AFL Draft Watch: Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/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 West Adelaide’s Riley Thilthorpe, a highly touted tall who looms as a potential top 10 draft candidate. The 200cm prospect is incredibly athletic for his size, allowing him to cover the ground effortlessly and contribute ground-ball efforts akin to a fourth midfielder through the ruck.
Thilthorpe made his SANFL League debut last year for the Bloods and managed five more outings despite having his season disrupted by injury. Utilised more predominantly as a key forward at senior level, Thilthorpe is capable of strutting his stuff in all areas of the ground with his aerial presence and high-level endurance ensuring he can repeatedly impact the contest.
With the SANFL set to return in June, Thilthorpe has his sights set on some more League action before a potential National Championship campaign for South Australia. He should be raring to go despite some additional preseason niggles.
DOB: July 7, 2002
Position: Key forward/ruck
2019 SANFL LEAGUE STATS: 6 games | 9 disposals | 5 marks | 1.5 tackles | 1 inside 50 | 1.3 goals (8)
2019 SANFL U18 STATS: 6 games | 15 disposals | 6.3 marks | 3 tackles | 1.3 clearances | 2 inside 50s | 1.5 rebound 50s | 1.3 goals (8)
Strengths: Overhead marking, athleticism, versatility, ground coverage
PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:
Did not test.
QUOTES FROM PRESEASON:
Strengths… “My marking and athleticism, they’ve sort of gotten me where I am now.”
Improvements…“Over the pre-season my speed and agility have been big ones of mine, so I’ve been working hard on that… my body wasn’t right last year obviously I missed a lot of games so getting my body right and just playing a consistent year is probably the main one.”
2020 goals… “I just want to continue with more of the same I guess. More League footy, that’d be the dream. And a good state champs this year, hopefully take it out.”
Best club and state teammates… “A lot of the boys are so good. Like Luke Edwards, just his IQ is unbelievable playing with him is amazing. Bailey Chamberlain, his speed… he’s one of my good mates, he’ll have a good year I reckon.”
By: Michael Alvaro
The promising tall is solidly built but has the look of a raw and rangy ruckman as a clearly more athletic type. While he was beaten in the ruck contests at times, Thilthorpe worked well around the ground to show clean hands and ball use.
He spent most of his time up forward after quarter time, hitting the post after a nice piece of agility to gather and find space to let fly deep inside 50. He had a similar moment leading up with a midfielder-like gather, but could not quite get down to a couple of half-volleys later on.
Thilthorpe showed glimpses of his high-end talent, and is certainly one to watch if he can showcase his marking game more often.
By: Michael Alvaro
Thilthorpe had a great outing, sharing the ruck duties with James Borlase. At 197cm he used his size to advantage, but was even better in his movement around the ground, collecting 16 disposals and clunking three marks.
His 15 hitouts, four clearances and three inside 50s highlight his true impact around the stoppages as almost a fourth midfielder. Thilthorpe looks to be a real modern day mobile ruckman with plenty of room to grow and develop.
>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES
Includes: Kaine Baldwin, Luke Edwards, Taj Schofield