With the AFL season and trade period finished, it’s time to focus on the draft. Many picks and players have been exchanged over the next few weeks as teams prepare to put themselves in the best possible position for next season. Whilst first round draft picks are highly sought after, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to find value with later selections in both the National Draft and even some from the Rookie Draft. We thought it would be interesting to look at ten of the biggest steals from this decade. These current players; who were overlooked by many clubs; turned out to provide value far beyond their original draft selection.
Luke Parker (Sydney), Pick 40 – 2010
Parker; the substitute in the Swans’ 2012 premiership team; has become one of Sydney’s most prolific players since that game. Parker won Bob Skilton medals for Sydney’s best and fairest in both 2014 and 2017. Parker placed second in 2018. In 2016, he was runner-up to Patrick Dangerfield in the Brownlow Medal with 2016 votes, a season in which he earned All Australian honours. In 2019 Parker was named a co-captain for the Swans.
Jeremy McGovern (West Coast), Pick 44 Rookie Draft – 2011
McGovern endured a difficult start to his career. He was overlooked in the national draft, before spending two years on the rookie list before finally being elevated in 2013. Around the time of his elevation, he was banished from training with the main group for weight issues. What followed this was a change in attitude for McGovern, which translated to four All Australian selections in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. McGovern was also one of the Eagle’s best performers in their 2018 premiership.
Dane Rampe (Sydney), Pick 37 Rookie Draft – 2013
Alongside Luke Parker, Rampe is the co-captain for the Swans. The medium-sized defender is one of the most dangerous backmen in the game. Parker earned All Australian selection in 2016, whilst he was also a member of the 40-man squad in 2019. This year, Rampe also won his first Bob Skilton medal. Rampe played in losing Grand Final sides in 2014 and 2016.
Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Pick 47 – 2013
The 200cm full-forward was overlooked three years in a row before finally being taken by the Kangaroos as a 21-year-old. Brown has won North Melbourne’s goal kicking award every year since 2016, with returns of 41, 63, 61 and 64 goals. He has also been a member of the 40-man All-Australian squad in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
James Sicily (Hawthorn), Pick 56 – 2013
The hot-tempered swingman divides opinions, however, there is no denying his talent on-field. As a defender, Sicily earned a nomination in the 40-man All-Australian squad in 2019. He has three top-ten best and fairest finishes in the past three years. Sicily is the leader of Hawthorn’s backline and is close to their most valued player.
Harris Andrews (Brisbane), Pick 61 – 2014
At 22 years of age, Andrews already holds the title of vice-captain the Brisbane Lions. After a potential All-Australian year in 2018 was cruelled by a broken jaw, he came back an even better player this season to earn his first selection in the team of the year. Andrews has been a vital reason behind the Lions’ surge up the ladder in 2019 and will be integral to their future success, with the potential to become the best defender in the league for the next decade.
Tom Phillips (Collingwood), Pick 56 – 2015
Lightning quick Phillips has been one of the league’s biggest improvers in the last two years. During a breakout 2018 season that included a Grand Final appearance, the wingman averaged 25.5 disposals at just 22 years of age. 2019 was another solid year, as Phillips averaged 23.8 disposals and kicked 12 goals.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Essendon), Pick 22 Rookie Draft – 2016
After the suspension of 12 senior Bombers for the 2016 season, McDonald-Tipungwuti was elevated straight off the rookie list as a 23-year-old first-year player. He made his debut in Round 1 of that year and went on to play 21 games in his first season. After the return of the suspended players the following season, AMT remained a first-choice selection and has now played 89 games, kicking 100 goals and averaging almost four tackles per game across four seasons.
Tom Stewart (Geelong), Pick 40 – 2016
In 2015, Stewart was playing local footy in the Geelong league, before getting an opportunity with the Cats’ VFL side. He was finally drafted as a 23 year old after dominating at VFL level. Stewart earned his first All Australian selection in just his second season. This was followed in 2019 by a second All-Australian selection, helping the Cats to a preliminary final, all well before reaching his 100 game milestone.
James Worpel (Hawthorn), Pick 45 – 2017
Worpel won his first Best and Fairest award this season at 20 years of age. He enjoyed a stellar 2019 season, averaging 26.5 disposals and 4.9 tackles a game as the star midfielder in the absence of Tom Mitchell. It is evident already that he is on his way to becoming one of the premier midfielders in the competition. The Worpedo will be vital to the Hawks’ chances of becoming a premiership contender in the coming years.
Our resident kicking specialist, Sav Rocca had an article published by the Herald Sun by reporter Jay Clark talking about the importance of specialized skills training in footy. At Vida footy, we belive in doing the extra work in making sure skills are developed at a young age. When Sav came on board, we continued our weekly Skills Sessions with great results.
Despite the increased professionalism in the game, Champion Data statistics reveal set shot goal kicking accuracy has got worse over the last decade.
But Rocca, currently working at the Blues this year, is adamant proper goal kicking coaching would improve a team’s scoring by about two goals a game.
“It’s only a couple of little things you need to tweak here and there and you can really get a huge benefit out of it,” Rocca told the Herald Sun.
“But it’s getting someone who can really pinpoint what’s going on when players are missing goals and really fine tune.
Congratulations to Matthew Signorello for getting drafted to the Adelaide Crows at pick number 62. Matthew has a great life opportunity which footy has given him, and we wish him all the best.
How did he get there? Matthew, a 184cm tough, quick and athletic midfielder started his junior footy at West Preston Lake Side and then onto South Morang. He also played for Ivanhoe Grammar where he attended school and won this years Best and Fairest. In amongst these clubs, Matthew also starred for the Northern Knights when available and also played a trial game for Vic Metro. After being over-looked for the National Championships this year, Matthew continued to work hard and this may of been a blessing in disguish as he really stood out at TAC Cup level and School Level, catching the eye of Adelaide recruiters. All of the clubs Matthew has played for have contributed a huge role in the development of him as a player, and ultimately got him a chance in the AFL.
Picture Shawn Smits.
How was Vida Involved? Vince Dattoli has played a large role in helping Matthew get to where he is today. After meeting Matthew as a 12 year old back in the West Preston days, Matthews father asked Vince to do some individual work with him to help in his development. Vince worked with Matthew and suggested some other strength and conditioning training as well as skill work. Vince has also done some boxing work with Matthew to increase his strength and improve his toughness which has become a real asset in his game.
Here are some of the stats of Matthew from the Adelaide Football Club Site.
Signorello was the third onballer selected by Adelaide, joining Jordan Gallucci and Myles Poholke. The Club also bolstered its key-position stocks by drafting the versatile Elliot Himmelberg.
An energetic midfielder, Signorello played most of the season for Ivanhoe Grammar but averaged 23 disposals per game in eight TAC Cup appearances with Northern Knights.
After the draft Vince stated that “I am really proud of Matthew” and that “he worked really hard and maximised his talent”.
Skill Development and Vida – As previously mentioned, much of the recognition of Matthews success has come from himself and the clubs he has played for. However, the extra work on his skills through Vida definitely helped. The main components work on with Matthew were;
Strength through boxing
Quick decision making with fatigue
All these skills and more make up the core principles in our Skill Development Sessions that Vince and Sav Rocca run. All players are welcome to get involved and work on their game and maximise their individual talent.
The pathway from Juniors to AFL can be a tough and torturous one. Most players start playing at about 8-10 years old and enter the AFL as an 18 year old. There so many years of development in those junior seasons. Players need to learn what position they play best which is very difficult as people grow. They also need to know and understand where to position themselves on the ground, kick and handball off both sides, get stronger, faster, fitter, etc etc etc. The list of things to master is endless, that’s why so few players make it to the elite level.
Once a player makes it to the elite level you would assume most of these factors have been mastered. Wrong. There is a whole new journey about to take place for new draftees. Emma Quayle, a football writer from The Age, recently published a great article on the journey of AFL draftees. Her piece demonstrates the way new AFL players go about their development from juniors to being an elite AFL player.
Quayle outlines the major physical and technical things that need to be worked on over a four year period to ensure a player has the best chance to become an AFL player. The main objective in their development in the first four years are;
Year 1: Learn how to become a professional athlete then develop those skills.
Year 2: All off field fundamentals in place as well as work into doing a full pre season.
Year 3: Working into full physical AFL training and playing and start to plan life.
Year 4: Start to become a director and leader around the club.