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CHANGES 2022 Part 03 by The Oracle


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Part Three - Comparing apples with pomegranates by The Oracle

One of the truly pointless exercises after each year’s draft is the game over which club “won” the period in question. The reality is that there is no winner or loser at the time and it’s only years further down the track when a full assessment of how the picks turn out can be made, that the winning hand is revealed.

And the draft results cannot be considered in isolation; you need to look at where each club stood before the trades including their original hands, how they traded and drafted and where they stood in the end. It wasn’t so long ago that one so-called “expert” gave Melbourne a C rating for its 2019 draft haul of Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett and Trent Rivers. Less than two years later the trio were all part premiership team.

With this in mind, I return to the changes in the make up of Melbourne’s 2022 list in the fortnight after this year’s grand final. The club had failed in its recent finals campaign and then lost exciting young ruckman Jackson who sought to return home to Perth.

In the trading period, the Demons acquired three new names in two-time All Australian 203cm tall ruckman and Copeland Trophy winner Brodie Grundy, premiership Bulldog wingman Lachie Hunter (also a past best and fairest for the Western Bulldogs) and his teammate in Josh Schache, a former Larke Medallist and the number two national draftee of 2015.

On top of that, the Demons improved their draft position. They now held a current first round pick and two future first and second rounders for 2023. 

That outcome wasn’t enough to impress all of the pundits but to many, including yours truly, it was nevertheless a satisfactory outcome.

In the month before the draft, Melbourne added young basketballer Kyah Farris-White as a Category B rookie on a one year contract brokered by his American agent who initially contacted Jason Taylor via Linkedin. The 206cm beanstalk was tested by Mark Williams who liked what he saw and the youngster will now gain tuition in ruckwork within a system containing two of the game’s best ruck practitioners.

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With the draft fast approaching, there was speculation that the Demons were preparing to deal aggressively with their future picks to improve their hand but that all came to nought. 

Perhaps the Demon recruiters are fans of the US musical Hamilton because they decided to use the national draft to select a pair who carry the names of two early American Presidents, Jefferson and Adams.

High flying forward Matthew Jefferson from the Oakleigh Chargers has been associated with the Demons ever since they collected a first round selection (which turned out to be 15) in the Jackson trade. The connection was clear and present. One of the club’s needs was a key forward to team up with 2021 draftee Jacob Van Rooyen as Ben Brown and Tom McDonald neared their twilight years. 

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The Under 18 All Australian Jefferson who booted 14 goals in the recent national carnival including a haul of seven against WA was the obvious choice at that point on the first night of the draft meeting. He was also the full forward in the NAB League Team Of The Year.

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Late in the second round of the following evening, Melbourne snared a Jefferson bookend, Jed Adams, a 196cm key defender from Western Australia. Despite some injury concerns in 2022, Adams is considered a cool and steady customer who could fill Steven May’s shoes when the great man decides to step down. 

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There was no third selection in the national draft. As expected, the club promoted Kade Chandler off the rookie list — a fitting reward for the young midfielder/forward’s patience and perseverance during the Covid pandemic when he played an understudy role at a premiership club, biding his time for opportunities that were hard to come by.

The critics provided no universal accolades for the Demons’ drafting exercise. Rather, it was considered as a solid effort. There were no raised eyebrows. Pulses never ran hot. There were no apples to compare with the fruit of the other clubs.

So when the rookie draft came a day later, Melbourne did pull a couple of surprises. It bucked the trend of reloading with previously delisted players and continued to go young and tall by selecting an impressive South Australian ruckman who has established some great credentials in his young career. Standing at close to 200cm, Will Verrall is not that far away from accompanying one of the two big guns in the ruck or up forward at AFL level should the need arise. If not, he will develop in their shadows at Casey.

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Then came the bombshell selection of the smoky of the draft. Strong bodied Xavier College student Oliver Sestan happened to be at the place (Gosch’s Paddock) at the right time when the Paul Connors management team showed off its draft stable to league recruiters late last month.  It has been said that Sestan matched it that day with now North Melbourne recruit George Wardlaw. Days later the prolific 186cm goalkicker in junior ranks at Mansfield was a Demon. The experts all asked “who” and I guess we’ll find out some time sooner or later as to whether the speculative selection can play. 

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But that’s not all. 

The selectors left one place open to be filled during the preseason supplemental selection period or further down the track in next year’s mid season draft. And beyond that, the Demons have two first and two second round draft picks awaiting them when the 2023 trades and draft take place.

In the meantime, the lists read like this —

PRIMARY LIST: 

Jed Adams Jake Bowey Angus Brayshaw Ben Brown Kade Chandler Luke Dunstan Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn Brodie Grundy James Harmes Michael Hibberd Blake Howes Lachie Hunter Matthew Jefferson James Jordon Ed Langdon Bailey Laurie Jake Lever Tom McDonald Steven May Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Kysaiah Kropinyeri Pickett Trent Rivers Christian Salem Josh Schache Joel Smith Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow Adam Tomlinson Jacob Van Rooyen Jack Viney Taj Woewodin 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Judd McVee Oliver Sestan Deakyn Smith Daniel Turner Will Verrell

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B 

Kyah Farris-White Andy Moniz-Wakefield

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