Scouting Notes: AFL Academy vs. Carlton VFL

THE AFL Academy capped off its 2023 program with a four-point win over Carlton VFL on Saturday evening, with Gold Coast Suns Academy member Jake Rogers adjudged the team’s best player across both fixtures. Last time out, the Academy lost to Port Adelaide SANFL by 13 points in Gather Round.

Holding relatively slender leads at every break in a match that ebbed and flowed, the junior contingent held on against their senior counterparts amid ideal conditions under the Marvel Stadium roof. The game acted as a curtain raiser for the AFL clash between Carlton and the Western Bulldogs.

>> SCROLL for notes on all 30 AFL Academy players

AFL ACADEMY 4.2 | 6.4 | 10.5 | 13.8 (86)
CARLTON VFL 2.0 | 6.1 | 9.4 | 13.4 (82)

GOALS: O. Turner 2, A. Read, N. Watson, J. Delean, J. Walter, N. Caddy, E. Read, J. Callinan, Z. Duursma, D. Wilson, M. Edwards, C. Simpson

RMC BEST: J. Rogers, R. Sanders, C. McKercher, J. Walter, E. Read

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos


#1-19 | By: Declan Reeve

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
24/02/2005 | 170cm | 67kg | Small Forward/Defender

Watson wasn’t as impactful as we’ve come to expect given the lofty standards he’s set himself, but still managed to demonstrate a lot of the traits that have so many excited heading into the draft. Watson’s attack and drive with ball in hand was where he shone, attacking from the defensive 50 when he got the ball often and setting up a few key passages on the rebound in the third quarter. Watson was stationed up forward for the early stages of the game, kicking a goal after getting off his opponent in the goal square to easily mark a high snap from the boundary.

#2 Jack Callinan (Clarence/Tasmania Devils)
10/07/2005 | 179cm | 77kg | Small Forward

The crafty Tasmanian small was up to his usual tricks in the attacking half, excelling with his ground level work and hitting front and centres well to move the ball forward quickly. Callinan ended up on the goal kickers list after being used as an option at half-forward when the Academy were moving in transition, handing off to a teammate and then winning a free kick when the ball hit the deck on its way back, kicking truly from about 20 out.

#3 Caiden Cleary (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
03/05/2005 | 182cm | 81kg | Midfielder

After spending the first quarter off the ground due to rotation, Cleary took no time to apply himself to the contest with his usual hard at it, in and under style through the midfield. Cleary’s defensive work was another key part of his game, usually the first on the scene to stop an opposition first possession winner from waltzing out of the contest.

#4 Jack Delean (South Adelaide/South Australia)
15/04/2005 | 181cm | 75kg | Small Forward/Wing

Usually stationed in the forward 50, Delean played almost exclusively on the wing and certainly gave recruiters something to think about for the rest of the season. Delean’s ball use and composure at ground level made him an impactful player for the Academy, unfazed by pressure as he ran onto ground balls or went for marks with the flight, often making the best decision once he had won it. Delean’s use by hand was particularly notable, threading passes through congestion for teammates running ahead of him to take in their stride. Delean was one who found ways to get free from opponents in transition, providing good leads heading inside 50 for his teammates to kick to, slotting a set shot in first term as reward for one such effort.

#5 Riley Hardeman (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
27/02/2005 | 185cm | 70kg | Defender

Whilst not a prolific game on the stats sheet, Hardeman played a crucial role in the Academy’s defensive 50, often putting himself on the last line of defence, typically halving contests to make it difficult for Carlton to score in transition, and proving particularly important in the final term. Hardeman’s ball use was clean in space, but he did at times struggle to find options when there was a bit of congestion around him.

#6 Colby McKercher (Launceston/Tasmania Devils)
04/12/2005 | 181cm | 73kg | Midfielder

The typically high accumulating Tasmanian midfielder was all business as usual, seemingly having his own ball in the early stages of the game as he collected it at speed from stoppages or when receiving from teammates. The combination of McKercher’s speed and evasive ability led to some eye catching plays, regularly weaving away from opponents and looking to spread by foot with his laser like left leg. There were times where he tried to do too much to get on to his left side, but for the most part he was reliable with his ball use.

#7 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
17/04/2005 | 185cm | 85kg | Midfielder/Utility

A quieter game compared to usual for Reid, before his day was ended early with a head knock in the third quarter. Reid’s main involvements in the game were in the defensive half, where he was aggressive with his play and looked to tuck the ball under his arm and run it out. He got involved in many chains of play with his work rate to keep moving with the footy. Reid was also reliable defensively, putting in some good efforts to push back or effect contests he wasn’t initially involved in.

#8 Archie Roberts (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
18/11/2005 | 184cm | 77kg | Defender

As Roberts has done for the best part of 12 months now, the strongest aspect of his game was his offensive play from the back half of the ground, using his speed and left leg to move the Academy side forward effectively. Roberts positioned himself aggressively, pushing up to stoppages around the ground to be a backwards release option, and joining in on the midfield wall outside of forward 50 to be an intercepting threat, generally moving the ball back inside 50 by foot as deep as he could.

#9 Jake Rogers (Suns Academy/Queensland)
02/03/2005 | 171cm | 68kg | Midfielder

A clear best on ground, Rogers played a game that truly defied his size. For the last month Rogers has steadily put in strong performances and raised his draft stocks in the eyes of many, but put together his most complete performance to date in arguably the best game to do so. Rogers ticks a lot of boxes for a modern footballer; clean with disposal, fast, hard at the contest, a good decision maker and a hard worker defensively. It was rare to see a contest Rogers wasn’t involved in when he was on the ground. Rogers was particularly damaging when the ball was in congestion, able to win it himself, or get in a good position to receive a handball before bursting away with unmatchable speed. Rogers’ balance between when to handball and when to kick was a strong factor in the Academy’s clean play around the ground, finding options in space with almost every disposal.

#10 Ryley Sanders (Sandringham Dragons/Tasmania)
21/01/2005 | 186cm | 85kg | Midfielder

The hard working Tasmanian product put in the standard performance we’ve come to expect from him, with his positioning around the ground and ability to get from contest-to-contest allowing him to rack up the footy at will, whether it was from doing some grunt work on the inside himself or as a receiver. Sanders did well over the preseason to increase how damaging he is with his disposal, with his work by foot heading forward particularly notable against the Carlton VFL side.

#11 Orlando Turner (Norwood/Northern Territory)
16/05/2005 | 176cm | 67kg | Small Forward/Wing

The sole Northern Territory representative in the Academy ended the day as his side’s sole multiple goal kicker, taking his opportunities in the third quarter to help strengthen the Academy lead. Whilst Turner started as a small forward, it was a move to the wing in the second half that saw him really work into the game. He still applied the same level of pressure and intercepted a few Carlton forays in the front half, but also increased his production and damage with more opportunities in space. Both of Turner’s goals came from set shots; one after marking an attempted switch kick, and the other after going in for the ball and copping high contact. He could even have had a couple of more goals if he held a bit more composure on the run.

#12 Darcy Wilson (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
18/08/2005 | 185cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Forward

One of the early season draft bolters, Wilson wasn’t quite as productive as he was in the first of the Academy’s games, but still managed to have a high impact with his typically clean ball use and ability to work into the back half. Mostly seen roaming the wings, Wilson had a few crucial moments inside the forward 50, setting up the Academy’s side second goal for the game after evading some opponents on the boundary, and slotting a set shot as he was used as a central option by a teammate on the boundary.

#17 Lachlan Cabor (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
28/09/2005 | 179cm | 82kg | Defender/Midfielder

A quieter game for the Swans Academy member, Cabor was one who put in some honest defensive efforts in one-on-ones and used the ball well when involved in Academy slow plays out of the defensive 50, often finding teammates that had worked away from their opponents up the ground.

#18 Nate Caddy (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
14/07/2005 | 192cm | 91kg | Forward

A mixed day for the Northern Knights forward, Caddy was one who was seemingly constantly involved in the Academy’s play heading forward. He was often the target of long kicks down the line and did his best to ensure the Blues’ backline couldn’t take easy intercept marks. Caddy was constantly on the move, leading at every opportunity and getting up the ground to act as a link up option when his side was moving it out of defensive 50. Caddy’s disposal in general play was typically reliable, but hit and miss heading towards goal, only converting once from a set shot early despite multiple chances on the run and from the spot.

#19 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
28/08/2005 | 189cm | 79kg | Forward/Midfielder

One who was thrown into every third of the ground, Duursma was most impactful when given an extended run through the midfield where he was allowed to impact at centre bounces. How Duursma positioned himself and timed his runs around stoppages was truly a delight to watch, getting to the exact spot the ball was landing a few times at speed and looking classy with his ball use whenever those times came, generally being the most dangerous of the Academy midfielders when in there. Duursma hit the scoreboard in the third quarter, running well for a handball receive heading towards 50 and slotting it with ease.

Zane Duursma celebrates a goal | Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

#20-34 | By: Michael Alvaro

#20 Will Lorenz (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
19/02/2005 | 186cm | 70kg | Midfielder/Utility

Rotating on both sides of midfield, Lorenz started on-ball and took some time to adjust to the speed of the game. His usually sound kicking and decision making were tested as opponents squeezed his favoured left side, with the Oakleigh Chargers product often looking to screw the ball around his body. He found a decent amount of ball in the first half before spending term three on the pine, finishing with 11 disposals and two clearances.

#21 Kane McAuliffe (North Adelaide/South Australia)
01/03/2005 | 187cm | 90kg | Midfielder

The usually prolific North Adelaide ball winner spent the entire first term on the bench and struggled to get going once introduced into the game, collecting seven disposals and two clearances. He was thrown straight into the midfield but also spent time on a wing and up forward, proving tough over the ball and working hard for little reward in the way of numbers.

#22 Ashton Moir (Glenelg/South Australia)
15/04/2005 | 188cm | 84kg | Forward

The two Academy games have hardly been Moir’s best, and after a handy SANFL Reserves debut last month, he couldn’t quite replicate the same form. He also spent the opening quarter off the ground and the first of his six disposals was a soccer attempt on goal, which snuck through for a point. Moir seemed to suffer from the Academy’s wealth of marking options, finding it hard to impact at ground level or in a pressure sense up forward. His sole mark came on the lead in the final term, but his 50-metre set shot on the left fell well short.

#23 Connor O’Sullivan (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
19/05/2005 | 198cm | 92kg | Key Defender/Utility

A super versatile type, O’Sullivan was made to plug a key defensive hole for the Academy and was solid over both games. He had nine touches in the second outing and again impressed with his mobility, getting from contest to contest and even keeping pace with some of his side’s speedy smalls in transition. Defensively, he covered plenty of ground to impact up on the wing, but also mop up on the last line upon recovering at the fall of the ball.

#24 Will Patton (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/01/2005 | 192cm | 79kg | Defender

Having been one of the Academy’s best performed players in game one, Patton was quieter on Saturday for seven disposals, three marks and two rebound 50s. He was a permanent fixture in defence, remaining composed with ball in hand and using the ball with typical efficiency on his favoured left foot. Among Patton’s highlights were a nice intercept mark in the first quarter and his third-up leap to spoil strongly in term two, before undergoing his forced rotation in the third period.

#25 Nathan Philactides (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
10/01/2005 | 181cm | 78kg | Defender

Having started the season a touch out of form, Saturday marked another positive step for Philactides, who managed 10 disposals and five marks. Stationed in his usual post off half-back, the rebound runner mopped up with ground ball wins and intercept marks before turning defence into attack in a flash. Philactides employed a high-risk style and sometimes coughed the ball up, but was sure to follow up any mistakes. He can take the next step by complimenting his athleticism with more composure in possession – though, you don’t want to completely inhibit the flair of such players.

#26 Cooper Simpson (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
13/02/2005 | 182cm | 76kg | Midfielder/Forward

Simpson produced a super finish to what was an overall strong outing which yielded 17 disposals, four marks and a goal. The Dandenong Stingrays skipper was clean by hand and weighted his passes nicely out of congestion, while also producing some hard tackles and gutsy aerial efforts. He began to come out of his shell in term four, opting to utilise his punchy kicking more often and even sinking a super goal on his left foot to put the cherry on top of his side’s victory.

#27 George Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
14/04/2005 | 189cm | 84kg | Defender

Another mainstay in the Academy’s defence, Stevens cracked double digits with 10 disposals in a solid display. He’s a neat user of the ball by hand and foot, often proving strong over it at ground level and flicking out handballs with little fuss. He also got into good position to intercept and his size even worried a senior opponent in term four, being obstructed as Carlton broke forward from the middle.

#28 Koltyn Tholstrup (Subiaco/Western Australia)
28/06/2005 | 188cm | 80kg | Forward/Midfielder

Tholstrup is one of a few Academy members with senior experience, and no less in a variety of roles. He started on the wing on Saturday but was also utilised up forward, gathering 13 disposals and four marks for his troubles. The West Australian bull was not afraid to kick on either foot and judged most of his passes nicely, but sometimes put too much air on them. He worked hard into the back half to be an outlet option from defensive 50, before generating a bit of attacking run and taking time to make good decisions with ball in hand.

#29 Daniel Curtin (Claremont/Western Australia)
08/03/2005 | 195cm | 93kg | Key Defender/Forward

Like O’Sullivan, Curtain answered the call as a primary key defender, spending the entire game there despite his known and noted versatility. The Claremont swingman was typically assured in possession, kicking the ball beautifully as any good left-footer would – apart from a couple of iffy efforts on the last line during term three. As a tall prospect, he could perhaps crash packs more often and attack the ball with greater intent, having not taken the body when he could upon spoiling, or staying down altogether on occasion.

#30 Mitchell Edwards (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
02/06/2005 | 207cm | 90kg | Ruck

One of the Academy’s many capable rucks, Edwards was also made to spend plenty of time up forward and fared well in both roles. He booted a goal from nine disposals and five marks, while also winning 13 hitouts in a good display of his talent as a developable 207cm prospect. Edwards extended nicely at the ball aerially and took a couple of strong marks at either end of the ground, including two inside 50 during term four which yielded a goal and assist. He was a touch less assured in general play, but had little trouble getting involved around the ground.

#31 Will Green (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
08/09/2005 | 204cm | 89kg | Ruck

Barring his six hitouts, there wasn’t much to show for Green’s game on Saturday. He primarily played in the ruck and got a go up forward, offering a bit in aerial contests with his height and reach but little around the ground.

#32 Ethan Read (Suns Academy/Queensland)
07/08/2005 | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck

Having played mostly in the ruck for the Suns Academy, Read was given a good run up forward and showcased much of his potential as a new-age tall. He covered the ground superbly and rose for a handful of marks, using his reach to pluck the ball at its highest point. The mobile 202cm unit took a little longer to find his feet in the ruck, having a hard time at the first few centre bounces but faring much better with his capacity to impact away from it. His form poses a mighty conundrum for the Suns in attempting to keep all of Read, Rogers and Walter come draft time.

#33 Archer Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
19/09/2005 | 203cm | 93kg | Key Forward/Ruck

Reid made a positive start to proceedings, starting forward and converting the Academy’s opening goal from close-range. He went on to split his time in the ruck, adding nine disposals, four tackles and as many hitouts to his final numbers. He did well to stay upright in general play and got involved between the arcs, while also plucking the ball nicely out of the air as any 203cm prospect should.

#34 Jed Walter (Suns Academy/Queensland)
08/06/2005 | 194cm | Key Forward

An absolute phenom up forward, Walter played like a man possessed, even if that didn’t quite translate to his stats of nine disposals and two marks. The Suns Academy product looked ominous when allowed a free leap at the ball, but even crashed packs where a mark looked unlikely. His enormous effort continued at ground level with tackling pressure and bustling runs with ball in hand, as Walter displayed deceptive speed for a player his size. His hunt and desire were rewarded in the first quarter with a classy snap goal, and the powerful forward did everything at 100 per cent.

Jed Walter was a force up forward | Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

>> Scouting Notes: AFL Academy vs. Port Adelaide SANFL

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