Draft Combine preview: Who will impress?
THE SEASON is done, but that doesn’t mean footy has stopped.
On Tuesday, 85 AFL hopefuls will gather at Etihad Stadium for the start of the NAB AFL Draft Combine, which will run through to Friday.
Across the four days the players from around the country will take part in physical and psychological testing and be interviewed by clubs for what may be the final time before November’s draft.
This year’s combine looks a little different to previous years, with the famed beep test shuttle run replaced by the ‘yo-yo’ test, and the 3km time trial shortened to a 2km run.
AFL.com.au will have all the results exclusively as they come to hand during the week, but get up to speed with who could be in the mix to take them out across the week.
Test to be held Wednesday night
The handball test has been cut from the combine schedule, but the kicking test remains, where players take six kicks of various distances and angles and on both feet. This test is best for players who are good on their non-preferred foot, meaning Hunter Clark looms as a possible winner given his capacity to kick well over any distance on his preferred right foot and also his left side as well. Lochie O’Brien is also adept on both sides, while Jack Higgins is a very tidy kick on both feet so could be in contention.
The goalkicking test has also survived despite some changes in the Combine testing format this year. It will see prospects taking six shots at goal from different areas inside the 50m-arc, including a couple of on-the-run kicks. Gryan Miers has a unique goalkicking action, but kicked seven on Grand Final night for the Geelong Falcons and has a very nifty goal sense, while Jack Higgins will also back himself to go well in this test after proving to be a dead-eye during the year. Oscar Allen booted 11 goals over the under-18 championships for WA and is a steady kick, while Lachlan Fogarty is another smaller type who has shown to be very handy around goal.
Standing vertical jump
Combine record: Jordan Gallucci (89cm, 2016)
South Australian forward Jordan Houlahan will be a good show here. The marking forward has made a reputation for himself for flying for big grabs near goal, and he never seems to require much of a run up to boost himself towards the ball. Nathan Kreuger is another athletic South Australian who has shown real power in his game so it will be interesting to see how he tests across the week. Victorian defender Noah Balta may also challenge, having played in the ruck at stages this year despite being undersized.
Running vertical jump
Combine record: Jared Brennan (102cm, 2002)
Fresh from a very good performance in the NAB AFL All Stars clash on Saturday, West Australian Larke medallist Oscar Allen could be one of the favourites for this test. He jumped 93cm in testing earlier this year, which comes through in his long reach when going for marks. Jack Petruccelle is another who should perform well in this test. The talented former basketballer flies for his marks for a shorter player but has genuine spring in his legs.
Combine record: Joel Wilkinson (2.75 seconds, 2010)
All eyes will be on Jack Petruccelle here. The Northern Knights speedster clocked in as the fastest player in the TAC Cup earlier this season when he ran 2.82 seconds over 20 metres. That’s elite speed. He could have a challenger in Nick Shipley, though, who tested at 2.84 seconds earlier this year in NSW. Ed Richards, Zac Bailey, Jaidyn Stephenson and Noah Balta are others who could produce good times in the sprint test with powerful movement crucial to their respective games.
Combine record: Stephen Hill (7.77 seconds, 2008)
Victorian midfielder/half-back Lochie O’Brien was one of the best performed prospects at the TAC Cup testing day earlier this year in the agility run, recording an elite time of 7.91 seconds. Anything under eight seconds in the agility test is good going. Charlie Spargo is still overcoming shoulder surgery but also tested excellently earlier in the year with a 7.83-second run, while Mitchell Podhajski (7.97 seconds), Matthew Ling (7.90 seconds) and Jordan Johnston (7.86 seconds) are others who could be in the mix.
The ‘yo-yo’ test replaces the beep test, so there’ll be a new way for prospects’ aerobic capacity to be measured. The new test sees players need to run between cones that are 20m apart at timed intervals. Participants have a 10-second recovery period between the 20m sprints where they are required to jog to another cone and then back to the starting point before the next shuttle begins. A prospect’s score in the yo-yo test can be presented in total distance run, the level achieved or his maximum rate of oxygen consumption. For instance, reaching level 14.1 in the beep test was considered a very good run. In comparison, a basic conversion of level 14.1 in the beep test to the yo-yo is a level score of 22.2, which would be an accumulated distance of 1160 metres and a VO2 maximum of 61.1. So anything above the score of 22.2 is very good going.
2km time trial
The 2km time trial replaces the 3km time trial which has closed the final event of the combine in recent years. The guys with elite running abilities should still be the clear winners, with Dylan Moore sure to be a chance. Lochie O’Brien has an elite athletics background and has had some time to prepare for the run, while Brayden Ainsworth would be Western Australia’s best bet in this category.