AFL Draft prospect Malakai Champion continues to take steps in the right direction during the Under 18s National Championships, earning high praise from WA talent manager Adam Jones.

The small forward kicked three goals and put his pace on show over the weekend against Vic Metro, establishing himself as an exciting talent inside 50 for AFL clubs.

Speaking following the 33-point loss to Vic Metro, Jones commended the small forward for his performance and development over the year as he starts finding more consistency.  

“Malakai was fantastic, particularly in the first half. That’s where he got all these three goals, and probably second-half supply dried up a little bit,” he told SportFM

“We still thought his effort was there, and his pressure acts and chasing have been pretty strong throughout the carnival.

“We’re really proud with how Malakai’s gone. His form in the WAFL in the early stage of the year was a little bit up and down, so to find a bit of consistency throughout the championships is fantastic.” 

Champion is currently a West Coast’s Next Generation Academy member with the Eagles hoping to swoop in on him at the draft. 

Following last year’s draft, numerous clubs including the Eagles expressed their frustrations about losing academy talents within the top 40 picks. 

After losing NGA player Lance Collard to St Kilda in last year’s draft, there are concerns West Coast may see a repeat of this with Champion this year. 

Jones also shares these concerns, unless the AFL does something to address academy picks in the draft.

“I can just see him in a full-time environment flourishing. He’s moved down from Kalgoorlie a couple of years ago and been in the system here in Perth for two years,” he said. 

“He’s got electrifying speed. His ability to crumb and goal sense is top level and he’s really starting to add a bit more consistency with his pressure game.

“He is a well-rounded, small forward. As an NGA to West Coast, they’re hopefully going to have first dibs with him, depending on the AFL and what they do with the rules.

“I daresay he would probably fit within the top 40 somewhere. So unless the AFL do change the protected area, he might not get to West Coast.” 

IMAGE: Rookie Me Central