2019 is shaping up to be an excellent year for West Australian draft prospects. At the midway point of the year, a number of players have put their best foot forward and will no doubt be right in the mix when conversations take place within AFL Recruiting Departments.
Below were the standout players in the month of June.
LUKE JACKSON – EAST FREMANTLE
The former Australian basketballer is shaping up to be the best ruck prospect in this year’s AFL Draft. In three games for Western Australia, Jackson is currently averaging 14 possessions, 35 hit-outs and five clearances across three games. His best game for the Sandgropers came against Vic Metro when he accumulated 15 possessions (13 contested), recorded 35 hit-outs, and won six clearances in a dominant display. The Bullcreek-Leeming junior has been likened to Port Adelaide star Paddy Ryder due to his raw athleticism, his follow-up work, ruck craft, contested nature and marking ability. In three games for East Fremantle, Jackson is averaging 15 possessions, 29 hit-outs, four marks and has kicked four goals with his best outing coming against Subiaco in round two (17 possessions, 24 hit-outs and two goals).
ELIJAH TAYLOR – PERTH DEMONS
Described by WA Head Coach Peter Sumich as a potential draft bolter, Taylor has put forward a solid campaign for Western Australia that could see him rise up the draft rankings. In three games for Western Australia, Taylor has kicked six goals and is currently averaging 12 possessions, three marks and two inside 50s with his best game coming against the Allies when he booted three goals from 12 possessions and took four marks. He plays on instinct, using his lateral movement to get out of trouble, before showing his composure, vision and skill to either find a target inside attacking 50 or kicking a goal. For the Demons, Taylor has kicked two goals in three games and is averaging 18 possessions, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, with his best performance coming against Claremont in round five (25 possessions, four marks and two goals).
TRISTAN HOBLEY - SUBIACO
There were high expectations on Hobley coming into season 2019, after he finished second in the Jack Clarke Medal, second in his club’s Best & Fairest and made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year in 2018. So far in 2019, Hobley has risen to the occasion, averaging 33 possessions, seven tackles and four marks across six games for Subiaco. He is currently equal third in the WAFL Colts Coaches Award with 14 votes after dominant outings against Swan Districts in round five (39 possessions and six marks), Peel Thunder in round eight (30 possessions and five tackles), Perth in round nine (25 possessions, nine tackles and a goal). He was also instrumental for Western Australia in their fixture against the Allies with 22 possessions, four inside 50s and three marks. Like West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, Hobley works tirelessly, boasts elite endurance, is a smart decision-maker with ball in hand, reads the play well, is an excellent accumulator.
RILEY GARCIA – SWAN DISTRICTS
The Caversham junior has been one of Western Australia’s best players in this year’s AFL U18 Championships. In three games for the Sandgropers, Garcia is currently averaging 24 possessions (11 contested), four tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s, and three marks with his best performance coming against South Australia (28 possessions – 15 contested – eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal). In three games for Swan Districts’ League team, he is averaging 12 possessions, two tackles and two inside 50s. He plays in a similar way to how Essendon young gun Darcy Parish goes about his business. Like Parish, Garcia is quick-thinking, always on the move, has reliable skills and makes sound decisions with ball in hand.
BEN JOHNSON – WEST PERTH
The West Perth “superboot” has proven to be a tantalising small/medium defensive player in this year’s AFL Draft Pool. In three games for the WA U18s, Johnson is currently averaging 15 possessions, four marks, three rebounding 50s, with his best performances coming against the Allies (23 possessions, five rebounding 50s and four inside 50s) and against Vic Metro (11 possessions and two goals). In four games for the Falcons, he has kicked five goals and is currently averaging 21 possessions, four marks, and three tackles with dominant outings against Claremont (27 possessions and a goal), and East Fremantle (20 possessions and a goal). The Whitford junior is cool and calm under pressure, boasts a long penetrating kick, provides excellent rebound and has the capacity to lock his direct opponent out of the game.
Trey Ruscoe – East Fremantle
Ben Golding - Subiaco
Jake Pasini – Swan Districts
Tyron Hindmarsh – West Perth