AFL Draft

NAB U18 All-Stars Scouting Notes: Stunning Stephenson leads Team Harvey to victory


We saw Gryan Miers impose himself on the big stage in the TAC Cup Grand Final a week ago. Grand Final day was Jaidyn Stephenson’s time to shine, producing a phenomenal best-on-ground performance in the NAB All Stats Game at the MCG. Unfortunately, it was a fairly one sided affair after quarter time, with Team Harvey running away 55-point winners. There was no shortage of talent on display, with all of the 44 young men who featured on the hallowed turf likely to be selected in November’s draft.
As a devout Tiger supporter, this certainly wasn’t the game I was there for, but it was fantastic to see the best crop (minus the likes of #1 prospects Cam Rayner and Paddy Dow) go head-to-head.

Jaidyn Stephenson | Eastern Ranges | Mid Fwd | 189cm | 76kg

The absolute standout on the day. Stephenson appeared to be everywhere on Saturday, displaying his trademark dash through the midfield and clunking marks on the lead while forward. He could not be stopped, ending with 22 disposals, three majors and the best on ground medal in a truly captivating performance. I was actually surprised when I saw his possession tally, as his influence on the contest was like he had 30, catching the eye with his speed and eloquent ball-use.
Kicked two of his goals in the space of a minute in the third quarter, taking two strong marks on the lead – proving to be too quick for his opponent – and converting. Actually took the mickey out of the match in the third quarter, almost single-handedly putting the game out of reach. An effort that should see him enter the top 5 conversation.

Oscar Allen | West Perth | Key Fwd | 191cm | 83kg

Despite Hayden McLean’s four goals, Oscar Allen was probably the most dominant tall forward on the ground. The Western Australian asserted himself on the contest early with an emphatic contested mark and goal to open Team Enright’s account. If it hadn’t been for inaccurate kicking, the big man could have ended with a bag, finishing with 2.3 from his 18 touches and six marks. At least half of those were imposing contested grabs, taking the ball at its highest point in front of his opponent.
His game is perhaps more significant considering the limited supply he received up forward. The Larke Medallist’s day finished with a deserving goal after the siren from a set shot. A match that could see him feature in the top 20 come November.

Nick Coffield | Northern Knights | Def Mid | 190cm | 83kg

The Team Enright defence was peppered in the last three quarters, which saw Knights gun Nick Coffield rise to the challenge. ‘Coff’ is a class operator with ball in hand, hitting targets out of defence almost effortlessly on Saturday. His composure was also fantastic, with the ability to weave through tacklers and find the right option consistently. Had a couple of impressive defensive efforts throughout the contest, showing he isn’t just an attacking defender. The capable 190cm product can play on a range of opponents and could well have cemented a spot in the top 10 come draft night.


Hayden McLean | Sandringham Dragons | Key Fwd | 197cm | 93kg

The Sandringham tall forward ended the day as the game’s leading goalkicker, booting four for the game – including three in the last quarter. While most of his contribution was during junk time when the game was wrapped up, it showed his tank is up to scratch – especially on a massive ground like the ‘G. McLean was a marking target up the ground and inside 50 for the winning side, pulling down some strong grabs with his long reach. Missed a sitter from 25m out that could have made it a five goal haul, but it was a performance that will improve his draft stocks.


Aiden Bonar | Dandenong Stingrays | Fwd Mid | 190cm | 89kg

I love watching this guy play, and I am sure draft scouts are the same. It was one of Aiden Bonar’s best games on the MCG on Saturday, spending the majority of his time in the guts, laying crunching tackles and winning the ball strongly in the coalface. Finished with 20 disposals and a snag, receiving the ball on the 50m arc and running into an open goal from 20m out. Bonar is one of the unknowns of the draft crop after returning weeks ago from his second knee reconstruction in as many years.

Lochie O’Brien | Bendigo Pioneers | Mid | 184cm | 75kg

It has been an up and down year for Lochie O’Brien, but his efforts on Saturday showed why he entered the season in top 5 calculations. O’Brien simply oozes class, possessing an elite kick that cuts through the air, and generally ends up in the mitts of his teammates. The classy operator finished with 24 disposals and a goal, spending extended stints in the forward line in the second half.

James Worpel | Geelong Falcons | Mid | 185cm | 84kg

The Falcons skipper was arguably the best man on the ground for the losing side. Coming off a fairly meagre TAC Cup Grand Final, the blond bombshell cracked in hard at stoppages and won seven clearances and 21 touches for Team Enright. Worpel had a particularly fruitful third quarter, collecting plenty of footy as his side attempted to mount a comeback. Was awarded the Ladder Champion award post-match – an award recognising courage, discipline and leadership – which is Worps to a tee.


Lachie Fogarty | Western Jets | Mid Fwd | 179cm | 75kg

He may not have been in everyone’s best for Team Enright, but Lachie Fogarty really impressed me on Saturday. Fogarty displayed his characteristic tough nut work ethic, tackling hard and winning the footy in the clinches. Slotted a very nice stoppage goal in the second, collecting the footy in traffic, weaving and snapping on the right from 25 metres. Has always seemed to find a way to hit the scoreboard this season, and it will be interesting to see where he falls in November. Took an impressive leaping mark early in the piece as well.

Ryley Stoddart | Eastern Ranges | Def | 183cm | 73kg

Speedy half-back Ryley Stoddart caught the eye on a number of occasions on Saturday. The Ranges’ defender went on several runs through the middle, arching the back and accelerating away from his opponent. On one occasion he was cornered after a run, and was able to manoeuvre his way around and spot up a target. Stoddart was particularly impressive during the third quarter, proving to be incredibly efficient by foot. One who has risen up draft boards over the past couple of months, and Saturday’s effort will do him no harm at all.

Other notable performers: Jack Petruccelle (Northern Knights), Brent Daniels (Bendigo Pioneers), Brayden Ainsworth (Subiaco), Luke Davies-Uniacke (Dandenong Stingrays), Zac Bailey (Southern Districts/Norwood), Patrick Naish (Northern Knights)

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