Much work ahead for AFL draft

Last week I watched the AFL draft, like many, hoping players I know and respect would get the opportunity to play AFL footy. 

It was, to be honest, uneventful and predictable, and – as a televised event – left with plenty of work ahead.

I liked the Top 10 and the focus on the best kids in the game.

Two promising young men from our region, Jake Stringer at pick five, and Ollie Wines at pick seven, made it exciting early for us and kept us glued to the screen. 

Their selections were no real surprise, except for the destination for both, but it was a great reward for two young men who have worked extremely hard for the honour.

Good luck to both boys as graduates of the Pioneers program in their endeavours to become elite players.

I disliked how the next 40-odd players were drafted and notified by a side show on the screen as Lachie Whitfield and his family were interviewed until we got to the third round. 

There was the option to continue to watch the draft by “pressing red”, however, then they are downplaying crucial interviews with this year’s top draft picks.

The number-one pick will always be exciting, but for so many young men to realise they are joining an AFL club by his name scrolling into screen from the right is totally unacceptable. 

After all, his life has just changed.

I believe clubs and supporters will never really know the value of a draft for three-to-five years, once a player has developed and totally understands the commitment required at the elite level.

I have watched the draft closely since it started and this one was no different, but so different. 

A star VFL player taken at pick 22 (which is a real plus for the program we will implement at the Bendigo Football Club), a talented indigenous kid completely overlooked, and a huge number of recycled players picked is an indication of the changing landscape.

From a selfish point of view, it would have been exciting to see Ben Duscher, Bendigo’s best player for the past three years, have his name called. 

Ben has been a standout not only for us, but at VFL level for three years, yet his ready-made body and attitude was again overlooked.

At Bendigo, we would love to have Ben Duscher, but his best value is at an AFL club. 

He is a quality person, outstanding player and brilliant competitor.

The clubs will always be happy with their picks but, in my opinion, Ben would have been a wiser selection for a club looking for a ready-made starter.

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