Sydney spiced up the 2022 AFL Draft with two surprising bids on night one – and then a third unexpected move on night two.
Plus who got the biggest steals and who made some shock selections.
Foxfooty.com.au breaks down the draft winners, losers, bolters, sliders and more!
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SLIDER: Ed Allan (Pick 19, Collingwood)
He was one of the bolters late in the draft process, as AFL clubs became excited about his incredible athleticism at 194cm.
But in the end, Allan had to wait until the end of the first round – having been linked to clubs in the top 10 and especially to West Coast, who had two picks in the top 15.
It would’ve made plenty of sense but the Eagles chose not to keep the West Australian home, and Collingwood were the beneficiaries.
“We love his size, his absolute speed, he’s a star in that (Magpies draft) group,” Kevin Sheehan said on Fox Footy.
While the Magpies are still a bit sore over the exit of Ollie Henry, who sought a trade home to Geelong, there are no such concerns for Allan according to his dad Ben – the inaugural Fremantle captain and ex-Hawk.
“Ed understands how tight spots are and what an opportunity that he’s been given,” the elder Allan said on SEN.
“I guess it’s just drilled into the WA boys from the start that if you are lucky enough to get selected, the fact is you’re going to be moving.
“There was kind of talk about, ‘your dad moved back to Perth (after his career at the Hawks), what’s your flight risk?’ I don’t think Ed’s a risk at all.
“Collingwood are as stable a club as there is going around. We hope he’s there for the next 10 years.”
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STEAL: Brayden George (Pick 26, North Melbourne)
Perhaps this year’s prime example of an injury impacting a player’s draft stocks, George was viewed as a potential top-10 talent before suffering an ACL rupture in the NAB League finals.
Still linked as high as No.15 to Melbourne, instead it was up to the Kangaroos to swoop on the exciting midfielder/forward who can play in the style – if not yet at the level – of Jordan De Goey.
In a way he fits North Melbourne perfectly because they can take their time with him, helping him fully recover from the severe injury before a potential AFL debut late in 2023.
“I had Jordan De Goey written down when I watched his highlights. He is just chock full of power, he’s got outstanding recovery skills. He kicks bags too,” Mick Ablett said on Fox Footy.
“This is a young man that once he gets on a roll, a little bit similar to De Goey, he’s very difficult to stop. In eight NAB games, he averaged 2.3 goals which is an outstanding result.
“I think he is one of the genuine steals of this draft.
“We mentioned the knee injury, I think the Kangaroos have really got this pick right and they’ve had a good draft so far because he brings a different dynamic as well.
“Harry Sheezel is going to do that up forward, you’ve got another medium forward now in Brayden George who we might not see much of in 2023, but look out in 2024 because this kid can play.”
BOLTERS: Harry Rowston (Pick 16, GWS matching Sydney’s bid) and Cooper Vickery (Pick 27, Sydney)
Sydney list boss Kinnear Beatson told Fox Footy after the draft his club made bids for players tied to rival sides because they rated the players – rather than it being some tactic to force those clubs to cough up.
But that part surely doesn’t hurt.
In the draft’s opening round, he Swans surprised many with the decision to bid on Rowston with pick No.16, with the Giants eventually matching the bid to secure his services.
Rowston had been considered an early second-round prospect by most, placed in the mid-20s by the Fox Lab rankings shown on Fox Footy’s coverage of the draft.
As Melbourne drafted Matthew Jefferson with pick No.15, Foxfooty.com.au understands the Swans made contact with the Giants, informing them of their intentions to bid on Rowston.
The Giants were presented with three options: pass on Rowston and allow him to play for the Swans; match the bid and pay the full price of pick No.17; or do a deal with the Swans involving future picks that would see the Giants avoid an early bid while bolstering the Swans’ draft hand for next year.
Giants list manager Adrian Caruso played a firm hand, informing the Swans they would not trade.
Sydney would eventually trade that pick two bids later, exchanging it with Hawthorn, which drafted Josh Weddle, a player the Giants had interest in.
While Rowston had been pegged by some as a first-round talent, there was an expectation his Academy status would see him slip down the order and into the second round – a prospect the Giants would’ve ideally seen play out, which would’ve allowed them to use their pick No.17 on another player before eventually matching a bid on Rowston.
Such was the Rowston camp’s surprise at the timing of the bid that his father was out on a tractor in country New South Wales when his son’s name was called out.
Ultimately, the Giants got their man, but it was not without a degree of drama the footy world has grown so accustomed to during the draft.
The pattern was repeated with the next pick when Sydney made a bid for Adelaide’s Max Michalanney, which was also matched, but then on the second night of the draft things were a little different.
At pick No.27 – the pick they got in a trade from Hawthorn – the Swans opted for Hawks Next Generation Academy prospect Cooper Vickery.
Under the old AFL draft rules, the Hawks could’ve matched a bid if they wanted to, like when the Bulldogs nabbed Jamarra Ugle-Hagan with pick No.1 in 2020. But the rules have since been changed.
“That’s a surprise here – picked before 40 so they can’t match the bid,” Kevin Sheehan explained.
Vickery was ranked all the way down at No.64 in the Fox Sports Lab rankings.
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SLIDER: Mattaes Phillipou (Pick 10, St Kilda)
Perhaps only a mini-slider, but Phillipou ended up being the victim (if you can call it that) of an indecisive Essendon.
With multiple clubs interested in trading up to pick No.4 (which became No.5), the Bombers had options, but eventually chose to stick in their valuable spot and draft a player.
That player was Elijah Tsatas, with Essendon list boss Adrian Dodoro telling Fox Footy: “They were pretty intense (discussions on a trade). We were serious about seeing if there’d be any trades we’d look at.
“But at the end of the day, we really rated Elijah. We think he’s an elite talent so the trade needed to be fairly compelling and it just wasn’t.
“We think (Elijah is) going to be a really good player for a really long time. He’ll just compliment our midfield beautifully.”
It’s understood views were split inside Essendon on whether Tsatas or Phillipou was the better option, with the Tsatas camp winning out – which left Phillipou waiting.
With Gold Coast very keen on Bailey Humphrey, Hawthorn opting for Cameron Mackenzie, and Geelong and West Coast going local with Jhye Clark and Reuben Ginbey respectively, it wasn’t until No.10 that St Kilda stopped Phillipou’s slide.
Still just 17 years old, the South Australian – who has incredible self-belief – will begin a promising AFL career under Ross Lyon. It’ll be quite the adjustment.
“I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot. I’m so excited,” Phillipou told Fox Footy.
“Growing up, we always used to say ‘Ross Lyon’s got the Dockers in shape’, so it’s pretty funny to now be coached by him.”
SLIDERS – Olli Hotton (Pick 35, St Kilda) and Henry Hustwaite (Pick 37, Hawthorn)
St Kilda and Hawthorn both nabbed themselves draft steals on Tuesday night, with two fringe first rounders sliding to late in the second round.
Olli Hotton, the son of ex-Blue Trent, was ranked in the early 20s by the Fox Sports Lab but he was forced to endure a long wait before the Saints stepped up.
Fox Footy’s Mick Ablett was stunned Hotton went so late given his work under Haileybury coach, Bombers great Matthew Lloyd.
“He’s a steal. Some people had him rated in the late teens, around pick 20-type,” Ablett said.
“To pick him up at pick 35, the Saints have got a quick, talented young man who can really produce up forward.”
Another player with a shock draft slide was Hustwaite, who had been likened in style to a young Scott Pendlebury.
Hustwaite, a 194cm midfielder, was ranked as the 20th best player on offer in the draft but managed to slip through to Hawthorn at pick 37.
“He is character plus Henry Hustwaite. He’s as good a person as you’d bring into your football club,” Ablett said.
Draft guru Kevin Sheehan said Hustwaite’s basketball background ensured he had elite decision making where he “didn’t panic” with the footy.
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BOLTER: Tom Emmett (Pick 41, Fremantle)
Fremantle were simply bystanders for much of the early draft program, as they sat without a pick until late in the second round.
But the Dockers announced one of the shocks of the draft by selecting mature-age South Australian, and cancer survivor Tom Emmett.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for Emmett who just four years ago was fighting for life after being diagnosed with a rare subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before his 17th birthday.
But after winning his six-month health battle and returning to football, Emmett impressed many with his power at the Adelaide Draft Combine.
Draft guru Kevin Sheehan said Emmett’s journey just showed you don’t have to be a talked about name to land on an AFL list.
“He tested exceptionally well and that comes from playing some senior footy,” Sheehan said on Fox Footy.
“The boys over there can push up. It’s the natural sequence from under 18s into reserves into senior footy and his testing was exceptional. So it’s not all done and dusted once you don’t make the national level combine when the 68 come to Melbourne.
Fox Footy’s Mick Ablett said Fremantle were clearly trying to beef up their list by selecting the medium forward from Sturt.
“They just needed to replace a bit of experience – you lose Darcy Tucker, Blake Acres, Griffin Logue and they’ve got a plethora of young talent on that list coming through. Nice of them to add a mature age player like Tom Emmett,” he said.
“Great to see them replace some of that lost experience.”
Emmett was the number one ranked player in SA for agility and finished inside the top five for the 2km time trial.
MATURE AGER: Joe Richards (Pick 48, Collingwood)
It’s the draft story to gives hope to every footballer across the nation, with Collingwood opting to select mature-age country star Joe Richards in the third round.
At 23 years of age, no one would begrudge the Wangaratta schoolteacher for giving up on his AFL dream.
But the small forward continued to work on his game, and under Pies premiership defender Ben Reid in 2022, caught Collingwood’s attention.
Reid admitted he started receiving calls from recruiters on Richards midway through the season.
“I’m rapt for him and all the other boys that are mature agers out there that you don’t give up hope if you are really passionate about the game,” draft expert Kevin Sheehan said on Fox Footy.
“He’s won three senior best and fairests.
“What a moment it is for this young fella – a 23-year-old from the Ovens and Murray League.”
Richards, who kicked 29 goals in just 11 games for Wangaratta this season, will now join a Magpies forward line boasting the likes of Jamie Elliott.
“He’s going to add some real presence in that Collingwood forward line,” Fox Footy’s Mick Ablett said.
“You start to think Jack Ginnivan, Jamie Elliott and now throw in Joe Richards, they are going to cause some headaches those small fellas up forward for opposition teams.
“To see a player come from the local football leagues, and to go back there and continue to back up year after year and then get rewarded as a 23-year-old, I couldn’t be happier for Joe.
“Hopefully that gives a lot of hope and inspiration to a lot of young men around the country.”
MATURE AGER: Corey Wagner (Pick 57, Fremantle)
Third time could be the charm for mature age draftee Corey Wagner, who was snapped up late by Fremantle on Tuesday night.
Wagner will head to his third AFL club after the Dockers opted for experience at the AFL Draft, after losing the likes of Blake Acres, Darcy Tucker and Griffin Logue last Trade Period.
Fremantle’s tactic to bolster their list, rather than opt for youth, was praised by draft guru Kevin Sheehan.
“Fremantle have got a history of actually picking the mature players out of the VFL – you go back to Luke Ryan, Sam Switkowski, Lachie Schultz – they are all boys that have come out of the VFL,” Sheehan said.
“(Dockers recruiting boss) David Walls in his scouting obviously has a very good look at that competition.
“Maybe (Wagner) would have thought his chance might be gone, but Fremantle are looking right across Australia.
“I love their list strategy; they are not afraid to be different and they are giving him another opportunity at senior level.”
Wagner got his first taste of AFL with North Melbourne back in 2016 before ending up at Melbourne where he played 11 games in 2019.
But his switch to defence for Port Melbourne, after being delisted by the Demons at the end of 2020, is seen as key to his third chance at the top level.
“(Fremantle) know they are in the window,” Mick Ablett explained.
“They know where their list sits and they are ready to strike.
“To be able to bring in a guy that has performed at AFL level, didn’t necessary go on with it at his first crack, but to go back and have the ability to perform well at state league level and give himself another shot, Justin Longmuir I’ve heard players that have been around him at the Collingwood Football Club speak incredibly highly of him as a person.
“There’s no doubt he sees the value and the character in someone like Corey Wagner to be able to come in and have a really positive impact on the Fremantle Dockers.”
Wagner averaged more than 22 disposals a game for Port Melbourne in 2022.