TAC Cup draftees in JLT Series week 1
Seven TAC Cup players selected in the top 11 picks of last year’s NAB AFL Draft – including the Draft’s top five picks – stepped out for their new clubs across the first weekend of the 2017 JLT Community Series.
Four of the seven are former Sandringham Dragons, with Gold Coast’s Jack Scrimshaw the only draftee amongst the TAC Cup club’s unprecedented haul of five top-11 selections to miss out on an opening-week berth.
In total, 14 TAC Cup players selected in last year’s AFL and Rookie Drafts played in week one of the JLT Series.
2016 Dragons premiership star Tim Taranto (pictured) was arguably the most impressive of them, with GWS’ no.2 AFL Draft pick recording 21 disposals (18 kicks), 10 contested possessions, five marks, seven inside-50s, six clearances and five tackles from 81 per cent game time in the Giants’ 33-point defeat of West Coast in Narrandera. The midfielder/forward faces a tough ask to break into an on-ball division featuring names such as Shiel, Coniglio, Ward, Kelly and Scully but couldn’t have done much more to push his case on Saturday.
Taranto’s Sandringham teammate Will Setterfield – selected by GWS at pick no.5 in the AFL Draft – also made an encouraging first AFL appearance, with 16 disposals and 12 contested possessions from 68 per cent game time. A pair of ex-Murray Bushrangers were others to impress in the Giants’ win, with Lachlan Tiziani (pick no.54 in the AFL Draft) kicking a goal from 12 disposals and five marks in 66 per cent game time and rookie Zach Sproule picking up four disposals in 56 per cent game time.
Essendon’s no.1 AFL Draft pick Andrew McGrath – best-on-ground in the Dragons’ flag triumph in September – was unveiled in the Bombers’ 11-point loss to Collingwood at Etihad Stadium. The smart midfielder/defender only managed nine disposals in 63 per cent game time but his physical and mental maturity has him in the frame for an early-season AFL debut. Collingwood father-son recruit Josh Daicos (pick no.57 from the Oakleigh Chargers) also stepped out on Thursday night, recording seven disposals in 41 per cent game time.
Three top TAC Cup AFL Draft picks played in Gold Coast’s 24-point win against Brisbane at Kombumerri Park in Queensland on Sunday. 2016 Morrish Medallist Hugh McCluggage (pick no.3 from the GWV Rebels) looked comfortable in Brisbane’s midfield, collecting 14 disposals and eight contested possessions from 65 per cent game time, while Suns on-baller Will Brodie (pick no.9 from Murray) showed toughness with 11 disposals, nine contested possessions and five clearances from 70 per cent game time and dynamic forward Ben Ainsworth (pick no.4 from the Gippsland Power) booted a goal for Gold Coast from seven disposals in 74 per cent game time.
Oliver Florent, the fourth of Sandringham’s top picks (no.11) to play on the weekend, kicked two classy goals from 12 disposals in 74 per cent game time during Sydney’s two-point loss to North Melbourne at Coffs Harbour. New teammate Jack Maibaum (pick no.45 from the Eastern Ranges) had seven disposals from 58 per cent game time as a key defender, while on the other side of the field Kangaroos key-position player Nick Larkey (pick no.73 from Oakleigh) had three disposals from 65 per cent game time.
Two TAC Cup players selected in the 2016 Rookie Draft made an impact in Geelong’s four-point defeat at the hands of Hawthorn in Launceston on Friday night. Former Calder Cannons defender Zach Guthrie racked up 24 disposals (20 handballs) and kicked a goal from 68 per cent game time for the Cats while ex-Geelong Falcons speedster Jack Henry also booted a major from five disposals in 53 per cent game time.