George Wardlaw

height: 182cm

weight: 80kg

D.O.B: 18-07-2004

Leagues: AFL U18 Championships, Coates Talent League Boys

  • Snapshot
  • Analysis
  • Summary

SNAPSHOT: “An explosive athlete and ideal teammate who showcases impressive displays of contested ball winning and burst from congestion.”

Consistently appearing in representative sides through his junior career, Wardlaw has been a player who turns up and plays to a high level whenever he takes to the field. Taking the most of his limited opportunities over the last few years, Wardlaw earned AFL Academy selection after an impressive Under 17 carnival, even earning the MCC President’s Medal for best afield in the academy side’s match against Collingwood VFL earlier in the year.

Unfortunately, Wardlaw’s top-age campaign was cut short, with a series of hamstring injuries ruling him out of the Vic Metro Under 18 campaign, and finishing his run with the Oakleigh Chargers which only garnered three appearances. However, Wardlaw’s top end traits were well and truly on show when he did take to the field, impressive enough to see him remain in the conversation as this year’s best prospect, and a likely top three selection.


+ Clean hands
+ Competitiveness
+ Contested game
+ Power
+ Tackling


- Endurance
- Outside game

The core of Wardlaw’s game revolves around the contest, with his strength and competitive nature allowing him to thrive in contested situations and around stoppages, never backing down when the ball is there to be won. On top of this, Wardlaw is effective when moving the ball on from inside the contest as well, with his quick hands and vision leading to him often getting the ball away from congestion into the path of outside runners, or backing himself to power his way out with ball in hand.

Wardlaw’s power is truly a weapon around stoppages, outpacing most opponents with just two or three steps to get front position and win the ball from the ruck's hands, and running into open space when it’s there to be taken. Around the ground, Wardlaw’s elite leap allows him to be a strong aerial option despite being short in comparison to others, taking the opportunity to get on to opponents shoulders, or get above packs when it’s there.

His tackling and general defensive work rate is nothing short of remarkable, arguably the best of the draft class in this regard, Wardlaw doesn’t let opponents get free when he gets a hand to them, generally pinning an arm as well to stop opponents handballing it out mid tackle. There have been times over the last two years where Wardlaw has pushed past teammates around stoppages to lay a tackle on an opposition ball carrier, highlighting that drive and competitiveness well.

With all this, there are still areas in which Wardlaw could improve to round out his game, his endurance being one of those. With limited exposure in other positions, it really is midfield only for Wardlaw currently, and there is a way to go with his endurance in comparison to other highly rated prospects. Wardlaw’s pure accumulation numbers are also a little bit behind other highly rated midfielders, and could do with improvement to give him more chance to impact throughout the game. His endurance base and ability to impact on the outside are other factors which affect his numbers.



Naturally with soft tissue injuries ruling him out for the second half of the season, there will be question marks over Wardlaw’s conditioning, with clubs certain to be consulting with experts to do their due diligence. Despite his relative lack of exposure as a top-ager, Wardlaw has proven his potential in big games and looks every bit the player recruiters look for – one with the right athletic profile, competitiveness, and the footballing nous to match. North Melbourne looks likely with pick two or three, with Wardlaw a potentially quickfire Jason Horne-Francis replacement over the long-term.

Contested work
Outside game

AFL U18 Championships

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Coates Talent League Boys

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