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The WAFL stars deserving of a mid-season opportunity

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Roar Guru
6th May, 2019
16

With the mid-season draft approaching quickly, 308 hopefuls have lodged the applications to be eligible for selection.

While only a small number of players are expected to be picked up, the state leagues have been a breeding ground for strong mature-age recruits, and more eyes on these competitions will only place more value on strong, exposed form.

With that in mind, we can look into the players most likely to have an influence at AFL level if selected in the mid-season draft or, at worst, put themselves on shortlists for future National Drafts.

We will explore the WAFL this week and look at which seven players would suit multiple AFL clubs in the mid-season draft.

With five rounds completed and the competition-wide bye approaching this week, a couple of players have stood out enough to suggest they are worthy of spots on AFL lists.

Michael Sinclair (Perth) – 25yo, 190cm, 86kgs – 20.2 disp, 6.8 mks, 2.2 tcks
The best rebounding defender in the competition, Sinclair has had another excellent start to a season as the rock of Perth’s defence.

One poor performance has pushed his numbers down, but the two-time best-and-fairest is a key reason for his team’s continued and consistent success. There are shades of Sam Docherty in the way Sinclair approaches his footy, with good defensive skills often overlooked given how well he intercepts attacking forays.

He’s a good size and has plenty of experience, which is exactly what a top-eight team would love to bring into their club at this time of the year. Should Sinclair be selected, he will post the best numbers of any recruit in 2019. Brisbane could release some pressure on its younger rebounders by picking Sinclair.

Ben Sokol (Subiaco) – 23-year-old, 186cm, 85kgs – 16disp, 8.6mks, 3.2 tcks, 12 goals, 10 behinds
Perhaps unlucky not to get selected in last year’s National Draft, Sokol has begun the season as he finished 2018.

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A star in last year’s grand final (19 disposals, 12 marks, 5.3), Sokol is a genuinely strong medium-sized forward and his ability to hit the scoreboard can provide an immediate injection to any attack at senior level. Sokol’s endurance is a key reason for his dominant numbers at WAFL. One of the fittest players in the competition, Sokol is a genuine siren-to-siren player and can get himself into strong positions when the going gets tough due to his work rate.

Two teams that immediately spring to mind that could use Sokol’s skillset are Sydney and Melbourne who, despite seemingly having a handful of mid-sized forwards, could use a hard-working, fit goalkicker with excellent hands inside forward 50.

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(AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

Corey Gault (Swan Districts) – 26-year-old, 200cm, 100kgs – 15.6 disp, 5.6 mks, 15.2 hitouts, 7 goals, 2 behinds
There are more than a few whispers around Gault’s potential to be drafted come the end of May. He seems to be the prototypical mid-season pickup, with bigger, versatile players seemingly something teams will look for.

Gault has won a best-and-fairest as a number one ruckman, has claimed key scalps as a key defender and is a strong, natural forward option – he started 2018 with 17 goals in eight games.

Given he has spent multiple years on the Collingwood list previously, his knowledge of the requirements needed at senior level will make him an appealing overall option. We saw Jono Marsh earn a call-up for St Kilda and play a completely different role on debut, meaning Gault’s natural proficiency in all areas of the ground would make him a stronger option for any club.

Expect Richmond to be keen on Gault for his versatility given the spots open in defence, while Hawthorn and perhaps the Bulldogs may look into improving their depth with a genuine big man – something both teams need.

Jesse Glass-McCasker (Swan Districts) – 22yo, 198cm, 95kgs – 8.4 disp, 3.8 mks
After never getting an opportunity at Carlton, Glass-McCasker has gone back to Swan Districts and been a rock in defence for the club over the first five rounds of the season.

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In his draft year, Glass-McCasker was seen as one of the top key defensive prospects, yet never jumped off Carlton’s rookie list and failed to standout at VFL level. The value of mature-age key defenders will sky rocket in this mid-season draft, where list needs are more defined, with ready-made options clearly sought after.

Still a young player, clubs with injuries in defence should look into Glass-McCasker at the conclusion of Round 10.

Jaxon Cahill (East Perth) – 19yo, 186cm, 78kgs – 17.2 disp, 4.4 mks, 2.8 tcks, 2.2 frees
With just eight games next to his name, Cahill is somewhat of rising star flying under the radar in the WAFL.

The 19-year-old is a defender that has already been entrusted with some big tasks over his few games and has done them well – he kept Michael Bennell to just three kicks in Round 4 – while still providing offensive output to establish himself as a well-balanced member of the team. When representing Western Australia in the u/18 competition, Cahill was seen as a good interceptor with strong rebounding ability, particularly with the likes of Aaron Naughton and Sam Taylor in the team.

Having shown his ability to play multiple roles within the defensive 50, Cahill is one youngster to write down as a future draftee.

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Marlion Pickett (South Fremantle) – 27yo, 184cm, 84kgs – 2018 stats: 21.8 disp, 4.9 mks, 4.8 tcks, 13 goals
Pickett is yet to feature in the WAFL this season due to injury, but his name is still expected to be featured around draft time.

There was some serious interest in Pickett last season after he took over Tim Kelly’s role at South Fremantle, adding another string to his bow. A player like Pickett would be particularly useful to any club pushing for finals, as he can add a silky edge to any midfield or halfback line, with a strong ability to tackle.

Teams that are relatively one-paced must at least consider Pickett as a potential option, particularly those that will be pushing for finals. Essendon and Port Adelaide may choose to explore this path.

Jack Mayo (Subiaco) – 19yo, 192cm, 81kgs – 10 disp, 4 mks, 1 goal
This is one right out of left-field, but if a team uses the mid-season draft to recruit a young player, then Mayo’s name will surely come into contention. The young forward won the WAFL Colts goalkicking award in 2018, finishing the year averaging 14 disposals, 5.1 marks, 2.4 hitouts, while kicking 50 goals in 20 games.

Mayo has untapped potential, yet quickly found himself to be a vital part of the Colts and then reserves team since the start of 2018. It may not be the modus operandi for clubs heading into the first ever mid-season draft, but a young talent like Mayo who hasn’t had much senior exposure, yet has likeable, raw attributes many clubs look for in a rookie, could be a great option for wily clubs.