Photo credit: The Gippsland Times
Photo credit: The Gippsland Times

Up to 10 AFL clubs will have the opportunity to welcome some of their club’s most famous surnames this year, with 16 father-son eligible players listed at under-18 level. It is the most since the rule was introduced in the 1940s, including two players who will have the rare chance to choose their club of choice.

Carlton, Essendon, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs stand to fare the best, with several players eligible to follow in their fathers’ footsteps.

The Blues have access to arguably the draft’s most famous surname, with Stephen Silvagni’s son Jack set to pull on the blue and red at reigning premiers Oakleigh.

Jack is a key forward with terrific hands and a thumping kick that penetrates well over 50 metres. His ability to take contested marks and remain in a contest at ground level gives him some exciting attributes that will keep Blues fans excited in his top-age year.

Carlton will also have the opportunity to draft Jake Bradley, the son of club champion and former captain Craig, who with 375 games to his name holds the games record at the Blues. With Craig being a Hall of Famer, dual Premiership player and seven-time all Australian, the Bradley name is one of the most famous at Carlton, so the Blues will be keeping a keen eye on Jake in 2015.

Jake Bradley is an exciting outside midfielder with brilliant acceleration away from a contest. Needs to bridge the gap in terms of his consistency and effort over four quarters, but he has some exciting attributes

Essendon will continue to have access to an array of father-son talent, adding to the prosperous pathway that has already delivered the club several offspring of its past heroes.

Premiership stars Dean and Chris will watch their respective sons Josh Wallis and Harvey Daniher line up together for 2014’s grand finalists, the Calder Cannons, this year. Tom is a medium-sized midfielder with a nice left foot, but he needs to work on his decision making and positioning.

Harvey, a 189 centimetre defender, had a delayed start to his 2014 campaign, after stress fractures in his back put a line through his pre-season. He can play at either end of the ground as a third tall, but hasn’t yet displayed any outstanding attributes that suggest an AFL career lays ahead.

The Bombers will also be keeping a close eye on another club great’s son, Jett Bewick, the son of 238-gamer and dual premiership star Darren. In an interesting turn of events, Darren is the current senior coach of the Eastern Ranges and will coach Jett for a second straight season in 2015.

Jett is only slight, but he’s got some real get-up-and-go. He only managed two senior games last year with limited game time, but showed glimpses of his fine pedigree.

The Bulldogs will be keeping a close watch on only two father-sons this year, after Josh Wallis – the brother of Mitch and son of Peter – failed to make the cut for the Cannons squad this year.

Instead, Michael Romero – whose father Jose won Footscray’s Charles Sutton Medal in 1996 and currently holds a spot on the Bulldogs board – will line up for the Cannons, having already made a big impression since his arrival from the under-16 program over the summer.

Romero isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2016, but will play as a small forward with an aim to develop his defensive output in his first year at TAC Cup level, in between school commitments with St Kevins College. He’s got some tricks and offers zip and creativity, and will have the perfect pair of mentors in Hisham Kerbatieh and Ben Allan.

Over at the Northern Knights, the shaggy-haired Darcy MacPherson, son of Bulldogs 188-gamer Stephen, will be monitored closely, having returned from a shoulder reconstruction after his first season at TAC Cup level.

Sydney is placed to gain the services Josh Dunkley, the son of Sydney 200-gamer Andrew, after having made his presence felt as a bottom-ager for the Gippsland Power in the TAC Cup. The strong-bodied teenager is recognised widely as a first-round pick, particularly after his strong showing for Vic Country during last year’s under 18 championships.

A well-publicised fallout between Andrew and the Swans won’t have any effect on Josh’s future, having celebrated with the team in the rooms after their 2012 triumph. The life-long Sydney supporter is all but guaranteed to find himself in the harbour city, despite the conjecture surrounding the new proposed bidding system.

The Swans will also have exclusive access to Jesse Maxfield, son of former captain and 200-gamer Stuart Maxfield. Like Romero, Maxfield isn’t eligible for the draft until 2016 and will play his first season at under-18 level this year, having graduated from Sandringham’s under-16 development pathway.

Melbourne fans will likely welcome back-to-back father-son picks, having added the talented Billy Stretch in last year’s draft. Jake Lovett, the son of Brett, made a monumental impact during last year’s finals for the Dandenong Stingrays.

The Stingrays famously dropped their leading goal-kicker Taylor Joyce ahead of the first final in favour of the smooth-moving midfielder, whom coach Craig Black described as having “a fantastic footy brain”. Lovett didn’t disappoint, averaging 18 disposals in his three finals appearances.

But the twist of the 2015 and 2016 draft lays firmly with two teenagers, both who will have to make the choice between two different clubs (or conversely overlook them both) should the two clubs their fathers played with opt for their services.

Joe Daniher made the call to go with Essendon despite also having the option to join the Swans, while Marc Murphy famously overlooked the Lions and opted to try his luck in the 2005 National Draft, in which he became the number one pick.

This year, Bailey Rice, the son of Carlton and St Kilda player Dean, will be first cab off the rank since Daniher in 2012. Rice has always followed the Blues, but living in close proximity to the Saints has seen him join their father-son academy, and importantly, is down at the Seaford headquarters once a week.

Similarly Ben Jarman, the son of Darren, will have to make a call on his club of preference. The elite talent is highly regarded in South Australia and is part of Adelaide’s father-son academy, but is also eligible to join the Hawks.

Collingwood is currently reveling in the arrival of Darcy Moore, but will be cursing that they won’t have exclusive access to a third-generation Magpie in Eastern’s Sam Weideman.

The son of Mark and the grandson of Murray is already regarded as the draft’s best contested mark, and the key forward is widely tipped to go inside the first round of the draft this year.

The Pies will however get the opportunity to track Josh Daicos, the son of one of its greatest ever in Peter. The 1990 premiership hero has passed down similar traits to his son, who will only see limited TAC Cup footy for Oakleigh this year as he juggles school commitments with Camberwell Grammar.

The youngest of the Daicos clan, Nick won the under 14 carnival’s best player award, and is regarded one of the best talents of his age group in the country.

West Coast will welcome the opportunity to draft Peter Matera’s son Jordan, who at this stage is somewhere between a small forward and an inside midfielder.

He’s spent the summer training with Sandringham’s forward group, and like his father has a great nose for goal and is classy in close. It is hoped that he translates that into more of a midfield role this year.

Brisbane will also get another chance to call out Tyler Roos’ name, after all 18 clubs opted to bypass the skinny 18-year-old last year.

Roos has returned to the Sandringham Dragons as a 19-year old this year, and after a full pre-season in the gym and access to Melbourne’s training facilities is cutting an imposing figure, notably bigger and stronger in his second year in the system.

The Lions will also have access to Daniel Rendell, son of Collingwood recruiting manager Matt. Matt played 164 games for Fitzroy over 10 years, captaining the club from 1985-1987, winning the Lions’ best and fairest in 1982 and 1983, while twice being named All-Australian.

His son Daniel is a key position prospect, predominantly a ruckman who can go forward with a presence. He’s got some aggressive qualities, but is still raw in aspects of his game. He’ll be the number one target up front for the Dragons this year, and will benefit from top-line 19-year-olds Roos and Tom Wilkinson giving him premium service.

While the season is yet to start, fans of 10 AFL clubs have a reason to be interested in the under-18s this season, with the latest developments brought to you by Bound For Glory News Rising Stars.