IN 2016, the Sandringham Dragons produced five picks inside the top 11 of the national draft. In 2018, three picks inside the top seven.
But 2019 could prove the most fruitful year yet in the club’s proud history, after a remarkable 13 players were selected in the final Vic Metro squad, while Darcy Chirgwin was also picked to represent Vic Country in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.
It comes as the Dragons set sail for a premiership pursuit, sitting second on the NAB League ladder with the competition’s highest percentage at a prodigious 160.6.
Head coach Josh Bourke was particularly pleased with the work ethic displayed by players in order to achieve selection for the national carnival.
“Obviously Josh Worrell, Jack Mahony and Fischer McAsey are extremely highly rated and maintained a high level of performance. But then there are kids like Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Oscar Lewis, Corey Watts and Louis Butler who have had to work extremely hard to get their opportunity,” he said.
The first-year coach is hopeful each Dragon will perform at the carnival, but highlighted key-forward Charlie Dean and midfielder Finn Maginness as the pair to watch closely.
“I think they will all have their moments, but it’s probably Dean and Maginness who I think could really jump out,” he said.
“Both [are] strong and physical in their own way - their competitive nature probably suits the nationals.”
When quizzed upon exactly how talented this Dragons squad is, Bourke suggested only time could tell.
“Obviously it’s an incredibly deep list and there’s probably even a number of players with us who could consider themselves unlucky not to be at Metro,” he said.
“Time will largely determine just how talented the list is, we’re obviously extremely hopeful that the draft numbers are strong, which would be the best indicator.”
Vic Country defeated Metro by 13 points in the first match of the national carnival on Saturday at the MCG, with Dragons Louis Butler and Miles Bergman among the best players on the ground, while Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness and Hugo Ralphsmith all contributed with a goal apiece.
Vic Metro take on Western Australia this Saturday in Perth, while Vic Country play Tasmania in Launceston on Sunday.
Dragons skipper Ryan Byrnes, a later addition to the Vic Metro squad, is expected to return from injury either this weekend or the next.
The Dragons travel to Ballarat’s Mars Stadium on Saturday in a match against the Geelong Falcons.
DRAGONS SELECTED FOR THE NAB UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Jack Mahony, Ryan Byrnes, Louis Butler, Hugo Ralphsmith, Miles Bergman, Finn Maginness, Oscar Lewis, Fischer McAsey, Joshua Worrell, Corey Watts, Charlie Dean, Andrew Courtney, Jack Bell.