Tipped to go first overall, West Adelaide's Riley Thilthorpe is a lifelong Crows fan
Tipped to go first overall, West Adelaide's Riley Thilthorpe is a lifelong Crows fan

AFL Draft: The special Crows link of potential top pick

Riley Thilthorpe is in the mix to become the first South Australian taken at the top of the national draft in 14 years when the club he supports, Adelaide, makes its inaugural No. 1 pick on Wednesday night.

But if the West Adelaide forward/ruckman is set to head to the Crows, it is news to him.

"I've got no idea - they don't give you much," Thilthorpe, 18, told The Advertiser.

"I always thought they must know leading up to it, but we'll see what happens.

"It adds a bit more excitement to it.

 

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"My whole life's about to change but I just want to get to a club, start working hard and try to push for Round 1."

Coming off its first wooden spoon, Adelaide is tipped to take either Thilthorpe, West Australian forward Logan McDonald or Victorian hybrid midfielder Elijah Hollands first overall - after potentially bidding on Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

West Adelaide's Riley Thilthorpe is being touted as a potential No. 1 pick by the Crows. Picture: Dean Martin
West Adelaide's Riley Thilthorpe is being touted as a potential No. 1 pick by the Crows. Picture: Dean Martin

Crows coach Matthew Nicks was around Thilthorpe's house for about 90 minutes a fortnight ago but the chat was a getting-to-you-know session, rather than about Adelaide's draft plans.

Thilthorpe, who kicked 13 goals in 15 league games for the Bloods over the past two seasons, would become the first Croweater since Bryce Gibbs in 2006 to be drafted at number one.

The 201cm, 100kg Adelaide High graduate was "excited to head anywhere", but landing at West Lakes would be particularly special.

He has been a Crows fan his whole life, taking after his late great-nan, Marie.

"I've gone to as many games as I can get to for as long as I can remember," he said.

"Nana had the posters from when they won the two flags (1997, 1998), so I've got them framed and on my wall.

"She was the biggest Crows supporter I've ever met, so she pretty much got me into football in the first place.

"I played ice hockey to start with and then she persuaded me to try footy."

Riley Thilthorpe playing for the Bloods last year. Picture: AAP/Dean Martin
Riley Thilthorpe playing for the Bloods last year. Picture: AAP/Dean Martin

So what would his great-nan have thought if he was drafted to Adelaide?

"She would've lost her mind … and been very proud," he said.

"It'd be a dream come true going to the Crows - absolutely surreal.

"But she would've jumped ship pretty quick if I got drafted to another team."

Thilthorpe missed the last five games of the SANFL season with groin issues, but said he was "feeling pretty good and back to some pretty decent training loads".

"I tend to go a bit hard too early most years so I've decided I'm going to not go as hard, obviously for the groins, but also to not burnout by the season starting," he said.

Thilthorpe is not an avid social media follower and has tried to avoid speculation linking him with various clubs.

"Mates sometimes send you stuff, so I've seen a little bit of it and it's pretty surreal to be talked about that highly," he said.

Thilthorpe has been working a few more shifts at Puma at Harbour Town and playing golf every few days with his dad, grandad or Bloods teammates since the end of the season.

He will be watching the draft with family at West Adelaide.

"The club have been awesome for me so it'd be great to get them some exposure," said Thilthorpe, who joined the Bloods in under-11s.

 

 

CROWS' NO. 1 PICK CALL RESTS ON MEDICAL RESULTS

 

Adelaide was still waiting on last-minute medical information from its club doctor on Tuesday night before finalising who it will select with the prized first pick in the national draft.

List manager Justin Reid confirmed the Crows were seriously considering a bid for Western Bulldogs academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at pick one which if matched would mean they enter Wednesday's draft at pick two.

That is widely tipped to be a three-way race between homegrown tall Riley Thilthorpe, WA key forward Logan McDonald and Victorian midfielder Elijah Hollands.

Hollands is coming of an ACL injury while Thilthorpe battled groin issues late in the season.

"We're still waiting on a bit more medical information, we're still finalising that but it's getting closer," Reid said on Tuesday.

"We've done the work, it's just ticking a few more boxes from our doctor and there are three or four names who are in strong consideration.

"We'll finalise that and hold that until ourselves until tomorrow night. It will probably be a conversation tomorrow but we've done a fair bit of work on it

"We won't reveal anything until the evening but Hamish (Ogilvie) and Nicksy (Matthew Nicks) have both said it's (bid for Ugle-Hagan) in serious consideration, but it's something we'll discuss tomorrow leading into the night."

The Crows are seriously considering a bid for Bulldogs academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Picture: Michael Klein
The Crows are seriously considering a bid for Bulldogs academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Picture: Michael Klein

The Crows have remained so tight-lipped about their plans they won't even tell the player who they intend to call out first.

"I think we'll leave it until the night and keep it as a surprise, stick to our talent order and let it unfold naturally," Reid said.

"I didn't sleep very well last night for some reason, but it is exciting.

"The idea of giving a player and a family the opportunity to get into the AFL system is the easy part, the hard work starts once you're in the door.

"But the game doesn't know what number you are and there is excitement about the look on their faces."

Recruiting manager Ogilvie delivered a detailed draft presentation to senior club management on Friday and there was a follow-up discussion on Monday before a strategy meeting involving Reid on Tuesday.

 

Riley Thilthorpe is in the mix to have his name called out by the Crows. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Riley Thilthorpe is in the mix to have his name called out by the Crows. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

They will be split between West Lakes, Reid's Melbourne office and AFL House on Wednesday night armed with picks 1, 9, 22 and 23.

"You've got to be prepared so we will go in with an open mind and we've had conversations with other clubs about certain (live trading) opportunities on the evening," Reid said.

"It depends on how the names are falling off the board, what other clubs want to do and sometimes you've got to have an eye on the future so you've just got to be prepared for a number of scenarios.

"We stick to our talent order and we've been really clear on that in the past. But once you get to around pick 20 you look at needs a bit.

"There is certainly some good, healthy debate but when we walk into the draft room tomorrow night, everyone is on the same page."

Originally published as AFL Draft: The special Crows link of potential top pick



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