AFL Draft 2022: All the latest news and whispers as top mid-season prospects emerge

With the AFL mid-season draft looming, son-of-a-gun Casey Voss had one more big opportunity to convince recruiters he deserves a chance. And he made it count.

Casey Voss has made his case.

The playmaking Sturt defender on Sunday not only led South Australia to a thrilling state game win against Western Australia but turned the match into a stunning AFL audition.

It was a statement game of the highest order.

Voss, 21, racked up 29 disposals and took 15 marks to win the prestigious Fos Williams Medal as the Croweaters’ best player in their tight four-point victory.

Ridiculous that he is not already on an AFL list, son-of-a-gun Voss thrust his name in front of AFL recruiters like never before just two weeks before the AFL mid-season rookie draft on June 1.

His standout performance could not have been more timely.

“It was nice that my form was able to carry over into a big game like this,’’ Voss told The Advertiser.

“I’m having a pretty good year at Sturt, which is travelling well at 5-1, and it was exciting to pull on the state jumper for the first time, play well and, more importantly, get the win.

“As far as the timing is concerned, I’m not really thinking about that. If it (being drafted) comes, it comes, but I’m just really enjoying my footy at the moment, which is the main thing.’’

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Casey Voss with the Fos Williams medal for best SANFL player in Sunday's state clash with the WAFL in Perth. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Casey Voss with the Fos Williams medal for best SANFL player in Sunday's state clash with the WAFL in Perth. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

But the son of Brisbane triple premiership captain, Brownlow Medallist and current Carlton coach Michael Voss admits he harbours AFL aspirations.

“As a young kid I’ve always had aspirations to play at that level and if the opportunity comes I would definitely be very excited,’’ he said.

Voss, who made last season’s The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year and won Sturt’s best and fairest award, revealed only one club, the Lions, where his dad became a legend, had ever interviewed him for a list spot.

“There hasn’t been too much interest, just from Brisbane,’’ Voss said of the club that passed on the chance to draft him as a father-son selection in 2018 but strongly considered taking him as a mature-age prospect last year.

But he has not been fazed by his snubbing and responded in the best possible way, averaging 22 disposals and a competition-leading 10 marks in six games for the top-of-the-table Double Blues this season.

Voss in action for Sturt in the SANFL. Picture: Brenton Edwards
Voss in action for Sturt in the SANFL. Picture: Brenton Edwards

Michael says Casey deserves to be on an AFL list but ruled out taking him at the Blues in the mid-season draft because of the family connection.

“I’d love to, I’d absolutely love to,” Michael told SEN.

“Unfortunately that won’t be us. There’s a little bit too much difficulty so we might leave that one alone.

“But I really hope he gets his chance. He certainly deserves it, he couldn’t state a stronger case over the last two years.

“I guess clubs will work that out if he has some relevance to them but if it comes to fruition I know he’d be a pretty happy young man.”

State coach Jade Sheedy described Voss as “a great player’’ while dual Sturt premiership coach, Sydney premiership player and former Crow Martin Mattner says he has no doubt Voss has the makings of an AFL footballer.

“He is one of the smartest players I have ever seen play the game and is the type of player at whatever level he plays, he finds a way to impact the game,” he said.

Father-son Don turning heads

An Essendon father-son prospect is turning heads at a time the Bombers are beginning to look thin on small forward stocks.

Alwyn Davey Jnr – the son of former Bombers forward Alwyn Davey – was added to the NAB AFL Academy squad earlier this month, joining Essendon Next Generation Academy prospect Anthony Munkara.

Davey’s twin brother, Jayden, is also a Bombers father-son prospect but ruptured his ACL in March, sidelining him for his entire draft year.

Alwyn Davey Jnr, is turning heads at Essendon. Photo: Xavier College.
Alwyn Davey Jnr, is turning heads at Essendon. Photo: Xavier College.

Some recruiters rated Jayden higher than Alwyn last year – albeit from limited exposure – but expect a bid to come relatively early on Alwyn at November’s national draft.

“He’s got good speed, he takes the game on, pressures well,” one recruiter said of Alwyn.

“He can play midfield and forward.

“Alwyn has more runs on the board, but the flashes that Jayden showed last year were pretty exciting.”

Alwyn stands 180.7cm tall, with Jayden marginally more at 181cm.

Both were listed with the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League this year and attend school at Xavier College, where Alwyn is also playing school football.

Munkara, who hails from the Tiwi Islands, is the only member of the AFL Academy from the Northern Territory this year but has played games for West Adelaide’s under-18s in the SANFL.

Under NGA rules, Essendon will only be able to match a bid on the exciting 188cm forward if he drops outside the first 40 picks in this year’s draft.

Essendon lost small forward Orazio Fantasia to Port Adelaide at the end of 2020, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has been unsighted at senior level this season and Devon Smith has been in and out of Ben Rutten’s team.

MID-SEASON CONTENDERS EMERGE

A group of four players have emerged as standout selections for next month’s AFL mid-season draft after impressive recent performances.

One AFL club recruiter said he would “be shocked” if Victorian pair Jai Culley and Max Ramsden were not selected.

Fellow Victorian Hugo Hall-Kahan and South Australian Jye Menzie are also widely tipped by recruiters to find homes.

Culley logged 197 ranking points and kicked four goals from 22 disposals in a best-afield performance for the Young Guns in their clash with Vic Metro’s under-18s last Saturday.

The 193cm midfielder-forward from the Dandenong Stingrays missed games with a shoulder injury early in the season, but recruiters have seen enough to know what to expect.

Ramsden, a 202cm ruckman from the Sandringham Dragons, also impressed for the Young Guns last weekend and is seen as an exciting player but one with a fair bit of development left ahead of him.

Opposition clubs believe Ramsden would be of particular interest to a club like Geelong.

Hall-Kahan was seen as being “just Okay” for the Young Guns last weekend, but has played some strong NAB League football with the Sandringham Dragons this year.

Max Ramsden has plenty of admirers.
Max Ramsden has plenty of admirers.

The 188cm forward would require an exception to be eligible for the mid-season draft, after not nominating for last year’s drafts.

“He has come from nowhere a little bit,” another senior recruiter said.

“I reckon someone would have a nibble there.”

Menzie has also caught the attention of clubs after some blistering form for South Adelaide in the SANFL, where he has kicked 15 goals from six games this season.

Menzie had played 7 games for Tasmania Devils in the NAB League last season but the North Hobart product found himself overlooked at the 2021 drafts.

The Young Guns players will get another chance to shine on Sunday when they tackle Vic Country’s under-18 side at Princes Park.

The AFL mid-season draft will be held on June 1.

The Vic Country squad is headlined by potential first round selections and AFL Academy members Oliver Hollands, the brother of highly-touted 2020 draftee Elijah, and Geelong Falcons ball-winner Jhye Clark.

Recent AFL Academy additions in GWV Rebels key forward Aaron Caddman and Dandenong Stingrays defender Henry Hustwaite will also take on the Young Guns.

The Gippsland Power has seven players in the side, including rising midfielder Bailey Humphreys and highly-touted 2023 draft prospect Zane Duursma, the younger brother of Port Adelaide playmaker Xavier.

Livewire 185cm forward Harley Reid will be another player on recruiter’s watchlists for next year’s draft after an eye-catching start to the season for the Bendigo Pioneers.

Bendigo Pioneers prospect Max Dow, the younger brother of first-round picks Paddy (Carlton) and Thomson (Richmond), and promising Melbourne Next Generation Academy prospect Finn Emile-Brennan are among the Vic Country squad.

POSSIBLE NO. 1 PICK CONTINUES TO SHINE IN VFL

Potential No. 1 draft pick Will Ashcroft produced another sterling performance for Brisbane in the VFL last weekend as his stocks continue to rise.

After collecting 24 disposals in his VFL debut a week earlier, Ashcroft had a monster day through the midfield against Coburg with 32 disposals, five clearances, five inside-50s, nine tackles, 12 score involvements and a goal.

Potential No. 1 draft pick Will Ashcroft continues to shine for Brisbane in the VFL Picture: Getty Images
Potential No. 1 draft pick Will Ashcroft continues to shine for Brisbane in the VFL Picture: Getty Images

A father-son prospect for the Lions – where his father Marcus played in three premierships from 2001-03 – the talented midfielder entered this season atop of the recruiting boards of many clubs and hasn’t done anything to slip from that position.

Living in Melbourne and playing for the Sandringham Dragons in the NAB League, Ashcroft said in March that remained undecided about nominating as a father-son for the Lions.

However, Brisbane has been keen to get bring him into their fold as much as possible this year.

Ashcroft is committed to playing with the Dragons this year, but the NAB League has had byes the past two weekends.

SON OF CRICKET STAR SIDELINED

The son of a former Australian Test batter has been sidelined for most of the season with a knee injury.

Oakleigh Chargers product Will Elliott, whose father Matthew played 21 Tests and scored more than 1000 runs for his country, has sustained a knee injury related to his growth, with no clear timeframe on his return.

The 201cm key forward stands 13cm taller than his father and is predicted to get even taller.

“He is probably going to be sidelined for most of the year, he has got a bit of a knee issue that we will take care of and make sure we get him right,” Oakleigh Chargers talent manager Jy Bond said.

“It’s not an ACL, it is just a growing issue, it is not structural it is more to do with the rate that he is growing.”

Elliott has kicked two goals from as many matches to start the season and represented Vic Metro last year.

His older brother, Sam, followed in his father’s footsteps and is listed with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.

The son of former Australian Matthew Elliott has suffered an injury.
The son of former Australian Matthew Elliott has suffered an injury.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S TALL ORDER

South Australia’s under-18 boys team is looming as a side of giants, with almost half the squad measuring above 190cm.

Headlined by West Adelaide key forwards Harry Lemmey and Tom Scully and ruck/forward Harry Barnett, 17 members of coach Tony Bamford’s 40-player squad are talls.

“We have lots of talls in the squad this year, more than we would normally have,’' said Bamford, whose squad will start its 2022 AFL National Championships campaign against the Allies at Thebarton Oval on June 19.

“It’s a freak year with talls, which is different but also exciting, but it will be interesting to see how we go about coaching a team full of talls.’’

Bamford will have to find a way given the quality of tall players at his disposal.

Lemmey (199cm), Scully and Barnett (202cm), Nowood’s Max Michalanney (192cm) and Woodville-West Torrens’ Mattaes Phillipou (191cm) are viewed as being among SA’s top AFL draft prospects this year.

West Adelaide young gun Tom Scully. Picture: Dean Martin
West Adelaide young gun Tom Scully. Picture: Dean Martin

“It will be a juggling act but we’ll probably play three marking targets ahead of the ball instead of the usual two and look at playing two genuine rucks in the one side,’’ Bamford said.

“You usually play two tall defenders and a medium-tall defender, so that won’t need to change.’’

SA’s other players over 190cm include Central District’s Adam Deakin (191cm), Jayden Matz (196cm) and Brodie Tuck (194cm), North Adelaide’s Isaac Keeler (198cm), Shaun Bennier (193cm) and Jack Hodges (192cm), Norwood’s Phoenix Foster (196cm), South Adelaide’s Will Verrall (200cm) and Kyle Marshall (199cm) and West’s Will Patton (191cm), Oscar Kregar (190cm) and Darcy Minchella (196cm), leaving Bamford hoping for a dry weather carnival.

SA has selected 30 top-age players and 10 bottom-agers in its 40-player squad.

“We think we have a really good mix of talent forward, with some very good tall forwards, and back and some excellent inside midfielders,’’ Bamford said.

“We’re probably looking for a couple of players to stand up in terms of outside-mid roles.’’

West Adelaide’s Kobe Ryan is one of those standout midfielders, with the 18-year-old impressing in his SANFL league debut on Saturday.

The classy midfielder, who averaged 156 Champion Data ranking points in the opening six under-18 matches for the year, booted two goals from 21 disposals against the Crows reserves.

Ryan, one of seven Bloods in the under-18 squad, looms as first-round contender in this year’s national draft.

Big-bodied on-baller Billy Dowling is another Croweater who could further enhance is draft standing on the national stage.

The 187cm teenager has dominated the SANFL under-18 competition this season, averaging 32.7 disposals, 10.2 score involvements and 168 ranking points – all league highs – in the opening six rounds.

Dowling, a terrific leader, who co-captains his school side St Peter’s, is a balanced midfielder with an impressive ability to find space forward of centre and hit the scoreboard.

He’s booted nine goals of his own and played a direct hand in 11 other Roosters’ scores in 2022.

BLUES CONTESTED BEAST DESERVES MID-SEASON SLOT

A former coach of Carlton VFL midfielder Joel Trudgeon has called on AFL clubs to take him in the mid-season rookie draft, claiming the determined prospect would “crawl over broken glass” to beat his competitors.

The contested beast was overlooked in last year’s drafts despite dominating the NAB League as a 19-year-old for the Northern Knights under coach Leigh Clarke, averaging an astonishing 29.6 disposals, 17.1 contested possessions, 10 tackles a goal and 191 KFC SuperCoach points per game – including an unbelievable 308-point effort.

After two matches at VFL level for Carlton last year, Trudgeon is putting his hand up to recruiters in 2022 with his fierce tackling and contested ball-winning, which has stood out against AFL listed players, recording an average of 20 disposals, 11 contested possessions and 6.1 tackles from his seven games.

It is understood the main concern from recruiters surrounding the strong midfielder, whose contest work has been described as “extraordinary” by his VFL coach Dan O’Keefe, was his kicking ability.

Joel Trudgeon has stood up at VFL level. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Joel Trudgeon has stood up at VFL level. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Trudgeon dominated at NAB League level last year. Picture: Michael Klein
Trudgeon dominated at NAB League level last year. Picture: Michael Klein

Clarke, who trumpeted Trudgeon’s strengths to recruiters last year to no avail, said his dedication was unparalleled and his work ethic and character would drive the rest of any AFL list.

“You’ve got WA players hanging out at nightclubs, that wouldn’t even come into Joel Trudgeon’s mind,” Clarke told the Herald Sun.

“If you want someone who is going to come on and keep your program tracking in the right direction, he has got every character trait.

“If he’s not setting the world on fire on-field, he is certainly setting the standards off field to push your players to make sure they are at the top of their game off field to make sure your best players are staying on top of their game or else he’ll take their spot off them and crawl over broken glass to stay there too.

“If I had a golden ticket to the chocolate factory, I’d be giving it to him, that’s for sure.”

O’Keefe also believes he is worthy of an AFL shot, declaring that his strengths are as good as any player in the state league competition and describing his contest work as “extraordinary”.

He said the 19-year-old had shone up against opposition such as Richmond’s Riley Collier-Dawkins and Sydney Stack along with Brisbane listed midfielder Rhys Mathieson.

“His contested game is so strong, he’s coming up against listed players every week now and he beats them more often than not,’ O’Keefe said.

“Whether he is winning the contested ball or he’s making a tackle he is completely comfortable at the level, if not above the level, at the contest.

“His running capacity is really good, he covers more ground than most players but his contest stuff is extraordinary. In particular, for how much time he’s had in the game, which is not much compared to his opponents

“You want to pick players based on their strength and if you talk about his strengths, it is as good as any in the VFL competition, and he’s proven that. Yes he can be a better kick, but there’s not many perfect players out there in the draft.”

O’Keefe also considers speedy midfielder and Young Guns nominee Zavier Maher, who was left on the board in the 2020 national draft, as a draftable player following a strong campaign alongside Trudgeon for Carlton’s VFL side.

Maher impressed for the Young Guns with 27 disposals and nine clearances against Vic Metro last weekend.

Originally published as AFL Draft 2022: All the latest news and whispers as top mid-season prospects emerge

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