A scan of the history books shows it’s rare, but it happened for just the third time in 34 years at this year’s AFL Draft.
Heading into the 2019 edition, held at Marvel Stadium last Wednesday and Thursday, only in 1986 and 2014 had the Sydney Swans not recruited a player from Victoria via the National Draft.
But Sydney’s 2019 AFL Draft haul was limited to South Australians Dylan Stephens and Will Gould, and Western Australians Elijah Taylor and Chad Warner.
The inaugural year of the National Draft, 1986, saw the Swans lock in New South Welshmen John Brinkotter (Barooga), Donald Thompson (Albury), Craig Elias (Eastlake) and Laurie Menhenut (Tocumwal), as well as Tasmanian Lyndon Dakin (Longford).
And Sydney’s 2014 AFL Draft class consisted of only New South Welshmen and South Australians: QBE Sydney Swans Academy trio Isaac Heeney, Jack Hiscox and Abe Davis, and Sturt’s James Rose.
Swans General Manager – Recruiting and List Strategy Kinnear Beatson said 2019 draftees Stephens and Gould, both South Australian, were important additions to the club’s list.
“Dylan is a hybrid mid, highly talented, great running ability both with endurance and speed and he’s a very, very capable player,” Beatson told SwansTV.
“Quick decision-maker, clean ball-handler, All Australian at under-18 level and then played the back end of the year with Norwood and played very well in both inside and outside roles. To get that hybrid mid was very important. There were other players we considered but we didn’t feel like they had the mixture of being able to play inside and outside.
“Will Gould is a doer. He’s a solid lad, he plays with real passion, he attacks the game and he attacks the man. We need to continue to develop our defensive stocks and he played in a senior premiership this year with Glenelg, which is a great effort. And that was after captaining South Australia in the AFL Under-18 Championships and being an All Australian.”
Stephens and Gould were both instrumental for South Australia in the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships.
Stephens collected an average of 23.8 disposals and 4.8 tackles per match, while Gould averaged 21.5 touches, 4.5 marks and 7.2 rebound 50s.
In Western Australian colours, Taylor posted an average of 12.2 disposals and 1.5 goals per game – although he adds a lot that can’t be quantified – while Warner averaged 18.2 possessions (50 per cent contested), 3.2 clearances and 6.8 tackles.
Beatson says Taylor and Warner are both highly promising footballers.
“Elijah is an Indigenous boy from Perth and he is an absolute excitement machine,” Beatson said.
“He’s got a great leap, he’s got terrific speed and he’s got uncanny skills on both sides of the body by hand and foot. He was also an All Australian and we think he can develop into a really, really special player if everything falls into place.
“Chad’s a left-footer, he’s really hard at the footy and we really like his attack on the contest and his use of the ball in there. His ability to influence the contest is really impressive.”
All four youngsters selected at the AFL Draft, as well as rookie-listed duo Brady Rowles and Jack Maibaum, joined Sydney for pre-season training on Monday.