28/02/2024

The preseason Supplemental Selection Period (SSP) provides overlooked and mature age players with an avenue to push their case for an AFL lifeline, with a one-year rookie contract up for grabs.

Brisbane, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs all have one vacant list spot, while Adelaide and St. Kilda hold two ahead of the 2023 season. 

A total of 31 players have been invited to train at various clubs over the summer, with a further four players having already signed under SSP rules. The SSP deadline is quickly approaching, with clubs having until February 15 to determine whether or not they hold on to their list spot for the 2023 midseason rookie draft.

Adelaide: (2)

Following the recent retirement of Fisher McAsey and Paul Seedsman’s unfortunate concussion battle, the Crows find themselves behind the eight ball, as most of the top SSP candidates have already been invited to train on at other clubs.

Tyler Brown, a former father-son selection, played 27 games for Collingwood, including 11 in 2022.

The 23-year-old had previously attracted interest from Adelaide following his delisting, however, did not have any vacant list spots prior to McAsey’s decision to end his footballing career.

Brown displayed strong form in the VFL throughout 2022 and was quickly snapped up by Footscray before being presented with a train-on opportunity. 

Adelaide has also placed Seedsman on the inactive list due to ongoing concussion symptoms, leaving the Crows with another spot to potentially add a player during the preseason, however, they may choose to save it for the midseason rookie draft.

Tyler Brown in action for Collingwood. Image: AFL

Brisbane: (1)

The Lions looked all set with their list for 2023, however, a recent update on defender Marcus Adams has ruled him out for the season, after battling with concussion symptoms.

The club has moved Adams to the inactive list, identifying delisted Saint Darragh Joyce as a potential like-for-like replacement in their backline.

Joyce joined St. Kilda as a Category B Rookie, playing 13 games in his time at the club, and was set to line up for Collingwood’s VFL side this year prior to receiving a train on invitation.

If signed, Joyce would be the Lions’ second SSP signing from Ireland this offseason, following the signature of former Bomber Conor McKenna on a one-year deal.

In a stunning return to AFL football, the dashing defender came out of retirement and shocked the football world when he announced he intended to return to the league, after spending the past two seasons playing Gaelic football in Ireland.

The 26-year-old will look to reignite his career in a finals-bound team after showing glimpses of his skill at Essendon, capping off a strong offseason for the Lions. 

Conor McKenna has returned to the AFL. Image: Essendon

Carlton: (0) 

While the Blues don’t have a vacant list spot to fill, they do have a second Category B Rookie opening, however, this is unlikely to be filled this offseason. 

Collingwood: (1)

The Pies enter 2023 with an empty list spot, with four players invited to impress the club in search of an AFL lifeline.

The Pies have targeted height with their first two invitations, with West Adelaide ruckman Oscar Steene and ex-beach volleyballer Max Guehrer set to provide the Pies with some ruck depth following the departure of Brodie Grundy.

Steene, a raw 19-year-old, was overlooked in both the national and rookie drafts in 2022, while the 26-year-old and 204cm Guehrer is likely to be listed as a Category B Rookie, meaning he won’t be competing against Collingwood’s other train on players for a list spot.

Another former volleyballer, Rye Penny, will also train with Collingwood over the summer, with the Calder Cannons defender having a solid season at NAB League level, while matching the vertical jump record at the 2022 State Combine.

Former Richmond and Gold Coast defender Oleg Markov is another that will audition for the Pies, having spent five years under the mentorship of current Pies head coach Craig Macrae, and assistant Justin Leppitsch, including a VFL premiership in 2019.

A highly rated speedster, the 26-year-old will be hoping to add to his 51 AFL games at a third club. 

Essendon: (1)

It will be intriguing to watch what the Bombers decide to do with their final list spot this summer, having invited a group of players with a variety of ages and positions to trial at the Hangar.

List boss Adrian Dodoro strategically opted not to select Jayden Davey as a rookie, knowing he would be unavailable in 2023 due to an ongoing knee injury.

Davey’s absence allowed the Dons to open up a list spot, with a number of players in the frame.

Former Bulldog Brad Lynch, who spent 2022 at Broadbeach in the QAFL after failing to meet the AFL’s vaccine mandate, can provide a hard running half-back for the Dons, with the 25-year-old having previously played nine games at the Kennel.

East Fremantle key forward Reuben McGuire is another that will join Brad Scott’s preseason setup, with the exciting tall possessing a strong vertical leap and a high work rate, making him a potential wildcard option for clubs.

The Bombers have also invited two of the highest-rated players that were overlooked in the most recent draft with Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Mitch Szybkowski and Oakleigh Chargers ruckman Hudson O’Keeffe trialling for the vacant list spot.

Szybkowski, a big-bodied midfielder, had a strong campaign in the NAB League while averaging 23.5 disposals and four tackles per game for Victoria Country at the National Championships.

Similarly, O’Keeffe also impressed in 2022, playing alongside fellow Essendon draftees Elijah Tsatas and Alwyn Davey Jr as the number-one ruckman for the Oakleigh Chargers and Victoria Metro.

After signing for the Dons VFL affiliate, former Collingwood and Hawthorn wingman Tom Phillips will also train at the Hangar, with the 26-year-old still having plenty to offer at AFL level following 115 games across two clubs. 

Fremantle: (1)

The Dockers have invited Liam Serong, the brother of gun midfielder Caleb, to train with the side this summer after opting to keep a list spot free following the draft.

Unlike his brothers, Liam is a key position player, however, faced an injury-interrupted draft year for Gippsland Power in 2022.

Alongside Serong, Perth forward Sam Stubbs will also join the Dockers in the preseason, after kicking 23 goals in 12 games in the WAFL last season.

Fremantle attempted to add a third player to their program, seeking permission from the AFL to invite East Fremantle defender Jed Hagan to the club following his draft snub, however, this was denied, while Hagan has since joined Port Adelaide’s SANFL affiliate as he pushes his case for a midseason draft birth. 

Liam Serong and Sam Stubbs will train with Fremantle over the summer. Image: Fremantle

Geelong: (1)

While the Cats have an open list spot following the 2022 National and Rookie Drafts, they are likely to hold on to this spot until the 2023 mid-season draft. They do not have any players currently training with the squad.

Gold Coast: (1)

After already signing former Roo Jed Anderson, the Suns haven’t looked too far to fill their final list spot, with Academy member Brinn Little invited to train with the club in hopes of an AFL lifeline.

The Suns’ Academy Player of the Year, Little had a strong year for the Allies in the 2022 National Championships, with the key defender possessing a strong aerial ability in his game.

Former Port Adelaide forward Boyd Woodcock is another who will be hoping to extend his stay on the Gold Coast, having dominated for Southport in 2022, following 12 matches for the Power.

Woodcock finished equal runner-up in the J.J. Liston Trophy, after averaging 28 disposals across 20 games.

Another key forward, Brodie McLaughlin will also have a chance to earn an AFL lifeline for the first time in his career with the 25-year-old having a consistent year with VFL side Frankston.

A great club man, McLaughlin enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Dolphins kicking 24 goals from 12 games, after being riddled with injuries over the last few seasons.

Brodie McLaughlin is searching for an AFL lifeline. Image: Frankston

Greater Western Sydney: (0)

The Giants have finalised their list after a massive year at the draft, including the first overall selection Aaron Cadman, with new head coach Adam Kingsley taking over a new look side.

GWS are not expected to have any players train with the squad over the summer, with the possibility to make a selection at the 2023 midseason draft in the event of a long term injury. 

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Hawthorn: (1)

Five players have been invited to train under Sam Mitchell over the summer, as the Hawks assess their options ahead of what looks to be a challenging season in 2023.

Mitchell’s recruiting trend has continued this offseason with Box Hill defender Liam Coghlan and former Bulldog Callum Porter hoping to follow the path of Jai Newcombe, James Blanck and Fergus Greene in joining the AFL side.

Delisted father-son duo Patrick Naish and Callum Brown will also join the Hawks in preseason training, with the pair signing on to play with the Hawks’ VFL affiliate this season.

Brown was cut by Collingwood after 70 games in the black and white, including just six in 2022.

Like Brown, Naish would provide some midfield experience in a young Hawthorn side, following some key departures, with the likes of Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara and Liam Shiels exiting the club.

Naish was unlucky not to be offered a contract after starring in a struggling West Coast side, with the former Tigers father-son keen to continue his AFL career.

Overlooked in the 2022 National Draft, Tasmanian prospect Brandon Leary will also train with the Hawks, with the small forward finishing third in the NAB League for goals kicked with 33, trailing only top-three picks Harry Sheezel and Aaron Cadman.

Melbourne: (1)

The Demons have one list spot up for grabs heading into 2023, with former Port Adelaide player Trent Burgoyne and Frankston product Kye Turner in the mix for the Dees.

While Burgoyne failed to make his AFL debut at Alberton, the father-son prospect was plagued by hamstring injuries and will be hoping for another shot at AFL level.

VAFA key defender Kye Turner will also be on board at Casey after playing for Old Haileybury and Frankston in 2022.

The Demons have shown an interest in exploring various outlets in their recruiting, with Mansfield forward Oliver Sestan being another who was plucked by the Demons from local football this year.

Trent Burgoyne will train with the Demons this summer. Image: AFL

North Melbourne: (0)

The Kangaroos finalised their list with the signature of three-time premiership player Liam Shiels, who came out of retirement to reunite with former coach Alastair Clarkson.

Clarkson has had a busy offseason for the Roos with the departure of former number-one pick Jason Horne-Francis, while they attacked the draft, adding Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw with picks three and four respectively.

The Roos have a bigger list than most clubs, with the AFL granting them an exemption to add two additional rookies. 

Liam Shiels will reunite with Alastair Clarkson at North Melbourne. Image: AFL

Port Adelaide: (0)

The Power had a massive trade period, landing former number-one pick Jason Horne-Francis, while they finalised their list following the 2022 draft.

They are not expected to have any players train with the squad over the summer, however, have expressed some interest in East Fremantle defender Jed Hagan, who will line up for Port Adelaide’s SANFL affiliate this season, as a potential midseason draft selection.

Richmond: (1)

The Tigers’ final list spot is down to three after train-on invitations were sent out over the summer.

Former Cat Quinton Narkle headlines the trio, impressing at Punt Road in early January after losing close to 8kg.

The 25-year-old continued to be on the edge of selection for Geelong in 2022 and will be hoping to find some consistent AFL football in 2023.

Narkle is up against country footballer Kaelan Bradtke and overlooked draft prospect Luke Teal for the Tigers’ final list spot.

Teal had a horror run with injury in 2022, being limited to just four games, with the intercept defender hoping for a lifeline.

Bradtke meanwhile, booted 39 goals in the Ovens and Murray League, whilst also appearing for Sydney’s VFL side on two occasions. 

St Kilda: (2)

The Saints are the only club with multiple list spots available heading into 2023, with a trio of delisted talents battling it out for a potential lifeline.

While the Saints have two list spots empty, it is possible that they keep one open for the midseason rookie draft.

Untried Bomber Josh Eyre has begun training at Moorabbin, after knocking back a train on opportunity with the Dons.

The key position prospect will be hoping to make his way onto St Kilda’s list and find some consistency at either end of the ground.

Former first-round pick Liam Stocker will also put his hand up for a lifeline, with the midfielder being shockingly delisted by Carlton only four years into his AFL career.

Ex-Richmond livewire Sydney Stack was also considered by the club.

Sydney: (0)

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Swans have finalised their list as they will look to go one better in 2023.

Nicknamed ‘Bidney’, Swans list boss Kinnear Beatson placed back to back first round bids on Harry Rowston and Max Michalanney at the 2022 National Draft, before surprising many with the selection of Hawthorn Academy member Cooper Vickery at pick 27. 

West Coast: (0)

The Eagles have turned to local talent in the hopes of a quick turnaround in their ‘rebuild’, selecting Western Australian midfielders Rueben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett in the first round of the 2022 National Draft.

The Eagles will be ruing a missed opportunity however, with Nic Martin shining for Essendon in 2022, after the Subiaco product was cut by West Coast after auditioning for an SSP spot ahead of the 2021 season. 

Western Bulldogs: (1)

Although the Dogs have an open list spot following the 2022 National and Rookie Drafts, they are likely to hold on to this spot until the 2023 Mid Season Draft.

They have already signed former Demon Oskar Baker during the current SSP period, while former Collinwood duo Tyler Brown and Caleb Poulter have signed with Footscray ahead of the 2023 season, and will be given the chance to train with the AFL side.

Brown has since taken up an opportunity to audition for Adelaide’s final list spot, however, while Poulter is likely to be forced to wait until the midseason draft for a potential lifeline.

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