In every AFL draft, there are hard luck stories.
Outgoing Western Jets coach Torin Baker felt that Stefan Radovanovic, Daly Andrews and Connor Thar drew the short straw out of the Jets this year.
The Jets had Zak Butters (Port Adelaide) and Xavier O’Halloran (GWS Giants) picked up in the first round, while eyebrows were raised when Buku Khamis slid beyond the draft and to the Western Bulldogs with an academy pre-selection before the rookie draft, but at least he landed on an AFL list.
For Radovanovic and Andrews, both Vic Metro representatives, and Thar, who came second in the Morrish Medal and took out the Barry Round Medal for Jets best and fairest, it was a night of disappointment.
The talented trio missed out as a consequence of one of the deepest draft pools in years and the AFL clubs strategy to go for ready-made VFL players later in the draft.
“Obviously I was rapt for Zak and Xavier who went in the first round,” Baker said.
“That was really good efforts from those two boys and they were certainly thoroughly deserving of their seasons and the projections as to where their footy might get to.
“I was surprised that a club didn’t bid on Buku, very surprised considering he’s come off an All Australian year, but the fact is, he still gets to the club that he wanted to get to.
“I am disappointed that one of our other boys didn’t get an opportunity in Stefan, Daly or Connor.
“I thought they were certainly in the unlucky group and there’s always unlucky players.
“They would feel that they could’ve had an opportunity somewhere.”
Butters was secured by Port Adelaide with pick 12 in the draft.
Baker sees the speedy 18-year-old midfielder/half-forward as a perfect fit for the Power.
“He goes to a club where they’ve had a couple of players leaving like Chad Wingard and Jake Neade, so they’re looking for a player of his [Butters] type to play that role [across half-forward],” he said.
O’Halloran was one of the finest leaders in Baker’s time at the Jets. Not only did the tough-as-nails midfielder captain the Jets, but his leadership qualities were recognised with the skipper’s role for Vic Metro.
Baker sees similarities between O’Halloran and his new teammate and GWS Giants captain Callan Ward.
“I can see Xavier being teamed up with Callan Ward and them being two peas in a pod really with the way they go about it,” Baker said.
“He’s an elite character and that’s part of the reason why clubs wanted to get him.
“I know there was a few disappointed clubs that he didn’t slip to them because you’re going to get a really good leader as well as a good player.”
Baker was “staggered” that Khamis was not bid on by another AFL club.
Khamis was linked to the Western Bulldogs through the Next Generation Academy, but other clubs had the chance to select him in the draft and force the Bulldogs to surrender a draft pick.
However, no bid came, to the surprise of Baker, leaving the Bulldogs to have a free run at home after the main draft.
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