Nine former Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL) players are heading to AFL clubs after being selected in the 2022 edition of the NAB AFL National and Rookie Drafts (Nov 28 – 30).
Elijah Tsatas (Surrey Park JFC) was taken with pick five by the Essendon Football Club and was joined in the first round by Matthew Jefferson (Ashburton JFC) with selection 15 to Melbourne, and Joshua Weddle (Templestowe JFC / St Mary’s JFC) with selection 18 to Hawthorn.
Max Gruzewski (Surrey Park) was taken at pick 22 by the Giants with — the first pick of the second round — and his Surrey Park teammate, Bailey Macdonald, was taken by the Hawks with pick 51. Former Ashburton premiership players and twin brothers, Alwyn and Jayden Davey, joined Tsatas at Essendon with picks 45 and 54 respectively.
In Wednesday’s Rookie Draft, former Canterbury Cobras junior, Oliver Sestan, was taken by Melbourne with pick 28 and Glen Iris Gladiator, Angus McLennan, was taken as a Category B Rookie by St Kilda.
>>> Scroll down to read our draftee bios.
It was a hugely successful draft for Ashburton JFC and Surrey Park JFC, with three players selected from each club.
Surrey Park President, Rohan Sutherland, said the club was extremely proud of the players and acknowledged the hard work of everyone involved in contributing to their careers.
“We’re very excited and pleased for Elijah, Max and Bailey and their families.”
“All three boys played their entire junior football careers, from U8s through to Colts at Surrey Park and were integral members of our U15 Div 1 premiership team in 2019. They also represented us with distinction at Vic Metro Championships for YJFL and at the Oakleigh Chargers and we’re confident they’ll continue to do so in the AFL system.”
“We’re also rapt for the army of past and current Surrey Park volunteers who’ve built our football program and filled the support roles that get our teams onto the park. There are far too many to acknowledge, but I’ll specifically make mention of the 2018-21 team’s Coach Dave Miller, Asst Coach Ivan Mackie, Team Mgr Lee Mundy, Trainer Craig Lowe and Runner Adrian Loverso, as well as Brendan Scott for his help with our program and pre-season.”
Templestowe JFC and President, Adrienne Moulder, also congratulated former player Josh Weddle on his achievement.
“A very big congratulations to Josh Weddle from all the Templestowe Junior Football community on being drafted into the AFL.”
“Josh was a very popular member of the team and around the club, always playing his heart out and encouraging his teammates. The club looks forward to following what we know will be a very successful career and hope that you settle into your new club as seamlessly as you did at Templestowe.”
This success of our YJFL players in this year’s draft is a testament to the strength of the league and the hard work of our players, their parents, their clubs and many others involved in their football careers.
The YJFL extends its sincere congratulations to all the players drafted and wishes them all the best for their future careers.
Selection: Pick 5 to Essendon Football Club
Junior Club: Surrey Park JFC (123 games)
Height: 186cm; Weight: 79kg
A medium midfielder with elite ball-winning ability and a neat step through traffic. He started the NAB League season on fire, averaging 32 disposals across the opening four rounds. However, a persistent foot injury required rehabilitation after representing Australia as part of the AFL Academy in May. He returned for only a handful of college matches for Wesley and two games for the Oakleigh Chargers late in the year. However, this was enough to see him win the Chargers best and fairest, after averaging 34 disposals and 12 clearances in six matches. Finished his season on a high by being among Victoria Metro’s best players with 29 disposals in the National Championships title-deciding win over Victoria Country in September. Tested soundly at the Draft Combine, indicating he was fully recovered from the mid-season injury.
Selection: Pick 15 to Melbourne Football Club
Junior Club: Ashburton JFC (134 games)
Height: 195cm; Weight: 84kg
A tall forward whose marking both on the lead and in a contested situation is his weapon. Averaged four marks and nine disposals to be the key deep target for the Victoria Metro 2022 NAB AFL National Championships-winning team, also claiming All-Australian honours. Kicked seven goals against Western Australia in a standout performance and overall kicked 27 goals in ten matches across the NAB League and National Championships.
Selection: Pick 18 to Hawthorn Football Club
Junior Club: Templestowe JFC (121 games) / St Mary’s JFC (23)
Height: 192cm; Weight: 91kg
Rock solid in defence in all matches for Victoria Metro. Averaged 15 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four rebound 50s per game in an impressive Championships and won All-Australian honours. His intercept marking, strength one-on-one and dash from the back half are features of his game. Was outstanding in testing at the Draft Combine, where he showed his elite athletic capacity. Ranked second in the running vertical jump (90cm) at the National Combine, and also impressed in the 20m sprint (2.94 seconds) and 2km time trial (6:03).
Selection: Pick 22 to GWS Giants
Junior Club: Surrey Park JFC (125 games)
Height: 193cm; Weight: 84kg
Potential swingman whose aerial skills and good ball use were prominent at both ends of the ground this year for the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and with Caulfield Grammar. Was selected for Victoria Metro in the deciding match of the National Championships and set the game alight early with two goals, one which came from a spectacular mark that gave a glimpse of his natural talent. Averaged 14 disposals and five marks for the Chargers, with his sharp competitive edge another feature of his game.
Selection: Pick 51 to Hawthorn Football Club
Junior Club: Surrey Park JFC (135 games)
Height: 182cm; Weight: 74kg
Wingman or half back who can break the lines with his dazzling pace. Mixed his football between Wesley College and the Oakleigh Chargers. Played four games in the NAB League, averaging 11 disposals, before being promoted into the Victoria Metro team for the final match of the National Championships. Showed some of his trademark speed in the game against Victoria Country to contribute to the title-winning team.
Alwyn Davey Jr.
Selection: Pick 45 to Essendon Football Club
Junior Club: Ashburton JFC (10 games)
Height: 181cm; Weight: 77kg
A small forward and midfielder, he possesses one-touch hands, is crafty around goals and has great pace and elusiveness. He recorded the fastest in-game speed this year, moving at nearly 34km/h. Was a classy performer for Victoria Metro in the National Championships-winning team, averaging 14 disposals and a goal a game. Was an influential playmaker for the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League, averaging 16 disposals in six matches, mixing his games with school commitments at Xavier College. He is the son of former Essendon forward Alwyn Davey Snr and has been nominated as a father-son selection for Essendon this year, with rival clubs set to bid his value on Draft night.
Selection: Pick 54 to Essendon Football Club
Junior Club: Ashburton JFC (9 games)
Height: 179cm; Weight: 79kg
Small midfielder and forward who is the twin of fellow draft prospect, Alwyn jnr. Suffered an ACL injury after showing enormous promise last year. Was part of the Flying Boomerangs program alongside his brother in 2019, which helps prepare Indigenous players for potential AFL careers. Both showed similar speed, agility and game sense and have been part of Essendon’s academy programs for several years. The twins have also played together at Xavier College in Victoria and participated in the Oakleigh Chargers development programs, as well as spending time in the Northern Territory. Essendon has confirmed its intentions to list both players this year under the AFL’s father-son rule.
Selection: Rookie Draft Pick 28 to Melbourne Football Club
Junior Club: Canterbury Cobras JFC (99 games)
Selection: Rookie Draft Category B to St Kilda Football Club
Junior Club: Glen Iris JFC (99 games)