HomeBreaking NewsAFL Draft: 10 young guns to watch in the 2022 NAB League

AFL Draft: 10 young guns to watch in the 2022 NAB League

Summary

Here are 10 top players to watch that recruiters are keeping a very close eye on ahead of the AFL Draft later this year. WILL ASHCROFT (SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS)Midfielder, 180cm, 76kgRecruiters see Ashcroft as the “pick of the midfielders” in this year’s draft and an early frontrunner for the No. 1 pick if he was on the open market. A player without many deficiencies, Ashcroft is the son of three-time Brisbane premiership player Marcus and is father-son eligible to the Lions. However, he is now settled in Melbourne after spending his younger years on the Gold Coast and has so far made no decision on whether he will nominate for the Lions. Described as “a jet”, Ashcroft spent a month training with Brisbane during pre-season. Now studying at university, he will focus his efforts on playing for Sandringham Dragons in the NAB League this year. He looks up to Carlton’s Sam Walsh and is a player who can similarly have an impact on the inside and outside of the contest. Ashcroft starred with 33 disposals, 12 clearances and two goals for Vic Metro in its under-17s clash with Vic Country last year.ou can live stream the NAB League match of the round each week on the this masthead’s website. For more details and the match schedule, see this page. HARRY SHEEZEL (SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS)Forward, 184cm, 77kgA talented midfielder-forward who is athletic and possesses great footy smarts, recruiters are excited about what Sheezel can produce this year. He spent his whole junior career playing as an inside midfielder for AJAX and hoping to be the next Scott Pendlebury, but was moved forward in under-15s interleague to great effect and stayed there. Sheezel now looks up to Toby Greene and Josh Rachele and is a similarly damaging medium-sized forward who is a good mark, has great goal sense can hit the scoreboard. Sheezel kicked three goals and had two score assists from 13 disposals for Vic Metro in its under-17s clash with Vic Country last year and caught the eye with four goals in a pre-season NAB League practice match against Dandenong Stingrays. He also performed well in the Yo Yo test at the NAB League testing day in March, racking up a level 21.7 which ranked him equal-ninth overall. GEORGE WARDLAW (OAKLEIGH CHARGERS)Midfielder, 182cm, 81kgAn inside-bull, Wardlaw has no shortage of admirers among recruiters and is tipped to be a high draft pick this year. A co-captain of Oakleigh last year, Wardlaw is a competitive beast who thrives on the contest and has clean hands in tight. He also has great workrate and loves to lay a tackle. Wardlaw logged 22 disposals, six clearances and seven tackles for Vic Metro in its under-17s clash with Vic Country last year to be the second-ranked player on the ground behind Will Ashcroft. The St Kevin’s College student tries to model his game on Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver, but is an Essendon fan who trained with Collingwood for a week in January as part of the AFL Academy program. He is a remarkably good jumper, having placed second in both the vertical jump and the running vertical jump at the NAB League testing day in March.ELIJAH TSATAS (OAKLEIGH CHARGERS)Midfielder, 186cm, 79kgAn athletic midfielder with speed to burn, Tsatas has an ability to impact both on the inside of the contest and the outside. A co-captain of Oakleigh Chargers last year, the former Surrey Park junior has an athletics background and has competed in the 400m and 100m hurdles at national level. It was therefore little surprise that Tsatas finished equal-ninth in the running vertical jump at the NAB League testing day in March, clocking up a score of 93. Tsatas also has good foot skills and looks up to Greater Western Sydney’s Josh Kelly. He trained with Collingwood during January as part of the AFL Academy program, but is a Richmond fan who was in the stands for the Tigers’ drought-breaking premiership in 2017. Tsatas had 25 disposals, six marks, four score assists and kicked one goal for Vic Metro in its under-17s clash with Vic Country last year, finishing as the fourth-ranked player on the ground.MATTHEW JEFFERSON (OAKLEIGH CHARGERS)Forward, 194cm, 76kgOne of the top key position prospects in this year’s draft pool, Jefferson is a lead-up key forward with the ability to take contested marks. A versatile player, Jefferson spent much of his juniors playing a 50-50 split between forward and back and would also have a run through the midfield at times. However, the Wesley College student now feels settled in attack and looks up to AFL players like brothers Max and Ben King and Essendon’s Harry Jones. A former under-16 Victorian championship winner in representative basketball for Waverley Falcons, Jefferson trained with Richmond during pre-season in January as part of the AFL Academy program. OLIVER HOLLANDS (MURRAY BUSHRANGERS)Midfielder, 184cm, 71kgHollands’ football links run deep. His great-grandfather Martin Cross Snr played 36 games for Carlton in the 1960s, his father Ben played eight games for Richmond in 1999 and his older brother Elijah was a top-10 draft pick for Gold Coast Suns in 2020. Like Elijah, Oliver is now on track to be a first-round draft pick himself. Oliver grew up playing for the Wodonga Bulldogs and has gone through the Murray Bushrangers program but is now also playing school football in his third year boarding at Geelong Grammar. The Carlton supporter, who also has a soft spot for Gold Coast, trained with the Geelong during pre-season and is seen as a crafty midfielder with a good balance between his inside and outside game who has a big tank. He finished equal-fourth in the Yo Yo test at the NAB League testing day in March with a level of 21.8. Hollands had 23 disposals and three clearances for Vic Country in its under-17s clash with Vic Metro last year. LUKE TEAL (OAKLEIGH CHARGERS)Defender, 188cm, 80kgA talented halfback or wingman, the Oakleigh ace is the son of Robert Teal, who played 18 games for Sydney across the 1989 and 1990 seasons after being selected at pick 8 in the 1989 pre-season draft. Teal likes to attack the game with his run and carry and is good in the air with his ability to intercept mark or create a contest and bring the ball to ground. The Glen Iris junior is a Hawks fan who looked up to Luke Hodge, but has more recently tried to add elements of Western Bulldogs defender Bailey Dale to his own game. A student at Trinity Grammar, Teal trained with Richmond during pre-season as part of the AFL Academy program but was unable to be put through his paces at the NAB League testing day in March due to a slight ankle injury. Teal had 12 disposals, two marks and three spoils for Vic Metro in its under-17s clash with Vic Country last year.JHYE CLARK (GEELONG FALCONS)Midfielder, 181cm, 77kgA hardworking midfielder with strong aerobic capacity, Clark is the son of well-known Geelong local footy coach Steve Clark. The Saint Ignatius College Geelong student thrives on the contest. He loves to win the hard ball and clearances in tight and is also a tackling machine. Clark looks up to Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and has been working to add more breakaway speed from the contest to his game over the off-season. Clark is also highly capable in the air with his marking ability. Clark was named Vic Country’s best player at last year’s under-17 championships and logged 17 disposals (10 contested), five clearances and four tackles against Vic Metro. He also played three games of senior football for Queenscliffe in the Bellarine Football League last year. The Collingwood supporter trained with Geelong during pre-season as part of the AFL Academy program. MITCH SZYBKOWSKI (DANDENONG STINGRAYS)Midfielder, 186cm, 84kgA big-bodied inside midfielder, Szybkowski is renowned for his hardworking attitude on the field and on the training track. A Beaconsfield junior, the Caulfield Grammar student is composed around stoppages and can use the ball well by hand of foot. Szybkowski is a Collingwood supporter and has long looked up to captain Scott Pendlebury. However, he trained with Melbourne during pre-season as part of the AFL Academy program and also took plenty away from watching the likes of Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca go about their work on the track. Szybkowski had 17 disposals and three clearances for Vic Country in its under-17s match with Vic Metro last year.HARLEY REID (BENDIGO PIONEERS)Forward, 185cm, 82kgRecruiters are already getting excited about Reid, who is draft eligible next year but was included as a bottom-age player in this year’s AFL Academy program. Reid is a tough midfielder-forward who hails from Tongala in the Goulburn Valley and attends school at St Joseph’s College in Echuca where he is in Year 11 this year. He has explosive pace, can take a contested mark and knows how to find the goals. Reid had 11 disposals (seven contested) and three tackles as a bottom-age player in Vic Country’s under-17s clash with Vic Metro last year and also impressed in five games for the Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League. Reid is set to train with Carlton in April as part of the AFL Academy program.

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