AFL Draft prospects name their idols

PRESEASON testing is nearing completion, which means plenty of budding AFL Draft prospects are fast approaching season proper. Having flown to all parts of Australia for each testing day, Rookie Me Central asked a bunch of top-agers one pertinent question – who do you mould your game on?

>> SCROLL for all player comparisons

While most had a straightforward answer, some offered up players who inspire them or have been mentors along the journey. In the case of Tasmanian Oliver Depaoli-Kubank, who doesn’t base his game on anyone in particular, footballing traits were put forward.

The 17-year-old utility claimed to have the endurance of Ollie Hollands and agility of Charlie Cameron – both necessary attributes for an outside-leaning utility. He was among several prospects to have selected specific attributes from more than one AFL player.

Swans Academy defender Joel Cochran sided with a Sydney theme, highlighting the dash of Nick Blakey and lockdown ability of Tom McCartin as traits he admires. Teammate Joe Harrison went a similar route, opting for the collective ground level game and competitiveness of Callum Mills and Lachie Neale.

Over in Western Australia, Austin van der Struyf outlined his fondness of Bailey Dale‘s willingness to move quickly off the half-back line, as well as Connor Rozee‘s composure in midfield. He wasn’t alone in naming the Port Adelaide skipper, either.

Leading South Australian talent Sid Draper grew up an Adelaide fan, had a brother at Collingwood and was teammates with Bryce Gibbs, but has watched plenty of Rozee and Zak Butters at the Power. Just imagine getting the best of both worlds from those two.

Another pertinent pick from the South Australian lot was Ben Camporeale and Will Day. Camporeale, a father-son candidate for Carlton, attends Sacred Heart College as Day did, and both have showcased their ability to roll through midfield from half-back.

Former Hawthorn champion Cyril Rioli is still getting a mention from generation next. He was named by South Adelaide’s Clay Shadforth and Subiaco’s Malakai Champion, both of whom also enjoy watching Kysaiah Pickett for inspiration on the small forward craft.

Perhaps the biggest contrast in one selection came from Tommy Bennett, who likes the blend the game of Hawthorn bull Jai Newcombe with Sydney whippet Errol Gulden. Another interesting pick came from Queensland ruck Tom Gillett, who has already trained with idols Joe Daniher and Oscar McInerney.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given nearly all of the surveyed youngsters were born in 2006, many of them are Hawthorn supporters. The Hawks tasted premiership success in 2008 before a three-peat from 2013-15, when most of these players were first introduced to the game.

All of the chosen player comparisons are listed below in state and academy groupings, along with top five results from each completed combine to date. The 12 Victorian Coates Talent League regions will round out national testing over the next fortnight.

>> Ones to watch: 24 prospects for 2024


Sid Draper – Zak Butters, Connor Rozee
Louie Montgomery – Harry Sheezel, Jack Sinclair
Ben Camporeale – Will Day
Kade Herbert – Travis Boak
Rome Burgoyne – Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera
Clay Shadforth – Kysaiah Pickett, Cyril Rioli

>> Top 5s: SANFL U18s preseason testing

Kayle Gerreyn – Luke Jackson
Malakai Champion – Shai Bolton, Kysaiah Pickett, Toby Greene, Cyril Rioli, Eddie Betts
Austin van der Struyf – Bailey Dale, Connor Rozee

>> Top 5s: WAFL Colts preseason testing

Ryan Gilder – Jake Lever
Tom Gillett – Joe Daniher, Oscar McInerney
Bradley McDonald – Harris Andrews

Leonardo Lombard – Jake Rogers
Caleb Nancarrow – Charlie Curnow, Jack Riewoldt

>> Top 5s: Queensland preseason testing

Cooper Bell – Marcus Bontempelli, Patrick Cripps

Joel Cochran – Nick Blakey, Tom McCartin
Joe Harrison – Callum Mills, Lachie Neale

>> Top 5s: NSW-ACT preseason testing

Oliver Depaoli-Kubank – Charlie Cameron, Ollie Hollands
Lenny Douglas – Jordan De Goey
Connor Ling – Josh Dunkley, Tom Liberatore
Tommy Bennett – Errol Gulden, Jai Newcombe
Geordie Payne – Robbie Fox, Tom Stewart

>> Top 5s: Tasmania Devils preseason testing

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