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AFL Draft Weekly Wrap: Jason Horne-Francis turns in the performance of the year

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Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wraps, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month and as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.


The performance of the year

In the individual performance of the season, pick one contender Jason Horne-Francis gave his all for South Adelaide in their SANFL League preliminary final against Glenelg. It's a game he announced himself to the football world and as a player to be feared.

Through the midfield for much of the first three quarters, Horne-Francis did everything. From chasing and pressuring, providing second and third efforts, to running back hard in support of South Adelaide's defence. His work rate was through the roof. He was winning the ball, hurting the opposition with his run and work by foot, sacrificing his body willingly and managed to kick two goals in that period.

In the final quarter, South Adelaide chose to roll the dice by shifting Horne-Francis forward. He found yet another level to his play and felt like he was taking over the game in a fashion not seen this year by anyone at any level outside the AFL. He was South Adelaide's most dangerous around goal. Early in the quarter in the space of one minute he hit the post twice, and later in the quarter kicked a goal.

Aside from being South Adelaide's most dangerous option inside 50m, he was also their best playmaker, setting up teammates inside 50m by foot and continuing to impose himself defensively with his unrelenting chasing and pressure. It was the diversity of ways he was influential which impressed the most. Courageously running back with the ball in flight at speed towards the behind post, winning first possession at stoppages, flying for high balls, taking the ball on the lead, causing opponents to worry about him one-on-one and whenever the ball dropped to ground, he was winning it at speed on the move. It was a completely dominant performance.

Despite Horne-Francis' brilliance with 24 disposals, 11 clearances, two contested marks, three goals and three behinds, it was not enough for South Adelaide to advance to the Grand Final, losing to Glenelg by 28-points.


Player focus

A draft smokie who little was expected of for Western Australia in the Grand Final curtain raiser against South Australia, Arthur Jones was the star of the day, playing a major part in his side's five-point win.

With just the nine games of WAFL Colts exposure before Saturday's match, club recruiters will be scrambling for game tape of Jones and discussing whether he should be added to their draft boards after playing a high impact per possession game in which he kicked two goals in 10 minutes and was Western Australia's most damaging around the ground.

Jones broke the lines with his run, used his agility and evasion to avoid would-be tacklers, hit meaningful targets by foot, felt lively and as if he could make something happen whenever the ball hit the ground.

In 22-minute quarters, the dangerous outside runner managed 15 disposals, six inside 50s and two goals. At just 178cm and 60kg, Jones is light and will take time to develop, but the talent and scope to improve is obvious. With hints of Jarman Impey, once developed physically, Jones could prove a similarly damaging player.


Key performers

SOUTH AUSTRALIA VS. WESTERN AUSTRALIA (UNDER 19s)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Demonstrating his skills, decision making with ball in hand, agility and evasion, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera backed up his strong first Under-19 Championships match with a strong second match. The performance has draft watchers wondering whether the talented wingman should enter the top-10 mix.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Part of West Coast's Next-Generation Academy, Richard Farmer was a livewire for Western Australia. A 173cm small forward, Farmer is a natural crumber and took on the game aggressively with his speed and agility, including cheekily running around and past the man on the mark from a set shot to finish for a goal from 30m. He was also lively at ground level, one take with his pickups, changing direction so quickly opponents couldn't react to what he was doing. He felt dangerous and like he would make something happen every time he touched the ball. Farmer proved difficult to catch with ball in hand, utilising his quick mind and dancing feet to avoid tackles, but on the few occasions he did get caught he cleared easily by hand to a target, remaining composed and unphased.

Backing up a strong first Under-19 Championships match, Matthew Johnson once again won best on ground honours. With 21 disposals, seven tackles and five clearances, Johnson led the way through the midfield. His work by hand and foot was exceptional, taking his time with ball in hand to assess his options. His long handballs to targets were special, locating and hitting teammates in space.

Draft eligible in 2022, Jackson Broadbent announced himself as a probable early selection. Still just 16 years of age, the 202cm ruckman has played three WAFL League matches and stood out for Western Australia in the win. He directed his hitouts to advantage and his work by foot around the ground was excellent. The impressive ruckman managed 16 disposals, five marks and 12 hitouts.

*Projected first round selections Jye Amiss and Arlo Draper due to injuries sustained in the second quarter were ruled out for the second half and did not return.


Key stats

SANFL League

Sharing the goalkicking load for South Adelaide, first round contender Matthew Roberts kicked two goals. Incredibly between Horne-Francis and Roberts, the two Under-18 prospects kicked five of South Adelaide's six goals.

South Australian Under-17 Futures game notes

His side may not have won but Kobe Ryan was the best player on the ground. Playing a complete game, he won the ball on the inside, covered a lot of ground, used the football effectively and spent time forward where he kicked two goals. The West Adelaide star looms as one of the first midfielders to be picked in next year's draft.