The shared football journey of Oakleigh Chargers pair Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson looks set to continue when the first round of the 2019 NAB AFL Draft is held on Wednesday night.
The 18-year-olds have long been touted as the top two players in this year’s draft pool, and with Gold Coast recently being granted a priority pick directly following the club’s no.1 selection, the path is clear for the Suns to keep the good friends and Carey Grammar schoolmates together at AFL level.
The talented midfielders shared a decorated 2019 season together, including NAB League Boys premiership success at Oakleigh, NAB League Boys Team of the Year honours and All Australian guernseys following standout NAB AFL Under-18 Championships campaigns for Vic Metro.
* Visit the ‘Highlights’ section of the NAB League app to watch 2019 season highlights for Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson.
Indeed, 178cm Canterbury (Yarra Junior FL) product Rowell and 190cm Boroondara Hawks (also Yarra JFL) junior Anderson have driven each other to the top of Australian under-age football.
Chargers Talent Manager Jy Bond remarked upon their ability to feed off each other during the 2019 pre-season, telling nableague.com.au at the time that “Matt and Noah seem to have primed themselves for the next level already in the way they prepare”.
“They’re rounded kids who lead by example,” Bond said. “It’s exciting to have them in our program for the other kids to learn off, and when they’re at training the group feeds off their intensity.”
Rowell said recently on SEN Breakfast that he and Anderson “like to make each other better at training by pushing each other” and praised his teammate’s footballing strengths.
“Noah can win contested ball, but then he’s got really good skills and he’s really creative with his ball use,” Rowell said on the program. “He brings teammates into the game with the way he uses the ball… and he can go forward and really hit the scoreboard.”
Anderson was similarly positive in an assessment of Rowell, an unprecedented two-time winner of the medal for best-on-ground in the NAB League Boys Grand Final (2018-19).
“I’d probably just describe him as a really hard-working, competitive inside mid(fielder) who can (also) play on the outside,” Anderson said of Rowell on SEN.
“You can guarantee you’ll get 100 per cent effort (from him), always. He tries to out-work his opponents and usually he’s pretty successful at that.”
Oakleigh ruck Nick Bryan, one of the duo’s highly-rated teammates, recently told nableague.com.au at the NAB AFL Draft Combine that Rowell and Anderson had taught him a lot about elite-level preparation.
“I’ve learnt about training standards (at the Chargers),” Bryan said. “When you see how well Matt and Noah train and the intensity they bring, it’s no wonder they’re so good on game day. You try to match it with them because you want to pick up their standards.”
While there are no guarantees at draft time, Rowell and Anderson may well be pushing each other again and setting the standard for their new AFL teammates at Gold Coast in coming weeks.
With the Suns having selected Melbourne metro-based talent like Touk Miller (ex-Calder Cannons), Peter Wright (Calder Cannons), Brayden Fiorini (Northern Knights), Darcy Macpherson (Northern Knights) and Ben King (Sandringham Dragons) in recent draft periods, adding Rowell and Anderson to the mix could be an important step in establishing a core group of players potentially headed for success at the club.
“I don’t think the thought ever came to my head that we could actually be playing together until the news about the Gold Coast priority pick came to air,” Anderson said. “It was something that we’d never really thought of.”
“I just thought we’d probably never play again with each other,” Rowell added.
“(But) I reckon it’d be pretty cool if we were to go up there (Gold Coast) and be able to make a difference and try and lead them to success.”
* CLICK HERE to see the stories in our 2019 AFL Draft Watch series, featuring one of the leading draft prospects from each NAB League club.