AFL Draft Wrap: Unique defender with booming boot looms as a first-round force

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

In his best performance of the Under-18 Championships, South Australian captain Will Gould was a force in defence. An Under-18 All-Australian in 2018, Gould's vision and precise 60m kick means he has been utilised as South Australia's playmaker from defence, often taking his side's kickouts.

Drawing comparisons to Shannon Hurn due to his leadership traits, Gould is a unique defender at 191cm, 98kg in that he can play tall or small with the strength to match anyone one-on-one in combination with an explosive burst of speed that allows him to play smaller and generate run from defence. These attributes are rounded out with Gould's intercept marking capabilities as a strong overhead mark and early reader of the ball off the opponent's boot.

The powerful defender was arguably the best on ground for South Australia in their loss in the closing moments to Vic Country with 26 disposals, 12 contested possessions, five marks (two contested) and one goal.

Likely to feature inside the first round, if Gould improves his endurance and slims down in the leadup to the draft, he will be an in-demand prospect either as a ready-to-go rebounding or key defender.

Under-18 Championships

Vic Country vs. South Australia

Vic Country

Combining strong overhead marking and endeavour to win first possession at stoppages and loose balls around the ground, Caleb Serong starred for Vic Country. The dynamic midfielder/forward amassed 33 disposals, 17 contested possessions, nine marks (three contested), nine tackles, 10 clearances and five inside 50s.

Developing his reputation, Sam Flanders has made the progression from dynamic forward to capable midfielder. He won first possession, kept his feet, was a physical presence around the ground, demonstrated explosive speed and made the team-first plays. The likely first-round choice posted 28 disposals, 12 contested possessions, seven marks (two contested), 10 inside 50s and one goal.

Having started the Under-18 Championships in defence, Brodie Kemp made the switch to playing through the midfield to great effect. Kemp's best moments though came late up forward, taking two vital contested marks in the dying minutes along with booting the deciding goal which he slotted from 45m with the final kick of the game. The dynamic tall utility elevated himself into the top-five draft conversation with 27 disposals, 14 contested possessions, seven marks (two contested), five clearances, one goal and two score assists.

Lachlan Ash was also pivotal in the win. He came up big in the critical moment, taking the ball on the bounce, bolting 35m through the corridor and kicking inside-50 with Kemp getting on the end of it for the deciding contested mark and goal. Ash, a likely top-10 choice, produced 19 disposals and six inside 50s.

Kicking four goals for the second successive game for Vic Country, Cody Weightman was a highlight up forward. His run, dare, evasion, finishing around goal and ability to make something out of nothing stood out.

South Australia

Firming as one of South Australia's best prospects and coming from obscurity, Harry Schoenberg has led the SA midfield in each of their first three games. He displayed great endeavour, winning the ball when it was there to be won and was always on the move at stoppages, often bursting out of congestion at speed. The rapidly improving midfielder amassed 32 disposals, 12 contested possessions and six clearances.

Playing a complete game, Jackson Mead not only won the ball at stoppages but ran hard with ball in hand and hurt the opposition with his ball use. The Port Adelaide father-son prospect and son of Darren Mead secured 22 disposals, 13 contested possessions and two goals.

Establishing himself as one of this year's most promising key defenders, Dyson Hilder continued his strong vein of form with 15 disposals, seven marks (one contested) and eight rebound 50s. His intercept marking, reading of the drop of the ball, one-on-one marking, vision and skills to hit meaningful targets by foot in the corridor and composure with ball in hand were highlights.

Vic Metro vs. Allies

Vic Metro

Enhancing his chances to be selected inside the top 30 as a possible Hawthorn father-son selection, Finn Maginness, son of Scott, led the way through Vic Metro's midfield winning first possession at stoppages, demonstrating a high work rate and tackling strongly. The hard-working midfielder secured 27 disposals, 18 contested possessions, nine tackles, seven clearances and six inside 50s.

Showing football smarts, finding space inside-50m, crumbing, tackling and pressuring, Jack Mahony played a high calibre game. The talented forward/midfielder secured 19 disposals, three goals and two score assists.

Proving an intercept marking force, Fischer McAsey looked like a threat to mark the ball each time it was in the air, reading the ball early off the opponent's boot. He used the ball reliably by foot. Establishing himself as this year's premier key defender, McAsey secured 19 disposals and seven marks (two contested).


Carrying the Allies on his shoulders to an upset win, Tom Green appeared to get his hands on the ball at every stoppage, reading the ball off the ruckman's hands better than anyone else in the pool. His marking, which is developing into a strength, work rate late in the game and his 55m set shot goal from a difficult angle were further highlights. The prolific ball winner amassed 33 disposals, 17 contested possessions, nine clearances and one goal.

Laying the match-winning tackle in the critical moment late, breaking the game open with his speed, possessing a strong fend-off and looking powerful overhead, Noah Cumberland gathered 13 disposals and eight contested possessions.

Looking like the next Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Hewago Paul-Oea from Gold Coast's Academy provided intimidating forward pressure, pace, hardness at the ball and ground ball winning. The exciting forward in a breakout performance produced 12 disposals, eight contested possessions, four clearances, one goal and three score assists.