Knightmare's AFL Draft Wrap: Hard-nosed midfielder on the rise

Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wrap, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month.

And as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.

Player Focus

Kicking two of his three goals from stoppages within 20m from goal, Lachlan Fogarty was listed as Western's best for the third week in a row. Fogarty proved to be a matchwinner in Western's 23-point win against Calder. Fogarty, in his last chance to impress recruiters before the Under-18 All Star match, gathered 24 disposals, 11 contested possessions, 15 tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s and three goals.

Fogarty, who has been one of Western's best in all seven of his games, has been rock solid as a midfielder who can push forward for a goal. The 179cm, 75kg, tackling machine runs both ways and is a solid contested ball-winner. He also displays composure with ball in hand and generally uses it cleanly.

Fogarty is viewed as a potential second round selection. His play has a feel not dissimilar to Callum Brown, one of Collingwood's 2016 father-son choices, as a small but hard-nosed midfielder who can also play forward.


Tristian Xerri was impactful for Northern, playing primarily through the ruck with 25 disposals, 17 contested possessions, 21 hitouts, seven clearances and two goals. The big man, who typically has sure hands overhead, dropped a few marks he would normally take. His impact at ruck contests though was exceptional where he had a clear ascendency over the shorter Calder ruckmen.

Underage midfielder Zak Butters, while not as productive as in recent weeks, did several freakish things with his work at ground level, spinning through traffic, ball use and finishing around goal all attributes that will see him be an in-demand player in 2018. Butters finished with 10 disposals, seven contested possessions, one goal and two score assists.

With several exciting moments, Noah Balta was a highlight for Calder. He worked to the front of each contest and was a contested marking force. His ground level work was just as strong, winning ground balls cleanly and often taking on the game with ball in hand, accelerating away from would-be tacklers. Also requiring praise was Balta's work rate on offensive drives. On offensive drives, Balta went on bursts forward, would receive a second or third possession in the forward chain and continue pushing forward.

Balta excelled with 19 disposals, 12 contested possessions, five marks (three contested), seven tackles, 14 hitouts, eight inside 50s and one goal as one of Calder's best players.

Underage midfielder Curtis Taylor, 186cm, 74kg, showed enough promise to suggest he is a player to watch for 2018. Through the midfield Taylor gathered 19 disposals, seven marks, four clearances, six inside 50s and two score assists. His all-around play was impressive with vision and ball use particularly impressive.

Underage key defender Mason Fletcher, the son of Dustin who is available in 2018 as a potential father-son selection for Essendon, looked at home down back with 15 disposals and eight marks. His kicking was precise with seven of his eight kicks effective and his intercept marking also caught the eye with his sheer reach, at 197cm with long arms particularly striking.

Overage forward Jean-Luc Velissaris, 178cm, 74kg, made the most of his opportunities up forward with 12 disposals and seven goals straight.

On a losing team, potential first round selection Lochie O'Brien was Bendigo's best with 26 disposals, 12 contested possessions, six inside 50s and one goal.

Brent Daniels was Bendigo's other shining light with his play through the midfield. Daniels gathered 19 disposals, 14 contested possessions, seven clearances and one goal.

Overage midfielder Callan Wellings continued his consistent midfield play with 28 disposals, 16 contested possessions, six marks, 10 tackles, six clearances, four inside 50s and one goal.

Underage midfielder Lochie Dawson, 182cm, 78kg, while inefficient by foot with only five of his 15 kicks effective, was still solid for Greater Western Victoria. He gathered 26 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 12 tackles, seven clearances, seven inside 50s and two score assists in a promising performance.

With just the one goal scored against him, key defender Oscar Clavarino played an important role down back for Dandenong with 17 disposals and nine marks (three contested).

Underage midfielder Sam Walsh was again Geelong's most productive midfielder with 32 disposals, 12 contested possessions, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s.

Jaidyn Stephenson was Eastern's best in their loss to Oakleigh. Stephenson collected 34 disposals, 10 contested possessions, seven marks, six clearances, seven inside 50s and one goal. The tall midfielder has made the transition this year from dangerous forward to an athletic midfielder capable of providing outside run and winning the contested ball.

Stephenson has built a reputation as a finals specialist in his time with Eastern and will be a player to watch with interest at the weekend.

Dylan Moore was also industrious through Eastern's midfield with 31 disposals, 12 contested possessions, six marks (one contested), four clearances, five inside 50s and one goal.

Powerful overage midfielder Jack Roughsedge continues to add to Oakleigh's midfield with 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions, seven tackles and seven clearances.

Luke Stacker, 187cm, 85kg, also played an important part through the Oakleigh midfield with 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions, seven marks, six clearances, five inside 50s and one goal.

While uncharacteristically inefficient by foot with just six of his 17 kicks effective, Jack Higgins was impactful for Oakleigh with 26 disposals, 11 contested possessions, eight marks (two contested), two goals and three score assists.

On the back of 13 strong TAC Cup games, Higgins this week took home the Morrish Medal as judged by the umpires as the competition's best player.

Oakleigh captain Toby Wooller was one of Oakleigh's best players with 24 disposals, 10 contested possessions, seven marks (two contested), seven inside 50s, three goals and two score assists.

Line breaker Ed Richards continues to increase his draft stocks. He was named Oakleigh's best with 22 disposals, nine contested possessions and two score assists.

Nick Hogan led the way through the midfield for Gippsland with 30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, eight clearances, 11 inside 50s and three score assists.

Alex Federico played what felt like a lone hand through the Northern midfield with 23 disposals, 14 contested possessions, eight tackles, nine clearances and five inside 50s.

Making the switch from cricket, Nathan Murphy, who showed immense promise playing football for Brighton Grammar has since joined Sandringham, where he has in his past two matches featured among the side's best players. The 188cm, 84kg, Murphy collected 25 disposals, nine marks (one contested), five inside 50s and two score assists. Murphy has demonstrated versatility this season starring up forward for Brighton Grammar and holding his own down back for Sandringham.

Overage midfielder Hamish Brayshaw, after a 12-game VFL stint, returned to TAC Cup a much-improved player. Against Northern he was Sandringham's best with a dominant 30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, eight marks (four contested), 11 tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s, five goals and two score assists. With a strong finals series, Hamish may draw draft interest again this season.

Continuing his consistent midfield play, Andrew Brayshaw again figured prominently with 24 disposals, 12 contested possessions, one goal and four score assists.



Jordan Houlahan led the way up forward for Sturt in their win against North Adelaide with 16 disposals, seven marks and four goals.


Damaging underage midfielder Izak Rankine, in a losing effort gathered 21 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s and one goal.



Key defender Sam Taylor was Swan Districts' best in their win against West Perth with 18 disposals and four marks. Taylor was an Under-18 All Australian and has seen his stocks rise in recent weeks on the back of strong League form. Taylor may feature somewhere around the second round in this year's draft.


Overage midfielder Brayden Ainsworth was one of Subiaco's best with 23 disposals and two goals.


Powerful midfielder Brandon Starcevich was one of East Perth's best players in a one-point win against Peel with 18 disposals, five marks and two goals.


Gold Coast Academy ruckman Brayden Crossley showed promise playing predominantly forward with periods relieving through the ruck. He racked up 12 disposals, 10 hitouts and a team high three goals for Gold Coast in a losing effort. Playing forward is another string Crossley is beginning to add to his growing bag of tricks. Impressively, the big bodied ruckman has kicked 13 goals from nine NEAFL games, with his three-goal haul against Sydney the second time he has kicked three in a game.