Marquee Matchups: Ethan Read vs. Mitchell Edwards

THE BEST of the best do battle during the Under 18 National Championships each year, and it just so happens that arguably 2023’s top two ruck prospects recently locked horns in the competition.

West Australian Mitchell Edwards and Gold Coast Suns Academy product Ethan Read went head-to-head on Sunday as the latter’s Allies side picked up a thumping 88-point victory in Adelaide.

Such a clash of titans has brought about the return of our Marquee Matchup series, where we compare and contrast the two prospects across a range of key performance parameters.


Ethan Read

Height: 202cm

Weight: 92kg

DOB: 07-07-2005

Mitch Edwards

Height: 206cm

Weight: 89kg

DOB: 02-06-2005


Read: #7
Edwards: #8

>> TOP 20: AFL Draft Power Rankings



2023 Coates Talent League
4 games | 20.0 disposals | 6.0 marks | 2.5 tackles | 19.5 hitouts


2023 WAFL Colts
4 games | 13.8 disposals | 4.0 marks | 2.3 tackles | 35.0 hitouts



Jumps: 53cm SVJ | 67cm RVJ (R) | 77cm RVJ (L)
20m: 3.192 seconds
Agility: 8.435 seconds
Yo-Yo: Level 20.8


Jumps: 77cm SVJ | 77cm RVJ (R) | 87cm RVJ (L)
20m: 3.080 seconds
Agility: 9.700 seconds
Yo-Yo: Level 20.1

SVJ = Standing Vertical Jump, RVJ = Running Vertical Jump



Coates Talent League Rd 7 – Suns Academy 10.11 (71) def. GWV Rebels 8.6 (54)
Stats: 27 disposals, 10 marks, 24 hitouts, 5 rebound 50s

Our scouts said…

“The 202cm prospect covered ground phenomenally well, dropping back to clunk intercept marks and following up at ground level like a fourth midfielder. He was clean with ball in hand and showed rare dexterity for a player his size.”

Ethan Read was best on against GWV | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


WAFL Colts Rd 5 – Peel Thunder 8.15 (63) def. Swan Districts 6.9 (45)
Stats: 17 disposals, 7 marks, 47 hitouts, 1 goal

Our scouts said…

“Edwards continues to build after another strong performance, where he used his sheer size and athleticism to dominate the hitout battle. He did his best work following up from the ruck contests, using his mobility to play as another on-baller at ground level.”

Mitch Edwards has dominated the WAFL Colts hitout count | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


2023 AFL U18 National Championships: Allies 16.12 (108) def. WA 2.8 (20)

Read: 21 disposals, 11 marks, 14 hitouts, 1 goal
Edwards: 11 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 30 hitouts

While a potential clash in the 2022 Under 17 Futures showcase didn’t eventuate, Read and Edwards would likely have gotten a good reading on each other during their time in the National Academy program, which saw them turn out twice in the same team.

They would eventually meet as opposition in Sunday’s National Championships clash between the Allies and Western Australia, which was comfortably won by Read’s side. Though, as the stats suggest, either player won points in their own battle for different reasons.

Read, a mobile tall with incredible aerobic capacity, covered plenty of territory to beat Edwards around the ground. He had far more of the ball and clunked 11 marks, making his aerial presence felt. He also spent time forward and nabbed a goal in the final quarter.

Where Edwards won was in the ruck battle, which is obviously quite a pertinent parameter. The taller man won a whopping 30 hitouts and did his best to get involved elsewhere, albeit less prolifically than Read. His four strong marks were mostly taken off both sides’ kick-ins.

Image Credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos



+ Aerobic capacity
+ Around the ground impact
+ Clean skills

Read has the capacity to absolutely torch his opponents away from the ruck battle, spreading better than anyone his size to drop back and clunk intercept marks. His ability to cover ground is absurdly good, and more importantly, he works into the right positions.

His numbers highlight strong impact around the ground, taking those grabs down the line or in a defensive hole, but also providing value as a fourth midfielder of sorts at stoppage. He is agile, super clean below his knees, and has fantastic fundamentals for a 202cm player.


+ Ruck craft
+ Follow-up work
+ Mobility

Utilising his reach to advantage at 207cm, Edwards’ ruck craft is his primary strength. He has found little trouble rising to get first hand to the ball at every level he has played, and proving particularly dominant in the hitout stakes against his peers.

Edwards has another key attribute asked of modern day rucks in his ability to follow up at ground level. He has good dexterity and is truly willing in his involvement in general play, adding to his initial ruck efforts. He is also developing his running capacity and marking ability around the ground.



– Ruck craft
– Strength

At times in the early part of the season, Read struggled to compete against rucks who were willing to split the size difference with physicality. They would run straight through him at centre bounces, and better craft would see the Queenslander use his agility to step aside and lean on his reach.

Adding size and physicality will undoubtedly boost Read’s confidence in his ruck craft, and help him to hold up against the rigours of senior football. He’ll have opponents who match him for height in the AFL, so will need to be strong enough to continue to clunk marks so cleanly under physical pressure.


– Strength
– Composure

Edwards is developing the mongrel required to compete as a top level tall, and like Read, just needs to add a bit of size to absorb contact better. The positive thing is that it hardly impacts his ruck craft, but more so his efforts in possession around the ground.

At times, Edwards can rush his disposals and should he begin to put on more size, he’ll be able to afford himself more time in tight spots. He has the willingness to compete and is increasingly doing so in a marking capacity, so the upside in his game is clear – it’s about confidence and composure.


The great thing about analysing prospective draftees is noticing the slight and stark differences between those who play the exact same role so differently. Read and Edwards fit that mould as two mobile rucks with similarly great upside, but different strengths.

They are both top 10 candidates as it stands, albeit with the bidding system to impact both of them come draft time, and will appeal to clubs looking for long-term ruck options. They suit the modern game and are the types of players recruiters love to look at through a crystal ball.

As it stands, Edwards is arguably the better ruck of the two, but Read has more scope to develop his versatility and expand into other roles. Read wins the outside battles around the ground, whereas Edwards gets ahead at the first point of contact – at least when they go head-to-head.

With Read all but locked away as a future Gold Coast player, Edwards will certainly be the one clubs will have a keen eye on should they seek a ruck. Whether that pits him ahead of Read on draft boards around the nation remains to be seen.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments