‘Rays to push case at draft combine

Bailey Williams (#29) is one of five Rays invited to the AFL Draft Combine. 183170 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Hayley Wildes

 As we head towards the business end of the TAC Cup season and inch closer to the 2018 AFL National Draft, draft hopefuls are starting to separate themselves from the pack with outstanding performances.

Another way to really catch the eye of AFL scouts is by recording impressive numbers at the AFL Draft Combine. This year’s combine, held at Etihad Stadium from October 2-5, will see 80 of the best draft prospects be put to the test in front of all AFL clubs.

The combine assesses player’s strength and skills through many trials including kicking, clean hands, agility, jumping and running tests.

There will be no shortage of locals showcasing their wares, with five Dandenong Stingrays receiving invitations.

Dandenong’s Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill and Bailey Williams have been invited.

As showcased by the Rays tremendous season that has them sitting on top the ladder, the team possesses a wealth of talent and the likes of Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman are potential first-round draft picks.

Williams, who can play ruck and key forward, is perhaps the most tantalising prospect of the bunch. The 198cm big man is athletic, agile and can take a pack mark like few others.

Whilst his aerial work is tremendous, once the ball hits the ground, he is just as dangerous and that aspect of his game really sets him apart from other big men.

Bedford, Foot and Hamill have enjoyed stunning TAC Cup seasons and have forced their way into draft discussions. Big outings in the TAC Cup finals, followed by strong testing at the combine could see all three players quickly rise up the rankings.

Players who missed out on being invited to the national combine will have the chance to prove themselves in state combines. All AFL clubs submit nominations of players they want to see at the state combines, with more than 100 players invited to take part.

Those lists will be finalised in the coming weeks.