By Hayley Wildes
After claiming the 2018 TAC Cup premiership – the first in the club’s history – the Dandenong Stingrays capped off a terrific season with six players finding AFL homes on Thursday and Friday.
With the AFL national draft and rookie draft taking place over two days, many players were left waiting overnight to find out if their AFL dream would come true.
Sam Sturt was the biggest bolter of the entire draft and Stingrays forward was selected by the Fremantle Dockers with pick 17. Despite playing just six games at the end of the season for the Rays, Sturt’s ability to have an impact on the contest and smarts around goal were tantalising.
As an extremely talented cricketer, Sturt only decided to focus on football late in the TAC Cup season and it’s fair to say it has paid dividends.
The next Ray to be snapped up was versatile defender Will Hamill. Hamill was a standout for Dandenong in its premiership-winning season and his drive off half-back started many attacking forays forward. He was selected by the Adelaide Crows with pick 30 and heads there with plenty of promise.
His ability to run and carry and make the right decision with ball in hand should see him have an impact on the AFL in the years to come.
Bailey Williams has long been seen as one of the premier bigs in this draft class and he is headed to the reigning premiers; the West Coast Eagles. The Eagles snapped up Williams with pick 35 – which could prove to be a bargain due to Williams’ incredible agility and ability to take pack marks.
Williams’ stock did fall slightly throughout the season, but there’s no doubting his upside.
With the Rays going to all corners of the country, Zac Foot continued that trend when he was selected by the Sydney Swans with pick 51. Foot, who was a constant driving force for the Rays through the middle of the ground, heads to Sydney with the potential to a great late selection for the Swans.
He can run all day and doesn’t mind doing the dirty work either.
Toby Bedford was one of the biggest keys to Dandenong’s premiership run and he found a home at the Melbourne Demons after being selected with pick 75. As a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Bedford was almost certain to find his way to the Demons as they could match any bid for him.
As one of the classiest small forwards in the TAC Cup competition, Bedford is relentless and loves to put pressure on, whilst also possessing plenty of skill.
Lachie Young also found a home – heading to the Western Bulldogs after being selected with pick 6 in the rookie draft. Young impressed with his rebounding ability and run off half back.