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Thom Roker

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Joined February 2018

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Thom Roker is an avid AFL fan. He has been writing and podcasting Gold Coast Suns content since 2017, with a focus on Academy players, NEAFL games, list management and player profiles, as well as the inaugural season of the Suns AFLW team.

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We need to talk about David Swallow

Ten months ahead of the 2010 AFL National Draft, the newly formed GC17 pre-cast what would become its number one pick on a Western Australian kid to be the player they would build a franchise around. That prodigy was a 17-year-old David Swallow, who had just earned under-18 All Australian selection as a bottom-ager with […]

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Roar Guru

Buddy Ugle-Hagan or Jamarra Goodes?

The 2020 AFL carnival of AFL was benighted by the lockdown and cancellation of junior and second-tier footy in the eastern states, robbing the footy-loving public of a large proportion of the ever-increasingly popular pre-draft speculation and analysis of potential AFL talent.

Kaine Baldwin moved from SA to the Gold Coast to study, joining the Academy and a local QAFL team with the intention of nominating for the MSD and getting to the Suns. Then Essendon came knocking and signed him in the SSP. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Although I’m certainly going to use your intel in the next mock draft once I have a larger sample size to make predictions.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Holy hell, Greg Clark is the second coming of Paddy Cripps, only cheap as chips. Or is he another Kyal Horsley?

I didn’t analyse the WAFL too closely as I feel like it won’t have a large impact, but I’ll have a closer look to see whether there are irresistible cases.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

If Venables is put on the long term injury list, the Eagles can pick a player in 9th. However, I don’t really see East Coast clubs doing a big raid on the WAFL like they do on the SANFL. Last time, Carlton got Josh Deluca from Subiaco, St Kilda got Jack Mayo from Subiaco, Freo got Dillon O’Reilly from East Freo, while Richmond snared Marlion Pickett (who almost every club was into but hesitated to take the risk), and only one remains on a list and even then he was so broke getting paid minimum chips that he had to go on JobKeeper.

At the end of the day only 4 of the 13 picked at the last MSD are still on lists, with 4 of the 9 delisted without playing AFL at all. How many diamonds in the rough can be found in WA? If West Coast and Freo have picks by June 2nd, surely they can convince kids to remain in WA, which is an advantage for Non-Victorian clubs if the circumstances are right.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Well, let’s look at the three eras in isolation. After Collingwood’s flag, they changed coaches, got worse every year, traded away half their best players, got good for 3 seasons and now they are where they are.

Hawthorn were rubbish for ages, got some concessions and a heap of high draft picks, managed to luck onto a generational coach, then went on to win 4 flags in 8 seasons. Yet even then they had to sell Buddy to afford to keep everyone together to go 3 straight. The selloff of Mitchell and Lewis was for different reasons, with Sam looking for an assistant position and Jordan went for more money.

Richmond have gone in a third direction, moving out fringe players and replacing them at the draft. So far so good.

I don’t know that there is much else to compare. Sidey and Pendles just don’t see like trade bait to me.

My vision for the next decade at Collingwood

Josh Newman, who is playing great footy for Frankston. St Kilda don’t strike me as a team who would spend piles of money scouting the WAFL and SANFL this early in the year, so I’d expect them to stay pretty close to home. There’s a young bloke called Goy Lok playing for Sandringham that the Saints would have had a close look at as well as several undrafted teenagers from last year’s short draft.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

The Suns will be shooting for the stars, but pick late in the draft after their first selection, so they may well settle for local players on 6 month contracts. I’m huge on Brayden Crossley – there has never been a kid so overjoyed to run out in a Suns jumper. There’s a few ex-Suns I’m big on, including Connor Nutting, who was delisted by the Suns during their biggest rebuild year, as he’s kicked 6 goals in 3 games for Southport. An ex-Lion, Matt Hammelmann, has 16 goals from 3 games and has been the best forward in the NEAFL for years. Wylie Buzza is another Queenslander who Port Adelaide delisted without ever giving him much chance.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Collingwood paid pick #10 for him and gave him away for a pick that became half of the James Aish trade. Seems plausible that there was something else going on. The Saints certainly weren’t saying that though. He was just a liability for a coach who couldn’t coach. Now they are both out of the club. Maybe it says something about Buckley that the lingering narrative around Freeman’s trade was his immaturity, while his exit from the Saints (and the AFL) was met with proclamations of respect and well wishes, even from the coach.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

I was hot for Towers to come to the Suns, but he didn’t fit their age profile. There was also the connection with Stuart Dew and Nick Malceski, and now Josh Francou and Rhyce Shaw. There’s been talk for years about Swans coming North, but their culture is very supportive and nobody wants to leave.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Henry Walsh is a special case. He had two years of media attention and didn’t even play in his draft year, then clubs stopped calling out names after 59 and he was left hanging. He’s not going to play VFL and is currently playing for St Joeys in the Geelong League. I doubt he’s even nominating for the MSD.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

In pure terms of the logistics of shifting Darcy Moore to the forward line permanently, it makes sense drafting a highly rated backman. I know Mark Keane and Will Kelly are being groomed in the role, but Kelly was a forward they are trying to make into a backman. The question is whether or not the Pies go for a teenager or a mature ager.

Pete, are you minded to watch the Young Guns game tomorrow? Do you like any of the prospects? Or have you got thoughts about some mature agers??

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Dean Towers is 31 years old and happily ensconced in the UNSW-Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs football factory as a playing coach where he is studying an exercise physiology degree. He coached Errol Gulden and the club has produced 9 AFL draftees in the past 12 years. Reckon he’s happy where he is.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Don’t forget Sam Gray as well. The Swans are brutal at delisting. Nic Newman found out he was getting delisted and flat out refused to play in the NEAFL Grand Final in case an injury jeopardized his chances of being picked up by another club.

Who knows? Maybe Foot didn’t have the right attitude or he failed some KPIs we’d never know about. If he gets through the MSD without being picked up I’ll be floored.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

All of these players are on Carlton’s VFL list. The smart money is on a list upgrade with the Blues.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Update: the entire 52 players featuring in the Young Guns game went undrafted in 2020 and are ALL eligible for the MSD. They have been nominated by AFL recruiters. None of the 2021 draft class will participate.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Someone like Tyson Goldsack? 😛

Port delisted Wylie Buzza and Riley Grundy after trading for Aliir Aliir, but the need for a B-grade Harris Andrews is evident. The Cannon can do a defensive job, but not the way you’re describing.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

I didn’t know you grew up in the bush far outer sub-suburban satellite township of Greater Outer Metropolitan Melbourne.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Macca, the main point is that Matty is having a tree-change and unlikely to feature in the Mid-season draft. Unless you also hate the term “tree-change”, in which case he’s enjoying a season of semi-pro footy in the outer suburban wastelands field of dreams and kicking goals for fun.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Time to test your hypothesis about late birthdays and Kevin Sheehan’s theory that rookie drafts balance out in the end.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Yes, very good point. That is why I included all 18 clubs in my comment because even though 6 clubs have no picks and many others only have one pick, anything can happen in the next 4 rounds and the MSD requires clubs to engage players before they can pick them.

For interest’s sakes, there is a game tomorrow that ought to interest you. Metro VS Country Young guns game. Ostensibly, the match is for U23s, but the NAB League App shows the ages to be mainly 18 and 19 with a 20yo on either side. Out of 52 players, many went undrafted in 2020 and are eligible for the MSD, so it is basically the most important trial of the year to date with the NAB League on hiatus.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

The Swans went down the youth path with Logan McDonald, Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell, Marc Sheather and Malachy Carruthers. Even if only 3 of them make it, bringing them through as a group was obviously more important.

The game I was thinking of was in 2019 against the Suns, with Foot kicking 3 goals as Sydney’s best player in a losing side. I was so hopeful for that Suns team, but looking at stats from a game played 20 months ago only 4 players are still on the Suns list and 6 Swans. NEAFL simply wasn’t developing players to AFL standard, so list managers have had to make some brutal cuts. How they evaluated Foot during Covid with the Swans playing terrible footy is baffling, but they re-rookied Sam Gray and Robbie Fox.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

I said bush league. Olinda might not be your idea of “bush”, but if your place is on fire you call the CFA not the Metropolitan Fireys.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

I’m fairly impressed with Carlton’s VFL recruitment after being unimpressed with the way they dumped the Preston partnership. Toby Wooller is having an excellent start to the season with 7 goals as an undersized ruck/forward giving a handy chop out. He was the captain of the Lions NEAFL team in their undefeated premiership season.
Another good pickup has been Ryley Stoddart.

I have made a lot of predictions based on clubs promoting players from their VFL lists because of their re rioting patterns, but it’s a crapshoot. North and Collingwood will pick the eyes out of the top of the draft, but players must agree to go.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

I watched Zac Foot tearing games up in the NEAFL, so I couldn’t believe it when the Swans delisted him. Ryley Stoddart too.

I think Matty Scharenberg has had enough of AFL after 3 ACLs. He’s playing bush league and probably making good coin doing it rather than scrambling to get on a VFL list and trying back onto an AFL list. He is only 25, so maybe kicking bags each week in the bush will get boring. He is from SA, so the SANFL is probably his final destination.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Yeah, Crozier is a front runner. Maybe Richmond will try to pinch him!

I’m a big fan of Jack Briskey, but I feel like Collingwood will take him first.

The reason I suggested a ruckman for Brisbane is that they like to play a similar style in the reserves, so having an experienced ruckman would benefit the emerging midfielders. A William Wolbers type who would play the remaining 10 games or so, teach the younger rucks about the craft and be 4th stringer in case of disaster.

Mock mid-season rookie draft order

Fair call. I think they will though because they picked up Oscar McDonald in the SSP and he’s out for most of the season.
Charlie Curnow hasn’t got a return date either.

Who do you think they’ll be chasing?

Mock mid-season rookie draft order