THE TAPE might not be there, but the potential certainly is.
The unfortunate cancellation of the NAB League season due to the global COVID-19 health pandemic means that a host of Victoria's best junior prospects won't get to display their development to AFL recruiters ahead of this year's NAB AFL Draft.
But clubs remain enthusiastic about the level of talent coming through.
Draft guru Cal Twomey recently profiled 25 of Australia's leading junior prospects. But as competition cranks up again in both South Australia and Western Australia, there remains a host of Victorian youngsters who clubs won't see, but still rate highly.
AFL.com.au has surveyed talent scouts, recruiters and list managers to get a gauge of some of Victoria's best youngsters, and some of the players that AFL clubs had been hopeful of seeing more of this season.
Here are the best Vic Country prospects in the draft pool.
There are high hopes for Seamus Mitchell, a 180cm midfielder who was included in the Vic Country hub. He's got high-end speed, while he can take off quickly from a standing start to help his burst from stoppages. He's also a powerful kick, who has a good leap. Jack Ginnivan is a natural goalkicker at 182cm, having first registered his ability when he kicked 100 goals in an under 12s season. AFL recruiters have identified his ability to potentially shift into a defensive post at senior level, given his reading of the game. Josh Treacy, a strong 193cm forward, is another interesting prospect. Not the quickest, he can crash a pack and embraces a physical contest in order to create space for crumbing forwards at his feet. He spent time training with Essendon last pre-season.
Clubs had hoped to see Clayton Gay nail down a consistent position this year, with the versatile 183cm prospect plying his trade at both ends of the field as a bottom-ager. He can play above his height as a defender, while up forward last season he demonstrated his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly. Will Bravo is another player who has shown glimpses of his talent at either end. He became a consistent 181cm goalkicker last year, but his breakaway speed meant he was set to be trialled as a running half-back this season. Blake Kuipers and Lachie Williams were both expected to return to the Stingrays as over-age prospects this year, attempting to earn a second crack in November.
There are big raps on Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn, two Falcons prospects who many recruiters have pegged as potential first-round picks if not top-10 selections. Henry is a versatile 187cm forward, while Bruhn is a classy 182cm midfielder. However, they're not the only Geelong products registering AFL interest. Henry Walsh is the younger brother of Carlton's 2018 No.1 selection Sam, but is a completely different type of player. A 202cm ruckman, Walsh is athletic and aggressive and trained alongside his brother at Ikon Park last summer. There are also high hopes for Charlie Ham, the younger brother of Essendon's Brayden. He's a 180cm half-back, who has impressed with his run and carry. Blake Reid, a similar type of player to Ham, is another who has attracted AFL interest. Charlie Lazzaro is a small midfielder who has shown promising development, while 191cm defender Cam Fleeton held down a key-position role in the backline last season and was tipped to continue his development this year.
Clubs see Zach Reid as one of the country's best young prospects, given his kicking ability and versatility to play anywhere on the field at 202cm. But he's not the only Gippsland player attracting attention. Sam Berry is a tough 180cm midfielder who has comparable traits to his former Power teammate Caleb Serong. He has good aerobic capacity, was invited to the Vic Country hub and is seen as a reliable midfield option. Ryan Angwin is a skinny 183cm wingman who is still developing physically, but clubs like his upside. Set to be a co-captain at Gippsland this year, Angwin has plenty of potential and impressed at the most recent Vic Country hubs. Will Papley, the younger brother of Sydney star Tom, is a similar type of player. A touch taller than Tom at 177cm, Papley is more of an inside midfielder who can go forward and display his craft around goal. Like Tom, clubs like his ability to play a split-second ahead of the game through his reading of the contest.
There has been a bit of intrigue around 180cm midfielder Harry Sharp. A national 3000m steeplechase champion, Sharp clearly has an elite running capacity and has displayed that when pushed onto a wing. His footy is still developing, but clubs believe he has AFL attributes to work with. Isaac Wareham was set to return as an over-age prospect this season. He just missed out on being drafted last year, but is still young for his age group (he has a December 24 birthdate, meaning he was a week away from being classified as bottom-age player last season). He dealt with injuries late in 2019, but has the breakaway speed that clubs like from stoppages. Nick Stevens is another to keep an eye on. He can play tall or small in the backline at 191cm, while he has the speed to break the lines from half-back. Stevens trained with Geelong last summer.
Potential No.1 pick Elijah Hollands is still firmly in the minds of AFL recruiters, despite the exciting and ultra-versatile 188cm utility rupturing his ACL in February. He's not the only Bushrangers prospect garnering AFL interest, though. Zavier Maher is rocketing up the ranks of several recruiters as a strong and powerful 184cm midfielder. He's explosive out of stoppages, has quick and evasive lateral movement and is seen in some circles as a potential first-round prospect after a summer where he spent time training with Richmond. Charlie Byrne is a running 183cm defender who has a raking left-foot kick. He's a sound decision-maker and is another who has attracted some interest. Clubs had been hopeful of seeing him push through the midfield this season.