14/04/2024
AFL Draft dates South Australia

The dates have been set for the AFL Draft. Photo: SANFL

After delays and cancellations, the U19s State Championships are finally set to begin, with WA hosting SA in a blockbuster at Lathlain Park.

Through delays and cancellations, the AFL U19s State Championships have persevered and will kick off with Western Australia playing host to South Australia at 1pm WST on Saturday.

With Lathlain Park playing host, 46 players have an opportunity to showcase their talents in a year where these games have come few and far between. Both sides boast deep team sheets and high-end talent that will feature at the pointy end of the national draft in November.

10 of The Inner Sanctum’s top 30 prospects for the 2021 AFL draft will have an opportunity to impress. The major omission from this game is dynamic WA midfielder Neil Erasmus, who is forced out with a corkie.

With the game set to get underway at 1pm WST on Saturday, these are the keys to the game for both sides.

READ: THE INNER SANCTUM’S AFL DRAFT POWER RANKINGS – AUGUST

Western Australia

Tall Timber

WA could boast the first three key forwards taken off the board in the 2021 AFL draft.

East Perth full forward Jye Amiss spearheads the plethora of options they have in attack, having booted 49 goals from his 12 games in the Colts. He only needs a sniff to make his opponent pay the ultimate price in the forward 50, regularly out-working his defender with his leading patterns.

His hands are brilliant out in front at 195 centimetres, and he has a repeatable set shot routine that has helped him convert a staggering 80 per cent of his shots on goal in 2021. Amiss lines up at full forward for the Black Swans, and will be a huge task for SA’s Zac Becker, assuming he gets first crack at the in-form talisman.

It doesn’t get simpler past Amiss, with Jack Williams a dominant centre half forward for East Fremantle. He has kicked 32 goals from his 11 games at Colts level, made all the more impressive considering his time in the ruck and work higher up the ground.

The 195-centimetre forward is aggressive in marking contests and as competitive as they come. A match-up with Oscar Adams looks likely, who is mobile for his 198-centimetre height, but may struggle to handle the imposing 91-kilogram frame of Williams.

Finally, swingman Jacob Van Rooyen has been in superb form since his return to Colts level after a stint in the Seniors for Claremont. He has kicked 11 goals in his past two games, and shown off his ground-level ability with 22 disposals in each contest.

Despite his form up forward, Van Rooyen is named at centre half back for the Black Swans where he has impressed in state trials. His athleticism and clean disposal is eye-catching wherever he plays; expect him to swing forward at some point to stretch an undersized SA backline.

Joining Van Rooyen down back for the Swans, recruiters will be taking a keen interest in the play of Rhett Bazzo given the shallow pool of key defenders this year. The 195-centimetre Swan Districts product is comfortable in one-on-one situations, and reads the flight of the ball better than most.

He adds to the elite tall timber on display for WA, as it attempts to dominate the airways against SA.

Jacob Van Rooyen has been exceptional in WA trial games. Photo: WAFL Official

Midfield Bulls

The height of this WA line-up isn’t solely in the book-ends, with its midfield much bigger than that of SA’s. Matthew Johnson (193cm), Kade Dittmar (187cm), and James Tunstill (185cm) all have a propensity for contested situations, with the former two having exposure to League level due to their outstanding play in the Colts.

Johnson is the highest-rated prospect of the group, showing his abilities at the U16s State Championships as a prototype tall midfielder that feeds outside runners with clean hands.

Named on a forward flank, he is a match-up nightmare given his height with a midfielder’s game. Expect him to spend a lot of time in the engine room, but also get forward to create headaches for the opposition and hit the scoreboard.

Dittmar is one in particular that has the opportunity to shoot up the draft boards of clubs. You can’t miss the Royal with the flying mullet, but his play is strictly business. He’s hard-nosed, winning most of his disposals in contested situations.

He’s a stand-out without the ball as well, applying tackles and pressure as well as anyone at the level. On the outside, he’s composed with ball in hand and often selfless with his decision-making.

Despite the obvious talent in the midfield for SA, this group will be favoured to gain ascendency in the clinches – the question remains about their ability to spread from the contest.

Vice-captain Josh Browne is the one that provides run for this engine room. He boasts a relentless work-rate, able to win the ball on the inside and outside as well as getting forward to hit the scoreboard, which will all be on display.

Finn Gorringe will captain Western Australia. Photo: WAFL Official

READ: THE INNER SANCTUM’S AFL PHANTOM DRAFT – AUGUST

South Australia

Top-end Talent.

In the South Adelaide trio of Jason Horne-Francis, Matthew Roberts, and Arlo Draper, SA could have three top-10 picks come draft night.

Their exposure to SANFL league level has indicated their rate of development, mixing it with the bigger bodies and taking it all in their stride.

Horne-Francis is the clear number-one in the open pool. The midfielder crashes through packs like Patrick Dangerfield and flies for marks like Nat Fyfe – the comparisons are huge but he has the game to back it up.

Named captain of his state, he’ll be out to prove he is the best player on the field come Saturday. Expect him to be ultra-aggressive at the coalface and apply himself defensively to nullify the clearance edge that WA may gain.

Roberts has spent his time in the seniors on a wing, looking comfortable all season. He is a high-IQ prospect who has made huge strides in his ball use this season after being known as more of an inside midfielder previously.

He’ll get an opportunity to get back into the engine room alongside Horne-Francis, where the duo will be must-watch. He has a hard edge about his play, and does a lot of grunt work that can sometimes go unnoticed.

On the outside, his penetrating boot will come to the fore and he will be able to run the game out well given his extended run with the Panthers.

In Draper, SA has an X-factor in the forward half who can add something different to the midfield dynamic as well. He excels in that high-half forward role, often losing his opponent in traffic and beating him back to goals when it’s a foot race.

He boasts startling acceleration and an awesome vertical leap, which sees him do some really special stuff on the footy field.

These three will be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the game – if they play well, SA should win.

Jason Horne-Francis has excelled with the Panthers this year. Photo: SANFL

Outside Class

SA has weapons on the outside that will cut WA up given the opportunity. Off half-back or taking up a wing role, their capacity to hit targets across the ground and gain metres will be vital in an expectedly contested type of match.

Jase Burgoyne – the Port Adelaide father-son prospect – provides the dash from half-back. He’s lightning-quick off the mark and is a 100-metre player with the way he takes ground before delivering the ball.

In his three games at SANFL level he has gone at 89 per cent by footy from his 15.7 disposals. WA needs to pay him considerable attention, because he takes any opportunity get the ball moving forward off of turnover and could prove decisive with his class on the outside.

Boasting the best name in football, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera is a smooth-mover on the wing, who finds the ball with smart running patterns and elite fitness levels. With ball in hand he’s as damaging as it gets, showcasing aspects of Lachie Whitfield in the way he’s able to bite off the corridor kick, as well as consistently link the backs and forward line.

He continues to find his feet at SANFL level with undefeated Glenelg, while his 80 per cent disposal efficiency in his 11 games in the Reserves highlights his ability when given space.

The other wing could see Isaac Birt display his running power, while the prolific Hugh Jackson will find the ball at will and is another who could slice WA apart with smart decision-making and clean skills.

It will be a huge task for WA wingmen Corey Warner – brother of the Swans’ Chad – and Taj Woewodin – the son of Shane.

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