K rock Football

Flag side set to produce more draftees

Geelong Falcons celebrate their 2017 TAC Cup grand final victory. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Marcel Berens)

THE legacy created by the Geelong Falcons’ 2017 premiership side looks set to carry over into the 2018 National Draft, with five members of that line-up strong contenders to find their way onto AFL lists.

Five players from the 2017 premiership team were drafted last year – James Worpel, Matt Ling, Tom McCartin, Gryan Miers and Josh Jaska.

Twelve months on, this year’s co-captains Sam Walsh and Oscar Brownless, defender Connor Idun, midfielder Ned McHenry and forward Charlie Sprague are the Falcons’ leading draft contenders.

Walsh is widely-tipped to become the third Falcon to have the honour of being the coveted No.1 draft pick, joining Luke Hodge (2001) and Paddy McCartin (2014).

Brownless is expected to be chosen by Geelong as a father-son recruit – his dad Billy played 198 games for the Cats – while emerging big man Blake Schlensog is also tipped to become a Cat through his involvement in the club’s Next Generation Academy.

Utility Brayden Ham, who finished runner-up to Walsh in the Falcons best and fairest and was also their leading goalkicker in 2018, has emerged late in the year as a draft ‘smokey’ after testing strongly at the State Combine.

Falcons Talent Manager Michael Turner said he expects Walsh, Idun, Brownless and McHenry to be highly sought after prospects and holds out hopes for Sprague and Ham.

“He (Walsh) is the undisputed No.1 draft pick,” Turner declared to krockfootball.com.au

“He’s the best-prepared kid that I’ve ever seen. He’s a future AFL captain – he could have played AFL this year.

“The only part of his game that Sam has got to work on is when he runs inside (forward) 50m, and it will come with maturity, he’s got to nail those goals. But he’ll learn to develop that.”

Turner said the 193cm Idun should be keenly sought after by clubs looking for a developing key defender.

“At this year’s National Championships he had a really good carnival for Vic Country playing on some really good players and his intercept marking and spoiling was elite,” Turner said of the Drysdale product.

“He’s big and strong and is going to get bigger and stronger and quicker. He tested really well over 20m, so he’s got that closing speed. What Connor needs to work on is his endurance.

“Some haven’t got him in the frame for the top 30, but I reckon Connor will go pretty early.”

Turner played a couple of seasons with Brownless’ dad and said even if he wasn’t father-son eligible, believed he would still get drafted.

“I told Billy when Oscar was at under-16 level that I thought Oscar was a good chance of being drafted and I rate Oscar very highly,” Turner said.

“He’s a very good player.”

The 198cm Schlensog has indigenous heritage, making him eligible as a Next Generation Academy prospect and Turner said his development this season was partly the result of the work he did with the Cats development coaches.

“His running and workrate just went off the Richter Scale towards the end of the year,” Turner said.

“He’s eligible to Geelong as a Next Generation Academy kid, but I’m pretty sure there’s more interest outside of that.”

Turner said that Sprague would be invited back to play with the Falcons as a 19-year-old next year if he’s not drafted.

“He’s a good chance to go late or as a rookie pick,” Turner said.

Twitter: @GreenBradley

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