LIKELY No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and future father-son prospect Nick Daicos headline a host of draft hopefuls training before AFL recruiters in a private camp in Sorrento this week.
More than 20 players eligible for the 2020 and 2021 NAB AFL Drafts are taking part in the two-day program across Wednesday and Thursday run by management group Connors Sports.
The sessions are being coached by North Melbourne AFL pro scout and AFLW coach Darren Crocker – the father of Connors Sports client and Roos youngster Joel.
With no junior matches currently being played for draft hopefuls due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria, the idea was implemented to showcase the talent to clubs.
It is believed Melbourne-based recruiters from more than a dozen AFL clubs are in attendance, with some clubs choosing to send multiple spotters given the lack of exposure to talent this year.
Clubs have in recent weeks been given the green light to start interviewing players over teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom.
However, they were told in April they were not allowed to meet with players and their families face-to-face for the immediate future.
When contacted, clubs in attendance at this week’s training camp insisted they were adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Ugle-Hagan, who is tipped as the No.1 pick for this year’s NAB AFL Draft, is a member of the Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy and has signed with Connors Sports.
Other clubs will have the right to bid on the 18-year-old, however given his links to the Dogs’ zone in south-west Victoria, the Dogs will have first right to match and attain his services.
He is expected to be the highest player taken in a draft linked to a club after Callum Mills joined Sydney at pick No.3 in 2015 via the club’s Academy.
Daicos, the son of Collingwood great Peter and brother of current Pie Josh, is seen as a possible top-five pick in next year’s draft and is also taking part.
A host of underage players, like Daicos, are in attendance including Jake Soligo, Josh Sinn, Angus McLennan, Tyler Sonsie – Vic Metro’s MVP at last year’s Under 16 carnival – and Josh Rachele – Kevin Sheehan Medallist for the carnival’s best player.
It is understood this has left several rival agents questioning the camp by contacting the AFL Players Association for comment.
Players are allowed to officially sign with agents immediately after the draft in the year preceding their own draft eligibility, which will come later this year for the crop of 2021.
The first approach from agents to players can come from October 1 in their top-age year of under-16’s.
Other players eligible for this year’s draft at the camp include top hopefuls Tanner Bruhn, Archie Perkins, Finlay Macrae (brother of Western Bulldog Jack) and Sam Witherden (brother of Brisbane’s Alex).
Next Generation Academy prospects Reef McInnes (Collingwood) and Connor Downie (Hawthorn) are also taking part.
The program is being headed by the expanding management group including agents Paul Connors, Robbie D’Orazio, Nathan Freeman and Nick Gieschen who crossed from TLA ahead of this season.
Clubs in attendance spoken to by AFL.com.au said they would jump at any opportunity to watch young talent exposed in their draft year with access limited.
The SANFL under-18 competition returned last weekend, while the WAFL competition will return from July 18.
The NAB League will hold a six-week competition in Victoria from August 22.