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SA star could be 2018's No.1 draft pick

Izak Rankine is considered a strong chance of being the No.1 draft pick in the 2018 draft - AFL,Under-18s
Izak Rankine is considered a strong chance of being the No.1 draft pick in the 2018 draft

IF SOUTH Australian Izak Rankine was eligible for this year's NAB AFL Draft, there would be every possibility he would be taken with the No.1 selection in November.

Alas, for eager recruiters keen to add the 17-year-old to their lists in 2018, they will be forced to wait another year before they have access to the talented forward.

Rankine has done just about all you can do as a bottom-age player in 2017 – he starred for South Australia in the Under-18 Championships, was named an All Australian (the only bottom-aged player in the team), and kicked 13 goals from 10 matches at senior SANFL level for West Adelaide in 2017.

The speedy South Australian, who stands at 178cm and tips the scales at 74kg, even won the SANFL Grand Final sprint last weekend at Adelaide Oval after playing a trial game in the morning.

Despite the buzz surrounding him, Rankine is maintaining a level head and looking forward to the challenges that await him next year. 

"The draft is getting pretty close, but I've just got to stay grounded," Rankine told AFL.com.au.

"It's pretty exciting thinking about it. But it's on to next year now."

Rankine dazzled the competition in Friday's Under-17 All Stars game at Simonds Stadium, kicking two goals and gathering seven disposals in the first half for Team Enright.

A few injuries and the fact Team Harvey trailed by 45 points in a lop-sided contest, meant Rankine switched sides and helped Team Harvey to get back into the match in the second half.

Rankine added another two goals in the second half, for Team Enright. A dashing four-bounce run down the wing and a kick that just grazed the bottom of the left hand post was testament to his special talent.

Unsurprisingly, he was named best afield.

"It's good competing against all the other talents around Australia and seeing where you're at. It's really good for my development," he said.

"It was a good showcase of footy and I just tried to show them (recruiters) what I've got."

Rankine's combination of speed, uncanny goal sense and the way he glides across the ground with grace make him one of the most exciting talents to emerge from South Australia in recent seasons.

But Rankine has some competition.

It is entirely conceivable that South Australia could have three players, maybe four, in the top 10 in next year's Draft.

Athletic key forward Jack Lukosius could join Rankine inside the top five picks, while midfielders Connor Rozee and Jackson Hately could also fall inside the top 10.

Rankine said it was important that he kept the strong form he displayed in 2017 going into next season to solidify his position at the top of the Draft.

If his level of play slips, even just a tad, he says his three brothers and three sisters will be there to let him know, "They let me know when I don't have a good game," he said.