Delisted, overlooked players hope for second chance in AFL pre-season and rookie drafts

25 November 2013 8:24 AM

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Delisted, overlooked players hope for second chance in AFL pre-season and rookie drafts

AXED AFL players, state league stars and juniors overlooked in the national draft are pinning their hopes on this week's pre-season and rookie drafts.

Only 59 live picks were used in last Thursday's national draft - the lowest number since the introduction of the draft in 1986 - so there are a crop of highly-rated youngsters still waiting for their name to be called.

They are joined by players reaching their peak in their 20s hoping to emulate the likes of Michael Barlow and Sam Dwyer after dominating state leagues.

And plenty of players delisted from AFL clubs haven't given up hope of finding a new home for next season.

The dreams of all of them will be realised or shattered in the space of about half an hour on Wednesday morning.

The pre-season and rookie drafts are conducted by phone link from AFL headquarters so those who miss out will at least find out quickly.

The order for the pre-season draft will be decided tomorrow after the final deadline for signing delisted free agents and after the AFL ticks off how much space each club has on its list and in its salary cap.

Heading the list of hopefuls are former Hawthorn top-10 draft pick Mitch Thorp who this year led South Launceston to the Tasmanian State League premiership as captain-coach.

"His maturity levels have really come on," Thorp's manager James Pitcher told the Herald Sun before the national draft. "He has a perspective of what he did wrong in the first opportunity he got (at Hawthorn) and he is desperate to get another chance to show that he can play at this level."

Former Gold Coast midfielder Maverick Weller is a strong chance to get picked up by St Kilda, as is delisted Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly.

Among the unluckiest teenagers to miss out last week were WA ruckman Darcy Cameron, South Australian ball-winner James Battersby, Geelong Falcons hard nut James Tsitas and key defender Fraser Fort.

"Chris has had a wonderful year, is a reigning best and fairest winner. I'm not sure what more he's got to do to be picked up."

"Brother of Kurt, he's been playing as a key backman and is a player that I know AFL clubs have been interested in."

"Small midfield, half-forward type. Sam's had interest in the past, but I'm pretty confident that he'll get his opportunity."

"He played predominantly at senior level this year and played well in the nationals."

Herald Sun draft expert Sam Landsberger rates the top two kids overlooked in the national draft who might still find their way on to a list.

"A 170cm midfielder with great vision who played seniors at Sturt this year and won all-Australian honours."

"Only weighs 71kg, but is a massive ball winner who was an under-age SuperCoach gun. Has great hands and a nice right foot."

The former Hawthorn forward thrived in a player/coach role for premiership-winning team South Launceston this year, winning the Tasmanian state league's best-and-fairest.

The former Hawthorn midfielder has overcome personal demons and was a ball magnet for West Adelaide this season.

Port Adelaide: Frazer Dale (Carlton), Sam Gray, Daniel Kulikowski, Aseri Raikiwasa (all Port Adelaide Magpies), Brent Renouf (Port Adelaide)

Richmond: Ryan Bathie (Geelong), Nathan Batsanis (Port Melbourne), Matt Thomas (Port Adelaide).

St Kilda: Cameron Banfield, Josh Bennett, Ned Fallon, Kenny Ong, Patrick Tiernan (all Sandringham), Carl Peterson (Doncaster East), Ahmed Saad (St Kilda), Maverick Weller (Gold Coast)

Source: heraldsun.com.au

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