Main content

Looking Rozee: How two top prospects could steal SANFL show

Will Gould (left) and Dylan Stephens. All pictures: AFL Photos - AFL,Draft,Tag-Draft,Draft Combine
Will Gould (left) and Dylan Stephens. All pictures: AFL Photos

THIS time last year it was North Adelaide's Connor Rozee who stole the show in the SANFL finals series to rocket up the draft board.

Fast forward 12 months and Norwood midfielder Dylan Stephens – who has been compared to West Coast star Andrew Gaff and is a potential top-10 draft pick - and Glenelg half-back flanker Will Gould are the two standout youngsters AFL clubs will be eagerly monitoring.

Norwood takes on Sturt in Saturday's elimination final at Adelaide Oval, while minor premier Glenelg has the week off before facing the winner of the Adelaide v Port Adelaide qualifying final.

Stephens and Gould, both 18, have had outstanding seasons for their respective clubs.

Dylan Stephens in action for South Australia.

Stephens has averaged 18.1 disposals in his 11 games, while Gould has been busy in defence, racking up 19.5 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency in 12 senior appearances.

They were both selected in the All Australian team after strong performances for South Australia at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships this year.

It's a similar path to Port Adelaide forward Rozee, who was a part of North Adelaide's premiership-winning side last year before being selected fifth overall in the NAB AFL Draft by the Power.

Connor Rozee has been a first-year sensation in the AFL.

Norwood coach Jarrod Cotton told AFL.com.au he had no doubt left-footer Stephens would be highly sought after in November.

"He'll probably go in the top 10 of the draft," Cotton said.

"He reminds me a little bit of an Andrew Gaff-type player.

"He runs both ways very well, very good ball use, can play inside, can play outside.

"His running capacity is elite, his tackling pressure's really improved and his ball use has been excellent, and he's hitting the scoreboard as well.

"He's had a fantastic year."

AFL.com.au's draft expert Callum Twomey rated Stephens as the 13th-best prospect in the draft in his most recent update in August, while Gould was ranked 15th.

Will Gould taking on the Allies in July.

Cotton actually overlooked Stephens at the start of the season, but it only took one standout game to change his mind.

"Dylan's first game in the reserves in round one, he had 40 disposals and kicked three goals, so I just thought, I've got to play him," Cotton said.

"He was awesome, so he really forced my hand.

"Then he played Centrals at Elizabeth and kicked two goals and did really well as a high forward, and hasn't missed a beat since then."

They're not the only two players who will feature in the SANFL finals that will attract interest from AFL clubs.

Former West Coast midfielder Luke Partington, 22, has had an outstanding season for Glenelg to prove his deserves a second chance at the elite level.

Partington, delisted by the Eagles at the end of last year after six AFL games in three seasons, has averaged 29.9 disposals per game this year and is one of the favourites for the Magarey Medal.

Stephens' Norwood teammate Cole Gerloff, 20, has, along with Partington, been invited to the SA Draft Combine.

Gerloff has gone through the midfield, but is dangerous up forward with his strong overhead marking ability.