Knightmare's AFL draft wrap: Ethan Penrith making strides

Each week, AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wrap, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month.

And as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.

Player focus: Ethan Penrith

Displaying confidence with ball in hand, Ethan Penrith, a 179cm, 76kg outside runner, caught the attention of onlookers at the weekend. While this was not one of his best games and his stat line of 10 disposals and four tackles may on the surface appear pedestrian, he was one of the tone setters of the match with his aggressive play.

Penrith's game was far from perfect. He continually played on at ill-advised times, dropped marks and failed to use the ball cleanly. However, Penrith is oozing with talent and does a lot of the little things that would encourage any recruiter.

A moment that stood out for Penrith occured in the third quarter when he took a mark on the wing, handballed to teammate Jack Petruccelle, who was accelerating at full speed, and continued to run in support. When he spotted an opposition player in pursuit, Penrith laid a heavy bump, allowing Petruccle to run 30m and deliver an effective kick inside 50m.

Penrith was clean at ground level, took on the game, provided run-and-carry, ran defensively and ran hard in support. He also put his body on the line when necessary.

On one play, after a mark, Penrith burst on a 25m explosive run before kicked long inside 50m. While opportunities were scarce for Penrith against last year's TAC Cup premiers, Sandringham, Penrith is your classic 80-metre player - running with ball in hand 30m and kicking it 50m.

Penrith's overall confidence and audacity to take on the game with his run at every opportunity should be commended. He will take on the man on the mark like he expects to get around them, and much of the time he will. With time the hope will be that he will learn when to take on the game and when not to. For the purposes of this season, the more of the ball he wins and the greater his meters gained numbers are the better.

A strong season will see Penrith in the mix to be selected inside the draft's first round. However, he will need to improve upon his 11-disposal average from his first two games to remain a first-round consideration.

TAC Cup:

Smooth moving midfielder, Lachlan Fogarty, 179cm, 75kg, strengthened his case for selection in the first half of this year's draft. His 30 disposals, 11 contested possessions, five marks, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and six score assists played a central part in Western's win against Calder.

Playing impactful football through the midfield, James Worpel secured 22 disposals, 12 contested possessions, six tackles, seven clearances, nine inside 50s and one goal. The 185cm, 84kg midfielder appears to be one of the most ready-to-go in this draft class with an AFL body and a great appetite for the contest.

Doing his best work at stoppages, Cassidy Parish, 190cm, 84kg, contributed 33 disposals, 16 contested possessions and seven clearances (five centre clearances). To push up towards the first-round, Parish will need to add further points of difference to his all-round game.

Endurance running machine, Sam Walsh, a 182cm, 68kg, bottom age midfielder for the second week in a row led Geelong in disposals. Walsh is averaging 31 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 7.5 marks, two tackles, 2.5 clearances, three inside 50s, 0.5 goals and two score assists over the first two rounds and will certainly be a player to watch in next year's draft.

The younger brother of 2014 number one overall selection, Paddy McCartin, Tom McCartin, 192cm, 86kg, who missed the 2016 season due to back and hip problems, has announced himself. McCartin collected 21 disposals, eight marks (one contested), three goals, five behinds and two score assists, turning that in against arguably the TAC Cup's premier key defender in Oscar Clavarino. This performance from McCartin follows 11 disposals, eight marks (four contested) and two goals in the first round.

Toby Wooller, a 193cm, 90kg forward contributed 15 disposals, four marks (one contested), eight tackles, four goals and two score assists. Wooller's work at ground level, ability to keep his feet, early reading of the flight and predicting in the blustery conditions was impressive. It was also pleasing to see Wooller step into the midfield at one centre bounce, win first possession and get the clearance, another capability within his growing arsenal.

With back to back 30 disposal games, Jack Higgins, a 178cm, 76kg midfielder and forward had 30 disposals, 17 contested possessions, seven marks (one contested), six tackles, four clearances and two goals. While these stats appear excellent on paper, Higgins' contribution in both games has felt, by his lofty standards, relatively quiet. The tick next to Higgins for this game was his crumbing up forward, quickly getting the ball to boot and knowing as soon as he gets hands to the ball where the goals are.

Sam Hayes, with 20 disposals, five marks (three contested), 21 hitouts and two goals was again impactful for Eastern. The 203cm, 93kg ruckman/forward split his time between both positions and was equally adept in both roles. Through the ruck his tap work was impressive, tapping it down the throats of his midfielders, timing his leap well at centre bounces and using his strength at boundary throw-ins to advantage. His follow-up work was also impressive, regaining his footing quickly after the ruck contests, going after the loose balls and winning three clearances. As a forward Hayes worked for front position in one-on-one contests, working to the drop of the ball. With one of his marks, he took it overhead on the lead with such authority that he looked like a young Travis Cloke.

Strongly built ball-winning midfielder, Adam Cerra, 186cm, 85kg, was again impressive with 26 disposals, 13 contested possessions, seven marks (two contested) and five inside 50s. While most noted for his inside work, Cerra's work overhead and outside the contest was also noteworthy in this match. In the contest, Cerra won first possession on several occasions and demonstrated strength to shrug off his opposition. He took several intercept marks, a high leaping aerial mark and also went on a three-bounce run through the centre at speed. However, Cerra did lose control of the ball on the third bounce and turn it over, but the signs were encouraging.

Displaying his talent, Dylan Moore, 175cm, 66kg, collected 18 disposals, five marks (one contested), four tackles, four clearances, one goal and one score assist. This follows a 27-disposal effort in round one. Moore's explosive run-and-carry against Oakleigh was particularly striking, with his most impressive sequencing coming in the form of an explosive two-bounce run where he carried the ball 30m, continuing to run in support after disposing of the ball.

Talented forward, Jaidyn Stephenson, 189cm, 76kg, featured prominently up forward with 15 disposals, six marks (three contested), five inside 50s, three goals and one score assist. Throughout the day, he took several trademark athletic leaping marks, however he was most impressive defensively, providing good chase and also tackling with great technique, pinning the players' preferred arm to prevent a handball. It was also impressive to see Stephenson maintain balance and not lose his feet when opposing players around him did. His most striking moment of the day was after a mark when he tricked the man on the mark into thinking he would kick. The opposition player leaped vertically, arms extended, allowing Stephenson to proceed around him. The relatively weak points in the game of the projected first round selection were in one-on-one contests where he was frequently outmuscled. His overhead marking also remains inconsistent as he lacks the sticky hands that many of the better forwards possess.

Potential Richmond father son selection Patrick Naish impressed with 20 disposals, six contested possessions, four marks, four inside 50s, two goals and one score assist. The 180cm, 69kg outside midfielder's pace was a highlight. He took on the game, evaded would-be tacklers, ran in support and laid an impressive chase down tackle from behind.

Top age, smooth moving midfielder, Callan Wellings, 181cm, 71kg, was in irresistible form collecting 35 disposals, 16 contested possessions, 10 marks, nine tackles and nine clearances (all team highs).

Projected first round selection, Lochie O'Brien, 184cm, 75kg impressed for Bendigo with 26 disposals, seven contested possessions, seven marks, four inside 50s and two goals.


WAFL League

In a performance that will see him find his way back onto AFL radars again in 2017, top age midfielder, Bailey Banfield, 188cm, 84kg, was exceptional for Claremont. Banfield had 27 disposals and seven inside 50s. He was named among the bests for Claremont and will be looking to build on the performance. Banfield is a hard-working midfielder who always seems to be on the move and possesses clean hands.

Ben Sokol was sensational for Subiaco. The 21-year-old, 186cm, 85kg, forward accumulated 25 disposals, 11 marks, five tackles and five goals. Sokol is a strong marking forward with the endurance to push up the field as well as the strength and contested ball winning capabilities to play through the midfield.

WAFL Colts

Bottom age midfielder, Luke English was Perth's best against Claremont with 31 disposals, 10 tackles and four inside 50s, following on from a 30 disposal, nine-mark effort last week. The 179cm, 78kg, English will be one of the players to watch for next season.

Named Claremont's best player in both of the clubs two games, Callan England collected 34 disposals and seven inside 50s. For the 181cm, 73kg, midfielder, this follows 29 disposals, five marks, seven tackles and one goal in round one.

Aaron Naughton again figured prominently down back, with the 194cm, 84kg, key defender picking up 21 disposals and 10 marks. He has now taken an outstanding 27 marks from three WAFL Colts games this season.


Putting his name forward again as a potential draft choice after a strong 2016 season, James Ives, a 23-year-old, 178cm, 76kg, midfielder was impactful. He contributed 32 disposals, six tackles, nine clearances, eight inside 50s and one goal.

Under-18 Academy Series:

Most notable so far has been the effort of Jacob Dawson for Gold Coast in their match against Brisbane. His 34 disposals, 13 tackles and 11 clearances is an outstanding contribution by the 181cm, 77kg midfielder. The Gold Coast Academy product is projecting to feature in the first half of this year's AFL draft with continued strong play.