Based upon their performances in the 2015 U16s Championships, where they were belted on average by 81 points across three games, West Australian draft prospects would supposedly be thinly represented in the 2017 draft.
However, after dominant performances at last year’s AFL U18 Championships (they finished second overall), 20 West Australians were picked up at the AFL National and Rookie Drafts.
And what is even more exciting is that the 2018 West Australian crop is already shaping up to be one of the best, from a WA perspective.
Below are the players who will most likely make a strong impression on recruiters’ minds for the 2018 AFL Draft.
JARROD CAMERON/SWAN DISTRICTS/HALF-FORWARD/182cm/70kg
The younger brother of Brisbane’s boom recruit Charlie, Jarrod Cameron has put forward a sensational bottom age season for both Swan Districts and the WA U18s State Academy. In 13 games for Swan Districts, he booted 16 goals and averaged 14 possessions, three marks and three tackles, as he rotated through the midfield and the forward line. His best games for the Swans came against Perth in round 1 (16 possessions, 8 tackles, and 3 marks), South Fremantle in round 17 (16 possessions, 5 tackles, 4 marks, 4 inside 50s and 2 goals) and Peel Thunder in round 19 (10 possessions, 4 tackles, 3 marks and 2 goals). For Western Australia he only played two games, but he showcased a football ability that is eerily similar to his brother’s – he has elite disposal efficiency and applies great pressure acts.
The Fremantle Dockers’ Academy member is a potential top 20 pick for next year’s draft, such is his ability and maturity. He first rose to prominence last year, when playing for the WA U16s State Academy, where he produced dominant outings against Vic Metro (17 possessions), and Vic Country (19 possessions) to earn All-Australian honours. But the most amazing moment he produced came against South Australia when he gathered the ball on the half-back line, before running the length of the field to kick a magical goal. In his debut for the Claremont Colts, against Perth in round 3, he showed glimpses of his class with 11 possessions, four inside 50s, three marks and two behinds, while the following week against East Perth he starred with 16 possessions and three marks. Were it not for the knee injury he suffered before this year’s Championships, Carter may even have stamped himself as a top 10 selection in next year’s Draft.
A star in the making, English produced an outstanding season for the Demons that saw him claim the Jack Clarke Medal, the WAFL Colts Coaches Award, the Perth Colts’ Best & Fairest and selection in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year. He led the league in possessions (475) and ranked fourth for tackles (108), drawing comparisons to Adelaide star Matt Crouch. The 2015 WA State Schoolboys’ representative produced several best afield performances, including against West Perth (34 possessions, 8 tackles, 3 inside 50s and 3 goals), Subiaco (25 possessions, 4 inside 50s, 3 tackles and a goal), and Peel Thunder (17 possessions, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s and 3 goals), to be the first player since Jordan Eastwell in 2008 to poll 50+ votes in the Jack Clarke Medal. English has a bright future ahead of him.
The younger cousin of Fremantle’s Stephen and Brad, Ian Hill is firming as a top five selection in next year’s AFL Draft. In four games for the WA U18s State Academy, he booted three goals and averaged 15 possessions (seven contested), four marks, three tackles and three inside 50s, with his best game coming against Vic Country (25 possessions, seven marks, five inside 50s and three rebounding 50s). He only played four games for Perth in 2017, as he had to juggle football with his school commitments at Wesley College, but he produced starring performances including against Subiaco (26 possessions, seven marks, seven inside 50s and four tackles), and East Fremantle (22 possessions, six tackles, four marks and two inside 50s) to showcase his talent. Last year he won the WA U16s MVP, All-Australian and was inducted into the AFL Academy after brilliant performances against Vic Metro (20 possessions and three goals), and Vic Country (four goals). Like his older cousins, Hill boasts explosive speed and dazzling skills, making him one of the spectacular players to watch out for in next year’s Draft.
JOSEPH HINDER/SWAN DISTRICTS/SMALL FORWARD/180cm/65kg
An electrifying player in the forward half, Hinder has an amazing ability to create moments of magic on the football field. In 2017 he played 12 games for Swan Districts, and booted 16 goals (ranked second at Swans), and averaged 11 possessions, three marks and two tackles, with his best games coming against Perth in round 1 (nine possessions, three marks and two goals), and South Fremantle in rounds 2 (nine possessions, five marks and five goals) and 17 (12 possessions and four goals). He isn’t a huge accumulator, but he provides maximum damage when he has ball in hand. In his only game at the U18s Championships, against Vic Country, he recorded just seven possessions (three contested), and three marks, but looked lively whenever he had the ball. Like every elite small forward, Hinder has a magic touch and always creates moments of magic.
TOM JOYCE/EAST FREMANTLE/MIDFIELD/179cm/67kg
Despite standing only 179cm, Tom Joyce will be one of the hardest footballers in next year’s AFL Draft. At last year’s U16 National Championships, he produced outstanding performances, including against Vic Metro (19 possessions) and Vic Country (22 possessions) to win selection in the AFL Academy. He backed it up in 2017 with stellar performances for West Australia against South Australia (21 possessions – 10 contested – four tackles, four clearances and three marks), Vic Metro (23 possessions – 13 contested – five marks, five tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s, and two rebounding 50s), and Vic Country (22 possessions – 10 contested – and five clearances). For WA at the 2017 AFL U18 Championships, he ranked second for contested possessions & inside 50s, third for total possessions and clearances, and fourth for tackles. He also demonstrated that he is a big game performer, with a sensational finals series for the East Fremantle Colts , including a dominant outing in the First Semi-Final against Claremont (23 possessions, six marks, five tackles and three inside 50s). He was close to best-on-ground in the Sharks’ premiership victory over the Tigers (24 possessions, six marks and three tackles).
DILLON O’REILLY/EAST FREMANTLE/KEY FORWARD/193cm/79kg
The son of former Cat, Blue & Docker Stephen O’Reilly, Dillon is clearly the best key position prospect from WA for next year’s AFL Draft. As a key forward, he is powerful, commanding, skilful and athletic, and he can also play as a pinch-hitting ruckman. In 2017 he kicked 46 goals from 17 games to take out the WAFL Colts Leading Goalkicker Award, and win selection in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year as the centre half-forward. His best game came against Swan Districts in round 16 when he was best afield with seven goals from 13 possessions and seven marks, and he demonstrated that he is a big game performer with a dominant outing over Claremont in the 2nd Semi-Final with five goals from 10 possessions and four marks. He also made his League debut for East Fremantle in round 22 against Peel where he starred with 11 possessions, five marks, three tackles and a goal. With such performances, there will be high expectations for O’Reilly in 2018.
The Sorrento-Duncraig junior is one of the best ruck prospects from WA this season, despite standing only at 196cm. Blessed with incredible athleticism, Peacock first announced himself at the 2016 AFL U16 Championships with his dominating performance against Vic Country (21 hit-outs). He only played five games in 2017, but produced excellent performances against Peel Thunder (27 hit-outs, 5 possessions, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s and a goal) and against Perth (27 hit-outs, 7 possessions and 3 inside 50s). He was one of four West Australians to take part in the 2017 AFL U17s All Stars Game, highlighting how much recruiters regard his potential.
Stack is one of the most exciting players for next year’s Draft, and it is not hard to see why. In the forward line, Stack often produces moments of magic, whether it be flying for a contested mark, or weaving his way through traffic, or miraculously snapping through a goal. He first burst onto the scene with a strong carnival for WA’s U16s Academy last year, with brilliant performances against Vic Metro (17 possessions and a goal) and Vic Country (three goals), and backed it up again this year. In 11 games for Perth’s Colts team, he booted seven goals and averaged 18 possessions, five tackles and four marks, with his most notable performances coming against West Perth (20 possessions and two goals), South Fremantle (22 possessions and three goals) and Peel Thunder (21 possessions, nine inside 50s, seven tackles and four marks). While for Western Australia, he averaged 10 possessions (five contested), three marks, and three tackles, with his best games coming against Vic Metro (11 possessions – six contested – two clearances and two inside 50s) and the Allies (13 possessions – six contested – three tackles and three inside 50s). He has the arsenal to become a bona fide footballing star.
DURAK TUCKER/PEEL THUNDER/GENERAL DEFENDER/188cm/76kg
The Bunbury product had an exceptional season in 2017 to elevate himself as a serious draft prospect in 2018. Likened to Fremantle’s Luke Ryan, Tucker is an intercepting defender who also has an elite disposal, especially via foot. For the Thunder in 2017, he played 12 games and averaged 15 possessions, 5 marks and two tackles with his outstanding performances coming against East Perth (26 possessions & 9 marks), Subiaco (17 possessions & 7 marks) and East Fremantle (15 possessions & 7 marks). He was also a bottom-ager for the WA U18s and played all four games, averaging 11 possessions and three marks. He shone against both Vic Metro (11 possessions, 5 marks & 3 rebounding 50s) and Vic Country (15 possessions, 5 marks and 2 rebounding 50s) to truly announce himself as a star junior to watch out for in 2018.
OTHER – “ELITE TALENT”
- Jarrad Fazioli/Peel Thunder/Small Forward
- Damon Greaves/East Perth/Half-Back
- Louis Miller/East Perth/Half-Back
- Luke Moore/South Fremantle/Forward
- Rylie Morgan/Claremont/Midfield
- Regan Spooner/South Fremantle/Utility