A long-standing record was smashed and a first-round prospect won a thrilling 2km race before a beautiful act of sportsmanship as the 2022 AFL draft combine concluded on Sunday.
In the first national combine for boys or girls since 2019, 68 of the best draft prospects from around the country took part in a three-day camp in Melbourne.
After two intense days of club and media interviews at Marvel Stadium, the players descended on Margaret Court Arena (MCA) then the AIA Centre on Sunday for physical testing, which included the standing vertical jump, running vertical jump, 20m sprint, agility test and 2km time trial.
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WA’s Darcy Jones broke a 14-year record in the agility test, recording a time of 7.70 seconds at MCA. Jones, a versatile prospect with great footy nous that was named in the Under 18 All-Australian team last week, broke the previous record of 7.77 seconds, which was set by ex-Fremantle star Stephen Hill in 2008.
Jones was also a standout performed in the standing vertical jump test, finishing equal-first with 75cm. He shared the title with GWV Rebels key defender James Van Es, who also took out the running vertical jump with a 98cm result.
Ed Allan, the son of former Hawthorn and Fremantle midfielder Ben Allan, turned heads in the 20m sprint, recording a time of 2.81 seconds to cap off an excellent end to his 2022 campaign. It was the fifth-fastest 20m sprint time in combine history, drawing a round of applause from onlookers.
Allan, however, is not eligible to either the Hawks or Dockers as his dad played 98 games for Hawthorn — two short of the 100-game minimum requirement for the father-son rule — and 47 for Fremantle.
Attention then turned to Collingwood’s training base for the 2km time trial, which saw a photo finish between Murray Bushrangers star Oliver Hollands and Bendigo Pioneers prospect Jason Gilbee, with Hollands just pipping his peer in a time of 5 minutes and 54 seconds.
The classy Hollands, regarded as a possible top-10 pick and the best two-way midfielder in this year’s draft class, said he’d been leaning on his brother — Gold Coast’s Elijah Hollands — for advice ahead of his own AFL career.
“It was a long year so to finish off in the right way was probably the mindset coming into it,” Hollands told 9 News Melbourne.
“Having footy seven days a week, you’re going to have to be able to switch off. So having those conversations about what he (Elijah) does to switch off is really important.”
There were confronting scenes towards the end of the 2km time trial when exhausted Eastern Ranges key defender Lewis Hayes collapsed just before the finish line.
But Sandringham Dragons utility Max Gruzewski, who was just behind Hayes, stopped his run to help Hayes to his feet and carry him across the finish line in a beautiful act of sportsmanship.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Gruzewski said he didn’t help Hayes purely to impress recruiters, revealing he’d roomed with Hayes during the combine and had gotten to know him well.
“‘Hayesy’ was struggling at the end and I think my mate’s health and how he was feeling was more important than a running race, so I thought I should help him out,” Gruzewski told the Herald Sun.
Hayes post-race was attended to by trainers and a doctor for around 20 minutes. AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan said Hayes was recovering well.
Several top-10 draft prospects, including Will Ashcroft, George Wardlaw, Harry Sheezel and Bailey Humphrey, didn’t take part in testing due to injury.
The 2022 AFL draft will again be held across two nights but take place later in November this year to allow the AFLW to have the spotlight for the season seven grand final.
Round 1 of the draft has been set for Monday November 28, with the rest of the selections to be held on Tuesday November 29.
The pre-season and rookie drafts will then be held online the next day, starting at 3pm (AEST) on Wednesday November 30.
AFL DRAFT COMBINE RESULTS 2022
2km Time Trial (result in min:sec)
1. Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Wodonga) – 5:54
2. Jason Gillbee (Bendigo Pioneers/Balranald) – 5:54
3. Jaxon Binns (Dandenong Stingrays/Berwick) – 6:00
20m Sprint (result in seconds)
1. Edward Allan (Claremont/Mosman Park) – 2.81
2. Toby McMullin (Sandringham Dragons/Port Fairy) – 2.88
3. Coby Burgiel (Gippsland Power/Maffra) – 2.883
Agility (result in seconds)
1. Darcy Jones (Swan Districts/Kalamunda) – 7.7
2. Jaxon Binns (Dandenong Stingrays/Berwick) – 8.18
3. Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts/Caversham) – 8.21
Standing Vertical Jump
1. Darcy Jones (Swan Districts/Kalamunda) – 75cm
2. James Van Es (GWV Rebels/North Ballarat) – 75cm
3. Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers/Kyneton) – 71cm
Running Vertical Jump
James Van Es (GWV Rebels/North Ballarat) – 98cm
Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels/Darley) – 93cm
Will Verrall (South Adelaide/Christies Beach) – 90cm
Josh Weddle (Oakleigh Chargers/Eltham) – 90cm