Draft notes

Justin Cooper makes a few observations from Tuesday’s NAB AFL pre-season and rookie drafts.

The shrinking draft

With Greater Western Sydney opting not to participate in the pre-season draft, only five picks were used.

That made it the shortest pre-season draft since 2002, the year the Sydney Swans brought the legendary Tony Lockett out of retirement for one last crack.

A very different story to that of the early 1990s, when pre-season drafts routinely extended beyond 50 selections.

The Gold Coast selected Aaron Hall, a 186cm ready-made defender from Tasmania, while Port Adelaide swooped on ex-Collingwood midfielder John McCarthy, who was thought to be going to Richmond.

After missing out on McCarthy, the Tigers took a 190cm key forward from the Dandenong Stingrays in Brett O’Hanlon, a youngster who was overlooked in the November’s national draft.

Fremantle reunited ex-Saint fullback Zac Dawson with new coach Ross Lyon at the next pick, while the Western Bulldogs took a punt on a key position prospect from the Sandringham Dragons, the 197cm Fletcher Roberts.

All in all, a very short and quiet pre-season draft.

Breeding grounds

South Fremantle, Norwood and the Bendigo Bombers were the leading providers of talent in the rookie draft, with each having three players selected.

Overall, 18 players came from the TAC Cup, 16 from AFL clubs, 10 from the VFL, nine from the SANFL and eight from the WAFL.

At the other end of the scale, the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in northern South Australia had its first ever draftee in Hawthorn’s Amos Frank, although technically he counts to the SANFL’s tally after making a guest appearance for Woodville West Torrens reserves this season.

The recyclables

Brendan Fevola and Andrew Lovett were both overlooked, as was ex-Pie Leon Davis, who has since signed with the Perth Demons in the WAFL for 2012 after Port Adelaide decided against recruiting the 2011 All-Australian.

Mature-age midfielder Darren Pfeiffer, who played with Norwood this year after one season with the Southport Sharks in Queensland, was taken by Port Adelaide in the rookie draft after previous stints with Adelaide and Carlton.

Versatile tall Adam Pattison, previously of St Kilda and Richmond, was picked up by Hawthorn following an impressive season with the club’s VFL affiliate, the Box Hill Hawks.

Second chances, though, were far more common than in years gone by.

Adding to Zac Dawson (Fremantle) and John McCarthy (Port Adelaide) were several others through the rookie draft.

Broc McCauley (Hawthorn), Mark Austin (Western Bulldogs), Brad Dick (West Coast Eagles), Sam Menegola (Fremantle), Addam Maric (Richmond), Andrew McQualter (Gold Coast) and Nick Heyne (Carlton) were among those earning another crack at the highest level.

James Craig (Adelaide), Will Young (Adelaide), Trent Stubbs (Collingwood), Daniel Farmer (Collingwood), Anthony Long (Essendon), Clancee Pearce (Fremantle), Michael Coad (Gold Coast), Gavin Urquhart (North Melbourne) and Campbell Heath (Sydney Swans) were all rookie listed by the club that delisted them at the end of this season.

Club-by-club

Adelaide: Took the best available talent at each selection giving them extra depth, also rookie listing delisted pair Will Young and James Craig.

Brisbane Lions: Picked a good mix of players, with Murray Bushrangers’ midfielder Jack Crisp the standout after being surprisingly overlooked in November’s national draft. Lions also have high hopes for South Australian key defender Justin Clarke, who at 21 and 195cm is ready-made.

Carlton: Queensland winger Tom Bell is a jet and a blue-chip selection who can play straight away, while former St Kilda utility Nick Heyne should see senior action at some point in 2012. NSW scholarship player Matthew Lodge is a running defender from Byron Bay the Blues hope can develop into a top-liner.

Collingwood: The Pies took a mix of different types, while Trent Stubbs and Daniel Farmer were given a reprieve as rookies.

Essendon: The Bombers targeted skill and pace, luring the best available to Windy Hill. Injury-riddled defender Anthony Long was given a second chance as a rookie. The Bombers overlooked Port Melbourne midfielder Shane Valenti and former Hawk Matt Little, both who had been training with the club and strongly linked to join as rookies.

Fremantle: Got the man they were after in former Saint Zac Dawson, who will play a pivotal role in defence. 21 year old defender Clancee Pearce was rookied after being delisted and he was joined by former Hawthorn rookie Sam Menagola. Dockers overlooked former Pie Brad Dick, despite being invited to train with the club.

Geelong: Like many clubs, the Cats chose the best available with midfielder Jackson Sheringham the pick of the lot.

Gold Coast Suns: The Suns rookied injury-plagued defender Michael Coad, who gives them experience and depth down back, as well as another foot soldier in delisted St Kilda midfielder Andrew McQualter.

GWS Giants: Just the one pick used by the Giants, with Victorian tall Sam Frost joining the crop of talent in Western Sydney.

Hawthorn: The Hawks did well, backing up their big man department through ruckman Broc McCauley (Brisbane Lions) and the versatile Adam Pattison (Box Hill Hawks). Highly rated tall defender Andrew Boseley was considered a steal late as a rookie after being overlooked in the national draft.

Melbourne: The Demons will walk away happy after securing two talls in Jai Sheahan and South Australian Luke Williams, as well as dynamic midfielder Tom Couch and VFL specialist James Magner, who can play senior football straight away.

North Melbourne: The Roos took advantage of VFL talent available, securing Werribee tall Brad Mangan, as well as Box Hill skipper Sam Gibson and Port Melbourne premiership star Malcolm Lynch. Big plus for Brad Scott, who has three players ready-made who can make an instant impact.

Port Adelaide: The Power had only three selections for both drafts but would be wrapt to secure John McCarthy (Collingwood), as well as 24 year old former Crow and Blue Darren Pfeiffer and midfielder Danny Butcher.

Richmond: Disappointed to lose out on McCarthy, the Tigers opted for Brett O’Hanlon, a 190cm tall forward unlucky to be overlooked in the national draft. Delisted Melbourne small forward Addam Maric was also given a rookie lifeline.

St Kilda: The Saints surprisingly overlooked former Hawk Beau Dowler, Sandringham midfield specialist Marcus Marigliani and Melbourne-bound James Magner, all who were invited to train at the club. Instead, the Saints gave midfielder Sam Dunell (Bendigo Bombers) an opportunity and talented Gippsland Power key forward Jordan Staley a rookie spot.

Sydney Swans: Shane Biggs (Bendigo Bombers) was another to leave the VFL and 188cm defender Campbell Heath did enough to earn a rookie spot despite being delisted.

West Coast Eagles: Former Pie Brad Dick, the last rookie selected by the Eagles, became the marquee signing, while GWS lost 193cm forward Simon Tunbridge.

Western Bulldogs: The Dogs couldn’t pass on Fletcher Roberts in the pre-season draft, selecting the 197cm big man who will no doubt feature in their plans for 2012. Ace midfielder Alex Greenwood from the Eastern Ranges was also picked, along with former Carlton key defender Mark Austin.

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