WITH a strong work ethic, a thirst for the ball and a neat left foot kick, it is easy to see why Northern Knights midfielder Josh Ward has won comparisons to Essendon gun Zach Merrett.

And this week Ward has entered the rolling NAB AFL Draft team of the year, with the Knights prospect enjoying a dominant display for Vic Metro in last week's clash with Vic Country.

Ward gathered 29 disposals, eight clearances and booted two goals in an exciting display to continue his hot form, backing up his previous effort of 22 disposals and seven tackles in Metro's trial game which he skippered. 

The 18-year-old has moved into top-10 pick discussions with his string of midfield showings, with his most recent NAB League performance seeing him collect 34 touches and six clearances against Oakleigh.

NAB AFL Academy's Matthew Johnson kicks the ball under pressure against Geelong's VFL side on April 24, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

He is one of four inclusions into the rolling team and slots straight into the midfield position. West Australian midfield prospect Matthew Johnson has also come into the side following his 26-disposal and one-goal effort in the colts competition last weekend.

It was one of the 191cm midfielder's best games in a campaign that has also seen him playing at senior level in the WAFL for Subiaco.

Mac Andrew's performance for Vic Country in last week's under-19 clash with Vic Metro was particularly eye-catching and sees the athletic ruckman/forward come back into the team of the year after missing several weeks through concussion.

Andrew has elevated himself into being a likely top-10 selection, meaning Melbourne would be unable to match a bid on the Next Generation Academy prospect.

Murray Bushrangers half-back Tom Brown, the son of former Cat Paul, has been included as a half-back after an impressive three weeks back from an early-season ankle injury. Brown, who is ineligible to join Geelong under the father-son rule, shapes as a possible top-20 selection and has good speed and decision-making out of the back half.