Matthew Richardson has named who he believes are the seven best players 22 or younger in the AFL right now.
The league has an absolute bounty of young talent right now, with a number of superstars from last year’s AFLPA 22under22 team missing Richardson’s list, including the likes of Aaron Naughton, Zak Butters, Tim Taranto, Andrew McGrath and more.
The Richmond champion started with the five players he would take first of the game’s 22-and-under stars.
“I’ve gone for a couple of talls so I’ve got a tall forward and a talk back. I’ve gone with Oscar Allen,” Richardson told Sportsday.
“Noah Balta is in because he can play full-back, he can go into the ruck, a premiership full-back last year.
“You’ve got to be able to run all day now and Bailey Smith is going to do that for you every single week.
“You need an inside midfielder and Sam Walsh showed the other night he’s added that to his game and he’s already a Rising Star winner.
“You need X-factor in the middle and forward of the footy. I hope no one in Adelaide is listening … I’ve gone Shai Bolton for his work in the middle of the round and he can go forward and kick multiple goals.”
Then asked to rank the top seven players under 22 in the game right now, Richardson put Allen on top given he’s a key forward.
“I’m going to be bold … I’m always going to go with the tall so I’m going with Oscar Allen,” he said.
“Tall guys take longer and if he’s already doing this.
“Sam Walsh for his consistency (would be second best).
“I think Bailey Smith (is third) the way he’s tracking. This is based on right now. (Connor) Rozee might end up being the best, but he didn’t play as well last year.
“Balta (fourth), his upside is enormous and then Shai Bolton (fifth).
“There’s some very stiff guys, I love Hunter Clark. Zak Butters is sixth. Then I’ll go one of the King boys (seventh), probably Max. They’re going to be huge, but we’re talking about right now.”
When asked why Connor Rozee missed the list altogether, Richardson said that the Port star had “a few issues” last year.
Rozee struggled with a heel injury in 2020 and is currently on the sidelines following foot surgery.