An exciting small forward has caught the eye of several clubs.
Plus the WA prospect still hopeful of a first-round selection — despite a snub — as Freo flags its strategy.
Ahead of the 2022 national AFL draft — which will be held across two nights on Monday November 28 and Tuesday November 29 — get the latest news and updates below in AFL Draft Whispers.
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INTEREST GROWING IN GUN FORWARD
A Tom Papley-like small forward is attracting ample interest from clubs with first-round picks, with Sandringham Dragons prospect Charlie Clarke looming as a possible night one selection.
Renowned for his energy, competitiveness, goal sense and linking ability between the arcs, Clarke surged up draft boards as the year progressed after an ultra-consistent NAB League campaign and impressing at national championships level.
He booted four goals in four games for Vic Metro and played a crucial role in the Dragons’ premiership success, kicking 29 goals for the season – including 10 from four finals – while averaging 18.6 disposals and 4.1 inside 50s per game.
The Giants, which hold two late first-round selections and the first pick of the second round, have been heavily linked to Clarke and put work into him across the past month. Rival teams expect the Giants to target a small forward with at least one of those picks – Clarke, Swan Districts’ Darcy Jones, Gippsland’s Jacob Konstanty and even Bendigo’s Noah Long have all been linked to the club – should they hold them.
But the Herald Sun on Tuesday reported Collingwood, which holds a first-round selection sandwiched between two Giants picks, had also been linked to Clarke.
Foxfooty.com.au understands the Western Bulldogs would also consider selecting Clarke should he slip through to their early second-round selection. Clarke had also indicated North Melbourne had also shown interest in him.
Clarke told Sportsday earlier this month he liked to watch and learn from Papley, Toby Greene and Charlie Cameron.
“I love to celebrate. I don’t really have a go-to, I make it up on the spot, I’m all-in,” Clarke told SEN.
“I’m always getting the crowd up and about, the ones that come to the Dragons games. In the prelim final I had the hands out wide to the Gippsland crowd, I did the (shush) against the Murray Bushrangers.”
WA STAR HOPEFUL OF EARLY PICK DESPITE SNUB
Explosive Swan Districts midfielder Elijah Hewett is backing himself to still be taken in the first round, despite not receiving an invite to night one of the national AFL draft.
Prospects that are most likely to be taken in the first round receive invites to attend the event at Marvel Stadium.
Highly touted WA prospects Reuben Ginbey and Jedd Busslinger have both been invited to watch the first round unfold live in Victoria.
But Hewett this week confirmed he hadn’t been asked to come, saying he was instead “really excited I’ll be around my family, who I love most”.
Foxfooty.com.au also understands fellow WA prospect Ed Allan hasn’t been invited to the first night of the draft, with the AFL keen to have a few more top prospects watch the event at home with family – but still be set up via video link for reaction and possible interview opportunities – to add another dimension to the broadcast.
Essendon has shown interest in Hewett, while West Coast will consider drafting the on-baller if he’s still available with its second first-round pick. Carlton and St Kilda have both also been linked to Hewett.
Speaking to reporters, Hewett said he’d “recently” spoken to new St Kilda coach Ross Lyon ahead of the draft.
“The prospect of playing under Ross is there but there’s a lot of other clubs that are around that mark as well,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty around his AFL future, Hewett said he was “confident that I’ll be in the first round”.
“It’s a matter of the pick right now, I just don’t exactly know where,” he said.
“I’m thinking around the eight to 12 mark, within there. You just don’t exactly know and I could go a bit behind there.”
FREO FLAGS DRAFT STRATEGY
Fremantle list boss David Walls believes his club will be able to pick up a talented young gun then address two list needs at the draft, despite its thin hand.
After a busy exchange period that saw them land Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara but lose five players to rival clubs via trade, the Dockers enter next week’s draft holding Picks 30, 43, 44, 65 and 70, with the club tipped to take four players on Tuesday.
It’s the club’s thinnest hand in years after making the draft a priority during a meticulous rebuild.
Speaking on SEN WA, Walls suggested the club would target best available talent with its first selection then look to address needs.
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“Pick 30 will be the best player and then after that we’ll try and address the needs,” Walls told SEN WA.
“We need a developing ruck and a key defender will be nice as well. We had great years from Brennan Cox, Alex Pearce last year, who got through injury free, and we look forward to seeing Joel Hamling this year, but we need a younger defender we can try and develop.
“We’ll do what we can and that was part of the reason for the (pick swap) trade last week with North Melbourne.
“Just a few certain types that we’d like to bring in to complement our list and to be able to develop.”