Carlton only took one live pick into the 2021 AFL Draft, but it left with exactly what it was looking for.
After a prolific trade period, the Blues and list manager Nick Austin only had one spot to fill after Adam Cerra and Lewis Young swapped allegiances. They also added VFL-listed Blue Alex Mirkov in the mid-season draft.
The retirement of Liam Jones left many speculating that the Blues would look for a key defender. West Australian tall Rhett Bazzo was still available at their selection, but they instead went small.
Fremantle NGA member Jesse Motlop became the newest Blue on Thursday night, being selected with the club’s first and only pick at 27, in the second round.
The son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne player Daniel played eight senior WAFL games in 2021, which impressed recruiters when looking at him amongst the smaller forward and midfield types.
He kicked nine goals in those matches while averaging 8.6 disposals and two tackles.
“Jesse’s a player we’ve had our eye on for a while,” Austin said.
“He brings a lot of excitement. Played some senior footy over in WA including a grand final as a 17-year-old.
“We’re pretty rapt to get him in and add him to our list… he’s a list need.”
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Motlop managed to hit the scoreboard in the WAFL Grand Final for Subiaco, kicking a goal while taking two marks and laying a tackle.
He’s a player whose statline doesn’t give away the whole story, impacting pressure in the forward line through actions which often go unnoticed.
While the Blues unearthed a few new small prospects up forward this season, Austin is banking on all of their smalls giving something unique.
“Matt Owies and Josh Honey both got their chance late last year, but we feel like they all bring different things to the table,” he said.
“We’re excited to see what they can they do as a mix. Competition for spots in the pre-season for young guys is a good thing.
“All those guys will have to work under Harry [McKay] and Charlie [Curnow] and create a bit of excitement down there.”
Carlton wrapped up its draft by re-selecting midfielders Lochie O’Brien and Matt Cottrell as rookies, while also going after a Category B selection.
Domanic Akuei became the first ever graduate of the Carlton Academy. He’s a raw key defender who adds to the clubs stocks in the absence of Jones.
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