Young players outside of the best 22

lionshine

Brownlow Medallist
Jan 9, 2009
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Our youth is talked about league wide as incredibly talented and exciting. The guys getting the plaudits, however, are those in the best 22, namely, Andrews, Hipwood, McCluggage, Rayner, Berry, Witherden, Bailey and Answerth. The aforementioned guys are seen as our core group of younger players going forward and rightfully so as they've all established themselves in our best 22 and shown that they'll be a big part of our future moving forward.

The players who don't get as much recognition/generate as much talk, even on this board are the 1-4 year players outside of the 22. Sam Skinner, Cedric Cox, Jacob Allison, Brandon Starcevich, Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne, Corey Lyons, Mitch Hinge, Toby Wooller, Ely Smith, Tom Berry, Tom Joyce, Connor McFadyen, Tom Fullarton, James Madden.

That is quite a handy assortment of young talent currently sitting outside our best 22 not too mention we'll be adding more draftees this off season. Obviously a lot of off season focus goes into the Trade/FA/Draft period with hopes of improving the list but I can't help but look at this list and think of how much improvement will come from players within the club already.

In my personal opinion the cream of this crop are Cedric Cox, Brandon Stacevich, Jack Payne and Ely Smith. Ballenden, Wooller, T.Berry and Joyce have claims to be considered just as talented/exciting as the four I've hand picked and I know many on here will have their own opinion but I'm going to focus on the players I've chosen as the cream of the crop and highlight what I think they can bring from next season onwards.

Cedric Cox: His pace and dual sided skill set can bring a point of difference to our senior side. His defensive/tackling game improved markedly in 2019 and if he can continue to grow in that area in 2020 I can see him cementing a spot in the best 22 off a HFF/Wing. If he can consistently bring his offensive and defensive game to the senior side each week he'll provide us with another defensive pressure specialist who can offensively offer goal kicking ability, the ability to break the lines and with his elite foot skills, set up our forwards inside 50 with lace out delivery.

Brandon Starcevich: Has been developing nicely off the half back flank. Was groomed as a Hodge replacement but now that Birchall and Ah Chee have joined over the off season it is not fait accompli that the spot is his. He still has the ability to force his way in but with the defensive skills he has learned off of the half back flank, I could see him forcing his way into the senior side as a utility who can play off of the wing. He can run with the footy, he has great foot skills and best of all he has a real tenacious and competitive attitude out on the field and that will to not be beaten in a contest. Entering his 3rd season I just can't see how he doesn't play a lot of senior footy next season. He just has the perfect skill set for the modern game particularly when you factor in his height and athletic ability.

Jack Payne: I really, really rate Payne and as much as I like Marcus Adams, I could see Payne forcing his way in and complimenting Andrews perfectly as that strong bodied, KPD who can play one on one on the bigger key forwards allowing Andrews to zone off and intercept mark. I am really confident we have another terrific key position player on our hands here out of the academy.

Ely Smith: Needs to further develop his forward craft to add that as another string to his bow but I really rate his contested work. Will find it hard to break into our midfield next season but longer term he's the perfect big bodied mid to compliment Berry. Whilst it'll be hard to break into our midfield next season I can see him propelling himself into the number one midfield depth option who comes in whenever their are injuries or suspensions. Adding another, big bodied, contested ball winning, tackling hard nut like Smith to our on ball rotation over the next 2-3 years is going to round out the mix of players in our midfield really nicely alongside the class of Clug, the inside/outside ability of Berry and the pace of Bailey.


TL;DR I think our depth of young talent stretches much deeper beyond the guys in our best 22 and although they're largely unproven I am arguably just as excited about some of the young talent sitting outside the best 22 and what they could potentially bring to the club in the future as I am over guys like McCluggage and Bailey.
 

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T Rick

Premium Platinum
Sep 20, 2007
3,273
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Brisbane Lions
Our youth is talked about league wide as incredibly talented and exciting. The guys getting the plaudits, however, are those in the best 22, namely, Andrews, Hipwood, McCluggage, Rayner, Berry, Witherden, Bailey and Answerth. The aforementioned guys are seen as our core group of younger players going forward and rightfully so as they've all established themselves in our best 22 and shown that they'll be a big part of our future moving forward.

The players who don't get as much recognition/generate as much talk, even on this board are the 1-4 year players outside of the 22. Sam Skinner, Cedric Cox, Jacob Allison, Brandon Starcevich, Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne, Corey Lyons, Mitch Hinge, Toby Wooller, Ely Smith, Tom Berry, Tom Joyce, Connor McFadyen, Tom Fullarton, James Madden.

That is quite a handy assortment of young talent currently sitting outside our best 22 not too mention we'll be adding more draftees this off season. Obviously a lot of off season focus goes into the Trade/FA/Draft period with hopes of improving the list but I can't help but look at this list and think of how much improvement will come from players within the club already.

In my personal opinion the cream of this crop are Cedric Cox, Brandon Stacevich, Jack Payne and Ely Smith. Ballenden, Wooller, T.Berry and Joyce have claims to be considered just as talented/exciting as the four I've hand picked and I know many on here will have their own opinion but I'm going to focus on the players I've chosen as the cream of the crop and highlight what I think they can bring from next season onwards.

Cedric Cox: His pace and dual sided skill set can bring a point of difference to our senior side. His defensive/tackling game improved markedly in 2019 and if he can continue to grow in that area in 2020 I can see him cementing a spot in the best 22 off a HFF/Wing. If he can consistently bring his offensive and defensive game to the senior side each week he'll provide us with another defensive pressure specialist who can offensively offer goal kicking ability, the ability to break the lines and with his elite foot skills, set up our forwards inside 50 with lace out delivery.

Brandon Starcevich: Has been developing nicely off the half back flank. Was groomed as a Hodge replacement but now that Birchall and Ah Chee have joined over the off season it is not fait accompli that the spot is his. He still has the ability to force his way in but with the defensive skills he has learned off of the half back flank, I could see him forcing his way into the senior side as a utility who can play off of the wing. He can run with the footy, he has great foot skills and best of all he has a real tenacious and competitive attitude out on the field and that will to not be beaten in a contest. Entering his 3rd season I just can't see how he doesn't play a lot of senior footy next season. He just has the perfect skill set for the modern game particularly when you factor in his height and athletic ability.

Jack Payne: I really, really rate Payne and as much as I like Marcus Adams, I could see Payne forcing his way in and complimenting Andrews perfectly as that strong bodied, KPD who can play one on one on the bigger key forwards allowing Andrews to zone off and intercept mark. I am really confident we have another terrific key position player on our hands here out of the academy.

Ely Smith: Needs to further develop his forward craft to add that as another string to his bow but I really rate his contested work. Will find it hard to break into our midfield next season but longer term he's the perfect big bodied mid to compliment Berry. Whilst it'll be hard to break into our midfield next season I can see him propelling himself into the number one midfield depth option who comes in whenever their are injuries or suspensions. Adding another, big bodied, contested ball winning, tackling hard nut like Smith to our on ball rotation over the next 2-3 years is going to round out the mix of players in our midfield really nicely alongside the class of Clug, the inside/outside ability of Berry and the pace of Bailey.


TL;DR I think our depth of young talent stretches much deeper beyond the guys in our best 22 and although they're largely unproven I am arguably just as excited about some of the young talent sitting outside the best 22 and what they could potentially bring to the club in the future as I am over guys like McCluggage and Bailey.
I guess the key to these guys getting games will be our injury path in 2020. Given the opportunity, I think most of these young Lions will bring something special to the team without necessarily being so called "best 22" for round 1. They just need the opportunity to play a block of games and establish some proven performance. This no doubt explains the delisting of Keays, Walker, NRobbo etc.
 

briztoon

Norm Smith Medallist
Nov 28, 2015
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You should include Callum Ah Chee in this age bracket as well.

Same draft as Hipwood, Skinner and Mathieson (who you also didn’t mention).
 

Maroon Monsoon

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Oct 1, 2019
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Fantastic post.

I can't really add much to your analysis, but one young bloke who I was really impressed by last year was hinge when he got the chance in the firsts. Great maturity and decision making, both of which aren't easily taught.

Great how strong our youth brigade is. Hopefully it sets us up for a 10 year stretch like hawthorn's 06-15
 
Last edited:

Dlions

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 12, 2016
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Fantastic post.

I can't really add much to your analysis, but one young bloke who I was really impressed by last year was hinge when he got the chance in the firsts. Great maturity and decision making, both of which aren't easily taught.

Great how strong our youth brigade is. Hopefully it sets us up for a 10 year stretch like hawthorn's 06-15
I know a lot on here were a bit surprised when Hinge was upgraded, especially when list spots were so tight.
But I see him as a bit of a left footed Tom Cutler but with a contested edge to his game and also the ability to lower the eyes and hit a target rather than just bombing it long.
Happy to see him given another year and I hope he has a ripper and plays lots of games in the Seniors.
 

lionshine

Brownlow Medallist
Jan 9, 2009
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You should include Callum Ah Chee in this age bracket as well.

Same draft as Hipwood, Skinner and Mathieson (who you also didn’t mention).
Deliberately left out Ah Chee and Mathieson as they'll be entering their 5th seasons and as midfielders/flankers should no longer be considered "young" in my view. Hipwood and Skinner on the other hand as key position players are still very much in their "young, development stage". It is a different rules for different players mind set admittedly, however, in this industry that is how it works. KPP's are generally given a longer development stage then smaller players are afforded. Looking at it purely from an age point of view and years left in the system, however, yes, you can add in Ah Chee and Matho and what they could potentially bring for the next 10 or so years :thumbsu:
 

lionshine

Brownlow Medallist
Jan 9, 2009
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Queensland
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Fantastic post.

I can't really add much to your analysis, but one young bloke who I was really impressed by last year was hinge when he got the chance in the firsts. Great maturity and decision making, both of which aren't easily taught.

Great how strong our youth brigade is. Hopefully it sets us up for a 10 year stretch like hawthorn's 06-15
Yeah fair call. I like Hinge too.
 

briztoon

Norm Smith Medallist
Nov 28, 2015
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Deliberately left out Ah Chee and Mathieson as they'll be entering their 5th seasons and as midfielders/flankers should no longer be considered "young" in my view. Hipwood and Skinner on the other hand as key position players are still very much in their "young, development stage". It is a different rules for different players mind set admittedly, however, in this industry that is how it works. KPP's are generally given a longer development stage then smaller players are afforded. Looking at it purely from an age point of view and years left in the system, however, yes, you can add in Ah Chee and Matho and what they could potentially bring for the next 10 or so years :thumbsu:
Purely from an age point of view, Cedric Cox, even though drafted a year later, is older than Callum Ah Chee.

Does anyone know if they played junior footy together at all. Both from north WA.
 

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