The Giants are being tipped to cling on to one of the draft’s most highly sought-after picks – despite juicy offers from rivals – due to several sneaky Sydney first-round moves.
The Giants hold Pick 22 (formally Pick 19), which is the first selection of the second round of the draft, which kicks off on Tuesday night at Marvel Stadium. The two-night draft format means the Giants hold one of the most valuable selections, as it gives the club holding the pick first chance at pouncing on a first-round slider or a prospect high on its draft board.
Prior to Monday night, the Giants held four selections inside the top 20 – Picks 1, 15, 18 and 19 before bidding – and had plans to trade at least one of their three picks in the teens.
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But the Swans’ shock move on Monday night to launch an earlier-than-expected bid on top Giants Academy prospect Harry Rowston with their first selection – which was the pick before the GWS’ second first-round selection – ruined the Giants’ plans.
The Giants were hopeful a bid on Rowston would come in the second round, which would’ve given them flexibility to trade one of Pick 15, 18 or 19 to a rival keen to move up the order. But Sydney’s first-round bid on Rowston – and GWS’ decision to match it – meant the Giants’ first teens pick was swallowed up.
More draft coverage …
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TALKING POINTS: Cats’ ‘remarkable’ coup sounds warning; big trade gamble pays off
NIGHT ONE WRAP: Swans chaos after bid frenzy, shock trade as Giants get their Cad-man
RANKINGS: The 10 best AFL draft prospects still on the board – and the clubs linked to them
After drafting Rowston at Pick 16, foxfooty.com.au understands the Giants would’ve strongly considered taking Victorian defender Josh Weddle with their next selection. But the Swans’ decision to strike a trade with Hawthorn – which saw the Hawks get back into the first round and take Weddle – dashed those hopes, with the Giants instead landing on WA’s Darcy Jones with Pick 21.
The late first-round chaos has many industry sources tipping the Giants will now hold Pick 22 and select their preferred prospect to open the second night of the draft, with exciting 193cm swingman Max Gruzewski, powerful mid-sized forward Brayden George and Tom Papley-like goalkicker Charlie Clarke among the players in their sights.
The Giants would likely be turning down an attractive offer from Melbourne, which is still loaded with two future first-round picks after failing to get into the top five on Monday night, to hold their prized selection. If the Dees get their hands on it, though, the club is expected to look at George, West Adelaide’s Harry Barnett – the best ruck in the draft pool – and SA defender Jakob Ryan, who slid out of the first round.
Adelaide has also shown interest in Pick 19, with the Crows prepared to trade their future second-round pick (tied to North Melbourne’s 2023 finishing position) to get back into the early stages of this year’s draft. It’s understood they’ve put a lot of work into Ryan.
West Coast will have a big say in the second round, armed with Picks 23 and 29.
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The Eagles, who took two WA-based guns in the first round on Monday night, have been linked to interstate prospects Barnett, Ryan and Clarke, as well as midfielder-forward Coby Burgiel (Gippsland Power), with their first selection. They could then return to their own backyard at Pick 29, with Steely Green (South Fremantle), Kaleb Smith (East Fremantle) and Sam Gilbey (Claremont) still on the board.
The Western Bulldogs flagged last week they’d be selecting ‘best available’ with their draft selections this year, with Clarke and Tassie rebounding defender Lachie Cowan heavily linked to their second-round pick. Cowan also has interest from North Melbourne, Sydney, Collingwood and the Giants.
Essendon will be hopeful none of the Giants, Eagles or Bulldogs launch a bid on father-son prospect Alwyn Davey Jnr before their natural second-rounder (Pick 25) – and it’s expected the Bombers will have their wish granted. The Bombers could look at Eastern Ranges key defender Lewis Hayes with their natural selection, while George, Barnett or Ryan might be in their sights.
Overall, clubs aren’t expecting much movement at the start of the second round, as it’s unlikely the Giants, Eagles, Bulldogs, Bombers or Kangaroos will receive offers compelling enough for them to move their selections. Although there might be more movement once the draft gets into the late 20s.
Hayes, who had first-round interest, is one of several tall defenders up for grabs in the back-half of the draft, which is looming as key back city. Gruzewski, Tom McCallum (Tasmanian Devils), James Van Es (GWS Rebels), Hugh Davies (Claremont), Jed Adams (Peel Thunder), Oscar Murdoch (Geelong Falcons) and VFL mature-age star Ethan Phillips (Port Melbourne) all loom as possible second-round prospects, while some clubs believe smooth-moving 195cm utility Henry Hustwaite (Dandenong Stingrays) has scope to become a third key defender at AFL level. Hustwaite has interest from the Swans, Magpies and Giants.
North Melbourne (Pick 26), Sydney (27, 40, 62), Collingwood (28, 30, 47), St Kilda (31, 35, 44), Carlton (32, 46, 57), Fremantle (33, 41, 42), Port Adelaide (36, 53) and possibly Richmond (53, 62) are all believed to be in the key back market.
However many are expecting at least one of Collingwood’s two picks in the 20s to be used on one of Joe Richards – a 23-year-old draft bolter who starred for Ovens and Murray Football League this year – or Olli Hotton – the son of ex-Magpie and Blue Trent Hotton. Four SA names are being linked to the Pies’ other picks: Barnett, Ryan, forward-ruck Isaac Keeler and defender-forward Harry Lemmey.
Should the Swans play a role late in the second and third round of the draft, they could look at South Adelaide forward-midfielder Jaiden Magor and dashing Oakleigh Chargers defender Bailey Macdonald.
Fremantle is expected to stick to its draft board with its first selection – Claremont’s Sam Gilbey has been heavily linked to their pick – then go needs for its next two picks, possibly a developing ruck and/or a key defender. Although it’s understood the Dockers are on standby for a potential rival club bid on athletic 197cm NGA prospect Josh Draper – likened to Freo’s 2022 leading goalkicker Rory Lobb – with speculation he mightn’t make it through to the rookie draft untouched.
After helping Brisbane match first-round bids then trading into the first round of the draft to get Weddle, Hawthorn re-enters the draft at Picks 37 and 45. Bendigo Pioneers ball magnet Harvey Gallagher has reportedly been linked to the Hawks.
The Bombers and Hawks won’t be able to match bids on respective NGA products Anthony Munkara and Cooper Vickery if they come before Pick 40, but most rival clubs expect the players to be taken after the threshold.
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The Kangaroos will either match a late bid on – or simply select if still available with their last pick – father-son prospect Cooper Harvey, while there’s speculation the Bombers might be forced to match a bid on Alwyn Davey’s twin brother, Jayden Davey, later in the night.
The Blues have been linked to hard-running winger Jaxon Binns and Tassie’s Seth Campbell, while Port Fairy product Toby McMullin — the son of Ian McMullin, who kicked 55 goals from 49 AFL games for Collingwood and Essendon in the late 1980s and early 90s — has also reportedly attracted some interest from the Power.
Like Port Adelaide, Richmond isn’t going to be doing much after trading its draft capital out for Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper. Although it’s understood the Tigers are keen to use one of their late picks to secure a key forward, with West Adelaide’s Tom Scully — 202cm prospect that booted 50 goals in the SANFL Under 18s competition this year — last week revealing Richmond had shown the most interest in him of the 12 clubs he’d spoken to. There’s also speculation the Tigers could target a key defender with one of their selections.
Geelong, which holds Pick 52, has reportedly shown interest in Norwood tall Phoenix Foster and Glenelg forward-midfielder Archie Lovelock, who won the best on ground medal in this year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final. The club would be hopeful father-son prospect Osca Riccardi and Next Generation Academy midfielder Ted Clohesy both slip through the national draft, giving the Cats rookie options.
There’s uncertainty around what Queensland teams Brisbane and Gold Coast do in the back-end of the draft. The Lions are expected to take a player at Pick 51 – likely who’s at the top of their draft board – while there’s a chance the Suns mightn’t pick again.