AFL draft spotlight on Jets young guns

By Ewen McRae

The Western Jets expect to see a number of their stars step up to the AFL after this week’s draft, with Zak Butters and Xavier O’Halloran topping the list.

Despite missing half the season following shoulder surgery, Butters is expected to hear his name called out in the first round on November 22, and Jets talent manager Jy Bond said there’s a good reason so many rate him so highly.

“What stood out for me with Butters is the fact he was able to play through that shoulder injury and play to a high standard,” Bond said.

“He went through the Vic Metro side playing injured and showed he could cope. He’s got a slight frame, but he showed he’s tough and courageous which is what really stood out.

“I still think he’ll go in the top 15 from all reports, and he’s a fantastic character and a good kid so he’ll work hard when he gets into an AFL system.”

A slick mover with good ball use and a big tank, Bond said he could see him being used as an outside midfielder at the start of his career, as well as plenty of time up forward.

O’Halloran enjoyed a strong season for the Jets, Vic Metro, and his school side, captaining all three in a sign of his leadership potential at the next level.

On top of a string of good results at the draft combine – finishing in the top 10 in the sprint, YoYo, 2km time trial, kicking test and placing second in the agility test – Bond said he had huge upside for any club that picks him up.

“He is just a leader, a very mature kid,” Bond said.

“We had multiple times this year where we needed a lift, and he was the one to give us that. He’s got a ready made body for the AFL so he’ll be eyeing off a spot in the midfield somewhere I would think.

“Personally I think his leadership sets him apart from others. At that level everyone can play, it’s a matter of how well they will fit in the system, so if you’ve got a strong character it takes a lot of the guesswork out for clubs. I think it’s just as important as the skill set.”

Bond also highlighted Western Bulldogs academy prospect Buku Khamis as a potential draftee, with the former refugee come key defender a chance to make it.

“His athletic profile is second to none, and he’s had a very strong year,” Bond said. “There’s a fair chance that the Bulldogs will bid on him at some stage, and he deserves to be on an AFL list either at the Bulldogs or as a rookie.”

Hard running Daly Andrews is also an outside chance to be snapped up, according to Bond.

Ewen McRae