Rookie draftees Brady Rowles and Jack Maibaum have on Friday bolstered the Sydney Swans’ midfield and defensive stocks.
The Swans used pick four in the Rookie Draft to lock in Rowles, an attacking midfielder from the Bendigo Pioneers, before re-listing key defender Jack Maibaum.
Sydney delisted Maibaum at the end of season 2019 but invited him to join pre-season training in the lead-up to the draft.
Originally recruited from the Eastern Ranges with pick 45 at the 2016 AFL Draft, Maibaum tore his ACL on the eve of the 2019 campaign but had clearly shown tantalising potential over his first two seasons.
Swans General Manager – Recruiting and List Strategy Kinnear Beatson said the drafting of Rowles and Maibaum added depth to the club’s list.
“Brady Rowles has only been in the NAB League system for one year but has already forced his way into the Vic Country team and played two of their four games in the AFL Under-18 Championships,” Beatson said.
“What we really like about him is his ability to run and carry the footy, and he’s got genuine pace. But it’s also his willingness and intent to get across and add a number to the contest, which (coach) John Longmire was impressed with when watching his highlights.
“And then with the second pick we were keen to give Jack Maibaum another go on the basis that his pre-season last year looked very encouraging prior to his knee injury. His recovery has gone well and he’s back into running and changing direction. It’s pretty hard to find key defenders so we were keen to give Jack another opportunity to show what he’s capable of.”
Rowles played 12 NAB League games this year for a return of 11.8 disposals per match, while his near-identical inside-50 and rebound-50 numbers indicate his ability to shift between the half-back and half-forward lines.
The Mildura local’s speed was on show at October’s AFL Draft Combine, which saw him break three seconds in the 20-metre sprint and blitz the agility test.
Maibaum is yet to make his AFL debut but played a crucial role in Sydney reaching the 2018 NEAFL Grand Final, blanketing the opposition’s best key defenders and averaging 12.2 touches per match.
There are a host of players in Swans history who were drafted as rookies but blossomed into stars of the game, including Brett Kirk, Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy, Nick Smith, Dane Rampe and Jake Lloyd.
Beatson says it serves an important message.
“Regardless of where they’re drafted – whether it’s at the National Draft or the Rookie Draft – they’re simply a number,” Beatson said.
“So when they enter our club no one looks at them as special because they were a first-round selection and no one looks down on them because they were our last rookie selection. The match committee selects players on form and birth certificates and draft numbers go out the window, so it’s up to the players to make the most of their chance.”