AFL 2 years ago

Whose AFL youngsters would you rather: The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood or Melbourne?

  • Whose AFL youngsters would you rather: The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood or Melbourne?
The 2015 22Under22 squad generated a lot of discussion and excitement regarding the young blood of talent we have rising in the ranks of the AFL competition.

The Western Bulldogs and Collingwood were both represented five times by some of their outstanding 'under 22' players making the squad in 2015. And the Demons, who are now banking on their youthful list to push up the ladder - had three players make the list.

So that brings me to the question of...Whose AFL youngsters would you rather?

*Note - Other teams' youngsters will be compared in other versions of this article*


Western Bulldogs

At the beginning of the 2015 AFL season, the Dogs had the second least experienced list in the competition. Fast forward through 23 rounds of football and the Doggies were the AFL's fairytale story of the year. The club made the finals this year and five of their young guns - Jake Stringer, Mitch Wallis, Jackson Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli and Jason Johannisen made the 22Under22 squad.

The Dogs have one of the most exciting young lists in the competition. Heading into 2016, they will have a refreshed, rejuvenated and determined Tom Liberatore returning to the midfield after an ACL injury which sidelined him for the entire 2015 season. The 2014 best and fairest winner has averaged 23 disposals and 6 tackles in his first four seasons at the club. Liberatore will join his tough, inside midfield teammate Mitch Wallis for the Dogs, feeding it out to the likes of Bontempelli and Macrae in the middle.

In just a few seasons, both Bontempelli and Macrae have already lit the competition alight with their prolific talents. Jason Johannisen emerged as a threat off the half back flank for the Dogs, and will no doubt continue to learn from his captain and the newcomer, Matt Suckling, as the Bulldogs' most talented attacking weapons from defense.

Jake Stringer was the breakout star in 2015. He made the All-Australian team at just 21 years of age and kicked a remarkable 56 goals for the year. Stringer is fast becoming the most exciting and most dangerous medium sized forward in the competition.

Joining these young guns on the Bulldogs' list is key position forward, and former number one pick, Tom Boyd. Boyd is still just 20 years of age and the Bulldogs are hoping he will develop into a dominant force for  years to come. The two other 20-year-olds on the Bulldogs list are Mitch Honeychurch and Lachie Hunter. Both are exciting young talents, and Hunter in particular, had a wonderful 2015 campaign.

More than half of the Bulldogs' list fits into the age bracket of 19-23, so here are a host of names for you to consider when making your decision.

There's Lin Jong, Caleb Daniel, Toby McLean, Lukas Webb, Bailey Dale, Zaine Cordy, Nathan Hrovat, Fletcher Roberts and Clay Smith.

Luke Dahlhaus is still only 23 years of age, whilst Koby Stevens, Shane Biggs and Tom Campbell are just 24.

Safe to say Luke Beveridge is running a doggy daycare down at Whitten Oval. But I'm sure he's not complaining.

There is something special brewing with these young pups...




Collingwood

The Pies matched the Bulldogs with five selections in the 2015 22Under22 squad. The Magpies are officially Buckley's team and with a huge turnover of players since Buckley's tenure began, the team could be referred to as Buckley's babies. The pies are young, and just like the Bulldogs, are very capable of doing damage with in 2016 with a less experienced list.

Tom Langdon, Marley Williams, Jack Crisp, Taylor Adams and Brodie Grundy were the players included in the squad. Grundy, still only 21 years of age, is quickly rising in the ruckmen rankings. With 41 games under his belt and another preseason beginning, the only way is up for Brodie Grundy.

Jack Crisp was on the of the most improved players in 2015. After 18 games in three years up at Brisbane, the newcomer played every game in 2015 and was Collingwood's most effective defensive midfielder. At 22 years of age, Crisp has surely cemented a spot in the Pies midfield for 2016. Taylor Adams is fast becoming a contested football force in Collingwood's midfield, whilst Langdon and Williams were consistent and reliable off the half back flank all year long.

The Pies have some of the most exciting youngsters in the competition. In their 19 year old bracket, there's Darcy Moore, Jordan De Goey, Matthew Goodyear and Brayden Maynard. Goodyear hasn't debuted yet, but the other three showed very promising signs in the latter half of the year. The 20 year old's are also a solid crop - with the likes of Jonathon Marsh, Matthew Scharenberg and newcomer, James Aish representing.

The 21 year olds - Langdon, Grundy, Jackson Ramsey and Tim Broomhead - all had good experiences at the senior level last season.

The Pies might have lost youngsters Ben Kennedy, Nathan Freeman and Paul Seedsman to other clubs in the offseason, but bringing in James Aish (20 y.o), Adam Treloar (23 y.o) and Jeremy Howe (still only 25 y.o) won't have any Pies fans upset.

Jarrod Witts, Jack Frost, Alex Fasolo and Adam Oxley are all developing nicely as 23 year old players, whilst Jamie Elliot is Collingwood's version of Jake Stringer.

Bringing in Treloar and Aish fits Collingwood's youth policy and age profile perfectly, and with a host of other young guns competing for spots in the midfield, I wouldn't be surprised if we see Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan floating around half back and half forward in 2016 to give these younger guys experience in the middle.

Like the Bulldogs, the Pies will be gunning for a 2016 finals spot with an incredibly exciting young list.



Melbourne

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The Melbourne Football Club's future lies in the hands of their young kids. With Bernie Vince being the club's oldest player at 30 years of age, it's no secret the club's path to success will be led by their youth.

In the 2015 22Under22 squad, the Dees were represented by Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney and Jesse Hogan.

Hogan is Melbourne's messiah. 2015 was his year. He won the Rising Star Award and impressed everyone as he carried Melbourne's forward line on his back, at only 20 years of age. He kicked 44 goals in his first playing year as a footballer, and will no doubt be the face of the Melbourne Football Club for a decade to come, if they can hold onto him. 

At 21 years of age, and with 47 games experience, Jack Viney is nothing short of a warrior. He is developing into a midfield beast, and a player that every club would love to have in their midfield. Angus Brayshaw, the third pick in the 2015 AFL Draft had a wonderful debut season. Only 19 years of age, Brayshaw played 21 games and had experts tipping him to be a future captain of the Demons after one year in the system.

Taken a pick before Brayshaw in 2015 was Christian Petracca, who unfortunately missed 2015 with a knee injury. Melbourne fans are salivating at the thought of Petracca lining up for the first time in 2016. Two other 19 year old's who showed signs in 2015 were youngsters Billy Strech and Alex Neal Bullen.

Christian Salem, James Harmes and Jay Kennedy-Harris, along with Jesse Hogan, are all important pieces for Melbourne as 20 year olds. 

The Demons added Ben Kennedy, a 21-year-old little pocket rocket from the Pies in the off-season, as well as Tom Bugg, a 22-year-old, 65-gamer from GWS. Both will provide great depth for Melbourne and their midfield in 2016.

Other youngsters Melbourne can boast are Dean Kent, Sam Frost, Dom Tyson, Tom McDonald, Ben Newton, Aaron Vanderberg and Max Gawn. Jake Melksham (traded from Essendon) and Jack Trengrove are still only 24 years of age with a lot to prove, whilst their are still question marks over 24 year old Jack Watts.

Losing Jimmy Toumpas and Jeremy Howe was tough, but after great trading and negotiating, the Demons were able to orchestrate a deal with Gold Coast, landing them picks 3 and 10 in the upcoming AFL Draft, and trading out pick 6 to the Suns.

The Demons have exciting youngsters, but can they break Melbourne's finals drought and end a long period of controversy, disappointment and disaster in 2016?



Final Words

The decision is all yours...

Whose AFL youngsters would you rather - The Western Bulldogs', Collingwood's or Melbourne's?






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