Greater Western Victoria Rebels coach David Loader has lauded this year's potential AFL Draft crop as the best ever to come from the club.
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Loader said there was a slight hope that 10 per cent of the entire draft pool could come from the Ballarat or western regions, such was the depth of the squad.
"It's probably the most talented group across the board that I've worked with," he said.
"It's just the depth of the squad. We have players in the 2021 squad who were not just outstanding players in their own right who aren't even mentioned in our best eight or nine players. To have the breadth of talent was incredible. Of our best 20 players, I'd reckon there were 14 or 15 that at some stage AFL clubs asked about."
Loader, who will return as head coach of the girls and boys programs next season, paid tribute to all his coaches and officials who worked in at times trying circumstances through the interrupted season. "The players come in and were able to get on with it, because everything was always there. You couldn't ask for better people to be around."
Greater Western Victoria Rebels coach David Loader runs an eye over the top chances for his club at the AFL Draft which starts on Wednesday night.
Josh is an incredibly athletic player. He's got good agility, he's got terrific closing speed. If you want to make analogies to other players, he's most like (Melbourne's) Jake Lever for sure. He's just that type of player. He's what I'd call a new age defender, you look at the big up-and-coming forwards of the competition going forward, the stars of the future, you look at Max and Ben King, you look at Harry McKay who won the Coleman Medal last season. These guys are 200cm, but they are athletic, they are not stand-and-deliver players, they get up and down the ground and you're going to need an athlete to play on those types of guys, Josh is the prototype for that.
Ben is more your Tom Mitchell-type player. He's an extractor, he goes in and gets it, he's a genuine inside midfielder that wins the ball at the source. He offers a great contest, he's a really strong body player, strong through the core, stands up in tackles. He's a guy you just want in the side. He's building the explosiveness of his game. He's very compact and incredibly strong overhead for his size. He's really clean, he never fumbles, even in the wet Ben's game never changes, he plays the same way. He plays with great aggression, but he's really sure with his ball handling.
Butler is one of the guys that has a range of positions he can play. Sam can play half-back inside-mid, outside-mid, high forward, deep pressure forward. Sam's got a lot of strings to his bow and that makes him an extremely attractive prospect to clubs that are looking at him. I'm really reticent to put numbers on players because sometimes the draft doesn't work out the way it might. There will be people get picked that you don't know what they had and others you'd look at and say, how incredibly unlucky were that. I'm hoping the second of that isn't one of our boys, but if you're listening to the rumour mills then Sam should be around the 20 or thereabouts, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was to go higher, yet he could go a little later too, it's hard to say.
Big guys don't fall out of trees. He's an outstanding young man who captained our club this year. He won the Morrish Medal. He is a Tom Hawkins prototype, he's a big, strong lad who's extremely hard to get past when he leads up at the footy and jumps. Even though he's such a big, strong man, he's still quite athletic and can jump. He can go into the ruck and has no issues jumping up at the contest. He'll be one clubs will look at and say, you don't just find a guy who's 198cm and 100kg who's got pure power and reasonably good hands. The day we beat Eastern Ranges in Melbourne, he had 11 shots on goal that day, which in the NAB League, that's a lot to have.
I'm biased, but he's just another outstanding kid. He's a very different player to Butler, although he can also play a range of positions. Charlie started at half-back and had a couple of games where he was terrific in his ability to read the play and intercept mark. He was a bit Tom Stewart-like early on, but he played his best footy around the ball. He holds great shape, he gives great protection at the contest, a great contested player. We played him forward one day as a high half forward, up and down the ground, and he was our best player. He was our best and fairest and one we have great hopes for.
Kai is the X-factor. He is an exceptionally powerful player when he plays, his ability is to impact games at certain times is high. He is the one at the 10 minute mark of the grand final and scores are level, he's the one you want on the ground because he'll create something for you. He's really good overhead, powerful mark and solid in everything else. He's a naturally gifted athlete. He's a great kid and I've had a fair bit to do with Kai over the trip, my boys have come through with him as well. He's a really good exciting player, he's a beauty.
He comes from a great family at Camperdown. Hamish is an interesting player. He's a half-back, intercept player, he's rather light but kicks the ball well and knows the game exceptionally well. He's got the ability to read the game and to come off players. He's got really good timing when to come off and when to stay on players. We've got big hopes.
Sam played half back and was a terrific defensive player. He's one of those guys that if you went out to play on Sam, you'd line-up on him and know it wouldn't be easy. He's a great shut-down defender who we swung into the middle after four or five round and he knocked up getting the ball as a defensive inside mid. He's always the first back to help set-up defence but he's solid in the contest, great overhead and he's the consummate team player and an outstanding kid who really understands the game and has had a wonderful season. We knew how good he was going and we knew because nobody could get a kick on him. He grew legs as the season went on and was added to the Vic. Country squad later in the year. His dad played for Geelong and Port Adelaide and his mum is an Ebert. If you were buying at the Magic Millions, you'd be all over him.
It's outstanding what 'Jamo' has been able to do this year and across the journey. He travels three hours to get to training, he trains for two or three hours, then he drives three hours home. It's a nine-hour afternoon on a Thursday and then he's back in the car going to wherever on the Saturday. People just don't understand what it takes and if teams want someone who's committed to doing everything they can, you can't look past him.