AFL Draft night is upon us and the country is packed with fans and hopefuls loaded with anticipation.
As with all things great, there’s a huge stack of talent from around regional Australia.
Around the country, those courting an AFL dream will be with their loved ones, parked in front of televisions, logging into livestreams or updating Twitter feeds, anxiously awaiting their fate.
Here, we introduce you to some of the great talent that’s emerged from around the nation.
Australian Capital Territory
Jordan Harper, Canberra
The 24-year-old is hoping his time has finally arrived after two unsuccessful bids. Harper has spoken with several clubs and is hopeful of getting picked up but the midfielder admits the heartbreak of the past two years lingers. The Belconnen junior captained the Canberra Demons this season remains one of the ACT's two best chances of being selected. Read more
Jack Powell, Ainslie
The AFL academy gave Canberra's Jack Powell a taste of what it's like to live and breathe football. Powell has been a part of the AFL Academy and the GWS Giants Academy, as well as playing for the Australian under-17s team against New Zealand last year. To prepare for the draft combine, Powell worked with Matt Beckenham, the coach of Australia's fastest man and woman, and an Olympic hurdler himself.
New South Wales
Doulton Langlands, North Albury
After a slow start to the TAC Cup season, the North Albury youngster hit his straps late to reignite his draft prospects. Outstanding athlete who gave away cricket to pursue his AFL dream. Could be picked up late.
Brendan Myers, Wagga Tigers
Brendan Myers admits he is ‘curious’ to see where his future lies. One of just five NSW-ACT players invited to the draft combine, Myers is AFL Riverina’s leading chance of finding a home in the draft. Myers stamped his talent and potential 12 months ago by winning Wagga Tigers’ senior best and fairest at 17, in a premiership year after playing just eight home and away games. Hawthorn, GWS Giants and Melbourne have shown most interest in Myers and interviewed him at the recent Draft Combine. The Giants will get first crack at Myers, given he is part of the club’s Academy and zone. Read more
Ben Paton, North Albury
Ben Paton rocketed into prominence following his selection in the All-Australian side. The Murray Bushranger was invited to the draft combine and is on the radar of clubs. While there, the 18-year-old featured in the top 10 of two categories in the testing process. An early-season call to switch Paton from the midfield to defence proved a masterstroke by the Bushrangers with the former Mitta United best and fairest winner grabbing All-Australian honours in July. Most AFL clubs have since touched base with the North Albury player likely to be selected in the second or third round. Read more
Nathan Richards, Griffith Swans
Griffith ruckman Nathan Richards was invited to test at the state combine in Melbourne last month after spending the season based in Sydney. Richards moved to Sydney to spend the season with GWS, playing in the NEAFL, where he managed seven games before injury struck. Read more
Charlie Spargo, Albury
After having the biggest year of his footballing life derailed by a shoulder reconstruction in June, Charlie Spargo slowly picked himself up and is now motoring towards the AFL draft. The 173-centimetre 17-year-old is a short-priced favourite to be the first Murray Bushranger called out in Sydney. He averaged almost 20 possessions for the Murray Bushrangers last year and carried that form into this season with Melbourne Grammar. He failed to make an appearance for the Bushrangers this season due to GWS Academy commitments and injury during the first round of the Australian under-18 championships. Read more
Darcy Fogarty, Lucindale
Lucindale’s Darcy Fogarty is seen as South Australia's top AFL draft candidate this year. Fogarty – who was best on ground in the inaugural All Stars Under 17 game last year at Punt Road on AFL Grand Final eve – has been both a level 1 and level 2 AFL Academy selection. The 192cm, 93kg Fogarty has already played SANFL league football with Glenelg and played four league games before the national championships. Noted for his strong hands, excellent kicking skills and ability to read the game, the versatile footballer is expected to be a first round choice. Read more
Jordan Houlahan, Mount Barker
Noted for his strong vertical leap and marking prowess, Jordan Houlahan played both as a bottom aged state 18s last year and was a member of the level 1 and 2 AFL academies, which included his first trip to America in early 2017. He was a member of the SANFL Under 18s premiership win over Woodville West Torrens in September, kicking four goals. He collected another premiership medallion in the Reserves against West Adelaide the following weekend. Read more
Nathan Kreuger, Victor Harbor
Having played two A Grade games with the Kangaroos in the Great Southern League back in 2015, Nathan Kreuger has all the physical components to be an AFL footballer: fantastic natural leap, amazing agility and a potent left foot kick. At 195 cm tall and already a strong 88 kgs, physically he’s as ready as any candidate across the nation. Krueger is a hard selection to pin down – on natural talent he could be as high as a second and third round selection – but could easily drift out to the rookie draft. Read more
Hugh Dixon, Tigers
Four Tasmanians are seen as realistic chances to find an AFL home, and Tigers’ Hugh Dixon is at the front of the pack. Named most valuable player in Tasmania’s academy series earlier in the year and has judt imprved since then. Strong with his contested marking at at 195cm, he has all the indications that he will fit in an AFL environment. Read more
Harrison Gunther, Glenorchy
A lead-up forward with a clean set of hands and a long kick, Harrison Gunther is a realistic chance of being drafted out of the underage competitions. His marking is quite special and he’s a very versatile and a tough, hard player that you could see playing off half-back or half-forward or as a contested ball winner through the midfield, such is the competitiveness that he has got. Read more
Jake Hinds, Launceston
If the draft dream of Launceston’s Jake Hinds is to come true, it will be via a late pick in the national draft or the rookie draft, says AFL national and international talent manager Kevin Sheehan. Elite kicking is his x-factor and he has courage in the way that he attacks the ball and backs back into the packs. Read more
Tom Mundy, Burnie Dockers
The 18-year-old from Smithton is seen as one of four genuine chances out of the underage competition from the state after a year that has seen him represent the Dockers, the Tassie Mariners, the Allies and TAC Cup side Northern Knights. AFL national and international talent manager Kevin Sheehan likes what he’s seen from Mundy this season. Sheehan believes if Mundy were to go to an AFL club, it would be with a pick late in the national draft or via the rookie draft. Read more
Jarrod Brander, Wentworth/Bendigo Pioneers
Wentworth junior Brander, widely considered the best tall in the draft, sees himself as a similar player to strong marking West Coast Eagles’ Jeremy McGovern, a key-position player who has been deployed in defence but a forward. Read more
Brent Daniels, Nyah Nyah West United/Bendigo Pioneers
One of seven Bendigo Pioneers to head to the draft combine, Brent Daniels is in the mix for draft night. The draft caps a year in which Daniels was named in the Vic Country squad in the under 18s side, where he kicked a goal against Metro, reveled in four goals in a goldfields derby in Ballarat, and made the top 10 in the Bendigo Pioneers’ club champion poll.
Aiden Domic, North Ballarat
Aiden Domic's running capacity is something that he will be hoping appeals to an AFL club. Domic played 18 games for the Rebels during the 2017 TAC Cup season, where he was predominantly used as a running midfielder. He was named in the team’s best on 12 occasions. Read more
Paddy Dow, Swan Hill/Bendigo Pioneers
Despite only playing three games in the competition, Bendigo Pioneer Paddy Dow was named as rover in the TAC Cup Team of the Year. Midfielder Dow is one of this year’s top AFL Draft prospects and has been likened by former Hawthorn recruiter Gary Buckenara to Patrick Dangerfield. A potential top five draft pick, Paddy Dow was injured and not tested at the combine.
Bailey Henderson, Strathfieldsaye/Bendigo Pioneers
Bailey Henderson started the season as a key forward for the Pioneers, before he was moved up the ground to a wing to further his development. Athletic and getting better every week. Henderson took home the Pioneers’ most valuable player and polled fifth in the Neville Strauch Memorial Medal for club champion.
Harry Jones, Wodonga
Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins has described the midfielder as the most improved player in his team. It’s that football IQ, combined with sheer hard work, that led to Jones becoming one of the Bushies’ most reliable performers in 2017. Can play inside or outside roles and has a knack of finding the ball crunch times. Read more
Lloyd Meek, GWV
Lloyd Meek has done everything he can this year to earn a spot on an AFL list. The young ruckman has improved immensely throughout the 2017 season. He worked at the Greater Western Victoria Rebels as its trainee, moved to Ballarat to dedicate himself to his football and taken on board all advice handed to him over the off-season and implemented it throughout the year. Read more
Angus Schumacher, Strathfieldsaye/Bendigo Pioneers
Angus Schumacher has been keeping as busy as he can this week as one of the most important days of his life looms. Years of hard work has been all geared towards hearing his name called out on Friday night at the AFL National Draft. Schumacher played all his junior football at Strathfieldsaye, before spending the past two seasons in the TAC Cup with the Bendigo Pioneers. The 18-year-old played a mix of midfield and defence, where his penetrating kicking out of the back half was a strength, for the Pioneers, while he also played two games for Vic Country in the Under-18 National Championships. Read more
Patrick Farrant, Bunbury Bulldogs
An outside chance, Bunbury’s Patrick Farrant has been put through his paces at the AFL draft combine in Perth back in October. The Bunbury Bulldog was named the South West Football League’s Rising Star at the Hayward Medal night, capping off a premiership year.
Aaron Naughton, Peel Thunder
Peel Thunder product Aaron Naughton is largely considered the best West Australian in the talent pool. A Rockingham junior, Naughton has steadily climbed the ranks of this year’s crop throughout the season – an ascent that started with a blistering showing for WA at the national under 18s championships. Shining for the Black Swans, the key defender earned a spot in the under 18s all-Australian side at centre-half-back before seamlessly transitioning to senior football with the Thunder. He is touted as a mid-first round talent in the draft, possibly cracking into the top 10, but he may appeal to teams with higher selections in need of a tall, athletic defender. Read more
Harrison Petty, Norwood
Harrison Petty, originally from Wudinna, took part in both the recent national draft combine and the state draft combine just over a week later, although his time in the national combine was cut short due to injury. Petty is seen as a chance to be one of the first 25 picks as clubs look to strengthen their key position stocks and he is rated as one of the best tall defenders available at the draft. The 194 centimetre Norwood player enjoyed a strong 2017 season, having been named South Australia’s most valuable player at the AFL under 18 championships and also awarded All Australian honours for his performances at the carnival where he averaged 12 disposals and four marks. Read more