AFL Draft Watch: Taj Schofield (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at preseason testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.
Next under the Draft Watch microscope is Woodville-West Torrens prospect Taj Schofield, who is a Port Adelaide father-son candidate given his father, Jarrad‘s 131-game tenure at Alberton. The 178cm midfielder/forward moved over to South Australia last year from the West, joining the Eagles’ program and esteemed Henley High school. The move came on the back of winning All Australian honours for WA at Under-16 level, proving his talent from a young age.
Though he battled foot and ankle niggles throughout last year, Schofield got on the park 11 times for the Eagles – including in their Under 18s Grand Final triumph – while also turning out for Henley. He was also part of the SA Under 18s squad, but did not run out in the tricolours across the 2019 carnival. Schofield capped off the year with a solid showing in the Under-17 All-Stars showcase, grasping the opportunity to play on the hallowed MCG turf on AFL Grand Final day.
The smooth mover has predominantly been used as an outside midfielder or half-forward throughout his junior career, but was thrown into the engine room during preseason trial games to good effect. In building his tank and strength to run with some of the bigger, modern day midfielders, Schofield is looking to find a good balance of inside and outside traits coming into his top-age year.
Position: Outside midfielder/forward
2019 SANFL U18 STATS: 11 games | 18.1 disposals (12.1 kicks) | 3.2 marks | 4.3 tackles | 2.7 clearances | 2.8 inside 50s | 1.1 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (4)
Strengths: Smarts, agility, clean hands, disposal efficiency, tackling
Improvements: Consistency, strength/size
PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:
Standing Vertical Jump: 61cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 73cm/75cm
Speed (20m): 3.09 seconds
Agility: 8.57 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.8
QUOTES FROM PRE-SEASON:
Transitioning from WA to SA… “It’s been good. Obviously Dad got the role at Port Adelaide so we had to move over but all the boys have been really welcoming and it’s really helped my footy. Obviously the SA game-style is a little bit different to WA but it’s really developed my footy as well.”
Dad as a mentor… “He definitely is (an important mentor). He knows what he’s talking about and really helps me out when he can, but he tries to stay out of it a little bit now. But he’s really helped me and is really useful to me as well.”
2020 role… “I think I’ll still roll through the midfield but also play that half-forward and wing position as well, so just changing it up a bit.”
2020 goals… “Probably just small things like making state teams and playing (well) week by week and hopefully the end-goal is to get drafted.”
By: Peter Williams
Was not the biggest ball winner, but after a quiet first half, he had some really nice plays in the second half. He took the game on from half-back and set up an end-to-end passage which lead to a massive Braeden Campbell goal early in the third.
Schofield showed clean hands at ground level and hit the ball at full speed to deliver a pinpoint pass into Saxon Crozier, but rushed a kick shortly after trying to get to James Borlase at half-forward and it was intercepted. Had a highlight play early in the fourth term by spinning out of an opponent’s grasp and producing a neat kick forward.
By: Lenny Fogliani
The son of Port Adelaide premiership star Jarrad Schofield, Taj was excellent on the wing for the Lions. He collected 19 possessions, took five marks and laid four tackles in a phenomenal performance. Still only 16 years old, Schofield’s decision-making and ball use are extremely sound for someone his age.
By: Michael Alvaro
Schofield was one of the more effective midfielders out there with his endless run and ability to get on the end of handball chains. Starting with an effort off half-back, his defensive pressure soon became known as he was again pestering his opponents deep forward, where he almost ended up with a clever dribbled goal.
His forward drive was immense, and there where times where Schofield would be directing his teammates around him with ball in hand as if to coordinate the attack like a quarterback. A clever operator, Schofield already proved to be a crowd favourite.