Main content

Cal Twomey's 2019 Phantom Form Guide: Post U18 Champs

AFL.com.au's draft guru ranks the young talent in the wake of the U18 Champs - AFL,Draft,AFL Academy,Under-18s
AFL.com.au's draft guru ranks the young talent in the wake of the U18 Champs

THIS year's NAB AFL Draft pool is dividing opinion. There is genuine top-end talent, but probably not the same star factor as the 2018 crop.

Beyond the opening couple of spots, the draft class is very even. Which will make the Phantom Form Guide an interesting task throughout 2019 as we rank the best talents in the pool.

A reminder that this is our ranking of the best prospects and does not include when bids might come for father-son or Academy players, or where the draft hopefuls might actually be selected.

It will be updated monthly in the lead-up to November's two-night draft.

1/7/01
178cm/74kg
Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers
Midfielder

Rowell is the player who won't let you down. He is as consistent as anyone in the draft, in both his effort and output. He averaged 25 disposals and five clearances for Vic Metro at the carnival and was an outstanding midfielder across the championships. He is robust, tough, uncompromising and a clearance star. Rowell also lifts for the big games and moments, often dragging his side over the line through sheer will. He's explosive from a stoppage and difficult to tackle and will be ready to play round one next year at AFL level.  

Matt Rowell blasts off in the game against Vic Country. Picture: AFL Photos

17/2/01
188cm/86kg
Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers
Midfielder

The gap between Rowell and Anderson is minimal in our view. Anderson is a taller midfielder who impacts the game in the air and up forward. We saw that against South Australia in the carnival, when he kicked two goals from 27 disposals – a stat line combination that has been common in his draft season. Anderson has a strong aerobic base but also has a burst of power, he's dangerous around goal, able to impact the game on both feet, and also lifts when the game's up for grabs. Battled some soreness throughout the carnival after a heavy hit against Western Australia.

9/2/01
179cm/82kg
Vic Country/Gippsland Power
Midfielder/forward

When Serong plays as a half-forward, which we saw more last year, he's got some Robbie Gray tendencies: short but powerful, crafty around goal and creative. When he's been in the midfield, like he was for Vic Country at the carnival, there's some Lachie Neale to his game: a ball-winner, clearance-getter and smart player (against South Australia he had 33 disposals, 10 clearances and nine tackles). Serong had a standout carnival and was rewarded with All Australian honours.

Caleb Serong celebrates a goal during the Under-18 Championships. Picture: AFL Photos

11/4/01
188cm/82kg
Vic Country/Dandenong Stingrays
Defender

Young is a half-back who impacts the game with his ball use out of defence and ability in the air. He's the player given the ball to run out of the back half and set up the game. Young started his carnival with a standout 29-disposal game against Vic Metro and continued to be one of his side's leading players throughout. The younger brother of Western Bulldogs defender Lachie, Young played in the Dandenong Stingrays' under-18 premiership last year and has enjoyed a strong season. His perfect in-board pass late in the game against Western Australia was very special.

21/6/01
186cm/80kg
Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers
Defender

Ash brings the dash. The speedy half-back lights up games with his line-breaking pace from defence. We saw that during the carnival at the MCG against Vic Metro when he darted through traffic on an 80-metre run, and again in the frantic final quarter win over South Australia, when it was Ash's brilliant get-and-go that kept Country in the game. Ash is strong and clever and can also shut down an opponent in a role that is highly regarded by AFL clubs.

Lachie Ash after losing the final to WA. Picture: AFL Photos

23/1/01
188cm/85kg
NSW-ACT/GWS Academy
Midfielder

Has won Patrick Cripps comparisons because of his height and all-round midfield game. The knock on Green last year was his running capacity, but an improved fitness base and diet saw him shed eight kilograms over summer and he's reaped the benefits. His game against Vic Metro's star-studded midfield highlighted his prospects: he had 33 disposals (17 contested), nine clearances, four inside-50s and a goal in a complete showing. Is tied to Greater Western Sydney via its Academy.

Tom Green in the thick of it against Vic Metro. Picture: AFL Photos

1/5/01
193cm/82kg
Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers
Utility

Kemp kicked the match-winning goal for Vic Country in last week's one-point victory over South Australia. The set shot came under pressure and ended his best game of the carnival, a performance that saw him pick up 27 disposals and five clearances. Recruiters had been waiting to see that type of game in the midfield, with Kemp showing signs he was able to take his bigger frame into that area of the ground. He has previously, and mainly, played as a key defender this year, where his versatility shines. Kemp still has plenty of room for development. 

Brodie Kemp celebrates a goal for Vic Country at the Under 18 Championships. Picture: AFL Photos

8/3/01
195cm/86kg
Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons
Key defender

After a commanding display in defence, McAsey was named Vic Metro's MVP for its carnival. McAsey is a key back who reads the ball well in flight and is comfortable stepping in front of traffic or leaving his direct opponent to help out a teammate. An assured overhead mark who delivers the ball well, his best game came against the Allies in round four when he had 20 disposals and seven marks. One of the best key position players in it.

8/1/01
183cm/70kg
South Australia/Norwood
Midfielder

Stephens is a midfielder who can cut up teams with his left foot and relentless running. In the mould of West Coast star Andrew Gaff, Stephens plays on the wing and can impact a game by accumulation. He's a nice kick and doesn't waste too many touches and has also played at senior level in the SANFL. Stephens finished the carnival in great form, gathering 33 disposals, six tackles, nine clearances against the Allies to claim All Australian honours. 

Dylan Stephens in action against the Allies. Picture: AFL Photos

24/7/01
182cm/81kg
Vic Country/Gippsland Power
Forward/midfielder

It's been a consistent season for Flanders, who got his reward for his form by being named in the under-18 All Australian team as a forward. Flanders is a powerful, explosive player who can be used as a forward option – where his marking is strong for his size – or in the midfield – where he is a competitor at the stoppages. Has the mature frame to be playing a fair chunk of footy next year.

Sam Flanders looks like he could play at senior level next year. Pic: AFL Photos

11/4/01
195cm/74kg
Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons
Key defender/forward

Worrell booted four goals against Western Australia in Vic Metro's second game of the championships, and then backed it up with three goals against South Australia. The following week he played on a wing, and he started the carnival across half-back. That sums up Worrell's versatility, which will appeal to clubs looking for talls at this year's draft. He is a quality intercept player in defence, where he has been most consistent.

28/8/01
180cm/67kg
Claremont
Forward

Henry is the best pure small forward in the draft. He's electric at ground level, sweeping up the footy at pace and delivering it to leading forwards. He booted three goals against Vic Metro in a strong win for Western Australia. The Indigenous teenager is tied to Fremantle as a member of its Next Generation Academy and provides genuine excitement to the forward half.

Liam Henry and the WA boys celebrate THAT match-winning goal. Picture: AFL Photos

14/1/01
191cm/98kg
South Australia/Glenelg
Defender

Back-to-back All Australian jumpers is testament to Gould's performance at the right times over the past two seasons. The attacking half-back had an outstanding game against Vic Country, when he gathered 26 disposals and kicked a crucial late goal and backed it up with 25 touches and 10 rebound 50s against the Allies. A mature-framed player who can make an impact at AFL level next season.

Will Gould should be able to make an impact at AFL level next year. Pic: AFL Photos

30/6/01
182cm/80kg
Western Australia/Perth
Midfielder

Robertson claimed the Larke Medal as the best player in the under-18 championships. It was deserved, given his consistency through the midfield for Western Australia. He averaged 30 disposals in the four games and proved himself as one of the better players at getting the ball moving out of the stoppages. Robertson is always in the thick of the action, has improved his running and just finds the ball at will. Captained WA to its title win and was then named captain of the All Australian team.

1/5/01
185cm/75kg
Western Australia/Perth
Forward

Supremely talented and able to turn a game on its head, Taylor's a very exciting forward. He started his carnival with a big impact in the opening five minutes against Vic Metro with a goal and a strong mark, and continued to show brilliant snippets across the carnival, including an eye-catching blind turn against South Australia and a run and baulk against Vic Country. Is good overhead for his size and capable of doing the uncanny.

Elijah Taylor get his kick away during the final against Vic Country. Picture: AFL Photos

1/7/01
185cm/79kg
Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers
Forward

We didn't see the best of Williams at the championships, with a minor injury ruling him out of a couple of games. It hasn't been the standout season Williams would have hoped for at its start, but he remains a player with real ability to turn a game in the forward line. We saw that last year when he kicked 14 goals in Oakleigh's finals series. He has also done well across half-back in patches and occasionally in the midfield, generally making things happen around the ball.

23/2/01
187cm/80kg
Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons
Midfielder

Maginness finished his carnival in fine fashion, with 27 disposals (18 contested), nine tackles, seven clearances and seven inside 50s. He's a big-bodied midfielder who works hard around the ground and is able to win his own ball. Maginness has enjoyed strong development this season and is eligible to join Hawthorn as a father-son selection, where his dad Scott played in the club's 1988-89 premierships.

Finn Maginness showed plenty during the U18 Champs. Picture: AFL Photos

30/9/01
184cm/83kg
South Australia/Woodville-West Torrens
Midfielder

The half-forward/midfielder had a consistent carnival and was named in the All Australian team's forward line. He kicked two goals from 22 disposals against Vic Country, and 21 disposals and a goal against the Allies to finish his championships. Mead is a neat player who doesn't do much wrong. He is clean with the ball, makes the most of his chances, and has performed in important games, including when he kicked four goals in last year's under-18 Grand Final.

3/8/01
185cm/80kg
South Australia/Norwood
Forward

It wasn't the dominant championships Taheny would have been aiming for, and it included an injury interruption after a leg injury. Taheny spent most of the carnival deep in attack for South Australia. It's where he had impressed at senior level for Norwood, having booted 11 goals in his first three games after being elevated. Is dangerous around goal and can present as a marking target, too.

Cameron Taheny had a tough run with injury through the championships. Pic: AFL Photos

15/1/01
177cm/73kg
Vic Country/Dandenong Stingrays
Forward

A prospect who lifted to the higher standards of the championships. Weightman kicked two bags of four goals for Vic Country, including a vital role in its last-gasp win over South Australia. Weightman is a little like Collingwood's Jamie Elliott – a small forward who is devastating and nippy at ground level, but also a threat in the air, regularly flying for big marks. He converts his chances, has a real work ethic and will get in the face of opponents. Stuff happens when Weightman's around.

Cody Weightman celebrates a goal with his Vic Country teammates. Picture: AFL Photos

29/9/01
198cm/94kg
Western Australia/East Fremantle
Ruckman

Jackson stepped up to claim the No.1 ruck mantle after a very strong carnival for Western Australia. Although some clubs are still undecided about whether he will be a ruckman at AFL level or not, he was the dominant big man of the carnival, winning All Australian honours in the ruck. He got involved around the ground, too, to be a strong presence and marking target, plus his follow-up at clearances makes the athletic former basketballer a ruck option.

Luke Jackson and Charlie Comben contest the ruck. Pic: AFL Photos

16/10/01
182cm/71kg
Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers
Midfielder

It was a good start to the championships for Dow, who was one of Vic Country's better players against Vic Metro in the opening game. Dow is an agile midfielder with a turn of pace and someone who can go and find the ball, but he's also able to float forward and hit the scoreboard. The younger brother of Carlton's Paddy.

25/2/01
194cm/75kg
Vic Metro/Calder Cannons
Forward

There's a bit of projection about Jones. His best game of the carnival came against Western Australia in round two in Perth, when he kicked 2.2 and presented as a target for Vic Metro. Jones isn't high production yet but shows signs as an athletic key forward who will grow into his frame and role. It's not a draft jam-packed with tall forwards so his traits will appeal to some clubs.

26/2/01
200cm/85kg
Vic Country/Dandenong Stingrays
Defender

The younger brother of Carlton's Tom and son of ex-Footscray player Terry has come on well as this season has gone on. He was named the All Australian full-back after his performances in the back half for Vic Country at the carnival and has shown plenty of promising signs in that position. Still raw, but there's a bit there to work with given his movement, size and athleticism.

Sam De Koning continued to improve as the championships progressed. Picture: AFL Photos
 

5/6/01
187cm/70kg
South Australia/West Adelaide
Defender

The South Australian prospect has been one to rise up the draft rankings across the season. Scouts were keen to see how he would step up at championships level and he more than held his own, generally playing across half-back for his side. Day, who is the cousin of Gold Coast forward Sam Day, is rangy but has plenty of scope. Comes from an elite baseball background as a youngster.