A total of 11 South Australian talents were secured in the 30th annual AFL draft and the first held in Adelaide since 1997.
Both Glenelg and West Adelaide were the most prolific contributing local clubs, each supplying three drafted players.
As expected West Adelaide’s Aaron Francis, a massive Bombers fan who hails from the Riverland, was the first local selected, with Essendon’s second pick at number six overall.
“We spent a fair bit of time with Essendon yesterday (Monday) – about an hour and a half with them,” said West Adelaide football manager Andrew Marks.
“It is a great pick for Aaron; he doesn’t have change colours as such.
“From my point of view I’ve known Aaron since he was 13; we went through the tragedy of him losing his brother last year.
“You feel like you’re a part of the family, so I’m a very proud football manager tonight.”
Holding the ninth selection at the beginning of the evening, the new academy and father-son selection process pushed Adelaide’s first pick out to number 11.
They collected the best talent available – northern suburbs player Wayne Milera who played league football with Central District this year.
Ryan Burton, a North Adelaide footballer with a strong SANFL heritage, was the third South Australian pick in the first round, snaffled by Hawthorn at selection number 19.
West Coast entered the draft taking Tumby Bay footballer Luke Partington with their initial selection at number 28. Two picks later, Essendon snapped up another country lad, Mason Redman from Millicent.
“I was at my auntie Karly’s place, where I been living this year since moving up to Adelaide at the start of the year,” Redman explained after he’d heard he had become a Bomber.
“Mum started yelling and screaming and it was madness for a little while.
“All my work towards getting this opportunity to start my AFL career has now been justified.”
The South Australian candidate that drifted more than expected was Riley Bonner, a left footer with a soccer background.
Like his state Under 18 team mate, Milera will stay in his home state but down the road at Alberton.
A trio of smokies were the next South Australia selections.
They included Glenelg’s late blooming midfielder Bailey Williams (#48), who is off to the Bulldogs, the boy from Belarus, Oleg Markov (#50), who is going to the Richmond Tigers, and Sturt’s athletic forward Jordan Dawson (#56), who was picked up by Sydney.
State under 17s title winning cricket captain Matthew Allen (#62) was collected at the back end as well, in what West Coast considered a bargain.
Noted for its left field selections, Geelong plucked Matthew Hayball, from Roxby Downs, with its last selection.
He spent the 2015 season playing Under 18s for West Adelaide, and was promoted for a pair of reserves matches.
“Hayball has been as part of our program since Under 13s,” Marks said of the Bloods 188cm utility.
“The real exciting part about Matthew is his damaging left foot.
“He won the Macca MVP this year for the round against Central District and he can play tall.
“He is quite a good mark and has taken a few hangers over the journey.
“If he stayed at West next year we probably would have used him and half back or half forward.
“Matthew needs to work on his defensive aspects, but I’m sure Geelong will look after that.
“He has similar strengths as Riley Bonner in the kicking aspects.”
Marks was disappointed for the two West Adelaide league premiership players, Will Snelling and Hugh Haysman, who missed out on the night.
“It sometimes astounds me that we have two lads at the age of 18 that were key parts of a premiership and they haven’t been looked at,” Marks continued.
“They’re not looked at before the sixth best players at some TAC cup sides.
“I often wonder what our players have to do.
“I’ve been to AFL clubs and asked what we need to do to get our players drafted.
‘We’ve followed their advice, and we’ve done all that we can.
“I reckon Hugh Haysman and Will Snelling in particular, along with Tom Keogh, if these guys are not as good as a seventh or eighth player in a TAC cup competition, then obviously it is a very, very strong competition.”
Both Adelaide franchises went interstate with their second picks.
Making a surprise choice, the Crows collected project player from the Geelong Falcons, Tom Doedee, with pick No.17, who was touted by many as only a late draft prospect.
At 187cm and from a basketball background, Doedee excels at the one-on-one contest and is ideally suited to playing a role as a rangy defender.
The Power added to their indigenous talent with versatile midfielder Aidyn Johnson, from TAC Cup side, the Bendigo Pioneers, at pick No. 45.
“Aidyn was in the NAB Academy last season, but unfortunately tore his quad at an early game at the MCG,” said Port’s national recruiting manager Geoff Parker.
“He was able to get back and test at the combine which was good for him.
“He’s very quick, with good agility and plays with good aggression.”
The prospects who missed out last night have their last opportunity to be drafted for the 2016 campaign in the pre-season and rookie draft, to be held by telelink on Friday morning.
SANFL PLAYERS SELECTED
6. Aaron Francis (West Adelaide) to Essendon
11. Wayne Milera (Central District) to Adelaide
19. Ryan Burton (North Adelaide) to Hawthorn
28. Luke Partington (Norwood) to West Coast
30. Mason Redman (Glenelg) to Essendon
37. Riley Bonner (West Adelaide) to Port Adelaide
48. Bailey Williams (Glenelg) to Western Bulldogs
50. Oleg Markov (North Adelaide) to Richmond
56. Jordan Dawson (Sturt) to Sydney
62. Matt Allen (Glenelg) to West Coast
70. Matthew Hayball (West Adelaide) to Geelong
ARGENT’S TOP 10 SA DRAFT PREDICTIONS (expected draft position)
1. Wayne Milera (Central District) 4-15
2. Aaron Francis (West) 5-15
3. Ryan Burton (North) 7-20
4. Riley Bonner (West) 12-25
5. Mason Redman (Glenelg) 20-45
6. Luke Partington (Norwood) 25-50
7. Hugh Haysman (West) 40 – rookie
8. Will Snelling (West) 45 – rookie
9. Matthew Allen (Glenelg) 50- rookie
10. Oleg Markov (North) rookie, and Jordan Dawson (Sturt)
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