Australia's best betting sites

AFL Draft 2023: Gold Coast, Essendon big winners on first night

AFL betting

The first night of the 2023 AFL National Draft threw up a few surprises.

While the West Coast Eagles ended months of uncertainty surrounding the No.1 pick by taking top prospect Harley Reid, the next couple of selections did not quite go to script.

Gold Coast academy gun Jed Walter was tipped to go at No.2, with North Melbourne expected to make a bid and thus force the Suns’ hand.

However, the Kangaroos instead selected Tasmanian midfielder Colby McKercher with Pick 2 and then bid on Walter with Pick 3, meaning the Suns did not have to use as many value-index points to match the bid and get their man.

Given they had two picks in a row, it would have made no difference to North if they had bid on Walter at No.2 or No.3; however, the decision to go later made life a lot easier for the Suns.

This sort of move has dogged the draft in recent years, with critics pointing to the fact that the teams involved have often done deals together in the previous trade window.

Gold Coast and North Melbourne traded picks back in October, and sceptics are suggesting a gentleman’s agreement for the Roos not to bid on Walter with Pick 2 could have been part of that deal.

Something similar happened with Nick Daicos in the 2021 draft, as the consensus No.1 pick slipped to No.4 in the order as a father-son selection for Collingwood.

It happened again last year with Will Ashcroft, who slipped to No.2 as a Brisbane father-son selection after the GWS Giants opted to take Aaron Cadman with Pick 1.

In both cases, the Giants had completed trades with the teams in question earlier in the year.

In the end, the Suns landed Walter with Pick 3, Ethan Read with Pick 9, Jake Rogers with Pick 14 and Will Graham with Pick 26 on the opening night — and they still have six selections left.

Meanwhile, the Essendon Bombers pulled off a slick bit of business to move into the top 10 in the draft order.

With Geelong mulling over what to do with Pick 10, the Dons offered up No.11 and No.31 in exchange for moving up a spot.

The Cats accepted, allowing Essendon to select Northern Knights prospect Nate Caddy in a bid to bolster their goalkicking options.

Another interesting move on the night was GWS’s decision to take Phoenix Gothard with Pick 12.

The Murray Bushrangers forward had worked his way into the conversation with strong performances at the AFL National Championships, but few expected him to go earlier than the second round.

The Giants then struck a deal with St Kilda that allowed them to select the highly regarded James Leake at Pick 17, leaving many pundits to wonder why they didn’t take Leake at Pick 12 and then wait until later in the first round to go for Gothard.

In all, 29 players were selected on the opening night of the draft, while seven trades for picks were conducted.

The 2023 AFL National Draft resumes on Tuesday night at 7pm AEDT.

More sports news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x