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Draft crop favours North

Heath O'Loughlin  November 22, 2017 12:24 PM

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With the draft just days away, it seems we are no clearer on which player will be taken with the first pick. The Herald Sun reports the Lions’ list managers and executives are torn between Andrew Brayshaw and Cameron Rayner as their No.1, and will attempt to sort their differences out at a meeting on Wednesday.

Brayshaw and Rayner are among a group of six players including Patrick Dow, Adam Cerra, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jaidyn Stephenson, all with No.1 credentials creating a situation that can only favour North Melbourne, according to club Recruiting Manager Mark Finnigan.

“It won’t be any surprise if any of those guys go number one,” Finnigan told NMFC.com.au.

Taking Cerra as an example to back up Finnigan’s view, Darren Bewick, who coached him at Eastern Ranges, told the AFL’s website the teenager “is as good a player that has come through our program”.

"He got injured last year and he's had a few injuries this year, so if he'd played a full season he'd be right in contention for the No.1 pick … Boyd and Patton were No.1 picks, and Petracca was pick No.2, but Adam just has a great understanding of the game and his skills are at a high level,” Bewick said.

"He's a (future) 200-game player that's ready to play AFL football now." 

Rayner, from Western Jets/Vic Metro is a 187cm half-forward/midfielder with exciting match winning abilities, but question marks have been raised about his endurance. Davies-Uniacke, a 187cm Dandenong Stingrays hopeful, also possess game-breaking qualities. Referred to as a powerhouse around the contest, the excitement doesn’t stop there. His speed allows him to burst away from stoppages and push forward. Dow is another midfielder who played for the Bendigo Pioneers and also has ties to North with his grandfather, Peter, a former player. As with Davies-Uniacke, he has great speed which provides space outside congestion. Both know how to win the ball and use it well. Stephenson is another Eastern Ranges talent who plays as a half-forward with midfield potential. Quick for his 189cm frame, he has a good leap and can take a contested grab, but a heart condition has some clubs somewhat hesitant.

“You could argue a case for each and every one of them as to who should be number one,” Finnigan said.

“It’s a unique year with so many potential top prospects. There’s generally been a clear number one or two.

“There’s never been, in recent times, such an open field. These players could go number one, or they could go two, three, four, five or six. It’s as open as it’s ever been.”

While recruiters generally get wind of what other clubs are planning, Finnigan is treating second-hand information with caution.

“We get a feel for what other clubs might be thinking, but at this point in time it’s still very much up in the air as to what might happen on Friday night,” he said.

“Everyone claims to have ‘the mail’, but there’s three different versions of that ‘mail’ doing the rounds.

“We just have to formulate our list of top prospects and cross them off as their names are called out. It’s a good situation for us to be in, because no matter who goes one, two and three, we know we are essentially going to get a player who has been talked about as a potential number one pick.”