Peel Thunder product Aaron Naughton is the newest Western Bulldog after the club selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft on Friday night.
Achieving his lifelong dream of becoming an AFL player, Naughton joins the Bulldogs as the first West Australian player selected in the draft.
It’s an early birthday present for the 17-year-old, who is due to turn 18 in just six days.
Naughton’s brilliant 2017 season
The key defender was drafted on the back of a outstanding 2017 campaign, where he was named an all-Australian centre-half-back at the under 18s national championships and made his debut in Peel Thunder’s league side.
Playing seven senior games next to established Fremantle Dockers players for the Thunder, the Rockingham junior looked right at home averaging 14 disposals and seven marks across half back.
He also showed his ability to be a forward threat, booting two goals in short stints up front.
His best outing in Peel’s league side came in a round 19 loss to Swan Districts, where he tallied an impressive 23 disposals and 11 marks.
What will he bring to Bulldogs?
So much of today’s AFL game is predicated on intercept marking, and Naughton has that in spades.
He’s a standout in the air, particularly when floating into a pack to cut off an opposition attack, a trait the Bulldogs will look to take full advantage of.
But the surprising skill Naughton possesses when using the ball below his knees is what separates him from the usual intercepting big man.
He’s quick once the ball hits the deck, and rarely misses the chance to impact a contest.
His endurance impressed recruiters at the National AFL Draft Combine.
Naughton becomes the 17th Peel Thunder player taken by an AFL club in the national draft, joining the likes of AFL stars Daniel Wells, Hayden Ballantyne, Harley Bennell and newly crowned premiership player Kamdyn McIntosh.