Up for grabs: Overlooked prospects vying for a rookie chance
AFTER two nights of selections, the 2022 AFL Draft is set to be rounded out by today’s Rookie intake. 59 players were picked up across the National Draft, but there are plenty of overlooked prospects hoping to hear their names called out on the third day of asking. We run you through 10 players who have been unlucky to miss out, but may get their chance yet.
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The diminutive Tasmanian caught the attention of recruiters with some terrific early-season NAB League form, before setting the TSL alight with a 10-goal haul to earn his spot at the National Draft Combine. Campbell is a hard runner who can play high half-forward or close to goal, but also has scope to use his turn of speed and skills through midfield. He could prove a developable rookie option for clubs looking to add depth to their specialist small department.
The sole state Under 18 MVP not to have found a home in the National Draft, D’Aloia could not have done much more to press his claims across a decorated junior career. His style of play as a pure contested ball winner is perhaps what the elite level is moving away from, though his exposure in the SANFL Reserves grade and sheer level of consistency will likely put him in favour for many clubs. It’s just whether they value reliability over upside or athleticism.
Another hard-running small who plies his trade both forward and through the midfield, Drury plays with plenty of heart. He is the type of character who, if given a chance, will do everything to get the best out of himself and bleed for the jumper. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect perhaps plays a big man’s game, which may work against him, though his sheer output in the way of score involvements is a sellable asset. Clubs will see him as a high half-forward to start his career.
Gilbey shapes as one of the hard luck stories in this year’s draft, but there is obvious talent behind his injury-riddled top-age campaign. The smooth moving defender offers speed and a penetrative left boot on the rebound, but could not quite get a clean run at it this year. He was struck down with glandular fever and just when he began to hit a stride, broke his leg late in the WAFL Colts season. Clubs may want to see more from him before pulling the trigger, but his potential may be too good to pass up.
Gillbee caught the eye at this year’s National Draft Combine as he crossed the line in a dead heat alongside Oliver Hollands in the 2km time trial. The Bendigo Pioneers utility can play tall or small in each third of the ground, with his standout attribute being that elite outside running power. He hails from Balranald in regional NSW and has been part of the Giants Academy, but moved to Bendigo to better his footy and stands a chance of being picked up after a strong season.
There are few more decorated juniors than Hagan, who has been a star across each level of representative football. He stormed through the pathway despite consistently punching above his weight, showing great commitment to his craft for a kid from country WA. He was part of East Fremantle’s run to the WAFL League preliminary finals and as a small, can play a variety of roles. He offers neat skills and a terrific work rate to boot.
One recruiter said Magor is simply too talented not to be picked up, and that is surely the case heading into today’s Rookie Draft. The powerful South Australian primarily plies his trade as a forward but can pinch-hit in midfield, making things happen whenever he gets sight of the ball. After suffering an ankle injury early in his National Championships campaign, Magor returned to the SANFL Under 18s in fine form, booting 11 goals in his last two outings.
Another South Australian on this list, Sadler is one who cracked all three grades of SANFL footy this year and was one of the first picked for his state’s Under 18 side. The small midfielder can play inside or out and has also been sighted on flanks, with his sharp kicking among the key weapons at his disposal. He looked a level above the SANFL Under 18s competition and offers shrewd smarts to a club which sees his upside.
The highest ranked player on our draft board not to have been selected in the National Draft, Szybkowski has gone from highly touted talent to a genuine slider. Though, much like D’Aloia, there is great value in the sheer consistency and reliability he offers as a ball winning midfielder. He battled late in the year after contracting Covid, having shown great form earlier on across multiple levels and is said to be an animal on the training track.
Another potential hard luck story due to seperate bouts of injury, Teal is a prototypical modern day footballer who was simply unable to show his wares across an extended run of games. He suffered appendicitis and later broke his collarbone, with Oakleigh’s lack of a finals campaign potentially hurting his stocks. Teal’s athletic profile, versatility, and terrific kicking skills may see him find a suitor yet, and he has serious upside to consider.