lions’ Reserves premiership this year with 12 possessions, eight tackles and a goal on a half-forward flank, contributing to the Lions overcoming South Fremantle by 19 points in wet conditions. Despite only playing six games for the Subiaco Colts, he finished seventh in the Jack Clarke Medal and finished fourth in the Taylor Medal (Subiaco Colts’ B&F).
OSCAR ALLEN | WEST PERTH | KEY FORWARD | 191cm | 83kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/11 Goals/Ave. 16P (8CP), 4M, 2T, 2I50s
2017 WAFL League: 2 Games/Ave. 9P, 5M
2017 WAFL Colts: 8 Games/7 Goals/Ave. 19P, 8M, 4T
2017 WAFL Reserves: 2 Games/1 Goal/Ave. 14P, 10HOs, 6M, 5T
The West Perth product has been the most talked about prospect from WA for some time, and it is clear why. His strong outings against South Australia (10 possessions, four marks, four tackles & three goals), Vic Metro (16 possessions, seven marks, six inside 50s & three goals), Allies (21 possessions & two goals), and Vic Country (15 possessions, five marks & three goals) saw him claim the Larke Medal and selection in the All-Australian team as the full forward. At the National Combine, he tested elite in the agility test (8.27 seconds), and the running vertical jump test (88cm). His athleticism and footy smarts make him an attractive prospect, and a likely first round draft choice.
CALLAN ENGLAND | CLAREMONT | MIDFIELD | 182cm | 73kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 21P, 5M, 5I50s, 5T
2017 WAFL Colts: 14 Games/9 Goals/Ave. 27P, 5M, 3T
The 2015 WA U16s MVP is a prolific ball winner who would appeal to clubs that are looking out for a midfielder who boasts explosive speed and elite endurance. He came to prominence when he was best afield against the Allies at the U18s Carnival, when he gathered 26 possessions, took eight marks and recorded five inside 50s, and was dominant against Vic Country with 22 possessions, eight inside 50s, six marks, and four tackles. He also produced a host of starring performances for Claremont to finish sixth in the Jack Clarke Medal with 27 votes. At the National Combine he showcased his athleticism with elite results in the agility test (8.30 seconds) and the yo-yo test (21. 6 level). It is not hard to see how England has drawn comparisons to AFL stars Adam Treloar, Andrew Gaff and Lachie Neale – he is an accumulator who has damaging skills.
JONATHON FRAMPTON | SOUTH FREMANTLE | RUCK | 199cm | 87kg
2017 AFL U18s: 2 Games/1 Goal/Ave. 12P, 12HOs, 5M
2017 WAFL Colts: 13 Games/6 Goals/Ave. 17P, 14HOs, 4M
The younger brother of Port Adelaide’s rising star Billy, Jonathon Frampton was one of the top 10 ruckmen in the WAFL Colts, which has culminated in him winning an invite to this year’s State Combine. He grabbed attention with a superb outing against South Australia with 15 possessions, 15 hit-outs and six marks, as well as dominant outings for South Fremantle, including West Perth in round 4 (22 possessions, 21 hit-outs, seven marks & five inside 50s) and Subiaco in round 9 (26 possessions, 28 hit-outs, six marks & four inside 50s). It is not just his excellent tap work, but also his ability to cover the ground that makes him remarkable, especially for a young ruckman.
AARON NAUGHTON | PEEL THUNDER | KEY DEFENDER | 194cm | 84kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 15P, 5M, 3R50s, 2T
2017 WAFL League: 7 Games/2 Goals/Ave. 14P, 7M
2017 WAFL Colts: 7 Games/5 Goals/Ave. 16P, 7M, 3T
The 2017 WA U18s MVP has all but confirmed he will be the first West Australian picked at this year’s draft after a sensational season for Peel and the WA U18s Academy. In the National U18 Championships, he was able to curtail the likes of Jack Lukosius, Toby Wooller, Jarrod Brander, and Tom McCartin, while he also demonstrated an elite ability to rebound the ball. When he was in Peel’s League team, he looked as if he had been playing senior football for several seasons, such was his maturity and class on the big stage. In seven games, he was named in the best on three occasions, coming against Subiaco in round 18 (17 possessions, 11 marks & a goal), Swan Districts in round 19 (23 possessions & 11 marks), and East Fremantle in round 22 (11 possessions, six marks & a goal). Naughton is a standout defender who is an elite contested & intercept marker, not unlike West Coast star Jeremy McGovern.
JAKE PATMORE | CLAREMONT | WING-HALFBACK | 181cm | 78kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 23P, 5M, 5T, 2R50s, 2I50s
2017 WAFL Colts: 15 Games/5 Goals/Ave. 29P, 4M, 4T
The AFL Academy member is a midfielder who has classy skills, evasive tricks and a willingness to take the game on. His ability to create attacking forays out of the defensive half made him a damaging player for Claremont and the WA U18s Academy. His standing in the draft rose after his dominant outing against Vic Country (32 possessions, six tackles & six rebounding 50s), as well as prolific outings for Claremont against Perth (31 possessions & two goals), South Fremantle (39 possessions, five inside 50s, four tackles & a goal), Subiaco (42 possessions & seven inside 50s), and Swan Districts (48 possessions, nine inside 50s & six tackles). A ‘one-touch’ player, Patmore will appeal to clubs who are in need of a skilful outside midfielder who can win the contested possession.
BRANDON STARCEVICH | EAST PERTH | MIDFIELD | 187cm | 88kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/4 Goals/Ave. 13P (6CP), 3T, 3I50s, 2M
2017 WAFL Colts: 10 Games/5 Goals/Ave. 14P, 4T, 3M
The nephew of Collingwood’s premiership star Craig Starcevich, Brandon is a big-bodied midfielder who thrives on the crash-and-bash style of play. He wins the ball in the congestion, delivers powerful “don’t argues,” and barges through tackles and finds a team-mate on the outside. This was especially evident with his superb performance against Vic Country when he gathered 22 possessions (14 contested), laid 8 tackles, won five clearances, and recorded three inside 50s and two rebound 50s. As a junior, he played as a key forward, and his ability to rest in the forward 50 makes him an attractive prospect.
SAM TAYLOR | SWAN DISTRICTS | KEY DEFENDER | 196cm | 85kg
2017 AFL U18s: 4 Games/Ave. 11P, 4M, 3R50s
2017 WAFL League: 7 Games/Ave. 13P, 5M, 3T
2017 WAFL Colts: 8 Games/2 Goals/Ave. 19P, 7M, 4T
The AFL Academy member, Taylor put forward a magnificent 2017 campaign for Swan Districts and the WA U18s Academy to stamp himself as one of the best key defensive prospects. At the U18s Carnival his performances against the likes of Hayden McLean, Hugh Dixon and Tom De Koning were outstanding, culminating in him winning selection in the All-Australian team. For the Swan Districts League side, he produced an outstanding performance against East Fremantle in round 23 (27 possessions, eight marks & three tackles), and was one of the Swans’ best players during the finals as he limited the influences of West Perth’s Tyler Keitel in the Elimination Final and South Fremantle’s Mason Shaw in the 1st Semi Final. He has been likened to Richmond’s premiership hero Alex Rance due to his ability to read the play and take intercept marks