By Hayley Wildes
With the 2018 AFL Draft kicking off on Thursday and continuing on Friday, there are plenty of local stars to keep an eye on, with the Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power boasting an array of potential draftees.
The Dandenong Stingrays took home the 2018 TAC Cup Premiership – the first in their history – and it was their depth of talent that won them the flag.
Because of this, expect plenty of Stingrays’ names to be called over the two-day draft.
Sam Sturt and Bailey Williams are Dandenong’s top prospects.
Sturt’s meteoric rise into a potential top-20 draft pick is incredible. A prodigious cricket talent, Sturt only broke into the Stingrays side late in the season, but his athleticism and brilliance around goal immediately stood out.
Williams has long been seen as a potential first round selection and although he has drifted throughout the year, he will most likely be taken around the pick 30 mark. The club that drafts him will be getting a versatile player, one that can play forward or ruck, and despite his size can compete with the best of them on the ground.
Will Hamill and Toby Bedford may be the next Rays selected. Bedford, who is a Melbourne Next Generation Academy player, will find his way to Melbourne as they can match any bid for him. The Demons currently hold picks 29, 32, 38 and 54; 38 or 54 will most likely be used on Bedford.
Hamill is an exciting prospect with speed and smarts, he will offer his new club run and carry and will most likely be selected somewhere in the range of 35 to 55.
Riley Bowman and Zac Foot offer plenty of value as late picks and should end up finding an AFL home. Bowman is one of the best ruck prospects in the draft and a team looking to develop a young ruck won’t go wrong by selecting Bowman.
Foot can play all over the ground and whether he goes forward or has a run in the midfield, has proven himself as a bonafide AFL draft prospect.
The likes of Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan are a chance to find AFL homes and if they aren’t selected in the national draft, are tantalising rookie draft prospects. Captain Campbell Hustwaite, who came equal-third in the TAC Cup best and fairest, also wouldn’t disappoint as a rookie selection.
For the Gippsland Power, a team that was one win away from the TAC Cup grand final, its draftable talent doesn’t run as deep, but the prospects are just as exciting.
Captain Xavier Duursma was a workhorse all year for the Power. He is tough and runs all day and will be a valued selection, most likely in the 20-30 range.
Warragul local Noah Gown is another draft bolter and looks set to be drafted. The tall forward, who was an exciting basketball prospect, made the decision to give up basketball and focus on getting drafted.
The decision paid off as he tore apart the TAC Cup competition and took out Gippsland’s best and fairest. A possible late selection, Gown will provide plenty of forward firepower if selected.
Irving Mosquito, a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy member, has been nominated by the Hawks, meaning they will have rights to draft him should any other club bid for him on draft day.
He is an exciting small forward and the pressure he puts on inside 50 is exactly what clubs are searching for these days. If he goes un-drafted, look for him to be taken in the rookie draft.
Gippsland defender Kyle Reid is another prospect that may find an AFL home through the rookie draft.