Grassroots talent – a look at regional SA’s AFL drafted players 2000-2010

Ahead of the much-anticipated 2021 AFL Draft on November 23-24, PETER ARGENT looks at players from grassroots Community Football in regional SA in the first decade of this century. 

Across the first decade of the 21th century a plethora of AFL football talents, many with unique individual stories, made their way onto AFL lists from Community Football leagues across South Australia.

Having just retired after a brilliant four-premiership, 407-game career across two states, Indigenous superstar Shaun Burgoyne started at the famous Mallee Park Peckers in Port Lincoln. He was a first round selection in the 2000 draft, while his mate, then a 17-year-old Graham Johncock was snapped up by the Adelaide Crows late in the draft and became a 200-game champion.

Port Pirie big man Mark Jamar in 2001 and Ardrossan ruckman Sam Jacobs in 2007 had to both wait until the rookie draft to get their opportunities. Jamar would play 160 AFL games predominately at Melbourne and was honoured as an All-Australian in 2010.

Jacobs had three years on the Blues’ rookie list before finally debuting in front of 87,043 patrons in round one of the 2009 season against Richmond. He came back to Adelaide in 2011 and led the ruck division with aplomb for a decade.

From the Yorke Peninsula, forward Jay Schulz, Riverland midfielder Byron Schammer, Kingston – South East lad Daniel Bell and Norwood’s Nick Smith, who originally hails from North Eastern Football League club Mintaro Manoora Eagles, were all collected with consecutive picks in the first round of 2002 National AFL Draft.

“I coached both my sons, Jay and his older brother Adam at Senior Colts level in 2000 at the Central Yorke Cougars,” explained Jay’s dad, Paul Schulz, who also played a handful games with North Adelaide in the early 1970s.

“We enjoyed an undefeated premiership season.

“I also coached Jay in development squads at Woodville West Torrens at junior levels at that time.

“In that flag-winning side, our upper-age players including Ben Gunning, who played league footy at Sturt and Norwood and Damien Adams.

“Talents Clay Elsworthy and Woodville West Torrens Eagles premiership player in 2006 David Westbrook were other team mates.

“His uncle Peter (Schulz) takes credit for Jay’s kicking attributes as he had the ability to use both sides of his body.

“I found that Jay was a good decision maker and his instincts were unselfish on the field.”

Kybybolite’s Jack Trengove making his first AFL appearance on Adelaide Oval in 2011.

In the same AFL Draft was Jared Rivers, a North Adelaide junior who played in the A grade premiership team with South Augusta Bulldogs as a 15-year-old. He would go on to win the 2004 AFL Rising Star award (best first year player of the competition), chosen unanimously by all nine judges.

“The 2000 A grade premiership was a pretty special and proud moment for the family,” father Peter Rivers said.

“Jared, 15 at the time, and his older brother, Jess (17) were playing in the side and I was the coach.

“Jess had plenty of natural ability, while Jared wanted to do well and worked hard at his craft.

“We were down by a couple points at three quarter time and got up in the end by eight points.

“You can never take the country out of the boy and he gave his extended family plenty of pleasure.”

Number one Draft pick in 2003 and ’08 Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney hails from the Southern Football League club, Flagstaff Hill. He was a key member of the Bloods’ 2002 Under 17s SANFL premiership side and was promoted to league ranks the next year, playing in West Adelaide’s Grand Final team against Central District.

His team mate at Milner Avenue, Beau Waters, arrived from the Happy Valley Vikings and became an AFL premiership player in 2006 with the West Coast Eagles.

In the 2003 national Draft there were three Central District players collected from the Barossa, Light and Gawler competition – soccer convert Sam Butler from South Gawler to West Coast; from cross-town rivals the Gawler Central Tigers, Brad Symes, to Port Adelaide; and Nuriootpa’s Jay Nash, who went to Essendon.

From the Goolwa-Port Elliott Football Club in the Great Southern League, Ryan Griffin had already played a season of SANFL League footy before being drafted to the Western Bulldogs at pick number three the next season. He would play 257-games across two clubs and win a pair of Charlie Sutton Medals (the Bulldogs’ Best and Fairest award).

Indigenous Meningie star Danyle Pearce had to wait for the rookie draft that year but was the 2006 AFL Rising Star award winner and had a 258-game career at the Power and Fremantle.

The 2005 Draft class, SA’s first rounders, Shannon Hurn and Darren Pfeiffer, both have rural roots.

Hurn is a member of a family dynasty at the Angaston Panthers in the Barossa Valley and Pfeiffer is from Adelaide Hills club, Birdwood.

Kerrie Woodards was the co-coach of Hurn’s Angaston under 15s team in 2000-01 with the late Kerin Jasper.

“I can remember Shannon kicking nine goals in a half of a “moddies” game and we had to take him off,” Woodards said.

“Shannon was always a stand out talent, a very polite young man and bigger than the other kids.

“He was like a magnet to the ball and was able to do what he liked with it

“In the 2001 (BLG) Junior Colts Grand Final, the South Gawler players were instructed to kick the ball on the other flank or the opposite side to where Shannon was on the field.

“Shannon always had a lot of respect for Kerin and his coaching.”

Central District’s Barossa Boys in 2003, before each was drafted

Standing – (L-R) Shannon Hurn (West Coast), Brad Symes (Port Adelaide/Adelaide), Jay Nash
(Essendon/Port Adelaide)

Front – Sam Butler (West Coast)

Having to wait until the penultimate selection in the 2006 Draft, number 71 overall, Tanunda lad Justin Westhoff, would prove to be a canny selection by the Power recruiting staff.

The durable tall utility would play 280 games across 14 seasons at Alberton.

A lad from Whyalla, Levi Greenwood, after an MVP year for the SA state Under 18s, was collected in the second round by North Melbourne in 2007.

Super-boot from Port Pirie club, Ports Bulldogs Lewis Johnson was collected in the first round, at number 12th overall in 2008 by the Sydney Swans, while second rounder Jack Redden was the second member of his family on a AFL list.

The Keith Crow was originally collected by Brisbane before moving across our nation to win a flag with West Coast in 2018.

Another South East lad, Jack Trengove, who boarded at Prince Alfred College, was the second pick overall in the 2009 Draft.

He started at the Kybybolite Tigers, alongside Glenelg 2019 premiership player Andrew Bradley and a driven young lad called Lachie Neale.

He would captain Melbourne at 21, but foot injuries curtailed his career.

“You could see that Jack had something going for him from the start, he was a class above and a smooth mover,” said Phil Bradley, his colts coach at Kybybolite and a former Glenelg footballer.

“He understood the game and had a mature head on young shoulders.

“On and off the field he was well mannered and a good communicator.

“He was one of those special kids you’d like to have 20 of.

“He did captain our Junior colts side one year at Kybybolite – a great young man from a good family.”

Current Power ruckman and 2018 premiership player with the Eagles Scott Lycett is a country lad as well.

A second round selection in 2010, Lycett’s first football experience was with the Burra-Booborowie-Hallett (BBH) Rams, but he moved to the west coast and is regarded as a Thevenard Magpie, playing a season of A grade football at 15 in the now amalgamated Far West competition, before continuing his education at Henley High School.

*Part 2 – the decade from 2011-2020 – will feature in the next week.


2000 Draft

Rd          Pick no

1              11           Trent Sporn                       North Adelaide                 Carlton

1              12           Shaun Burgoyne               Port Adelaide                    Port Adelaide

4              53           Hayden Skipworth           WWT                                  Adelaide Crows

4              57           Steven Sziller                    St Kilda                               Richmond

5              67           Graham Johncock            Port Adelaide                    Adelaide Crows


2001 Rookie Draft

2              22           Justin Cicolella                  WWT                                  Adelaide


2002 Draft

1              12           Jay Schulz                          WWT                                  Richmond

1              13           Byron Schammer             West Adelaide                  Fremantle

1              14           Daniel Bell                         Glenelg                               Melbourne

1              15           Nicholas Smith                 Norwood                           Melbourne

2              17           Cameron Faulkner           Central District                 Western Bulldogs

2              26           Jared Rivers                       North Adelaide                 Melbourne

3              32           Luke Jericho                       West Adelaide                  Adelaide Crows

4              56           Robert Shirley                   WWT                                  Adelaide

4              57           Wade Champion               West Adelaide                  Port Adelaide

4              58           David King                         Glenelg                              Collingwood


2002 Rookie Draft

1              6              Mark Jamar                       North Adelaide                 Melbourne

4              51           Martin Mattner                 Sturt                                   Adelaide


2003 Draft

Priority 1              Adam Cooney                   West Adelaide                  Western Bulldogs

1              11           Beau Waters                      West Adelaide                  West Coast Eagles

1              16           Josh Willoughby                Glenelg                               Sydney Swans

2              20           Sam Butler                         Central District                  West Coast Eagles

2              25           Harry Miller                       Port Adelaide (SANFL)   Hawthorn

2              28           Jay Nash                             Central District                 Essendon

2              29           Tim Schmidt                      West Adelaide                  Sydney Swans

2              30           Brad Symes                        Central District                 Port Adelaide

3              40           Eddie Sansbury                Central District                  Kangaroos

4              55           Sam Fisher                       West Adelaide                  St Kilda


2003 Rookie Draft

1              13           Hayden Skipworth           WWT                                  Adelaide

4              54           George Davies                  Sturt                                   Hawthorn

4              58           Michael Bratton                Norwood                            Adelaide

4              60           Steven Eichner                 Port Adelaide                    Collingwood


2004 Draft

Priority 3              Ryan Griffen                     South Adelaide               Western Bulldogs

1              12           Danny Meyer                    Glenelg                              Richmond

3              51           Ben Eckermann                 Sturt                                   Port Adelaide

4              54           Stephen Tiller                   West Adelaide                  Western Bulldogs


2004 Rookie Draft

6             Dylan Pfitzner                   Central District                   St Kilda


2005 Draft

1              13           Shannon Hurn                  Central District                 West Coast

1              17           Darren Pfeiffer                 Norwood                           Adelaide

2              32           Bernie Vince                     WWT                                  Adelaide

3              47           Ryan Gamble                    Glenelg                               Geelong

3              48           Alan Obst                           Central District                 Adelaide

4              63           Phillip Raymond               Glenelg                              St Kilda

5              69           Tim Hutchison                  Port Adelaide                    Kangaroos

5              70           Jonathan Giles                  Central District                 Port Adelaide


2005 Rookie Draft

16            Danyle Pearce                  Sturt                                   Port Adelaide

36            John Hinge                        Glenelg                               Adelaide

38            Scott McMahon               WWT                                  North Melbourne


2006 Draft

2              34           Chris Schmidt                   West Adelaide                  Brisbane Lions

4              53           Lindsay Thomas               Port Adelaide                   North Melbourne

5              71           Justin Westhoff                Central District                  Port Adelaide


2006 Rookie Draft

2              29           Tom Redden                     Glenelg                               Adelaide

4              53           Sam Elliott                         South Adelaide                 Adelaide


2007 Draft

2              32           Levi Greenwood               Port Adelaide Magpies  Kangaroos

2              33           Matthew Westhoff         Central District                  Port Adelaide


2007 Rookie Draft

1           Sam Jacobs                        WWT                                  Carlton


2008 Draft

1              12           Lewis Johnston                North Adelaide                 Sydney

2              25           Jack Redden                      Glenelg                                Brisbane Lions

3              47           Rhys Stanley                     West Adelaide                   St Kilda

5              66           Glenn Dawson                  WWT                                 Port Adelaide

5              74           Paul Cahill                         Sturt                                   St Kilda


2008 Rookie Draft

1              9              James Moss                      Central District                  Adelaide

1              15           Nick Salter                         WWT                                  Port Adelaide

2              27           Timothy Walsh               Port Adelaide                    Hawthorn

4              52           Brodie Martin                   Sturt                                   Adelaide


2009 Draft

1              2              Jack Trengove                   Sturt                                     Melbourne

2              18           Luke Tapscott                   North Adelaide                 Melbourne

4              52           Justin Bollenhagen          South Adelaide                 Fremantle

5              73           Jesse O’Brien                    North Adelaide                 Brisbane Lions


2009 Rookie Draft

1              4              Wade Thompson              North Adelaide                 Port Adelaide

3              40           Ben Speight                      Norwood                           North Melbourne


2010 Draft

2              29           Scott Lycett                       Port Magpies                     West Coast

3              47           Bradley Helbig                  West Adelaide                   Richmond


2010 Rookie Draft

1              2              Michael Coad                   Sturt                                      Gold Coast

2              23           Pat Contin                         Glenelg                                Richmond

3              46           Matthew Jaensch            Sturt                                      Adelaide

4              61           Jesse Stringer                    Port Adelaide                    Geelong


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