Tasmania has enjoyed a bountiful opening night at the AFL national draft with its two leading talents selected within the first ten picks.
Northern Tasmanian pair Tarryn Thomas and Chayce Jones were drafted with consecutive picks as Adelaide made a play for both players.
As expected, the Crows bid on Thomas with their eighth pick and were matched by North Melbourne, who had rights to the North Launceston star as a Next Generation Academy member.
Adelaide then selected Launceston midfielder Jones with the ninth pick to seal just the fourth AFL draft featuring two Tasmanians in the top 10, and the first since 1996.
Thomas was relieved to hear his name called out after years of being linked with North, and said he was over the moon to see his Tassie Mariners teammate Jones picked up minutes after.
“Me and Chayce have been friends and played with the Tassie Mariners and Allies, he’s a good mate and I’ve known him almost all my life,” Thomas said.
“So I’m over the moon for him and excited for him.”
Both teenagers will have familiar faces at their new AFL clubs, with Thomas set to join forces with fellow Tasmanians Ben Brown and Aaron Hall.
Jones will link up with former Australian under-19 basketballer Hugh Greenwood, who cemented himself as one of the Crows’ stars by finishing fifth in this year’s best and fairest.
“It was just unbelievable at the start, and it’s still a bit surreal that it’s all happened,” Jones said shortly after being presented with his Adelaide guernsey.
“It’s just been real quick, I can’t wait for it all to start.
“(Adelaide) showed interest and that sort of thing at the combine, but I didn’t have any idea until the night and when they read my name out I was absolutely stoked.”
With the remainder of the draft to be played out from noon on Friday, 2018 is already Tasmania’s biggest draft yield since 2015.
Thomas’ cousin and Northern Bombers teammate Ryhan Mansell remains hopeful of being selected, while Southern duo Fraser Turner and Nick Baker are both considered good draft chances.
Jones said 2018 was proof Tasmania could still punch above its weight.
“There’s been a of criticism about Tassie football and I think tonight just shows that it is a football state.”
Thomas and Jones both enjoyed impressive seasons in 2018, mixing TSL matches with Mariners and Allies commitments.
Thomas became a two-time North Launceston premiership player by kicking two goals in the Bombers’ grand final win over Lauderdale, while Jones produced a barnstorming finish to the TSL season to finish third in the player of the year award.
AFL Tasmania talent manager Mathew Armstrong said was thrilled to see both players picked so early.
“I certainly thought we’d get both of them maybe top 20, but to get them in the top 10 I think it’s the first time it’s been done in the last 20 years,” Armstrong said.
“To have those two boys in there, and they’re two ripper young men, I couldn’t be happier for them and their families.
“It takes the full package to be taken in the top 10 - not just ability, but great character and those sort of things.
“You’ve got to be the full package and they’re fantastic kids.”
PICKS TO DATE
- 1. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
- 2. Jack Lukosius (GC)
- 3. Izak Rankine (GC)
- 4. Max King (St Kilda)
- 5. Connor Rozee (P.A.)
- 6. Benjamin King (GC)
- 7. Bailey Smith (WB)
- 8. Tarryn Thomas (NM)
- 9. Chayce Jones (Adel)
- 10. Nick Blakey (Sydney)
- 11. Jye Caldwell (GWS)
- 12. Zak Butters (P.A.)
- 13. Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood)
- 14. Jackson Hately (GWS)
- 15. Jordan Clark (Geel)
- 16. Ned McHenry (Adel)
- 17. Samuel Sturt (Fre)
- 18. Xavier Duursma (P.A)
- 19. Liam Stocker (Carl)
- 20. Riley Collier-Dawkins (Richmond)
- 21. Ely Smith (Brisbane)
- 22. Xavier O’Halloran (GWS)