2005 01 15 - RWO Special Feature - NEW ROOKIES
The Swans have opted to take a full list of Rookies into 2005.
With only Nick Potter brought forward from 2004, Sydney picked up seven exciting prospects in the Rookie Draft, including three more local priority selections.
The Swans priorities at the 2004 Rookie Draft were evident. They were after taller, physically mature players capable of slotting into the senior team in 2005, if the need arises.
Liz Read, Erin Riley, and Cliff Hammond take a look at the new faces on the Swans' Rookie List for 2005.
First choice was Guy Campbell, a 22 year old key position player from the Bendigo Bombers, Essendon's VFL affiliate team. Campbell came to the notice of Barham at under-18 level, playing with the Pioneers. Determined to chase his dream of playing AFL football, Campbell nominated at age 17, and the following year, and each year since. The closest he came was in 2003, when he spent the summer training with Essendon but narrowly missed out on a place on their rookie list. He went back to Bendigo, determined to give it one last shot. According to Matthew Knights, the Bendigo coach,"Guy has been pretty persistent and his form with the Bendigo Bombers in 2004 was outstanding, so it's just reward for someone who has put in some hard work."
Campbell stands at 196cm and 95kg, the result of hard work to get his body strong enough to play at the top level. Reports suggest that he is quick for his size, and also fairly athletic. Primarily a defender, Campbell is also capable of moving forward, or even playing in the ruck. He capped off a consistent season for the Bombers by starring in their one finals match of the year. While his team lost, Campbell moved between ruck and forward line, collecting four goals along the way.
As a top-aged rookie, Campbell will get only one year to prove to the coaching staff that he is good enough to cut it at the top level. But given that the Sydney senior list lacks depth in mature, key position players, it would be no surprise to see Campbell debut at some point in 2005.
Luke Vogels, from Terang in western Victoria, was taken by the Swans at no.28 in the 2004 Rookie Draft at age 21.
As a teenager, Luke played in the TAC Cup with Geelong Falcons and the national under-18 championships with Victorian Country, but missed out at the 2001 National Draft. He returned home, took up a trade apprenticeship, and played senior football as a winger with Terang-Mortlake in the Hampden League.
"I thought the opportunity to be part of an AFL club might have passed me by after I played with the Falcons," he said. "I thought it was all over and done with."
But in 2004, Vogels switched to a defensive key position role, picked up the Hampden League's Best & Fairest Award, and helped Terang-Mortlake take out the flag. Along the way, he caught Ricky Barham's eye when representing the Hampden League in the Country Championships.
"Because a player doesn't get picked up when they're 18 doesn't mean their AFL career is over," Barham said. "We couldn't say much before, but Luke impressed when he came up here before the draft. We had to play him down a bit and not flag our intentions."
Luke Vogels is a tall, strong-bodied defender who can also go forward and kick a goal. He has three years of senior football under his belt, but he's still only 21 and has plenty of time to carve himself an AFL career if he gets promoted to the senior squad.
Grundy's selection by the Swans with their third pick in the 2004 Rookie Draft remains something of an enigma. Not because he was chosen, but because he was still available. A graduate of the AIS/AFL Academy, All-Australian at the 2004 U18 Championships and with a full season of senior SANFL football (with Norwood) under his belt, Grundy was a player widely touted to be selected in the November National Draft. Indeed, on the eve of that draft, the Crows' recruiting manager, James Fantasia, described Heath as a "smart thinking footballer" who exhibited "some good indicators".
At 192cm and 92kg, Grundy may already have the build to play senior AFL football, despite only being 18 years old. He predominantly played at full-back for Norwood but at the U18 Championships showed he could also be effective at CHF. Against Western Australia he took 11 marks and kicked three goals. Footydraft.com describes him as a "tremendous one-grab mark", noting that he leads well and has a good leap. Colin Wiseby's profile paints a picture of a determined, slightly dour defender with decent skills and good defensive instincts.
The question marks over Heath's ability to cut it at AFL level seem to arise from his athleticism. His 2004 draft camp results were not great, and in some categories worse than he achieved the previous year. However, now that he is on the Swans list he starts from scratch and will get a year or two to develop his athletic capabilities. He faces competition from Campbell and Vogels if injuries present an opportunity for a place on the senior list, but a 2005 debut may not be completely out of reach.
Leaving aside the priority picks, Stefan Garrubba, from Dandenong Stingrays, was the Swans final choice in the 2004 Rookie Draft.
Stefan is a right-footed winger who is a top-class athlete as well as a talented footballer. In 1999, he made the 100m and 200m finals at the U14 National Schools Track & Field Championships, and in 2001 he was a member of the winning 100m relay team at the U16 National Schools Track & Field Championships.
In 2002, Garrubba was a standout performer at the AFL National U16 Championships, earning himself an AIS/AFL Academy scholarship (along with Josh Willoughby, Heath Grundy and Tim Schmidt). In 2003, Garrubba played 9 games with the Stingrays, averaging 13 possessions. He also toured Ireland with the Australian U17 side, scoring in each of the three internationals, and finishing with a BOG performance in the final match at Cork.
In 2004, Stefan played 11 TAC Cup games with Dandenong, averaging 22 possessions. He also represented Vic Metro in the AFL U18 Championships, with a BOG performance against Western Australia when he kicked 4 goals.
For some reason, Garrubba's form tapered off in the second half of 2004, and he was completely out-of-favour by the time the National Draft came around. If he can recapture the class he showed in previous seasons, the Swans may have picked up a real bargain.
Earl Shaw, one of three local players picked up in the rookie draft, is another addition to the Swans' strengthening ruck stocks. At 198cm (though apparently still growing), Shaw split his 2004 football career between the RAMS U18 side, the Swans reserves and Campbelltown's senior SAFL team. He participated in the National U18 Championship, and was one of the better players in the 2nd Division final. He also soundly beat Cameron Wood, Brisbane's first round draft pick, when he was pitted against him earlier in the year.
Hailing from Springwood in the Blue Mountains, Shaw played junior football in Penrith, before joining Campbelltown's senior ranks. After a series of good performances for the RAMS, he was one of only two New South Welshmen chosen to attend the draft camp. Many expected him to be selected in the main draft, with some predictions having him taken as high as 30. His disappointment in being overlooked was short-lived: just ten minutes after the draft concluded he was contacted by the Swans and invited to join them in training. Shaw was determined to put his best foot forward, and evidently he impressed. He was taken by the Swans in the fifth round of the rookie draft as one of the nominated local players.
Shaw, who turned 18 in mid-December, boasts a strong leap and an excellent tap. Whilst preferring the ruck, he has played with some success in the forward and back pockets. In the past he has worked well with Ed Clarke. However, his kicking is not the strongest aspect of his game and requires a good deal of attention.
Shaw's strong performance at junior levels may indicate that he has the talent required to play senior football. He will need to compete with Andrew Erickson, who is 18 months older than he, in order to ensure a future with the club. Should he continue to develop, and particularly improve his kicking, he may well be the third-choice ruckman after Jason Ball's anticipated retirement.
Andrew Hayes was one of three players taken as NSW pre-nominations in the 2004 Rookie Draft and in the process became the final player selected to join the Swans 2005 list. A 19 year old, he spent the 2004 season playing for Balmain in the Sydney AFL competition alongside Swans legend Troy Luff. He was also a regular top-up player for the Swans' reserves team, which would have given Roos and co plenty of opportunities to assess his potential.
Hayes was predominantly used up forward by the Swans reserves in 2004 where he was a valuable contributor on the scoreboard. He managed a haul of five, for example, in the round 18 game against Weston Creek. Impressions from Canberra league games are that his chasing and tackling are a strong point - he played rugby for his school, so tackling should come naturally. He is also a good mark and has decent enough skills.
At 190cm tall, Hayes is probably most suited to a role on a flank at the top level, though could play as a key forward at a lesser level. He would be at long odds to break into the senior Swans team anytime during 2005, and probably needs to aim for a solid and consistent year in the reserves to earn himself a second year on the rookie list beyond the end of this season.
Ed Clarke posed some difficulty for clubs prior to the draft. Despite being an U18 All-Australian, and boasting an excellent performance in the AFL U18 Rising Star Cup between the Allies and Victoria, Clarke failed even to be nominated for draft camp.
Were it not for his physique, Clarke's performance in the U18 competitions would surely have been enough to ensure selection in the draft. At 178cm and 91 kg, the 18-year-old's body provided him with a significant advantage over others his age. Whilst his skill is unquestionable, his potential for future improvement remains uncertain.
A native Victorian who attended his first football match at the age of just one week and spent the first decade of his life living less than 2km from the M.C.G., Clarke moved with his family to Lane Cove in 1996. At the time, he had a sole condition: that he was able to play Aussie Rules in Sydney. He found a local club in Willoughby, where he played through the junior ranks alongside Lewis Roberts-Thompson. He captained the Redbacks U16 team, then went to play for the Rams in 2003 and 2004.
The long-time Demons supporter kicked eight goals in three games at the National Under-18 competition, including six goals and 26 possessions in the second-division final, a best-on-ground performance. He was later selected as vice-captain of the Allies U18 team, and in that match boasted 32 disposals and two goals, outshining Richard Tambling to earn yet another best-on-ground.
Clarke has clean hands, is good in front of goals, has a strong kick and is amazing at stoppages. According to Kevin Sheehan, he also has a great attitude. What remains to be seen is if Clarke has scope for significant improvement. This fear was enough to dissuade clubs during the draft. As a rookie, Clarke will need to display his skills when pitted against players his own size, and demonstrate his ability extends beyond his physique.