THERE was a surprisingly bitter aftertaste to VFL club Williamstown's sweet AFL draft success on Friday.

Years of November heartache ended for Seagulls stars Ben Cavarra (drafted by Western Bulldogs) and Lachie Schultz and Brett Bewley (both Fremantle), but the celebrations were somewhat muted.

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The reason?

Their distinguished clubmate, and arguably – most won't even argue – the VFL's best player, Mick Gibbons missed out. Again. Despite many AFL recruiters speaking to him.

Gibbons, 23, was a VFL Team of the Year recipient and placed in the top two of the League's JJ Liston Trophy in each of the past three seasons, including winning or sharing the individual honour in 2016 and 2018.

No VFL footballer averaged more than the 175cm midfielder's 28 disposals, seven clearances or 6.5 inside 50s this year.

Among Gibbons' other achievements are captaining the Murray Bushrangers, being best afield in Williamstown's 2015 VFL Grand Final triumph, and claiming the Frank Johnson Medal as the VFL's best player against the SANFL in 2016.

"I'm devastated for him," Seagulls coach and triple premiership-winning former Hawk Andy Collins told

"Most other VFL players that were drafted would say that Michael is the standard to adhere to.

"It's really sad for him and it's going to really test his resilience. We've had this incredible high, but we've also had that incredible low."

Gibbons' bulging resume wasn't enough for him to be one of the 10 VFL players drafted onto an AFL list on Friday.

Cavarra, Bewley and Schultz, like many of those state league graduates, absorbed significant disappointment before finally experiencing the satisfaction of becoming AFL players.

"These three boys are the product of the environment that other players – Ben Jolley, Adam Marcon, Sammy Dunell and Leigh Masters – have created, but also their own self-drive," Collins said.

"They received feedback from AFL clubs, as we as coaches gave them feedback, and any coach could pick a fault in any footballer, but we continued to work on things they did really well, on top of modifying the mistakes."

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Cavarra, who turns 23 in December, was one of the most decorated footballers outside of the AFL until the Bulldogs picked him at No.45 in the National Draft.

He shared the 2013 Morrish Medal – the TAC Cup's highest individual accolade – won best and fairests at the Eastern Ranges and Frankston, and transformed himself from a midfielder into a small forward.

Cavarra's 66 goals across the past two seasons and defensive nous smashed the door down, as did Jamie Elliott-clone Schultz, who also excels as a clearance specialist.

Bewley is a prodigious kick and was used as a high half-forward and an inside and outside midfielder this year, but Collins can envision the Dockers using him off half-back, too.

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"I would expect all three of them to play senior footy at their respective clubs and they'll inspire another generation of Williamstown footballers," the coach said.

"(Former Seagull) Kane Lambert does that, and this is the legacy Kane leaves. I just spoke to him and said, 'Mate, you inspire VFL players' – and he does.

"Kane is an elite AFL footballer now and people overlooked him for five years. We saw that with Brody Mihocek this year and Billy Gowers is getting a second chance, too."

Ex-Williamstown forward Tom Wilkinson, who was stuck playing behind Cavarra and Schultz last year before starring for Southport in the NEAFL in 2018, was drafted by North Melbourne. 


National Draft
Ben Cavarra (Williamstown/Western Bulldogs) No.45
Nick Hind (Essendon VFL/St Kilda) No.54
Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL/Melbourne) No.56
Lachie Schultz (Williamstown/Fremantle) No.57
Brett Bewley (Williamstown/Fremantle) No.59
Will Hayes (Footscray/Western Bulldogs) No.78

Rookie Draft
Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne/Adelaide) No.7
Tom Jok (Collingwood VFL/Essendon) No.8
Tom Atkins (Geelong VFL/Geelong) No.11
Jake Aarts (Richmond VFL/Richmond) No.16 

Pre-draft competition assistance
Josh Corbett (Werribee/Gold Coast)
Sam Collins (Werribee/Gold Coast)

Pre-season supplemental selection period
Corey Wagner (Casey/Melbourne)