Club: Western Australia/Subiaco/Ports (Esperance)
Draft Range: 2nd round selection
- Clearance Machine
– He was the number one clearance player at the National U18s Carnival
- U18s All-Australian
– One of four West Australians to make the U18s All-Australian team
- WAFL Senior Premiership Player
– Helped guide Subiaco’s Reserves team to a premiership
AFL U18 CHAMPIONSHIPS STATISTICS
2017 WAFL RESERVES STATISTICS
2017 WAFL COLTS STATISTICS
At the start of the year, Brayden Ainsworth made the trip from Esperance to Perth in order to realise his dream of playing senior football at the highest level.
He was a big name player back in Esperance as he had won a host of awards including two McArthur Medals (the Esperance District Football Association’s equivalent of the Brownlow Medal), a club Best & Fairest, a club Rookie of the Year, a best-on-ground medal in a winning grand final team, and was already playing senior football by the age of 15.
But the move to Subiaco has paid dividends! In only six WAFL Colts games, Ainsworth finished fourth in the Taylor Medal (Subiaco Colts’ B&F) and finished seventh in the Jack Clarke Medal.
His early form in the Colts was too good to ignore and he was selected in the WA U18s State Academy where he shone. He was the number one clearance player in the National Championships, and was second only to Vic Metro’s Jack Higgins for contested possessions. His starring performances against South Australia, Vic Metro, the Allies and Vic Country saw him selected in the U18s All-Australian team as the centreman.
After the Championships he went straight into Subiaco’s senior squads and played the remainder of the season with the Reserves. His finals form was outstanding, averaging 17 possessions, and six tackles across the four games. He was a key catalyst in the Reserves’ Premiership victory over South Fremantle, when he gathered 12 possessions, laid eight tackles and kicked a goal in wet conditions.
He also showcased his enormous potential with an outstanding performance in the U18s All Stars Game, which was the curtain raiser to this year’s AFL Grand Final. He finished with 20 possessions (10 contested), seven clearances and five tackles, to be amongst the best for Team Enright.
For our interview with Brayden, click here.
WHY PICK HIM?
Any club that is looking to boost its midfield stocks should look at Ainsworth. He digs into the bottom of packs to win the contested possessions, rips it out of the congestion and because of his great vision and quality decision-making he will find a team-mate in space.
What separates Ainsworth from the other midfielders are his clean hands, strong overhead marking ability, dominant clearance work, composure even when under duress, elite link-up play, damaging play-making abilities and his capacity to have an impact on the scoreboard.
Throughout the season, he has drawn comparisons to Collingwood’s five-time Copeland Trophy winner Scott Pendlebury and it is not hard to see why. He appears to be playing at a different speed to his opponents, such is his graceful style of play and his enviable evasive qualities.
He possesses incredible power and strength for a player who weighs only 75 kilograms. Often this year, he produced “don’t argues,” similar to Dustin Martin and Sam Powell-Pepper, before bursting away from the scene with ball in hand.
THE QUESTION MARKS?
There are not too many question marks on Ainsworth but one would be that he had to sit out several of the tests at the recent AFL National Combine, because of a hamstring injury.
It would also have been looked on more favourably if he’d have made his way into Subiaco’s League team, especially considering the trio of Oscar Allen (West Perth), Aaron Naughton (Peel) and Sam Taylor (Swan Districts) all made their WAFL League debuts. However, it would have been extremely difficult to displace the likes of current WAFL stars Adam Cockie, Kyal Horsley, Leigh Kitchin and Chris Phelan.
Without doubt, Brayden Ainsworth is the premier midfielder from Western Australia. His talent, leadership and maturity would all appeal to AFL clubs that are looking to bolster their midfield stocks. The sky is the limit for the Esperance product.