Author Topic: Best SA kids to be picked up in 2014 draft (Adel. Advertiser)  (Read 797 times)

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West Adelaide young gun Sam Durdin set to be first South Australian picked in draft

    Andrew Capel
    The Advertiser
    July 11, 2014 8:00PM

“YOU look at some of the things he does and you go ‘wow’. If it all comes together one day it’s going to be scary.’’

With those words, SANFL high performance manager Brenton Phillips revealed just why West Adelaide tall Sam Durdin is considered a lock to be the first South Australian selected at this year’s AFL national draft.

The 197cm Durdin wasn’t among the four Croweaters named All Australians after this year’s AFL Under-18 Championships, won by Phillips’ side for the second consecutive year.

But he stands out as the prime pick from SA, with some recruiting scouts and draft experts expecting him to be the only Croweater picked in a top 20 likely to be dominated by Victorians.

Durdin is so highly skilled and mobile for a big man that he could be a top-five selection in what is considered an even draft well stocked with talls.

“I’m not sure where his ceiling would be,’’ Phillips said of his under-18 joint vice-captain.

“I think that’s what will see him go high, his potential talent.

“When you are 197cm and can play at both ends of the ground you become a pretty key target to get onto your list.’’

Durdin, 18, didn’t set the under-18 championships on fire.

Playing in the ruck and key positions, he averaged a modest 10 disposals and three marks and kicked only one goal in six games.

Phillips believes Durdin’s development this year has been curtailed by a ruptured tendon in his left thumb, suffered while attempting a mark at pre-season training with the Bloods.

The injury sidelined him for 12 weeks and cost him the first four rounds of the season.

“That probably held him back in terms of his confidence to take a couple of catches,’’ Phillips said.

But Phillips points to one moment in the championships against WA in Perth when Durdin’s enormous potential would have hit recruiters between the eyes.

It was his “wow’’ moment.

“WA was coming hard at us and the ball was coming outside our forward 50 and Sam just caught it really nicely,’’ Phillips said.

“That was one of those glimpses of him during the carnival where you could just see his potential.

“He had a few of those moments where people just sit up and take notice.

“Add that to the fact he is a quality person, has a really good work ethic and can take a really good contested catch and it’s not a bad package.’’

Durdin hails from the tiny Mallee farming town of Halidon - two hours east of Adelaide - but moved to the city to pursue a football career.

He is studying Year 12 at Henley High School and is a member of the school’s prestigious football program, which in the past four years has delivered young aces Brodie Smith (Adelaide), Jared Polec (Port Adelaide), Sam Mayes (Brisbane), Luke Dunstan (St Kilda) and Scott Lycett (West Coast) to AFL clubs.

Durdin models his game on a pair of tall, mobile AFL swingmen - Port Adelaide’s Justin Westhoff and Essendon’s Jake Carlisle.

“They can play at either end of the ground and play major roles for their team, so I look at the way they go about it a fair bit,’’ Durdin said.

Durdin, whose only senior game for West was in this year’s Foxtel Cup against Tasmanian outfit Western Storm, hasn’t grown for more than a year and believes he has peaked at 197cm.

This has left him concentrating more on his key position play, rather than ruck work.

“I don’t see myself playing in the ruck at the next level,’’ he said.

“I might be capable of pinch-hitting in there but most AFL ruckmen are 203-plus centimetres, so I see myself more as a centre half-forward or centre half-back.

“I’ve been playing as a key position player for a couple of years and think that is where I’ll be best suited.’’

While Durdin stands tall among SA’s draft prospects, Phillips believes the State’s success in winning back-to-back under-18 titles will pay dividends come this year’s national, pre-season and rookie drafts.

Last year, nine members of Phillips’ SA team were selected in the top 46 at the national draft.

They were Matthew Scharenberg (No. 6, Collingwood), James Aish (7, Brisbane), Dunstan (18, St Kilda), Trent Dumont (30, North Melbourne), Malcolm Karpany (31, West Coast), George Hewett (32, Sydney), Cameron Giles (39, Carlton), Mitch Harvey (45, Port Adelaide) and Riley Knight (46, Adelaide).

“The interesting thing is that going into this year’s championships they (recruiters) probably didn’t have us pencilled in for a lot of draft choices,’’ Phillips said.

“I’m hoping that the result probably makes them stand up and consider it a little bit further.

“There would have to be 12-to-16 selected from along our group I would have thought.’’

Among them are Melbourne father-son prospect Billy Stretch - the son of 164-game Demon Steven Stretch - SA MVP Harrison Wigg, midfielders Alex Neal-Bullen, Jake Johansen and Corey Gregson, pocket rocket Caleb Daniel, Darren and Andrew Jarman’s nephew Declan Hamilton, tough on-baller Dean Gore, utility James Rose, tall Tom Read and small forward Josh Hone.

Phillips says AFL clubs will have to be more astute with their drafting because of the evenness of this year’s draft,

“It will be an interesting draft,’’ he said.

“I don’t think it will be as easy for the recruiting staffs as they’ve had it in the past few years, it’s a much more open draft.

“I think there are some real gems in among the draft choices but picking a top 20 or a top 30 is going to be extremely difficult.’’


SAM DURDIN (West Adelaide)

Key position/ruck

18, 197cm, 87kg

AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan: “He’s in the conversation about the top 10, maybe the top five. He’s come from a long way back because of his thumb injury but he’s a brilliant size, can play at both ends of the ground and has courage and a real presence about him in the air. He’s a quietly spoken fella but when he’s out on the ground he’s as competitive as they come.’’




17, 181cm, 70kg

Likely father-son pick by Melbourne.

AFL academies development manager Michael Ablett: “He is your ultimate professional.

His workrate is enormous and comparable to an AFL player at this stage of his career. He’s just a super athlete and is a smart user of the ball. He has brilliantly clean hands and really brings his teammates into the game.’’

JAKE JOHANSEN (Port Adelaide)

Midfielder/small forward

18, 171cm, 65kg

SA Under-18s coach Brenton Phillips: “Forget Jake’s height. What sets him apart is his real desire and want to leave no stone unturned to get there (the AFL). He’s very much in the Brent Harvey (North Melbourne) mould. Height doesn’t matter when you’ve got so many other good qualities.’’

CALEB DANIEL (South Adelaide)

Small forward/midfielder

18, 167cm, 66kg

Phillips: “How could you not take him? Going into the championships, people questioned whether he could handle the pressure at the elite level and the size of the bodies but he really took Vic Country and Metro to task. He will probably have a few recruiters scratching their heads about where to take him.’’

HARRISON WIGG (North Adelaide)

Half-back flanker

17, 179cm, 74kg

Ablett: “He’s a prodigious left-foot kick who I liken to (Hawthorn’s) Matt Suckling because he’s that good on his left. He has good speed and game sense and really does set his team up very well because of his ability to kick the footy and break play open.’’




18, 183cm, 68kg

Sheehan: “He has fantastic bloodlines (the nephew of Darren and Andrew Jarman) and sees the game really well. His composure is brilliant and he is one of those guys who seems to have plenty of time when he’s got the ball in his hands. He executes well and makes smart decisions.’’



17, 175cm, 72kg

Phillips: “He’s a strong, inside midfielder who can also break the lines and he has a penetrating kick. He’s a very draftable type who has plenty of tricks. I’d liken him to (Collingwood’s) Ben Kennedy, only with more midfield tricks.’’



18, 182cm, 77kg

Ablett: “He’s been very consistent both at Glenelg, where he has played three games of league footy, and with SA. I liken him to (St Kilda’s) Lenny Hayes because of the way he is around stoppages, sees openings and skirts a handball through. He’s a very, very smart footballer.’’