Young Sharks in demand at AFL Draft

Melbourne's Number 3 draft pick Luke Jackson (right) with Brad Green during the 2019 NAB AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium.
(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images).
Melbourne's Number 3 draft pick Luke Jackson (right) with Brad Green during the 2019 NAB AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images).

EAST Fremantle Football Club is celebrating a potentially historic crop of young talent after a quintet of players were picked up at last week’s AFL Draft.

Following a lean spell which saw just three Sharks taken in the previous five drafts, the club which produced Patrick Cripps, Josh Kennedy, Elliot Yeo and Brad Sheppard watched as five players were selected last week.

Headlined by ruckman Luke Jackson, who was taken by Melbourne with the third overall pick, four East Fremantle products went inside the first 40 picks, a feat bettered only by renowned Victorian outfit Sandringham Dragons (five inside the top 40).

Jeremy Sharp (pick 27, Gold Coast), Trent Rivers (pick 32, Melbourne), Chad Warner (pick 39, Sydney) and Trey Ruscoe (pick 55, Collingwood) joined Jackson in earning AFL contracts, which made East Fremantle the top WAFL club at this year’s draft.

East Fremantle colts coach Jacob Brennan said the group were bursting with confidence and blessed with a high work-ethic which would hold them in good stead in their AFL journey.

“Luke is a player who, when thrown a challenge, will thrive in it. Whatever Melbourne sees in store for him, he’s going to be someone who going to really go after it, whether that’s in the ruck, forward line or midfield,” he said.

“Trent can have an impact across the half back line initially early in his career and as time goes on he’ll be able to impact the game as a midfielder.

“Jeremy, through his time playing league footy, has shown he can already play against men and he can probably play senior footy pretty quickly.

“Chad’s going to be someone who can learn off some quality inside midfielders at Sydney. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever dealt with from a junior perspective.

“Trey is a really dynamic player, he can play a lot of different positions and he’s got the ability as a forward, with a really strong grounding at Collingwood he can put together a good few next years and give himself every chance.”

Brennan was at Sharp’s house when the Suns picked him and has exchanged congratulatory texts with the rest of the drafted Sharks since the night, with an eye to keep in touch over the next few weeks to ensure they were comfortable in their new surroundings.

The former West Coast defender, an East Fremantle product himself, said the draft was an affirmation the club’s development program was on the right track.

“The whole program is built around giving guys some education about furthering their footy and luckily enough, I had some experiences at AFL level I could share with these guys,” he said.

“But there’s nothing specific about it; you’ve got to go about making sure they’re enjoying their time and that’s how they get the best out of themselves.

“We’re there to make sure East Fremantle becomes a powerhouse again, so we’re trying to up-skill the players to play league footy and beyond if possible.”

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