By: Daniel Cencic
THREE Eastern Football League juniors found homes at AFL clubs in Thursday and Friday’s 2018 AFL national draft.
Headlining the recruits as a first-round selection was Waverley Blues junior, Riley Collier-Dawkins, taken at pick 20 by Richmond. At 190cm and 91kg, the Tigers landed an explosive, tall midfielder, effective on both the inside and outside.
Collier-Dawkins dons the yellow and black. PICTURE: AFL.com.au/AFL Media
Richmond recruiting manager Matt Clarke said the Oakleigh Chargers product will fit right in at the Tigers.
“He’s a big boy. Our coach loves the big, strong powerful midfielders,” Clarke told AFL.com.au.
Fellow Oakleigh Charger Xavier O’Neill was selected by reigning premier West Coast in the second round at pick 28.
O’Neill celebrates a goal for the Oakleigh Chargers. PICTURE: AFL Victoria/TACCup.com.au
The Blackburn junior, standing at 185cm, 80kg boasts speed and agility as a midfielder, while winning a combination of contested and uncontested ball.
Using his goal-sense to advantage, O’Neill can also push forward and impact the scoreboard.
He also finished equal-first in the kicking test at the recent AFL draft combine.
One of the stories of the draft however was former Ferntree Gully junior, Ben Cavarra, selected by the Western Bulldogs with pick 45 in the third round.
Ben Cavarra in action for Williamstown. PICTURE: Rob Prezioso/AFL Media
The versatile 22-year-old captained the Eastern Ranges to the 2013 TAC Cup premiership – and was named best afield in the grand final – on his way to claiming the Morrish Medal as a midfielder that season in a four-way tie.
To the surprise of many, Cavarra was overlooked by 18 AFL clubs in the 2013 national draft.
Ps: not sure if I should have cheered and clapped in media room! https://t.co/IyaNMdWYpV
— Anthony Stanguts (@Stanguts76) November 23, 2018
Persistence, hunger and desire saw Cavarra subsequently impress in the VFL across three seasons with Frankston and the past two with Williamstown, playing as a small forward as the Seagulls’ leading goal-kicker with 66 goals across 2017-18, earning back-to-back VFL Team of the Year selections.
More to come.