It appears top South Australian prospect Mattaes Phillipou could be taken at nearly any stage of the first round.
Plus what the Tigers might be planning with their two (very late) picks.
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FIRST-ROUND PROSPECT ‘POLARISING’ CLUBS
South Australia’s top draft chance Mattaes Phillipou looms as one of the most “polarising” prospects of this year’s first round, according to veteran recruiter Matt Rendell.
A versatile, big-bodied midfielder from Woodville West-Torrens, Phillipou has roared into top-10 calculations after an excellent 2022 campaign, averaging 33 disposals from his final four SANFL Under 18 games, booting three goals in his last reserves game and being one of SA’s best players during its Under 18 national championships campaign.
Foxfooty.com.au reported this week that Phillipou — the son of Sam Phillpou, who kicked 250 goals from 150 SANFL games for the Eagles and Magpies amid three AFL games for Footscray — is one of several players Essendon is considering taking at Pick 4, with Oakleigh Chargers on-baller Elijah Tsatas also in the mix. But if Phillipou isn’t taken by the Bombers, there’s also a chance he slides outside the top 10.
Speaking on SEN SA’s Kymbo and The Rooch, Rendell said some recruiters he’d spoken to have Phillipou “inside five” on their draft boards, while others had him “well outside 10”.
“He’s another polarising selection in the draft,” Rendell told SEN SA.
“What I‘m hearing is that some of the clubs can’t work him out personality-wise. Now this happens quite a lot — and the blokes you can’t quite work out usually get put further down the list.”
Rendell pointed to a recent example from when he was part of Collingwood’s recruiting team, saying they “couldn’t work out James Sicily for the life of us”.
“I reckon clubs that have him (Phillipou) inside five, they probably reckon they know and clubs who have him well outside 10 can’t quite work him out,” Rendell continued.
“Clubs love to be able to tell the coaching staff exactly what this person is going to be like. It‘s really hard because they’re 18 years of age and a different level of maturity. But coaches want to know and recruiters want to know, so that’s why some players drop down.”
Phillipou told foxfooty.com.au earlier this month he had strong belief in his own ability. Asked which player he’d take if he had Pick 1, Phillpou said: “I think I‘d have to say myself, just because I think if you’re not going to back yourself, you probably don’t have the confidence required to play in the league.”
The 17-year-old said he believed he’d “exceeded other people’s expectations” this year, but never placed any on himself.
“I think you’re limiting yourself and what you can achieve if you put expectations on yourself,” he said. “I always believed I was going to have a big year and that was the mindset I went in with and it didn’t change throughout.
“I think because I had that belief. I think I proved a lot of people wrong and I exceeded people’s expectations.
“I think everyone can resonate with feeling awesome when you’ve proven something wrong. It was definitely a motivating factor when I was looking at rankings earlier in the year and I was nowhere to be found.”
TIGERS’ PLANS WITH THIN HAND
Richmond might have the thinnest hand of this year’s draft, but the club is looking to add to its key-position stocks with one of its late picks, reports the Herald Sun.
The Tigers held four top-40 selections heading into the trade period, but the significant acquisitions of Giants on-ballers Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper has left the club with Picks 53 and 63.
The combined draft value index total of those two selections is 345 points — the lowest of all 18 clubs with Adelaide (683) and Port Adelaide (709) next best.
However the Tigers will be hopeful of finding another late bargain, like they did with premiership trio Kane Lambert (Pick 46, 2014), Nathan Broad (Pick 67, 2015) and Jack Graham (Pick 53, 2016).
The Herald Sun reported Richmond was keen to secure a tall forward with at least one of its two late picks in the national draft.
Most of this year’s best key-position prospects are defenders, but West Adelaide duo Harry Lemmey (199cm) and Tom Scully (202cm) could still be on the table after both were invited to the recent national draft combine.
Both players had subpar national championships campaigns, but impressed at various SANFL levels. Both players kicked three each across the Bloods’ two finals, while Scully booted 50 goals in the Under 18s competition.
“I’m not sure what will happen come draft time, but I think clubs should know that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there,” Lemmey told foxfooty.com.au earlier this month.
“I feel like throughout this whole age group, I’m one of the most driven and motivated people.
“If it’s Pick 1 or the last pick in the rookie draft, I’m going to do whatever it takes to become a successful player.”