We’ve thrown up a few names under the What’s in the WAFL headline over the past few years… Tim Kelly, Marlion Pickett, Nathan Broad, Liam Ryan, Liam Baker, Sydney Stack, Aaron Naughton, Sam Taylor, Shai Bolton, Marcus Adams, Matthew Parker, Bailey Banfield… there are some AFL premiership players there.
Sadly my local AFL team missed most of them but as the recruiter I spoke to recently said, “Ya can’t pick everyone.” He went on, “Anyway why didn’t you say something?”
“I did,” I said, “In fact I told everyone. Online. On a website.”
He looked at me blankly, “That stuff’s bullshit mate. Next time write me a letter care of Cockburn.”
Before I begin, a confession. Due to serious live scoreboard hunting in 2019 my WAFL viewing was down a bit so some players may have escaped my attention. But here are some thoughts on what recruiters with an eye on the WAFL may look for in the AFL draft commencing on Wednesday and, for reasons of marketing cleverness, continuing on Thursday.… I’ll try to steer away from the obvious early draft pick types.
In premiership ladder order…
Ben Sokol. The former South Fremantle player has kicked four, five and six in the past three WAFL Grand Finals. He’s strong, quicker than you’d think and has worked very hard on his kicking for goal under the eye of the great Austin Robertson. Medium sized forwards who are good in the air are quite fashionable in the modern AFL… Sokol fits the bill.
Michael Braut. Someone might have noticed his assured performance in the Grand Final. The kind of steady defender the WAFL has been offering up the higher level in recent years.
Chad Pearson (above). Very impressive running defender and a beautiful kick. Did his prospects no harm by being one of few Bulldogs to play decently in the last game of the year.
Haiden Schloithe. Too old? Too late? Had his chance? Highly skilled, pops up in big moments and kicks goals. You have to wonder what he’d do if given a chance.
Bailey Rogers (above). Part of very well organised defence. He’s strong, pretty quick and can kick. Tends to make things happen.
Jeremy Goddard. A young ruckman who was always competitive and looks like he will improve.
Dylan Smallwood. Don’t even know if he has AFL aspirations. Shows excellent judgment in the backline.
Jye Bolton. See comments re Schloithe above.
Not really part of the discussion in this topic. Maybe someone will see something in Brady Grey.
Tyler Keitel. Was once the next big thing. Maybe it’s too late but he’s put in two excellent seasons with a move into the ruck broadening his horizons. Was the fairest and best winner at the Falcons this year.
Jaxon Prior. Impressed in a couple of games late in the season.
Can’t see the league team being plundered but there are some good kids. Michael Bennell had ‘assured’ himself of an AFL chance at half time of the WAFL vs SANFL game. By the end of the season he was playing reserves..
Pint and half-pint sized youngsters Jarvis Pina, Ryan Bennell and Tyrone Thorne (above) will be looked at.
Jeremy Sharp (above) is a dual 18s All-Australian so will be known by the recruiters. In six league games this year he showed a taste for the spectacular, incredible speed and a tendency to rush his disposals.
Cameron Davidson only played a couple of league games but is a key position player who might turn some heads.
While Luke Jackson from East Fremantle is a draft certainty don’t be surprised if Zachary Jackson’s name gets called out later in the call.
Ajang Ajang (above). I’m calling him out again and not just because of the ring in the name. An athletic and durable ruckman who is getting better all the time.
Jackson Ramsey. Has 17 AFL games with Collingwood to his name. Had an outstanding season. Strong and consistent.
I just didn’t see enough of them but Riley Garcia showed a bit of the right stuff in three league games.