Western Australia produced three first round AFL draftees at the NAB AFL National Draft on Wednesday, November 27.
East Fremantle’s Luke Jackson (pick 3 – Melbourne), Claremont’s Liam Henry (pick 9 – Carlton/Fremantle), and Subiaco’s Mitchell Georgiades (pick 18 – Port Adelaide) were all selected within the first round of the Draft.
It now means that the Simply Energy Western Australia pathway has produced twenty-eight first round draftees this decade.
After a brilliant season that saw him finish runner-up in the Larke Medal, win All-Australian selection, finish sixth in East Fremantle’s Colts’ Best & Fairest and win the Sharks’ Colts Rising Star Award, Luke Jackson was selected with pick three by the Melbourne Football Club. He became the first ruckman to be picked up within the top three picks of the Draft since Swan Districts’ Nic Naitanui was selected with pick two by the West Coast Eagles back in 2008.
Jackson is the highest pick a West Australian has been drafted at since South Fremantle’s Jarrod Pickett was selected with pick four by the GWS Giants in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft.
“He’s a non-fuss competitor and I don’t think he’s going to be inhibited by the next level and the pressure that comes with it, so that adds to his package,” Melbourne’s National Recruiting Manager Jason Taylor said of him.
“His improvement, particularly post nationals this year, has been significant, and that’s where part of the projection comes with him,” Taylor said.
Jackson was ecstatic to be drafted by the Demons and is looking forward to his first session with the Demons on Monday Gosch’s Paddock.
“I can’t wait to meet everyone,” Jackson said.
Jackson now heads to Melbourne where he will be under the tutelage of one of the best ruckmen in the competition in Max Gawn.
“He’s (Gawn) definitely a player I try to model my game on. I’ve looked up to him the last couple of years,” Jackson said.
He becomes the twenty fifth East Fremantle player to be selected within the First Round of an AFL Draft, joining the likes of Patrick Cripps (2013 – pick #13), David Swallow (2010 – pick #1), Brad Sheppard (2009 – pick #7), Harry Taylor (2007 – pick #17), Paddy Ryder (2005 – pick #7) and Josh Kennedy (2005 – pick #4).
Jackson was also full of praise for WA’s U18s Head Coach Peter Sumich.
“He (Sumich) has probably been my biggest mentor in terms of footy,” he said. “He’s definitely been a great coach for me and someone who I’ll stay in touch with, in the future.”
After winning All-Australian selection at this year’s National U18s Championships, Claremont’s Liam Henry was selected with pick #9 by the Fremantle Football Club.
Henry was originally selected by Carlton with pick 9, but because he is a member of Fremantle’s Next-Generation Academy, the Dockers exercised their right to match Carlton’s bid.
“It was pretty emotional at the time, but confusing. I didn’t know what was really going on but I’m happy to be at Freo,” Henry said when asked about Carlton’s bid that was matched by Fremantle.
“I obviously built a good connection with them [Fremantle] over the year. Obviously, Michael Walters, I looked up to him. As well as Tendai Mzungu, he’s helped me along the way. My family as well,” Henry said.
Fox Footy Analyst and former North Melbourne great David King was glowing in his assessment of the Claremont product.
“He’ll be my favourite player of this draft, there’s no doubt about that,” King said on Fox Footy’s coverage.
“I’ve got no doubt even at pick 9 he’ll be seen as a steal. I know they had to go through a bit to get that matched, the bid from Carlton. But what this guy does with the footy most players can only dream of,” he said. “He’s a pure kick of the football. He’s got all the clubs in the bag, he’s got the pitching wedge, the three-iron. He’s got the speed, he can dance, he can move, he’s creative.”
WAFC’s Talent Pathways Manager Michael Ablett was just as impressed with Henry.
“The other thing I like about him is his ability to push up the ground, we saw during the U18s Championships when WA really needed a spark he was the player that pushed up around half-forward, wing, gave them a bit of energy around the ball and then dropped back inside 50 and managed to slot a couple of majors,” Ablett said.
He becomes the twenty-third Claremont player to be selected within the First Round of an AFL National Draft, joining the likes of Jordan Clark (2018 – pick #15), Sam Petrevski-Seton (2016 – pick #6), Tom Mitchell (2011 – pick #21), and Michael Gardiner (1996 – pick #1).
It is likely Henry will start as a small forward for the Dockers, before he transitions onto a wing or into the midfield.
Subiaco’s Mitchell Georgiades proved to be one of the bolters of this year’s Draft when Port Adelaide selected him with pick #18.
Despite missing all of 2019 with injury, Georgiades, the son of John, did enough in 2018 as a bottom-ager to wow the Port Adelaide recruiting team.
It was originally thought he would be selected between picks 20 and 40.
He now joins Port’s forwards group which includes the likes of Charlie Dixon, and Connor Rozee.
The WAFC’s Talent Pathways Manager, Michael Ablett, was full of praise for Georgiades.
“This is the kid for me. He’s an outstanding character and unfortunately he suffered a corkie in 2018 and had a calcification and ended up having an operation,” Ablett said.
“He could’ve been WA’s best player in 2019. I know it’s a big call with the talent that’s been in the room. He’s an outstanding prospect, he’s 191 centimetres. He tested in the top five at the five, ten, and 20m sprints at the Combine, in the top eight percent in the running vertical jump. He’s chock full of power this young man,” Ablett said.
“And a big congratulations to the Subiaco Football Club, Kristian Dicton the Talent Manager there and Chayce Creedy who got this kid through what was a difficult season. But that is an outstanding pick up from the Port Adelaide Power,” he said.
Georgiades becomes just the eighth Lion to be drafted within the first round of an AFL Draft.
The NAB AFL Draft continues on Thursday from 4:00pm (AWST) and can be viewed on Fox Footy (channel 504 on Foxtel) or through Kayo Sports.