Pioneers hoping for draft success

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 24-Nov-2017

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Bailey Henderson could be a late-round draftee.
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THE Bendigo Pioneers are hopeful a handful of young guns will be picked up in tonight’s AFL National Draft.

Bendigo has Paddy Dow in contention for the number one overall selection, though most pundits predict Brisbane is likely to select either Cameron Rayner first overall.

Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp is positive about the club’s prospects.

“We think we can get between five and seven, which would be a super result on back of four drafted last year,” he said.

Dow had a strong year for Geelong Grammar and starred in his two Pioneers games in the TAC Cup, but picked up a shoulder injury against Ballarat – a game in which he had 33 disposals and kicked 2.2.

The under-18 All Australian is rated by many as a big chance to head to Carlton with pick three, with Rayner and Dandenong’s Luke Davies-Uniacke ahead of him.

Also working in Dow’s favour, he is one of 15 players invited to attend the draft by the AFL.

Hard-running wingman Lochie O’Brien will also be in top-10 contention, but a niggling knee injury interrupted his year.

He was excellent as a bottom-age player for Bendigo last year and will provide any team that picks him with pace, endurance and a thumping left boot.

Swingman Jarrod Brander is likely slotted for top-20 contention after being highly regarded as a possible number one overall choice heading into the season.

Brander played three games for Bendigo and also played at the national under-age carnival for the Allies, but was another held back by injury and when he did play was frustratingly inconsistent.

Pint-sized livewire Brent Daniels won’t be far away from that bunch, and offers a point of difference to almost anyone else in the draft.

The 170-centimetre forward played alone up front in large parts for the Pioneers this year, showcasing his speed and burst as an isolation forward.

While his size is an obvious knock, he played well in the VFL for Geelong which has worked for players such as Joe Atley and Tom Cole in the past.

All attended Geelong Grammar but remained within Bendigo’s system, which Sharp said had been a win for the club.

It’s been important for those kids from our region to stay in our region, not go to play for Geelong,” he said.

“It’s great that they want to be a part of the program and play with their mates.”

Outside of that quartet, the club is hopeful one of exciting left-footer Kane Farrell, talented midfielder Angus Schumacher and the versatile Bailey Henderson are targeted by an AFL club.

Derrick Smith Jnr could  also head to Richmond as a Next Generation Academy selection.

The AFL National Draft will be held tonight in Sydney, with the follow-up preseason and rookie drafts on Monday. 

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