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CHANGES: 2021 MID SEASON by The Oracle 


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Since the end of the 2020 free agency, trade and draft period, AFL clubs have had two further bites of the cherry to top up their lists — the supplemental selection period (SSP) and the 2021 mid-season rookie draft (MSD). The main idea behind both was to enable the fulfillment of immediate needs as a result of injuries or unexpected retirements but this year, we have seen the added dimension of straight out recruitment for the future rather than for now.

As a consequence, a number of ready made players who were expected to make an immediate impact on clubs were overlooked last week — the likes of Frankston’s Nathan Freeman who has been flying years after a series of hamstring after his promising career was cruelled by a series of hamstring injuries at both Collingwood and St Kilda. An average of more than 40 touches per game at VFL level wasn’t enough to earn a six month stint at one of the 15 AFL clubs that participated in the MSD. Similarly, a hot run of form at SANFL level was insufficient to warrant forgiveness for Tyson Stengle over a string of off-field incidents that led to his ouster from the Crows. Among other past players who missed out on a  recycling were Wylie Buzza and Riley Knight. The scenario was a far cry from the SST when Oscar McDonald, Alec Waterman, Majak Daw, Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Mason Wood were all given second chances.

The Demons added 30-year-old 195 cm 97 kg Daw in the March SST as cover for ruck and key position depth at either end of the ground after he was delisted by North Melbourne in that club’s mass delistings at the end of the 2020 AFL season. Daw has been steady in the ruck at VFL level. They also selected Next Generation Academy youngster Deakyn Smith a lightly built 179 cm medium defender who was impressive at Casey until an ankle injury interrupted his debut season. Werribee tall man Kye Declase spent a week at the end of the SST period on the recommendation of Mark Williams but missed out on selection. This gave the Demon selectors extra time to consider him further.

As it turned out, Declase who had hitherto played mainly in defence, made the most of his time on a wing and going forward in his five games at Werribee where he has averaged 22 disposals and seven marks and kicked six goals. The improvement he showed in the VFL was enough to get him a guernsey at the Melbourne Football Club through MSD Pick 15. The Demons exercised their second selection at 24 (the last player picked) with a speculative selection of 19 year old Murray Bushranger Daniel Turner who has averaged 17 disposals, eight marks and four rebound 50s so far this year at NAB Boys League level. He’s officially listed at 191 cm but my mail is that he’s grown a few centimetres since measured before the season began.

Here are the pen pictures from AFL Draft Central of the Demons’ MSD selections.

15. Kye Declase (Werribee) Wing/Defender | 15/10/96 | 195cm | 85kg

Originally a graduate of the Northern Knights, Declase has shown a rapid rate of development since entering the state league and had plenty of work put into him by Melbourne during preseason. He has cut his teeth as an intercept and rebounding defender, but more recently rolled up to the wing and has even impacted in the front half during his VFL tenure. The 24-year-old adds good versatility and depth to Melbourne’s mix, perhaps as a direct replacement for the injured Adam Tomlinson.

24. Daniel Turner (Murray Bushrangers) Defender | 28/1/02 | 191cm | 79kg

Another promising type out of the Murray Bushrangers, Turner is an intercept defender who thrives aerially and is sound in possession. He featured in this year’s Victorian Young Gun showcase and impressed, improving out of sight in his top-age season and performing well at NAB League level.

The overall changes at Melbourne since November/December 2020 have seen the influx of a solid mix of forwards, attacking youngsters and a confirmation of the importance to the club of a strong defensive strategy. 

The Demons already have arguably the best ruckman in the competition and the best young up and coming ruckman. They did not therefore find it necessary in the MSD to join the mad scramble for ruckmen that we saw last week. With seven of them selected and a couple of others who can play forward/ruck, it emphasized that the main draft is not an area where you will find any other than the elite in this division among the early selections. 


Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Jake Bowey Angus Brayshaw Ben Brown Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore (inactive) Jayden Hunt Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Nathan Jones Ed Langdon Bailey Laurie Jake Lever Tom McDonald Jay Lockhart Steven May Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Kysaiah Kropinyeri Pickett Trent Rivers Fraser Rosman Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Adam Tomlinson Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Sam Weideman   


Mitch Brown Kade Chandler Majak Daw Kye Declase James Jordan Aaron Nietschke (inactive) Deakyn Smith Daniel Turner


Austin Bradtke 


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