There has been big drama at the AFL Draft with a shock suspension handed down after an official earlier tested positive for Covid.
The AFL’s national draft for 2021 was wrapped up in a storm of controversy on Thursday night.
There was big drama on the opening night when clubs took gambles on some promising talents that none of the draft experts saw coming.
The drama continued on Thursday night with the AFL confirming a club staff member has tested positive after being present at both Marvel Stadium and the London Tavern in Melbourne — the two official venues for the event.
You can read all the draft selections and full draft results below
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The event was overshadowed on Thursday when news broke a former draft prospect has been suspended after returning a positive test result for a banned substance.
Fox Footy reported Perth talent Michael Randall, who trained with Fremantle during last summer’s pre-season, has been provisionally suspended for a banned substance.
The West Australian Football Commission confirmed Randall had been issued with notice of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under the Australian Football Anti-Doping Code.
The Herald Sun reports the test allegedly returned a positive reading for a banned substance commonly present in weight loss products.
Randall played with WAFL club Peel Thunder during the 2021 season.
He was stood down for Peel’s last home-and-away match this season. The Thunder announced at the time that he was unavailable for “personal reasons”.
AFL pulls trigger on snap Covid restrictions
The AFL released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming the result has forced snap restrictions.
It comes just hours after it was revealed three North Melbourne players have also tested positive.
The Herald Sun first reported one younger player had returned to the club to begin pre-season before testing positive and being sent into isolation.
Two senior team members are also isolating, but had not yet begun pre-season training.
Meanwhile, all the players and staff members of the 18 teams present at Wednesday night’s Draft events, including highly-rated first-round draft picks Finn Callaghan, Nick Daicos, Sam Darcy and Mac Andrew, have been instructed to monitor for symptoms.
The draft is being conducted virtually with club officials located inside the corporate suites at Marvel Stadium.
They have been instructed not to leave their designated suites during the event as a result of the positive Covid-19 test.
The AFL statement announced all those in attendance will undergo rapid antigen tests on arrival with masks to be worn at all times during the event.
AFL world loses it at draftee’s rowdy celebration
After the Brisbane Lions took Darcy Wilmot with pick 16, the TV coverage cut to the house where he was tuning in to the draft — and it was pure television gold.
When his named was called, the teenager was immediately mobbed by about 20 of his mates, who jumped on top of him in an epic game of stacks-on.
Asked on Fox Footy shortly afterwards how he was feeling after being tackled by his friends, Wilmot was as down to earth as it gets.
“Couple of bruises and knocks but I’m going good,” he said. “(I’m) bloody excited.
“Just my best footy I’ll bring, hard work and determination. Everything I’ve got in me, I’ll bring it to the AFL.”
When asked how he planned to celebrate being drafted, Wilmot responded cheekily: “Couple more Pepsi Max.
“Just having a couple with the boys and the family and stuff. That’s about it.”
Emotions run high as dreams come true on Night 1
South Australian gun midfielder Jason Horne-Francis was chosen by North Melbourne as the No. 1 pick.
Along with the prestige of being the top player in his draft class, Horne-Francis will receive a $10,000 cash payment from the league’s corporate sponsor.
There was also a touching moment when Ben Hobbs was picked by Essendon with pick 13.
When his name was read out, the midfielder immediately teared up and put his head in his hands as the reality of having achieved his childhood dream had set in.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.
“I’m so glad that my name has been called out to the Bombers. They’re an amazing club and I can’t wait to get into it.
“I’m so proud of this moment.”
Hobbs had been linked with several clubs but he was ultimately picked by Essendon, which delighted the teenager.
“I got a call this afternoon just saying if you’re there (not yet picked by another club) it could happen,” he said.
“I’m so happy it’s happened. It’s been a dream as long as I can remember and it’s the best day of my life for sure.
“Dad’s an Essendon supporter so it’s worked perfectly.”
Huge bolters in first round of draft
While the top 10 picks were chosen in their predicted order, there some bolters in the back end of the first round of the draft.
Leek Aleer came from nowhere to be recruited by GWS with pick 15, while the Sydney Swans also found a diamond in the rough taking Angus Sheldrick at pick 18.
“Those next half a dozen picks absolute bargains because of the bolters we saw tonight” expert commentator David King said on Fox Footy.
“I think we probably saw six bolters. We haven’t seen that before in the top 20 on night one of the draft.”
The remaining rounds of the AFL draft will be decided on Thursday night.
AFL 2021 Draft Selections — Round 1
1. Jason Horne-Francis — North Melbourne
2. Sam Darcy — Western Bulldogs
3. Finn Callaghan — GWS Giants
4. Nick Daicos — Collingwood
5. Mac Andrew — Gold Coast Suns
6. Joshua Rachelle — Adelaide
7. Joshua Ward — Hawthorn
8. Jye Amis — Fremantle Dockers
9. Josh Gibcus — Richmond
10. Neil Erasmus — Fremantle
11. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera — St Kilda
12. Joshua Sinn — Port Adelaide
13. Ben Hobbs — Essendon
14. Campbell Chesser — West Coast
15. Leek Aleer — GWS Giants
16. Darcy Wilmot — Brisbane Lions
17. Tom Brown — Richmond
18. Angus Sheldrick — Sydney Swans
19. Jacob van Rooyen — Melbourne
20. Kai Lohmann — Brisbane Lions
Night 2 live AFL Draft selections
21. Fremantle (via Gold Coast Suns) — Matthew Johnson
22. North Melbourne — Josh Goater
23. Hawthorn (via Collingwood) — Sam Butler
24. Geelong Cats (via Gold Coast Suns) — Toby Conway
25. Geelong Cats (via Adelaide Crows) — Mitchell Knevitt
26. Hawthorn — Connor MacDonald
27. Carlton — Jesse Motlop
28. Richmond — Tyler Sonsie
29. Richmond (via Fremantle) — Samuel Banks
30. Richmond (via St Kilda) — Judson Clarke
31. West Coast Eagles — Brady Hough
32. Geelong Cats (via Essendon) — James Willis
33. St Kilda — Mitchito Owens
34. Sydney Swans — Matt Roberts
35. North Melbourne (via GWS Giants) — Paul Curtis
36. Adelaide Crows (via Brisbane Lions) — Jake Soligo
37. West Coast Eagles (via Port Adelaide) — Rhett Bazzo
38. North Melbourne (via Western Bulldogs) — Miller Bergman
39. Melbourne — Blake Howes
40. Sydney Swans (free agency compensation for George Hewett) — Corey Warner
41. Brisbane Lions (via Collingwood) — James Tunstill
42. GWS Giants — Joshua Fahey
43. Western Bulldogs (via Richmond) — Arthur Jones
44. Adelaide — Zac Taylor
45. Collingwood — Arlo Draper
46. Essendon — Alastair Lord
47. St Kilda — Marcus Windhager
48. Geelong — Flynn Kroeger
49. Collingwood — Cooper Murley
50. Essendon — Garrett McDonough