By Grant Hitzman
The 2013 draft period is over, with this year’s crop of talented youngsters now settling in to their new homes.
A total of 11 Queensland players have been given the opportunity to compete at AFL level in 2014, with plenty of talent across the board. The 11 drafted players are made up of six rookie listed players, three promoted rookies, one Academy selection and one National Draft Pick.
We take a look at each of the drafted players, with insight from AFL Manager of Talent and Academies for Queensland and New South Wales, Mark Browning.
Tom Bell – Carlton – National Draft, Pick 94 (Promoted Rookie)
Born and raised in Brisbane, Bell was introduced to AFL at age 12 after spending his youth as a soccer player. He graduated from Iona College in 2008, later joining Morningside in the NEAFL in 2010. By 2011 Bell was a regular senior player for the Panthers, impressing on the wing and along halfback.
He was selected by Carlton at Pick 14 in the 2012 Rookie Draft and made his debut in Round 17, 2012 against the Western Bulldogs. Bell played the final seven games of the 2012 season, his strong performances earning him Carlton’s Best First-Year Player award and a two-year contract extension.
Bell played a further nine games in 2013 and featured in the Blues’ finals campaign. After two seasons on the rookie list, Carlton promoted Bell to their senior list for 2014.
Bell has already impressed in pre-season training, dropping a few kilograms to stand out as one of the fastest Blues’ young guns in team running drills.
Mark: Tommy is a really tough competitive kid who probably needs to work on his kicking a bit, but he will definitely be pushing for a regular place in Carlton’s 22 in 2014.
Adam Oxley – Collingwood – National Draft, Pick 92 (Promoted Rookie)
A Redland Bay local, Adam Oxley spent the better part of 12 years with Redland FC. Oxley began with the Redland Sharks junior team before eventually rising to NEAFL ranks, where he shone for the Redland Bombers.
Oxley represented Queensland at Under-18 level in 2010 and 2011 and was consistently identified as a future prospect and potential draftee. A stellar 2012 NEAFL season for Redland which included a rising star nomination, selection in the NEAFL Northern Conference Under 21 side, a top five finish in the Bombers best and fairest and selection on the half-back flank in the NEAFL Northern Conference Team of the Year served as notice of the young Queenslanders developing talents.
Collingwood took a chance on the 191cm medium defender, drafting him at Pick 39 in the 2013 Rookie Draft. Oxley immediately showed promise at the Pies, his tidy foot skills and ability to spoil giving him scope to play in defence, on the wing or in attack. He managed a pair of games in 2013, continually pressing for senior selection. His efforts were rewarded at the end of 2013, promoted to Collingwood’s senior list for the 2014 season.
Mark: As a 17/18 year old we always knew he had the talent, and then at 19 had a really consistent season for Redland playing at Centre Half Back. He showed real good form last season, played a couple of games and deserves promotion.
Ricky Petterd – Richmond – National Draft, Pick 93 (Promoted Rookie)
Born in Tasmania, Petterd moved to Queensland with his family in 1997 to call Broadbeach home. In the 2005-06 seasons, Petterd debuted for the Cats as a 16-year old.
He represented Queensland at Under-16 level in 2004 and Under-18 level in 2005-06 and was a member of the 2006 AIS/AFL Academy Squad. He was vice-captain of the star-studded Queensland side coached by Craig McRae that won the division two title undefeated at the Australian U18 Championships, where he was further honored with All-Australian selection and the Hunter Harrison Medal for the best & fairest player in division two.
Selected at Pick 30 in the 2006 National Draft, Petterd was considered a bargain. His debut against Sydney in round 5, 2007 resounded this sentiment, racking up 20 quality possessions. A string of injuries halted Petterd’s development and playing time at Melbourne, the classy utility delisted at the end of 2012.
Petterd was thrown a lifeline by Richmond in December 2012, drafted at Pick 7 in the Rookie Draft. A rejuvenated Petterd contributed in 12 quality games for the Tigers in 2013, regaining his fitness and strength to impress coaching staff. Mostly used as a half-back, the versatile Queenslander was promoted to the Tigers senior list at the 2013 National Draft.
Mark: A super competitive kid with a great mark who loves kicking goals. Excellent result to see him promoted to the senior list.
Jonothan Freeman – Brisbane Lions – National Draft, Pick 62 (Academy Player)
Hailing from Noosa, the 198cm, 96kg forward was taken with the 62nd Pick in the fourth round of the National Draft after Brisbane committed to taking the youngster as a zone selection. The result is a great turnaround for Freeman, who one year earlier was overlooked by all 18 AFL clubs in the 2012 AFL Draft.
The key forward boasts excellent ability to track the ball in the air and take contested marks. He covers the ground with poise and ease, displaying clean hands and strength, making him a perfect leading target.
Mark: Jono played a terrific couple of games against Division 1 states South Australia and Vic Metro at the National Championships that I think got him over the line. He has definitely put in the hard yards and deserves his spot at Brisbane.
Aliir Aliir – Sydney – National Draft, Pick 44
One of the great stories to ever come out this year’s AFL Draft is the journey of Kenyan born Aliir Aliir.
Aliir was born in a refugee camp in Kenya to Sudanese parents. His family fled the country when Aliir was eight, eventually settling in Brisbane. Aliir attended Kedron High School and was invited by a friend to play Aussie Rules for Aspley in 2009. Just a year after joining Aspley, Aliir was selected for the World XVIII team to compete at the under 16 National Championships in 2010. Aliir was once again selected for the World Team in 2011 and then for Queensland in the 2012 NAB AFL under 18 Championships.
In April 2012, Aliir made his senior debut for Aspley in the NEAFL against Southport. After being overlooked in the 2012 AFL Draft, Aliir made the decision to relocate to Perth to live with his family. After a stellar season for East Fremantle in 2013, he was drafted at Pick 44 in the National Draft by the Sydney Swans.
At 196cm and 90kg, an accurate kick, strong overhead mark and athletic leap, Aliir has all the tools to be an excellent rebounding defender with the ability to go forward. He will fit in nicely into Sydney’s backline.
Mark: I love Kinnear Beatson’s comment that while Aliir’s journey is a great AFL story, it shouldn’t detract from his exceptional ability and potential. I know Aliir is genuinely excited to be at the Swans and I’m just wrapped he has gone there because of the Swans culture. I think it is exactly what Aliir needs in order to fast track his development.
Jarred Ellis – Gold Coast – Rookie Draft, Pick 63
Playing his NEAFL career for Broadbeach, Ellis had an impressive 2012 campaign, which saw the medium sized midfielder play every game in the Under-18 National Championships. Ellis showed plenty of promise, displaying his exceptional agility, poise, neat kicking and strong marking ability throughout the tournament. 2013 did the young Queenslanders draft hopes no favours, sidelined for the best part of six-months after shoulder reconstruction surgery. His 21-disposal game against Gold Coast in round 22 of the NEAFL exhibited glimpses of his 2012 form, regaining some draft momentum. Ellis showed his versatility at Draft Combine testing in late 2013, finishing equal first in the goal kicking exercise. Ellis was drafted by Gold Coast at Pick 63 in the Rookie Draft, an excellent result for the electric midfielder.
Mark: Good skills, good endurance and has that little bit of x-factor. That’s why the Gold Coast has taken a bit of a punt with him.
Archie Smith – Brisbane Lions – Rookie Draft, Pick 69
Son of former NBA and Brisbane Bullets player, Andre Moore, Archie Smith’s rise to an AFL list is remarkable. The teenager has played no more than 20 games of AFL and has been playing the sport for just a year.
Smith, up until last year was 100% focused on Basketball. Playing since 5, Smith was in the process of deciding which of eight US college scholarships he would accept when Lions academy manager, Luke Curran and talent identification manager, Ashley Drake, approached Smith to give Aussie Rules a go. Smith reluctantly accepted and since has made huge strides in the football world.
Smith played five games at the 2013 Under 18 Championships, averaging an impressive 18 hitouts. At draft testing, he finished first in the running vertical leap (left leg) with a whopping 97cm jump as well as impressing scouts with his physicality and imposing size. Smith, at just 18, stands 200cm tall and weighs 97kg.
The Lions Academy has put a lot of work into Smith and the athletic ruckman has improved leaps and bounds at air and ground level. Taken at Pick 69 in the Rookie Draft, Smith has all the potential to be a dominant tap ruckman in years to come.
Mark: I absolutely love Archie’s competitive nature and the real presence he brings on the ground. He finished the NEAFL season in pretty good touch playing for the Brisbane Lions in the NEAFL finals. He has buckets of potential.
Isaac Conway – Brisbane Lions – Rookie Draft, Pick 6
Aspley’s, Isaac Conway, is an excellent inside midfielder who is clean below his knees and has exceptional and quick hands in traffic. Conway played for both Aspley and the Lions reserves in the NEAFL and looked right at home against senior bodies.
Identified as a strong character with great leadership qualities, Conway was the captain of Queensland at the National Under 18 Championships, averaging 20 disposals and further showing his leadership qualities. Conway possesses a first-class football brain and an elite work ethic. He is a medium sized, well-built midfielder who can be compared closely to a Daniel Cross type talent.
Conway was unlucky to miss out in the National Draft, but Brisbane was aware of the Lions Academy player’s talent, selecting him with their first pick in the Rookie Draft.
Mark: In my time, he would have to rate in the top 3 for character, terrific kid. He has got real ability and he will be banging the door down for a spot in the senior side just through his work rate alone. People question his pace, and in that sense he reminds me of Sam Mitchell. Mitchell never got there as an 18 year old, but he flourished later down the track. I’m sure Isaac will play league footy.
Fraser Thurlow – Essendon – Rookie Draft, Pick 9
At 199cm and 100kg, Thurlow is an exceptional ruckman/key forward who is strong overhead and reads the game well. He possesses a strong work ethic and is extremely competitive by nature. Thurlow switched from Southport to Labrador at the start of 2013, and the move has paid off in spades for the young tall. He achieved his best season to date, with the highlight coming in the form of a best on ground performance against the SANFL at Under-22 level.
Thurlow is arguably one the best developed ruckman in the draft, with an exceptional vertical leap and a strong, mature build. Essendon selected Thurlow with their first pick in the Rookie Draft.
Mark: Outstanding performance for the NEAFL under 22’s vs. South Australia, best on ground by a long way. He has really built his body up and is nearly ready to play some senior footy in 2014 if the opportunity comes along.
Brent Renouf – Port Adelaide – Rookie Draft, Pick 44
A Premiership ruckman in 2008 for Hawthorn, Renouf moved across to Port and has subsequently been downgraded from their senior list to their rookie list. Renouf is a very talented, matured bodied ruckman who has struggled with form and injury in past seasons.
Mark: We can’t forget about Brent. Premiership Ruckman who has had a few interrupted seasons, things haven’t really gone his way. He certainly has the ability to play some good senior footy, just needs a bit of luck.
Joel Tippet – North Melbourne – Rookie Draft, Pick 8
Joel Tippett will again join Brother Kurt in the big league having been rookie listed by North Melbourne at pick 8.
Tippett played two games for Gold Coast in 2011 before being delisted.
He then moved to South Australia where he joined West Adelaide in the SANFL.
Tippett was offered a one-year contract with Carlton last year; however he declined the offer and withdrew himself from the rookie draft due to injury.
Mark: Joel had a terrific year playing fullback for West Adelaide this season. He has come a really long way and I can definitely see him being a regular at the Kangaroos as the season progresses.