AFL Draft Wrap: Izak Rankine consolidates premier reputation

Each week, AFL draft expert Chris Doerre 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 wraps, 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

One of this year's most exciting talents, Izak Rankine, who has been compared to Andrew McLeod, was instrumental for South Australia in their win against the Allies. The likely top-10 choice consolidated his reputation as one of this year's most exciting prospects, securing 20 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five marks (one contested), four clearances, six inside 50s, three goals and three score assists.

Rankine has x-factor in his acceleration and agility, running around opponents like they are traffic cones. His ground ball pickups on the move are also of high quality, consistently scooping up ground balls without breaking stride and accelerating away. Rankine's ball use by foot is among the best in the draft. He hits targets consistently by hand and foot, displays the composure under pressure to make sound decisions, lowers his eyes, demonstrates the vision to hit forward 50m targets and finishes around goal to a high level.

A signature moment from Rankine was on a handball reception, he used his agility to get around an opponent and ran 15m before loading up and finishing from 50m on the move.

Spending his time in the SANFL for West Adelaide as a forward, the 180cm Rankine has scope to push through the midfield as a more than capable ball winner despite being arguably most damaging across half-forward. What prevents Rankine from playing on the ball for more than short spurts at this stage is his endurance, which will likely see him start his AFL career as a forward before earning greater midfield opportunity over time.

Under-18 Championships

South Australia v Allies

South Australia

Leading the way for South Australia, Luke Valente continued his strong vein of form. The powerful ball winner amassed 28 disposals, nine contested possessions and six clearances. Other than Valente's ball winning capabilities, his ball use has been consistent throughout the carnival, with 13 of his 15 kicks were effective against the Allies.

Building his case as this year's most prolific stoppage player, Jackson Hately impressed with his distribution by hand and relentless tackling. The possible top-10 draft choice secured 21 disposals, 10 contested possessions, eight tackles and six clearances.

Wowing recruiters with his work-rate and kicking, Jack Lukosius continues his push to be chosen first overall. His long kicking, while dangerous at times, demonstrated great vision as he hit some perfect long kicks which opened up the game numerous times. Lukosius produced 18 disposals, seven marks (one contested) and one goal. Of his 12 kicks, nine were effective.

Pressuring the ball carrier and demonstrating all the things clubs love to see off the ball, Flynn Betterman played winning team football. A key example of that came after a handball on the move to a teammate, Betterman bumped the opponent in pursuit off his line to give the receiver more time and space. The 180cm, 73kg, midfielder posted 16 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles and one goal.

Will Gould, who is an underage defender, impressed with his strength, reading of the ball in flight, intercept marking and long kicking. Already earning comparisons to Jeremy McGovern, the talented Gould produced 15 disposals, seven marks (three contested) and five rebound 50s.

Adelaide next generation academy (NGA) prospect Martin Frederick had several eye-catching moments for the victorious side. His acceleration and ability to break the line energised South Australia with two 30m runs, including one where he finished from 35m on the move on a difficult angle. The 178cm, 74kg, speedster gathered 13 disposals and one goal.


Working hard and demonstrating clean hands, possible Geelong and North Melbourne father-son selection and Gold Coast academy prospect Bailey Scott was prolific for the Allies. Racking up the ball, the outside accumulator managed 22 disposals, eight marks and two goals.

Brisbane Academy prospect Connor McFadyen was prolific stoppages and his ball use was sound by foot with eight of his 10 kicks effective. Boosting his draft stocks and entering the second-round conversation, the 190cm midfielder amassed 21 disposals, 14 contested possessions, seven tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and one goal.

Providing run, crumbing effectively and hurting the opposition by foot, the underage Mitchell O'Neill is a prospect to watch for next year. With eight of his 11 kicks effective, O'Neill posted 17 disposals, five marks and one goal.

Providing a dangerous marking target up forward, Nick Blakey contributed 11 disposals, six marks (two contested), four inside 50s, two goals and three behinds. Blakey's leading patterns, reading of the drop of the ball and strong marking at the highest point has many recruiters believing the Sydney Academy prospect will command a bid inside the top five.

Vic Country v Western Australia

Vic Country

Winning first possession at the contest and being the stoppage player Vic Country have lacked throughout the championships, Ely Smith put forward a performance that will see his draft stocks rise despite it being his side's fourth straight loss. Regularly winning first possession and dishing out by hand, the powerful midfielder amassed 32 disposals, 18 contested possessions, five tackles and nine clearances.

The shining light and model of consistency for Vic Country over their four matches has been Sam Walsh who rightly was named Vic Country's MVP. Working hard to impact the game despite receiving attention at stoppages, Walsh collected 28 disposals, 12 contested possessions, eight tackles, five inside 50s and one goal.

Proving a livewire for Vic Country, Melbourne NGA prospect and 176cm, 65kg, speedster Toby Bedford displayed speed and agility, taking on the game relentlessly. His chase down tackling was a highlight. The exciting line-breaker managed 20 disposals, eight tackles, seven inside 50s and two score assists.

Having increased his draft stocks during the Under-18 Championships, Geelong father-son prospect Oscar Brownless is likely to feature mid-draft. The hard-working midfielder gathered 17 disposals, four tackles and one goal.

Leading all participants through the Under-18 Championships for tackles and pressure acts, Ned McHenry will be in hot demand as a pressure forward. The pressure specialist contributed 17 disposals and seven tackles.

Teasing us with exciting moments, the athletic Bailey Williams grabbed some marks at the highest point while dropping a few easier ones. Similarly, at ground level, his hands were not always clean. But when he did win the ground ball, Williams would deliver a 'don't argue' and accelerate away powerfully. Williams posted 16 disposals, four marks (two contested) and two goals.

Western Australia

Arguably Western Australia's most influential midfielder, Sydney Stack elevated his draft stocks with his dynamic play. Stack is an explosive, one-touch midfielder who regularly pressures opponents into mistakes. Most impressive from Stack was the way he hit the ball at pace, won the ball on the move and found the gaps to accelerate through. Possessing freakish acceleration and agility, the exciting midfielder produced 22 disposals, 10 contested possessions and four clearances.

Using the ball reliably with 12 of his 15 kicks effective, Ian Hill's decision-making and skill execution under pressure was a highlight. The quick-thinking midfielder contributed 19 disposals, six marks, five tackles and four inside 50s.

Playing a complete game off half-back, Louis Miller took intercept marks, provided run and drive by foot and impressed with his spoils and smothers. The 187cm, 82kg, defender posted 17 disposals, nine contested possessions, five marks (one contested) and four rebound 50s.

In a breakout performance, West Coast NGA forward Jarrod Cameron produced 10 disposals, two contested marks and five goals. The younger brother of Brisbane's Charlie played with swagger; after each goal or score assist he celebrated and let his opponents know about it. It was Cameron's leg-speed, one-touch pickups on the move and high-flying marks that caused Vic Country headaches.