The pressure was put on a little earlier this year. Apparently it had something to do with Carlton and Gold Coast being able to recruit mature-age recruits from outside the AFL draft. I think that little window is done and dusted but there’s still been lots of “G’day mate!” and “How’s it goin’ big fella?” calls recently.
The question is: who did I see in the WAFL this year who might be a useful addition to an AFL list…
Despite producing an unbeaten premier the WAFL season was pretty interesting in 2018. At the start of the finals you could have made a case for East Perth, Claremont, South Fremantle or West Perth to meet Subiaco in the grand final. And Perth, Peel and Swan Districts all looked capable of making the finals even quite late in proceedings. East Fremantle was the only uncompetitive team.
I’m not generally looking at classic draft prospects here… the State 18s types… unless I’ve seen them at league level in the WAFL.
Let’s go club-by-club from the top…
Zac Clarke: The ex-Docker was recruited by the Lions for a purpose and delivered. He’s 28 has 101 AFL games under his belt and he’s a ruckman who can go forward – clubs have realised how useful such players can be. The big question will be whether his body can stand up to because he did become prone to breaking down.
Josh Deluca: Back at his old club became a triple WAFL premiership player this year. Didn’t quite look up to it when he played his four games for the Dockers but he was consistent and strong in 2018.
Ben Sokol: Could be a very useful third or fourth forward. He is very strong overhead and a powerful kick for goal. Sokol kicked five goals in this year’s grand final and four last year – good signs.
Kyal Horsley: Would you take a 32-year-old? He’s the best player in the WAFL, a leader, absolutely professional – why not?
Luke Meadows: Spent more time in the midfield this year but also appeals as a half back in the big league. He’s skilful and strong and a good size.
Marlion Pickett: He’s different to Tim Kelly but the career trajectory has been similar – adding things and getting better each year. Really good at stoppages and I’ve seen him play effectively as a key defender, running half back, back-up ruckman and on the wing. Tough and kicks well.
Brandon Donaldson: I really liked his approach. A left footer who gets involved during the hot periods of games. Scored 22 goals for the year.
Matthew Parker: Mentioned him last year. He probably didn’t progress as much as was hoped this year but does have some special qualities.
Jye Bolton: Kept his name in lights with another Sandover Medal and another state game Simpson Medal. Not quick but he runs all day and kicks effectively.
Oliver Eastland: Young ruckman who competed well with all opponents thrown at him. Athletic and can take a mark.
Dylan Smallwood: Defender plucked from amateurs and looked the goods. Cool and uses the ball well.
Jared Hardisty: Had a taste of the big time on the Hawthorn list. A real worker who loves tackling.
Jordan Clark: Will go early in the draft and looked totally at home when he came into league team late in the year.
Ajang Ajang: Really impressive in the elimination final. Big leap, makes things happen and has a great name.
Michael Bennell: Came up from Albany and made an immediate impression kicking 26 goals in 11 games. Very skinny, very clever and gets to where the ball is.
Cody Ninyette: Kicked 26 goals. Slightly built small forward who could be brought up to standard.
Sydney Stack: Dynamic early draft prospect who showed signs of what’s to come in his three league games.
Jordan Boullineau: It’s not east playing for Peel but Boullineau looked promising. Good in the air.
Tobe Watson: Looks the best of the good Swans youngsters. A defender with promise.
Cameron Loersch: He kicked 27 goals in nine game and looked imposing at times. Very tall, good in the air and has a good kicking action.
Jonathan Marsh: He’s been there – 15 games for Collingwood. A reluctant key defender who took to the task with plenty of flair. If the experience of playing for the Sharks in 2018 hasn’t scarred him he could be worth consideration.