Western Australia has enjoyed its most successful draft result in more than a decade, after producing five first-round picks on Monday night.
Despite managing just one win at this year’s National U18 Championships, the State’s footy program enjoyed its best draft result since 2007 – where five players plus priority selection Alex Rance found homes in the AFL.
It was no surprise Victorian talent dominated the first 21 selections at the 2022 AFL Draft, after both Vic Metro and Vic Country reached the championships final in September.
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But there were two big surprises for WA draft hopefuls with West Coast overlooking Ed Allan, the son of ex-Hawk and Docker Ben, for Elijah Hewett and GWS snaring Darcy Jones with the final pick of the round.
The shock selections of Hewett so early at 14 and Jones at 21 ensured WA produced a remarkable five first round players – almost one for every four selections.
Reuben Ginbey, the East Perth midfielder snapped up by West Coast with pick nine, had been the highest rated WA draft talent by Fox Footy.
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He was expected to be picked early, alongside teammate Jedd Busslinger – who went to the Western Bulldogs at pick 13.
Some recruiters had predicted Hewett would slip to the second round, where West Coast now holds picks 23 and 29 after the father-son and academy selections on Monday night.
But the Eagles’ decision to go for Hewett saw Collingwood swoop on Allan, who draft expert Kevin Sheehan labelled the “big bolter”.
“After one game of colts footy, they put him straight in the State side,” Sheehan said on Fox Footy.
“He was the quickest kid in Australia and at 194 (centimetres tall) at the speed he did, everyone took notice.”
Jones was also labelled a bolter when the Giants jumped in to snare the Swan Districts junior in a surprise move with the last pick of the first round.
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“He broke a 14-year record that Stephen Hill had in agility (at the Draft combine),” Sheehan explained.
“He blew them away.
“He’s an elite player with speed to boot.”
Jones was ranked as the 31st in the Draft Power Rankings, but had impressed by finishing the Combine with the best agility and vertical jump test scores.
In total, seven players were snapped up from Vic Metro, five from Vic Country, five from Western Australia and two from South Australia with Queensland and NSW each producing one first round draft pick each.