Draft Wrap: No. 1 prospect Rowell already AFL-standard

Each week, ESPN.com.au 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

Leading the Australian Under-18s to a come-from-behind-victory on Saturday at the MCG against VFL side Casey, Matthew Rowell won best-on-ground honours and did his pick No. 1 chances no harm.

Rowell has already developed a reputation as a big game player. He also put forward best-on-ground performances in Oakleigh's losing Grand Final effort against Dandenong and the Under-17 All-Stars, Grand Final curtain raiser, which quickly earned him pick No. 1 favouritism leading into the 2019 campaign.

Saturday's performance was complete. Rowell's aggressive tackling dispossessed opponents and was team lifting. He also won the ball through the midfield, provided run and carry, hit the scoreboard including the Under-18s' first goal, reliably found targets by hand and foot, directed teammates at stoppages and ran hard both ways.

There was a clear and present chemistry between Rowell and fellow Oakleigh Charger and Carey Grammar teammate Noah Anderson. The two pick No. 1 contenders looked like they had a psychic connection and set each other up around the ground.

Receiving comparison's to Joel Selwood for his attack on the ball, Rowell was the consistent performer throughout the game and looks ready to play at AFL level right now. Rowell was the Under-18s' leading ball winner with 22 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals.

If Rowell can become effective in a second position other than through the midfield, move the ball on more aggressively after taking marks and develop greater hurt factor by foot, he has the scope to develop into one of this draft's best and in time one of the AFL's premier midfielders.

Australian Under-18s vs. Casey

Instrumental in the Under-18s' second half comeback, Noah Anderson came alive in third quarter and was prolific through the midfield. He won first possession, distributed effectively by hand and drove the ball forward by foot. Anderson was arguably the most dangerous forward of centre for the Under-18s and appeared dangerous whether the ball was on the ground or in the air. He secured 17 disposals and two goals.

Giving the Under-18s first use at stoppages, Thomas Green was industrious. Green may be the most advanced and dominant stoppage specialist to come through the junior ranks but just as importantly he showed other tricks. With ball in hand, Green demonstrated composure and on one play used a fake to avoid a tackle to create time and space on the move and hit his intended target by foot inside 50m. One of his groundball pickups was freakish for a strongly built midfielder of 190cm, picking the ball up cleanly on the move over his toes. His showing of support for a teammate who was roughly tackled onto the synthetic turf was a further pleasing sign - bumping into the tackler and making it clear he would have no more of that to his more seasoned Casey foe.

After copping an elbow to the head in the first quarter, Brisbane Academy midfielder Will Martyn came to life in the second half. He boosted his draft stocks with his aggressive tackling, reading of the play and two important goals.

Presenting up strongly at the football and reading the drop of the ball superbly, Greater Western Sydney Academy key forward Liam Delahunty was the Under-18s' go-to option on forward drives. In the first half like a lot of his teammates he appeared nervy and uncharacteristically dropped marks he would usually take but his hands during the second half became surer.

Showing class in defence and taking the kickouts for the Under-18s, Trent Bianco played his best game for the year. His kickouts were reliable and hit meaningful targets over a range of distances. The classy midfielder improved his draft stocks with 15 disposals and has generated some intrigue as a skilful outside midfielder who, off the back of that performance, also looks well suited to playing in defence.

Providing a spark for the Under-18s in the second half, Malcolm Rosas Junior announced himself as one of this year's most dangerous small forwards with two goals. He was one-touch at ground level, evasive and effective finishing around goal. Rosas looked lively and it appeared he would hit the scoreboard every time he touched the ball inside 50m.

Intercepting and providing drive from defence with his use by hand and foot, Hayden Young put forward arguably his best performance of the season so far, enhancing his first-round draft chances. The aggressive defender managed 16 disposals.

Competing well in defence, Fischer McAsey intercepted well early and defended ruggedly throughout.

Taking a flying intercept mark across a pack in the first quarter and using the ball effectively throughout, likely first round choice Dylan Williams contributed effectively at both ends with 12 disposals and five marks.

Leaving the field in the third quarter with a gruesome looking knee injury, promising key forward Emerson Jeka did not return to the field but did show some glimpses early on leading up at the football.



Helping Norwood win against Port Adelaide, Lewis Johnston managed 35 disposals, eight marks, seven clearances, eight inside 50s, nine rebound 50s and one goal. This is the third game from the first four rounds the ex-Swan and Crow has achieved 35 or more disposals. He is also averaging 10 marks per game. As a 193cm midfielder with the versatility to play inside, outside or as a key position player, Johnston who continues to go from strength to strength after a strong 2018 campaign may be worth a look for AFL clubs during this year's mid-season draft.

In his League debut for Norwood, Cameron Taheny solidified his status as South Australia's most promising forward kicking three goals.