HEADING into this year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, all eyes were focused on the four South Australians seen as likely first-round draft picks.

Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Connor Rozee and Jackson Hately were viewed as the players likely to lead their state to the division one title. Jez McLennan elevated himself into that important group.

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The attacking half-back won All Australian honours for his carnival, averaging 13 disposals and five marks while providing good rebound as well.

He played five games for the senior side at Central District and averaged 12 disposals, while also averaged 15 touches in the reserves side for the SANFL club. 

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McLennan fits the bill as a medium defender who has a good footy brain and reads the game well across half-back. He delivers the ball well and in a trusty manner, and is good at jumping in front of packs to cut things off and start it up for his side.

He tested impressively at the Combine for endurance – placing in the top-10 for his YoYo run (level 21.4) – and was in the top 25 per cent for the agility test as well. McLennan has a mature frame and will be expected to feature at AFL level next year.

For an intercepting defender who can rely on his marking, McLennan is not overly tall (184cm) so could need to tweak his role at the top level. There are recruiters who think he is solid at a lot of things without being a standout in one area.

With his marking ability and positioning across half-back, McLennan should look at Collingwood high-flyer Jeremy Howe as the type of defender he wants to develop into. He doesn't have the same ability for the freakish, eye-catching marks, but McLennan's hands are a key part of his game.

McLennan is most likely to be picked somewhere in the second round of the draft.


Backmen who can chop off forward forays are valuable in the modern game and McLennan is able to do that. For that role, he is one of the best options in this pool.