Published on December 4, 2017 4:54 pm

Western Bulldogs rookie draftee Billy Gowers in action for Footscray in 2017

VFL clubs on 2017 draft class

Seven Peter Jackson VFL players were recently added to AFL lists at the NAB AFL Draft and Rookie Draft. vfl.com.au talks to their former clubs about why they were highly rated by clubs at the elite level.

 

BAYLEY FRITSCH (Casey Demons)

20yo (21 on December 6) / 186cm goalkicking forward / AFL Draft pick no.31 to Melbourne

Casey Demons General Manager Matthew Young:

“Bayley’s a really good kick, reads the play well and takes contested marks. Off-field, he’s really quiet and gets the job done. He was injured a fair bit in his first two years with us (2015-16), but his recovery and rehab was in line with what you’d expect from an AFL footballer. We think if he can build his body up by being in a full-time AFL program, it would strengthen him as a footballer. He’s been given the number 31 jumper at Melbourne, which is a pretty strong number for the club – a previous wearer being Ron Barassi – so obviously the Dees have some confidence in him.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 01: Bayley Fritsch of the Demons kicks during a Melbourne Demons AFL training session at Gosch's Paddock on December 1, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)

 

SAM SWITKOWSKI (Box Hill Hawks) – CLICK HERE for his ‘Draft Watch’ profile

21yo / 178cm goalkicking forward / AFL Draft pick no.73 to Fremantle

Box Hill Hawks General Manager Daniel Napoli:

“‘Switta’ won our best clubman award this year, so he’s a terrific guy to have at the footy club on and off the field. He’s an absolute workhorse. He trains hard and plays exactly the same way – 100 per cent all the time. He’s a high-pressure small forward and that type of player is what AFL clubs are looking for after this season, with the Tigers (winning the AFL premiership on the back of applying intense pressure on the opposition). He’s a good clubman and we’ll miss that.”

 

CAM O’SHEA (Northern Blues)

25yo / 193cm running defender / Pre-Season Draft pick no.1 to Carlton

Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser:

“Everyone that is connected to our club at the Northern Blues is absolutely thrilled for Cameron,” Fraser said. “We couldn’t have asked for any more from him since day one: he invested in all areas of our club from the start and he backed it up with his performances each week. Centre-half back in the VFL Team of the Year, playing for Victoria and a best-and-fairest sees him back on an AFL list: it’s a great story. Of course, it’s better that Cam has made his way to Carlton: it’s the ideal scenario. Both our coaching and recruiting staff are heavily invested in our VFL program. They’ve had a close eye on Cameron and a lot of our other boys over the course of the year. The fact he’s gone to Carlton makes it even more special, we’re rapt for him.”

 

BILLY GOWERS (Footscray)

21yo / 188cm utility / Rookie Draft pick no.9 to Western Bulldogs

Western Bulldogs Recruiting Manager Simon Dalrymple:

“Billy continually impressed this year with his forward play and athleticism. He’s a dangerous overhead mark and can have great impact in the air and on the scoreboard. It’s a credit to (Footscray senior coach) Steve Grace, (Western Bulldogs Development Manager) Rohan Smith and Bulldogs development coaches to have someone like Billy graduate from the Footscray VFL program and earn a spot on an AFL list. Billy’s familiarity with the club and development through the VFL program has allowed him to ease into the AFL pre-season quite comfortably.”

 

BRODY MIHOCEK (Port Melbourne)

24yo / 192cm key defender / Rookie Draft pick no.22 to Collingwood

Port Melbourne Football Manager Anthony Piccolo:

“Brody’s last two seasons were outstanding. His ability to read the game and intercept mark is elite. This year he added the ability to be more creative once he got the ball, making quick decisions to get the ball moving to set up attacks. He is brave and would run through a brick wall over and over. He displayed that he can perform in big matches with seven marks and 20 disposals in the VFL Grand Final. It’s a great story of perseverance, coming over to Victoria from Tasmania (ahead of the 2013 season), playing local football and then being a fringe player at Werribee (in 2014-15) before joining Port Melbourne.”

 

DAVID MIRRA (Box Hill Hawks) – CLICK HERE for his Rookie Draft story

26yo / 186cm versatile defender / Rookie Draft pick no.23 to Hawthorn

Box Hill Hawks General Manager Daniel Napoli:

“I can’t speak highly enough of Dave for the influence he has around the group, on and off the field. He’s a tremendous leader and he sets the standard. Hawthorn did have a relatively young defence this year and having a guy like Dave in the team brings a wealth of experience and a lot of leadership. I think that’s the main driver behind his selection. Thankfully he’s at Hawthorn and – while hopefully he’s playing AFL – we still get to see him (at Box Hill), which is a great result.”

 

DEREK SMITH (Richmond VFL) CLICK HERE for his ‘Draft Watch’ profile

19yo / 186cm running defender / Next Generation Academy rookie signing by Richmond

Richmond AFL General Manager – Football Talent Dan Richardson:

“We have invested significantly in our (Next Generation) Academy (NGA) zone and Derek’s selection is a credit to our club and its centre for Indigenous youth, the Korin Gamadji Institute. Derek is a talented Indigenous footballer who has gone from strength to strength since he became engaged in our NGA and VFL programs. This reinforces that our Academy provides a genuine pathway for Indigenous and multicultural boys and girls to play elite football.”

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