Academy Guns invited to Combine

Talented Queensland draft prospects Connor Ballenden and Jack Payne from the Lions Academy, as well as Brayden Crossley from the SUNS Academy have been invited to take part in the National Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium, taking place on the 3-6 of October.

In order to be nominated, players must receive a minimum of four nominations from AFL clubs.

Though many of the players invited may end up on AFL lists at the end of the year, the combine is by no means a guarantee.

The signs are nevertheless positive for the trio of talls, who have been plying their trade in the NEAFL after strong showings at the U18 NAB AFL National Championships.

Key forward Connor Ballenden is the only one of the three yet to play NEAFL since the championships, but the Lions Academy big man looks likely to make an appearance this week.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Connor Ballenden of the Allies in action during the 2017 AFL Under 18 Championships match between Vic Metro and the Allies at Simonds Stadium on July 05, 2017 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA – JULY 05: Connor Ballenden of the Allies in action during the 2017 AFL Under 18 Championships match between Vic Metro and the Allies at Simonds Stadium on July 05, 2017 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

Jack Payne has been playing a familiar defensive role for the NEAFL Lions this season and has shown some promising signs, while Brayden Crossley hit the scoreboard for the SUNS NEAFL side last week against Southport and remains an exciting ruck forward prospect.

The full list of 83 invited players, of which 54 are from Victoria, will be divided into groups based on position, including ruckmen and tall forward groups for the first time.

“The Draft Combine is the final component of the talent assessment process for the AFL clubs, giving them one last opportunity to rate the players overall potential,” said AFL National Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan.

“Interviews and medicals as well as physical and skills testing are all part of the Draft Combine as the clubs count down to the 32nd NAB AFL Draft to be held in Sydney on November 24.”

State combines are still yet to be conducted with the corresponding invitations set to be released within the next few weeks.

 

 

By Sean Melrose

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