2022 AFL Draft Combine – The winners and a beautiful act of sportsmanship


The 2022 AFL National Draft Combine saw the best prospective AFL footballers show their physical and mental attributes ahead of November 28’s draft.

A total of 68 teenagers from across the country underwent five different physical testings, with a 2km trial, 20 metre sprint, agility test, vertical standing jump and running vertical jump, reports AFL.com.au.

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However, aside from the impressive results, including a 14-year-old record broken in the agility test, a beautiful act of sportsmanship was the talk of the weekend.

Draft hopeful Max Gruzewski sacrificed his 2km time trial to assist fellow runner Lewis Hayes, who unfortunately had an alarming fall nearing the end of the race.

Hayes – the younger brother of Port Adelaide ruckman Sam – stumbled and fell within 30 metres of the finishing line, as exhaustion took over the 197cm prospect.

Gruzewski halted his run as he saw Hayes battle, lifting him from the ground and assisting him to the finishing line, before doctors tended to the Eastern Ranges product.

Gruzewski said he’d “always prioritise my mate’s health over a race” despite the significance of the trial to his draft hopes.

“’Haysey’ was struggling at the end and I think my mate’s health and how he was feeling was more important than a running race, so I thought I should help him out,” Gruzewski said.

“I just tried to pick him up and sort of help him across the finish line to get it done.

“I think I’d always prioritise my mate’s health over a race or anything like that, it’s much more important.”

“I didn’t do it (to impress recruiters) he’s a good mate. At the end of the day it is more important that he’s all good than my 2km time.

“I’ve spent a bit of time with him, I’ve roomed with him at the combine so we got a little bit closer and I’ve known him for a while now.”

AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan has since said Hayes has recovered well and fell due to a lactic acid build-up from the run, says Herald Sun.

“It just shows the way these boys are wired and the way in which they react when something unusual happens,” Sheehan said.

“It’s good news that Lewis is recovering inside now – maybe it’s a consequence of just over a two or three year period, that the boys haven’t had the same sort of conditioning programs that they may have had in the past.”

“I think it was just a build-up of that lactic acid that reaction can occur but he is recovering well and he is in good hands – a doctor was to him very, very quickly.

“Max was the next guy in line and good quick thinking by him to react that way but I suppose it could have been any of the other boys that would think the same way. 

“That’s ingrained in all footballers right through their careers.”

Prior to Gruzewski’s act of sportsmanship, Oliver Hollands and Jason Gillbee took out the 2km time trial with a staggering run of 5 minutes and 54 seconds.

Swan Districts product Darcy Jones broke the agility test with 7.70 seconds, taking over from Fremantle’s Stephen Hill, who ran 7.77 seconds in 2008.

Jones also competed well in the vertical jump, taking out the event with James Van Es from the Greater Western Victoria Rebels with a 75cm jump.

Pick one fancies Will Ashcroft (knee), Harry Sheezel (hip), Bailey Humphrey (thigh) and George Wardlaw (hamstring) did not participate in the testing due to an array of injuries.

2022 AFL Draft Combine results

2km time trial

Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers) – 5:54 minutes

Jason Gillbee (Bendigo Pioneers) – 5:54 minutes

Jaxon Binns (Dandenong Stingrays) – 6:00 minutes

20 metre sprint

Edward Allan (Claremont) – 2.81 seconds

Toby McMullin (Sandringham Dragons) – 2.88 seconds

Coby Burgiel (Gippsland Power) – 2.88 seconds

Agility test

Darcy Jones (Swan Districts) – 7.70 seconds (new record)

Jaxon Binns (Dandenong Stingrays) – 8.18 seconds

Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts) – 8.21 seconds

Vertical jump

Darcy Jones (Swan Districts) – 75cm

James Van Es (Greater Western Victoria Rebels) – 75 cm

Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers) – 71cm

Running vertical jump

James Van Es (Greater Western Victoria Rebels) – 98cm

Aaron Cadman (Greater Western Victoria Rebels) – 93cm

Will Verrall (South Adelaide)/ Josh Weddle (Oakleigh Chargers) – 90cm

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