Scouting Notes: 2022 AFL Under 17 Futures
TEAM HOULI took out Saturday’s Under 17 Futures game, defeating Team Murphy by 28 points in the first instalment of the showcase since 2019. The next generation of AFL Draft prospects strutted their stuff on the MCG, proving a fitting curtain-raiser for the elite level’s final game of the year. We took notes on ALL 44 players afield, shedding light on the best talent 2023 has to offer.
By: Declan Reeve
#2 Cam Nyko (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Showing off an incredible work rate throughout, Nyko took on his usual role on a wing and looked comfortable from the start. Nyko was one of the early game accumulators, popping up in all thirds of the ground to provide an outlet for his teammates in trouble, taking on the game with run and carry whilst looking to deliver long. Nyko consistently spread well around the ground to be a marking option, even getting forward to receive the ball from a switch kick and getting himself a goal from about 45 out.
#3 Luamon Lual (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Whilst not a large accumulator on the day, Lual had some moments that are sure to have gotten recruiters’ attention. Lual had a couple of opportune intercept marks, not necessarily cutting off quick plays from Team Murphy, but rather reacting quickly to attempted switch kicks in his defensive 50. Lual did all he could to show off his ability to take on the game, looking to quickly play on from marks and kick further afield.
#4 Darcy Wilson (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
The Murray Bushrangers product showed off his versatility in the contest, playing across all three lines at one point or another. Wilson wasn’t as clean as he has typically been early on in the game, but worked his way into it the longer it drew on, spotting some nice kicks around the ground, particularly heading inside 50. Wilson capped off the day with a nice running goal later on, taking a bounce on his way into the forward 50 and finishing truly
#5 Mahmoud Taha (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
Positioned largely in the forward line for the game, Taha played with a team first approach, often giving the ball off to teammates in better positions rather than taking shots himself. Whilst he showed off some nice forward craft with well timed leads and a goal in transition, Taha looked his most impressive further up the field, with some clean disposal and composure in heavy traffic unlocking attacking plays for his side.
#6 Jack Delean (South Adelaide/South Australia)
A premiership quarter specialist, the South Australian small forward stepped up in the third term to help Team Houli come from behind. Early on, Delean did his hardest to set up goals, working up the ground to be a marking option in transition from defensive 50, and crumbing marking contests inside 50 superbly, creating his side’s first goal by handing off to a runner from behind after winning a ground ball. Delean was dangerous in the air all game, with two of his goals coming from set shots, one earned from a nice pack mark in the goal square.
#7 Archie Roberts (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
The usually composed and classy half-back had a few moments of panic early on when team Murphy was often in its attacking half, fumbling a few intercept attempts he usually wouldn’t and not looking as sharp with his use by foot. Like many others on his side though, Roberts worked into the contest and started hitting those kicks that broke the game open, as well as looking more confident with his run. Roberts worked his way up the ground more in the second half, sending the ball inside 50 with speed.
#8 Nathan Philactides (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Setting up play and using his speed aggressively from the backline has become Philactides one-wood for the year, and he didn’t disappoint on the big stage. Philactides was clean through the game, picking out aggressive options and weighting the ball well to their advantage, sometimes picking out targets in the middle of opponents with his kicks. As the opportunity to do so presented more as the game went on, Philactides backed in his speed against opponents to run the ball up the ground and look to get his side looking dangerous in transition.
#9 Alex Holt (Sturt/South Australia)
Arguably the most reliable of the smaller defenders on the day, Holt was just the definition of accountable across the four quarters. He was involved in every defensive 50 contest early on, looking classy with his disposal by hand, spotting teammates forward of the ball and releasing them into space. Holt showed off some moments of impressive commitment through the game, always pushing hard to put a fist into a marking attempt or to lay a tackle.
#10 Luca Slade (Sturt/South Australia)
One of the more consistent midfielders for the game, Slade impressed with his speed out of congestion and ability to spread and work hard to get handballs from stoppages. Slade’s work in close was impressive, but he looked at his best when he won the ball out in space or got himself involved out of traffic, where he took the game on with his run and hit some piercing kicks.
#11 Colby McKercher (Launceston/Tasmania)
The top ball winner for Team Houli, McKercher was a constant through his sides midfield, consistently being at the fall of the ball from the ruck contests. McKercher wasn’t quite at his speedy best early on when the game was congested, but started to find space around contests to get his run on, and drive the ball forward with his run and carry. McKercher’s ball use around the ground was impressive, rarely wasting a disposal and generally looking to move it forward when the opportunity presented itself.
#13 Jack Callinan (Clarence/Tasmania)
A late call-up to the game, the Tasmanian small forward proved to be a shrewd inclusion finishing up one of only thre multiple goal kickers. Whilst he wasn’t consistently involved in the game, Callinan took his opportunities when presented, snapping Team Houli’s first goal after getting a handball from Jack Delean, with his second goal coming from an intercepted kick in attempt.
#15 Michael Rudd (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
It wasn’t a high accumulation day from Rudd, as the tall forward struggled to hold onto marks, despite consistently providing leads. Rudd was eventually rewarded for his efforts, receiving a downfield free kick in the goal square and putting it straight through.
#16 Kane McAuliffe (North Adelaide/South Australia)
Thrown about between the backline and midfield, McAuliffe looked at his best around stoppages where he could use his strength and his frame to impose himself on the contest. Primarily winning the ball on the inside, McAuliffe did well to keep his hands free when being tackled, moving the ball on by hand to keep the game moving. McAuliffe was defensively accountable as well, working hard to lay tackles from stoppages and rarely being evaded.
#17 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
The powerful Dandenong midfielder was bash-and-crash all game, throwing himself at the footy and opponents alike to win it in tight, and then using his quick hands in close to release to runners. Despite doing a lot of his work in the thick of the contest, Frangalas was dangerous on the outside as well, taking his opportunities to carry the ball as far as he could and then delivering well to forwards.
#18 Harrison Francis (Glenelg/South Australia)
Traditionally playing in the forward half, Francis did well stationed in the defensive 50 to be a consistent roadblock for Team Murphy heading towards goal. Whilst he didn’t stand out as much as others, Francis did everything he could to create contests and stop any of Team Murphy’s quick plays. Francis impressed when he had ball in hand however, hitting some very impressive long range kicks from deep inside 50, penetrating through the wall his opposition had set up.
#19 Connor O’Sullivan (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
Splitting his time between the forward line and ruck, O’Sullivan showed off his speed on the lead in the forward half, reacting well when his teammates won the ball further afield to get moving quickly and be used as an option. Despite being undersized in the ruck contests, O’Sullivan’s leap made him a strong competitor at the stoppages, but it was his work below his knees and skills once the ball hit the ground that really impressed, playing smaller than his 197cm frame would suggest.
#20 Will Graham (Suns Academy/Queensland)
While quiet across the game, Graham had some patches where he showed the promise that got him into the match. Playing mostly in the midfield, Graham was strong in the contest, rarely taken off his feet and able to keep his hands free in tackles, picking out dangerous options from the inside.
#21 Coen Livingstone (Perth/Western Australia)
Another who was impressive in patches, Livingstone split his time between the forward line and ruck, but never really built up consistency in either role. Livingstone was alert through the game, reacting quickly to kicks to provide an intercepting threat in the forward half and get to the fall of the ball inside 50. Livingstone’s goal came as he was left free inside 50 and was used by a teammate in transition, slotting the goal from an impressive 50 meters out on a slight angle.
#22 Daniel Curtin (Claremont/Western Australia)
Recognised as the best player afield, Curtin may as well have had the honours wrapped up at quarter time. For every inside 50 Team Murphy managed, Curtin managed another intercept mark or rebound 50, reading the ball superbly in flight and approaching it more aggressively than any opponent. Contested or uncontested, Curtin was just holding everything he put his hands to. The marking was impressive, but what stood out with Curtin was how good his ball use was for a tall, with the left-footer hitting dangerous options at both short and long range, generally favouring options in the corridor. Unfortunately he didn’t get the opportunity to show off his forward craft, but he looms as an early selection in 2023 regardless of role.
#23 Bradley McDonald (Lions Academy/Queensland)
Playing largely in the defensive half, the Lions Academy tall was another one of Team Houli’s intercepting threats. McDonald was strong in the air all game, out marking opponents well even when he wasn’t in a great position to do so. The only downside to McDonald’s game was his ball use at times, occasionally turning it over despite limited pressure, however with a year left until he’s draft eligible, there’s plenty of promising early signs.
#27 Jed Walter (Suns Academy/Queensland)
The best performed player afield who also turned out in the recent Under 18 National Championships, Walter didn’t hit the scoreboard like many would’ve expected but showed plenty of promise nonetheless. There’s very little that Walter doesn’t do as a tall forward, consistently presenting as an option and bringing the ball to ground when he can’t hold onto the mark. There were times where Walter would’ve felt stiff not getting a free kick from marking contests. Adapting to this, Walter began to work his way up the ground and moving it well by foot inside 50, setting up a few goals with his clean ball use.
#28 Ethan Read (Suns Academy/Queensland)
The most impressive ruck on the ground, Read was rarely beaten in the ruck contests as he placed his taps well to the advantage of his midfielders. Read was mostly clean below his knees and in the air for the game, positioning behind the ball to be an intercepting threat when team Murphy rushed a disposal forward, sending it back from where it came.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Jake Rogers (Suns Academy/Queensland)
Utilised on both sides of midfield, Rogers’ smarts and speed were on full show as one of Team Murphy’s better players. The Suns Academy member was super lively at ground level, proving clean below his knees and making his first evasiveness a factor around the contest. He missed an early chance to hit the scoreboard as he closed to 40 metres on the run, but looked much more polished as the game wore on with clever decision making and skill execution.
#2 Caiden Cleary (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
The top ball winner afield with 31 disposals, Cleary was another member of the midfield rotation whose speed troubled the opposition. With power and natural ball winning ability, the Swans Academy product looked to take the ball at full stride and carry on his momentum to drive it forward in a flash. The only thing missing from Cleary’s game at times was a finishing touch, with his kicking at full tilt aiming for metres or ground rather than a targeted teammate.
#3 Kynan Brown (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Having cut his teeth mostly as a midfielder for Oakleigh, Brown spent plenty of time in Team Murphy’s forward line on Saturday. The Melbourne father-son prospect could not be faulted for effort, as he sought to accelerate into scoring positions but found himself caught on the burst inside 50. Still, he backed his speed well and created scoring opportunities, albeit under pressure and largely to no avail.
#5 Harvey Thomas (Giants Academy/NSW-ACT)
There may not be much of him, but Thomas was super impressive throughout the day. The Giants Academy member proved as neat and composed as anyone afield with his use by foot, hitting targets to spread the play with prolific efficiency. He hardly made a mistake, initially employed behind the ball before applying much of the same skill with a shift to midfield. His evasion and poise served him well, but Thomas also held his own with some gutsy efforts when contact was imminent.
#6 Lachlan Cabor (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
One of just seven AFL Academy members afield, Cabor found a home off half-back and got his running game going. Much like Swans Academy talent Caiden Cleary, he straight-lined the ball at speed and while not as clean as he could have been, carried that momentum to generate some attacking movement. His first half was more prolific than his second, and Cabor often looked to take the game on, even if it meant he was corralled into a corner or caught in possession.
#7 Cooper Simpson (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
Fresh off a NAB League Grand Final outing, and super bottom-age season overall, Simpson slotted into Team Murphy’s mid-forward rotation with ease. He worked high up the ground and drove his legs on the way back inside 50, pumping the ball long on his preferred left foot. The Dandenong standout would have enjoyed a hard tackle on fellow Stingray Sam Frangalas as the quarter time siren sounded, before beginning to showcase his slick hands with greater midfield minutes. Simpson’s pressure was also noticeable, though he couldn’t quite add a goal to his game.
#8 Riley Hardeman (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
Hardeman has made his name as a prolific outside runner, and provided plenty of it for Team Murphy on Saturday. The Swan Districts standout was productive as a rebounder in the first half, working back to the last line and setting off as soon as he won possession. He began to get more involved at the contest in term three and got his typically sharp left-foot kicking going, while also rising for a brave overhead mark at full stretch in the corridor.
#9 Orlando Turner (Norwood/NT)
The sole Northern Territory talent afield, Turner found his spot in Team Murphy’s forward line and built into the game nicely. He got amongst it with crafty ground level work, helping manufacture scoring opportunities inside 50 and notching three shots on goal. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite convert two set shots and snap, before operating off a wing in the second half to test his versatility.
#10 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
Duursma is such a natural forward and was a relatively permanent attacking fixture for Team Murphy, showcasing all he has to offer as a prospective top 10 talent. The Gippsland Power player of strong pedigree got off the leash when leading, but also rose for a solid pack mark in term two to boot his first goal. His hands were exceptionally clean all day, as was his snap finish from the pocket in the final quarter. He kicks goals from all angles and with every kick in the book.
#11 Ben Ridgway (Glenelg/South Australia)
Another outstanding ball winner for Team Murphy, Ridgway was one of the game’s more mainstay midfielders. The Glenelg Under 18 premiership captain had little trouble getting his hands on the pill, perhaps afforded less time and space than he would have liked, but still able to bomb his side forward out of the middle. He very nearly capped off a strong on-ball outing with scores, but hit the post with a second term set shot and missed a snap late in the game. A real accumulator.
#12 Ryley Sanders (Sandringham Dragons/Tasmania)
Sanders is an exceptional exponent of the handball and utilised that skill on Saturday with a particularly prolific first half. He racked up 18 touches before the main break, proving an efficient merchant by hand and feeding his teammates in one of his better performances for the year. The Tasmanian quietened down after half time, and had his versatility truly tested as he shifted onto flanks at either end of the ground.
#15 Will Patton (West Adelaide/South Australia)
Another of the AFL Academy members, Patton looked to reprise the role of defensive general for Team Murphy. While an apt interceptor, the Westies prospect also got his rebounding game going and trusted his left-foot kicking on the way out of defence. He ran himself into trouble on a few occasions, but moved relatively well and got his marking game going as the match wore on, including with one goal-saving effort in the final quarter.
#16 Arie Schoenmaker (Launceston/Tasmania)
Another intercept-rebound double threat, Schoenmaker produced the same quality on Saturday as he has for much of the year with Tasmania. Like many of the standout kickers afield, he was terrific on his favoured left side with penetrative passes out of defence to set up Team Murphy’s transitions. With state skipper Lachlan Cowan in the draft frame this year, he’ll take on a similar role across the Devils’ defence in 2023.
#17 Will McCabe (Central District/South Australia)
While quiet in the early stages, McCabe got to work in term two as he began to rise for his marks. The Hawthorn father-son candidate and South Australian Under 16 MVP got into positions to intercept, leaning on his athleticism to at least split contests before following up. He showed off his exciting mobility with a flying mark in the third quarter, and a fluent spin after recovering a ground ball. Still raw at 196cm, but with plenty to work with.
#18 Logan Morris (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
It was an ‘almost’ kind of day for Morris, who was not short of opportunities up forward, but produced a conversion rate befitting of his side’s 4.16 scoreline. He thrived off long and quick forward 50 entries, playing deep and flying for marks as a strong presence close to goal. He snapped the first goal of the game, but went on to miss multiple set shots over the next two quarters in what was overall a promising performance – albeit without the finishing touch.
#19 Billy Richardson (Lions Academy/Queensland)
One of the over-agers at this year’s Under 16 National Championships, Richardson was utilised behind the ball for Team Murphy and looked relatively comfortable there. Happy to possess the ball for as long as possible, he found himself under immense pressure at times but looked to work his way out with long kicks down the line. He was perhaps more efficient than expansive in those instances.
#20 Kobe Shipp (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
Shipp started like a house on fire, dominating in defence with his outstanding reading of the play and distributive efforts. A late call-up to the showcase game, the Dandenong Stingrays prospect looked up to the task as he cleanly clunked a series of intercept marks in the first quarter, and racked up kicks with efficient work on the way forward. The latter factor continued to be an asset throughout the game, though Shipp’s massive output slowed after half time.
#22 Will Lorenz (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Another Team Murphy star who produced a massive first half, Lorenz had claims for being the best afield in that period as he caused headaches for the Houli defence. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder-forward looks a likely type, boasting agility which sees him skip past opponents with ease, and a punchy left foot with the potential to cause damage. He ran riot in the first quarter and capped off a terrific opening half by hitting the scoreboard, taking the ball on the bounce and side-stepping before a cool finish. He was later shifted to the other end of the ground, without the same game-breaking impact.
#23 Koltyn Tholstrup (Subiaco/Western Australia)
Having had his magnet shuffled throughout the year, Tholstrup was stationed on either side of midfield for Team Murphy on Saturday. He struggled to get involved at times on the wing, but got to the fall of the ball with greater frequency once thrown into the centre bounces. The explosive Subiaco talent also had a guilt-edge chance to snare a goal in term two, putting the snap wide.
#28 Archer Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
After showing plenty in the recent NAB League finals series, Reid did not quite hit the same heights on Saturday but showed glimpses of his top-end talent. Starting up forward, he proved clean at the fall of the ball for a player his size, and was not shy when able to get a fluent run and jump at the ball. He also rotated into the ruck, in perhaps an attempt to get him further into the game.
#29 William Green (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Green was another of the game’s call-ups after the initial squad announcement, but could not quite impose himself on the contest as he may have liked. With many talented talls afield, the Northern Knights ruck is certainly a developing type in the high upside category. He started forward before shifting into the centre bounces, where he got his hands on a few taps.
#30 Joe Pike (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Pike showed a bit as another of Team Murphy’s key position pillars, taking on the primary ruck duties. The Geelong Falcons prospect was assured by hand in general play and didn’t make too many mistakes with ball in hand, even finding Zane Duursma with a long kick inside 50. He also used his size to advantage for a great one-on-one mark in term two, and got a run and jump at the ball during term three to mark inside 50, but put the shot wide.