K rock Football

Falcons at the forefront again

Geelong Falcons Talent Manager Michael Turner. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

THE Geelong Falcons success on and off the field in the past 15 months have been just about the most satisfying of Michael Turner’s reign as Talent Manager.

The club claimed the boy’s and girl’s TAC Cup premierships, provided the No.1 draft picks at both the AFLW and AFL national drafts in Nina Morrison and Sam Walsh and produced nine draftees for clubs this year.

Nine players from their 2017 boy’s premiership side have now graduated into the AFL with Walsh, Ned McHenry (Adelaide), Connor Idun (GWS Giants) and Oscar Brownless (Geelong) joining last year’s alumni Matt Ling (Sydney), Tom McCartin (Sydney), James Worpel (Hawthorn), Gryan Miers (Geelong) and Josh Jaska (Gold Coast, since delisted).

Turner was “absolutely rapt” to see Brayden Ham earn an opportunity with Essendon, who took this year’s leading goalkicker at pick 72, while big man Blake Schlensog is heading to GMHBA Stadium as a Category B rookie.

“We had five drafted last year and six this year and to have nine out of our (boy’s) premiership side get drafted is a great result,” Turner told krockfootball.com.au

“Brayden Ham is the big winner for us. He made a lot of sacrifices this year and dedicated himself.

“He didn’t have the profile like say Ned did being part of the AFL Academy and with Vic Country. But we saw a lot of fantastic attributes in him.

“With Ned, Adelaide did the same with Tom Doedee (in 2015). No one expected him to go first round and, after playing in the SANFL for a couple of years, he’s turned into a superstar this year and we’re hoping for the same with Ned.”

Colac’s Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark (St Joseph’s) shape as the Falcons best 2019 draft prospects along with Charlie Sprague, who will likely return as a 19-year-old after being overlooked in this year’s drafts.

“Cooper would be a top 20 pick at this stage. He’s going to be a big-bodied midfielder,” Turner said.

“The reason Charlie didn’t get drafted would be because he didn’t play enough games this year because of injury.

“But he’s certainly shown at times that he’s got the talent so he needs to come back and have a solid season like Brayden Ham did.”

Turner was also thrilled to see the Cats take a punt on mature-aged ruckman Darcy Fort, who was part of the Falcons program back in 2012 and – surprisingly to some – was overlooked in that year’s draft.

“We really rated Darcy and (brother) Fraser really highly,” Turner said. “The knock on Darcy at that stage was his kicking and ruckmen usually take time to develop and that may have shied recruiters away from him a little bit.

“We pushed Darcy fairly hard to recruiters but, to his credit, he’s gone away and worked hard on his game and it’s fantastic to see him get his chance as a mature age recruit.

“His form has been good and stories like Darcy and Tom Stewart are good lessons to everyone who misses out in the draft as an 18-year-old.”

Twitter: @GreenBradley

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