Fourteen TAC Cup players were selected in the first round of the 2018 NAB AFL Draft on Thursday night, with Geelong Falcons midfielder Sam Walsh becoming the eighth straight no.1 selection from Victoria’s premier under-18 competition.
* Read more about each first-round selection from the TAC Cup further down the page.
In joining Carlton, Walsh followed in the footsteps of Cameron Rayner (Western Jets, 2017), Andrew McGrath (Sandringham Dragons, 2016), Jacob Weitering (Dandenong Stingrays, 2015), Paddy McCartin (Geelong Falcons, 2014), Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges, 2013), Lachie Whitfield (Dandenong Stingrays, 2012) and Jonathon Patton (Eastern Ranges, 2011) as TAC Cup players taken with the draft’s top pick.
Walsh was one of four TAC Cup players selected in the top 10 of this year’s draft, along with Sandringham Dragons trio Max King (pick no.4 to St Kilda), Ben King (no.6 to Gold Coast) and Bailey Smith (no.7 to Western Bulldogs).
Other TAC Cup players selected among the 22 picks in the draft’s first round were: Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers), Zak Butters (Western Jets), Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers), Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons), Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays), Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power), Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons), Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers), Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers) and Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets).
The remaining selections in the 2018 AFL Draft – as well as the 2018 AFL Rookie Draft – will take place tomorrow from 12pm.
* Visit our AFL DRAFT WATCH hub, featuring stories on one of the top prospects from each of this year’s TAC Cup teams.
SAM WALSH (Geelong Falcons)
Pick no.1 to Carlton
Hard-running, ball-winning midfielder Walsh put together one of the most decorated seasons of any under-18 player in the country this year. The St Joseph’s (Geelong FL) product followed up a star showing in Geelong’s 2017 TAC Cup premiership victory by averaging 32 disposals, five marks and five tackles per game across 12 matches for the Falcons in 2018. He won the club’s best-and-fairest award and was selected in the TAC Cup Team of the Year, while he claimed the Larke Medal for the best player in Division 1 of the AFL U18 Championships and was named in the U18 All Australian midfield following four stellar performances for Vic Country. Walsh was also appointed as a co-captain for both Geelong and Vic Country.
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MAX KING (Sandringham Dragons)
Pick no.4 to St Kilda
A serious knee injury suffered while playing for Haileybury College ended King’s season after just one TAC Cup appearance for the Dragons this year. The East Sandringham (South Metro Junior FL) product booted eight goals and five behinds from 19 disposals and nine marks against the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 2 – underlining his status as one of the country’s dominant under-18 key forwards – before tearing his ACL in April. King kicked 10 goals in seven games for Sandringham as a bottom-ager in 2017.
BEN KING (Sandringham Dragons)
Pick no.6 to Gold Coast
King proved his versatility in 2018 by switching from a key defensive role to one in attack after identical twin brother Max (see above) suffered a season-ending knee injury. The East Sandringham (South Metro Junior FL) product kicked 12 goals in six TAC Cup games for the Dragons to be named in the TAC Cup Team of the Year, while he also earned selection in the U18 All Australian forward line following four games for Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships.
BAILEY SMITH (Sandringham Dragons)
Pick no.7 to Western Bulldogs
Sandringham captain Smith followed up an impressive 12-game campaign for the 2017 grand finalist by being selected in the midfield of both the 2018 TAC Cup Team of the Year and U18 All Australian team. The East Malvern (South Metro Junior FL) product transitioned from defence into a role as a hard-running and classy on-baller this year, winning Vic Metro’s MVP award following four impressive games at the AFL U18 Championships and recording 37 and 28 disposals in two early-season matches for the Dragons.
JYE CALDWELL (Bendigo Pioneers)
Pick no.11 to GWS
Caldwell, a tough and explosive midfielder, was an early draft selection despite missing much of the season due to a string of injuries. The Golden Square (Bendigo FL) product appeared in just three TAC Cup games this year but showed his ability in Bendigo’s Round 2 loss to the Murray Bushrangers when he recorded 26 disposals, seven tackles and a goal. He was named a co-captain of Vic Country for the AFL U18 Championships but hurt a hamstring in the team’s first outing.
ZAK BUTTERS (Western Jets)
Pick no.12 to Port Adelaide
Creative and pacy midfielder Butters made eight appearances for the Jets and then four for Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships this year before his season was ended early by shoulder surgery. The Darley (Ballarat FL) product averaged 20 disposals and five marks per game for Western in 2018 following an impressive 17-match TAC Cup campaign as a bottom-ager in 2017.
ISAAC QUAYNOR (Oakleigh Chargers)
Pick no.13 to Collingwood
Quaynor’s Ghanaian heritage tied him to Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy and the Magpies matched a bid from GWS to claim the versatile small defender. The Bulleen Templestowe and Beverley Hills (Yarra Junior FL) product averaged 16 disposals and four marks per game across 13 matches for grand finalist Oakleigh this season, seeing him finish second in the club’s best-and-fairest count. He was also named in the back line of the TAC Cup Team of the Year and U18 All Australian team following three appearances for Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships.
NED McHENRY (Geelong Falcons)
Pick no.16 to Adelaide
McHenry played in Geelong’s 2017 TAC Cup premiership victory and is known for his tenacity and running ability as a small forward capable of moving through the midfield. The Barwon Heads (Geelong FL) product played 11 TAC Cup matches last year and eight in 2018, when he averaged 21 disposals and five tackles per game. He also made four appearances for Vic Country at this year’s AFL U18 Championships.
SAM STURT (Dandenong Stingrays)
Pick no.17 to Fremantle
It’s been a rapid rise to prominence for ex-cricketer Sturt in 2018, entering Dandenong’s program mid-season and going on to star in the team’s run to the TAC Cup premiership. The Mt Eliza (Mornington Peninsula Nepean FL) product played all six matches for the Stingrays from Round 14 onwards, averaging 13 disposals and four marks per game and kicking 11 goals as an exciting, athletic half forward.
XAVIER DUURSMA (Gippsland Power)
Pick no.18 to Port Adelaide
Gippsland captain Duursma produced another consistent season for the Power in 2018, earning TAC Cup Team of the Year honours and finishing third in the club’s best-and-fairest count. The Foster (Alberton FNL) product averaged 23 disposals and five tackles per game and kicked 13 goals in 13 TAC Cup appearances as a rangy midfielder, while he also represented Vic Country in four matches at the AFL U18 Championships.
LIAM STOCKER (Sandringham Dragons)
Pick no.19 to Carlton
Inside midfielder Stocker followed in the footsteps of young AFL stars Jack Higgins, Hugh McCluggage and Clayton Oliver by claiming the TAC Cup’s Morrish Medal this year. The Old Haileyburians (VAFA) and East Sandringham (South Metro Junior FL) product averaged 22 disposals and five tackles per game in 14 matches for the Dragons, which also saw him named in the TAC Cup Team of the Year and finish second in Sandringham’s best-and-fairest count. Injury prevented him from representing Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships.
RILEY COLLIER-DAWKINS (Oakleigh Chargers)
Pick no.20 to Richmond
Collier-Dawkins was a key member of Oakleigh’s run to this year’s TAC Cup Grand Final, averaging 18 disposals per game in 15 matches as a tall inside midfielder. The Waverley Blues (Eastern FL) product backed up a 13-game bottom-age season for the Chargers in 2017 by being named on the wing in the 2018 TAC Cup Team of the Year, while he also made three appearances for Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships.
ELY SMITH (Murray Bushrangers)
Pick no.21 to Brisbane
A break-out 2018 season saw Smith surge into contention as a first-round draft selection, the ball-winning midfielder taking out Murray’s best-and-fairest award and earning TAC Cup Team of the Year honours. The Yarrawonga (Ovens & Murray FL) product averaged 23 disposals and five tackles per game in 17 matches for the Bushrangers this year, also making one appearance for Vic Country at the AFL U18 Championships and one for Collingwood in the VFL.
XAVIER O’HALLORAN (Western Jets)
Pick no.22 to GWS
O’Halloran’s leadership ability helped make him a first-round draft prospect in 2018, with the on-baller given the captaincy reins at Western in the TAC Cup and for Vic Metro at the AFL U18 Championships. On an individual level, the St Bernard’s (Western Region FL) product averaged 19 disposals and five tackles per game in 13 matches for the Jets, finishing second in the club’s best-and-fairest count and being selected in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.