With the bye signalling the middle of the season for the AFL clubs, The Inner Sanctum looks at the clubs and analyses how their draftees and recruits have slotted in. The next teams to face the music are Adelaide, Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn, Melbourne and West Coast.
One recruit that is no longer going under the radar is Father-Son Max Michalanney. Joining the Crows with their first-round draft selection in the 2022 Draft, Michalanney has been a defender that has held down his spot on smaller and taller opponents, while also showing his maturity as a young player.
Considering the youth that the Crows have down back, he has not looked out of place alongside the likes of Tom Doedee, Jordon Butts and Nick Murray. He has stood opponents such as Shai Bolton, Michael Walters, Luke Bruest and Jamie Elliott while conceding only a few goals for the entire season.
His career is highlighted by his performance against Carlton in Round Five, he had nine pressure acts, 10 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency, four intercepts and four tackles.
With pick 43 in the 2022 National Draft, the Crows selected Billy Dowling, a ball-winning midfielder from North Adelaide. He is yet to make his debut in the senior side due to a foot injury he suffered at the beginning of the season as well as the side’s strong form and relatively good run with injury.
He has played eight games in the SANFL side, kicking six goals while averaging 16.9 disposals, 4.6 marks, 2.1 clearances and 2.8 tackles. He looks to be a key part of the next midfield rotation for the Crows if he can crack into the side this or next season.
Joining the Crows with their final pick in the 2022 Draft, Hugh Bond has not made his senior debut this season due to an early knee injury. He was picked up after the Crows traded up to secure pick 50, making him a player that the Crows had their eyes on.
Bond is a tough, big-bodied midfielder who competes hard and looms as another option for the Crows’ next-generation midfield. He has managed only two SANFL games where he is still cementing his spot amongst a new team.
Brought in as more midfield depth going forward for the Crows, former Magpie Tyler Brown has only managed a debut for the club which came in Round One against the GWS Giants. He only played less than half of that game coming on for the injured Nick Murray where he managed just one disposal in the loss.
When looking at his form in the SANFL side, Brown looks to have found his feet with his new teammates. He has featured in nine games, kicking two goals while averaging 21.6 disposals, three marks, 4.9 tackles and four clearances. With the midfield being fairly settled for the time being, he will have to put more pressure on Matthew Nicks to select him with stronger individual performances.
Bringing in Jordan Dawson last season, the Crows added to their top-end talent by bringing in Izak Rankine from the Gold Coast Suns. With many speculating that the ‘football bubble’ of South Australia would not suit the young forward, he has proved the doubters wrong.
Averaging 16 disposals, 3.6 marks, three tackles and nearly two goals a game, Rankine is part of one of the best forward lines in the competition. With the Crows looking to make finals this year or next, Rankine looms as one of the most important additions to that young squad.
Recruited from Ireland after a stint with Collingwood between 2019 and 2021, Mark Keane was recruited to fill the obvious gap in defence for Adelaide. Often playing a smaller defence, Keane brings some experience and another tall option considering the under-sized defence of the Crows.
He has not debuted for his new club despite being available, so he has played in eight games for the SANFL side. He has been serviceable averaging 4.8 marks and 12.3 disposals and looks to be a depth option only.
Collingwood’s top draft pick is yet to have his AFL debut, though has been refining his craft in the reserves side. The 19-year-old made his VFL debut in round one, impressing with 25 disposals and a goal against the Coburg Lions.
Should Allan continue to develop his game further, it’s likely Pies fans will see him make his AFL debut sometime in the near future.
Coming into the team via a trade, the former Adelaide Crow has been slowly finding his feet at Collingwood. Though his first season in the black and white hasn’t been eye-catching as of yet.
Only managing to play nine games this season, Frampton is averaging 10.4 disposals per game. His best performance of the season to date was in his side’s win against Essendon. The 26-year-old finished the match off with 15 disposals, 28 hit-outs and a goal.
Perhaps one of the biggest signings made in the off-season by Collingwood, the former GWS Giant hasn’t been all that noteworthy thus far. Across 13 games, Hill is averaging 9.5 disposals per game, which is rated below average.
Majority of his statistics are rated as below average, including for marks (3.1 per game) and tackles (2.1 per game).
However, Hill is impressing with his contributions at the goals. A look at his statistics (averaging 1.3 goals per game), shows that there’s potential for the young gun to make further impact on the scoreboard post-bye. He’s already got 17 to his name.
It was third-time lucky for the 27-year-old, who had stints at Richmond and Gold Coast before landing at Collingwood. Though Markov hasn’t had the most impactful season thus far. In ten games, Markov is averaging 11.1 disposals per game, which sees him rated as below average. His season best was seen in round six against Essendon, where he managed 19 disposals.
A look at his other numbers and it’s a similar story, with Markov averaging 2.7 marks and 1.8 tackles per game. Both of which are rated below average and average respectively. Markov will be hoping to improve in the second half of the season given that this is his third opportunity at an AFL club.
The former Brisbane Lion found a new home at Collingwood during the off-season. He began his campaign in the black and white colours with a respectable debut in round one, managing six disposals and a goal. However, a finger injury in round five has seen him sidelined.
Across the five games he’s appeared in so far, he’s averaged 8.6 disposals per game. McStay also had a goal accuracy of 33.3 per cent.
After missing out on selection for the King’s birthday clash, it’s looking likely that McStay could make a return sometime in the post-bye.
Since joining the Magpies in the off-season, the former Hawk has slotted in the side nicely.
Appearing in all of Collingwood’s games so far, Mitchell has been a beacon of light in the midfield, averaging 27 disposals per game and has helped in the side’s charge up the ladder.
Collingwood’s pick-up of the veteran is seemingly paying off, with Mitchell proving to be a valuable asset for his side offensively. Round nine’s clash against the Greater Western Sydney Giants saw the 30-year-old produce a season-best thus far of 36. Though Mitchell is consistent, putting up disposal numbers in the double digits weekly.
Mitchell is also thriving defensively, averaging 5.8 tackles per game.
The 23-year-old is another name that is yet to make their AFL debut this season. He had been putting up a strong case for selection in the VFL, but a hamstring injury delayed his shot for a debut even further.
Prior to his injury, Richards shone in his first VFL game with 22 disposals and a goal. With the young gun expected to be available after the bye, Pies fans will have to wait just a little longer to see Richards make his AFL debut.
The South Australian talent is yet to make his AFL debut. However, is another name that has been performing strongly in the VFL.
Multiple standout performances in the reserves, including a 27 disposal frenzy against Port Melbourne, is a sign that an AFL debut could be on the cards for Ryan sometime in the near future.
Picked up by Collingwood during the pre-season supplementary selection period, Steene is yet to make his debut at AFL level.
However, the 201cm ruckman has been seen battling it out in the reserves side. His VFL highlights include his debut game against the Coburg Lions where he had 29 hitouts and 13 disposals.
Essendon fans will have to wait until next season to Davey for the first time in Bombers’ colours as he has spent the majority of this season rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) he sustained last year.
Alwyn Davey Jnr
The twin brother of Jayden, Alwyn has played eight games so far this season, one as the activated sub. Davey Jr already has shown glimpses of what Essendon supporters can expect from the youngster, displaying great speed and strong forward 50 pressure.
Hayes has spent his first season so far at the Hanger in the VFL as he continues to develop his skills as a defender. With plenty of room to grow, Hayes has already shown a great capability of finding the football, averaging 15 disposals and five marks per game.
Hunter joined the Bombers after he was selected by the club in this year’s AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft. He has only been at the Bombers for a couple of weeks but has been able to play in the VFL side’s last two games.
In his second game against Carlton’s VFL side, Hunter displayed what Bombers fans could come to expect from him should he get an opportunity at senior level, kicking four goals.
The mature-age recruit could consider himself unlucky not to have featured at AFL level this season, especially with the injuries the Bombers have had in defence. Montgomerie has shown consistently at VFL level that he would be ready if called upon, averaging 20.8 disposals and nine marks.
Munkara is a long-term project for the Bombers but has shown improvement week-upon-week in the reserves.
The 18-year-old has played nine VFL games so far this season and is averaging six disposals and two tackles per game, but has recorded double-digit disposals in his last two outings, finishing with 10 and 13 touches respectively.
Coming across from Carlton, Setterfield started season 2023 on fire and looked to be one of the best-valued recruits from last year’s trade period, averaging 21.6 disposals, 5.6 tackles, and three clearances per game before he suffered a foot injury that has kept him out since round nine.
The big-bodied midfielder proved to be a key contributor to the Essendon engine room, using his size to win clearances while also being able to spread from the contest when the football left congestion.
After a delayed start to his senior football career, Tsatas is yet to debut at AFL level but has shown some positive signs in the VFL. He’s played only two games at reserve level but has shown an AFL debut could not be too far away, collecting 18 and 25 disposals.
Another bargain buy for the Bombers, Sam Weideman has made the most of his opportunities at his second club. The 197cm key forward has played 11 of Essendon’s 13 matches and needed to carry a workload in the forward line with reigning Crichton Medallist Peter Wright missing.
The 25-year-old has kicked 13 goals so far this season, but as long as he competes and doesn’t get out marked, Brad Scott and Essendon supporters will be happy with his performance.
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Signed to a four-year deal by the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent, the former Port Adelaide wing/half-back has played in all 13 matches to date for Sam Mitchell’s young Hawthorn side.
His form has been consistent, without being amazing, having averaged 20 disposals but kicked just six goals thus far. The Hawks no doubt signed him for his ability to break lines with his booming left foot, and whilst there have been glimpses of this to date, fans will be hoping for him to increase his output, both disposal-wise and on the scoreboard in the second half of the season.
A next-generation academy member, the Hawks opted to pick up Bennetts as a category B rookie. The Hawks were impressed with the small’s pace in particular, and have given him a chance to develop in the VFL.
Bennetts has made a solid contribution to the VFL side, playing mostly across half-forward, developing his pressure game and trying to impact the scoreboard. Averaging 13 disposals and 9.3 goals for the season to date, Bennetts will be hoping for further opportunities in the future.
The other of the Hawks’ mid-season draft selections, the 25-year-old 200cm forward has been playing at a high level in the VFL for the Northern Bullants, kicking 18.10 in eight games, including a haul of five against the Sydney Swans VFL side.
With a knack for taking a pack mark and hitting the scoreboard, Ryan should be given plenty of opportunities in the exciting Hawks VFL side with the hope of perhaps making a dream debut later in the season.
One of the Hawks’ two mid-season draft selections, the Eastern Ranges ruckman impressed enough in his call-up to the Box Hill Hawks to earn a spot on the main list.
Still raw at just 18 years of age, the Hawks are definitely looking at the 204cm Tucker as a long-term prospect and will give him the rest of the season in the VFL to develop.
The former Bulldog was given a second chance at AFL level following some impressive football for the Box Hill Hawks in the last two seasons, and made an immediate impact at senior level, performing admirably up forward, despite limited supply.
Greene played the first eight games of the season, kicking 11 goals, including two hauls of three against the Giants and Crows. Of late, the Hawks have gone with the taller options of Lewis and Koschitzke down forward, but with five goals last weekend against the Lions in the VFL, another opportunity should not be too far away.
Still just 25, the Hawks will be hoping his forward craft continues to develop in the coming months to help fill the void that will be left by the eventual retirement of Luke Bruest.
The 37th pick in last year’s draft Hustwaite has been plying his trade in the VFL, developing by playing various positions, including wing and in the midfield at times, in order to push for senior selection in the future.
Pick 51 from the Oakleigh Chargers in last year’s draft, Macdonald began the season in the VFL. Playing mostly across half-back, Macdonald’s form steadily progressed, to the point where he earned a debut in round 12 against Port Adelaide in Adelaide. The 10 disposals and six marks on his first game was certainly a solid effort, and he will be looking to be given a decent stint in the side to develop his game at the highest level.
Mackenzie was the Hawks’ first pick of the 2022 AFL draft, selected at pick seven, and was immediately in the side come round one against the Bombers. Like many first-year players, Mackenzie has shown glimpses of skill combined with inconsistency in performance. He ended up being the substitute in round five, before a stint in the VFL to regain some form and get his hands on the footy.
Since his return to the senior side in round nine, he has performed better including a two-goal, 22-disposal game against the Eagles.
Hawks fans and coaching staff alike would be happy with his progress and he looks like a great prospect long-term for the young Hawks midfield.
The former Docker joined the Hawks during the trade period in exchange for Jaeger O’Meara and some picks to help bolster their ruck stocks. He had shown glimpses of ability at his time at Fremantle but was never going to get much game time behind Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson.
Meek has certainly made his presence felt this season, playing all bar two games at AFL level and appearing to have locked down the ruck position for now (in tandem with Ned Reeves). His bigger frame has given the side a physical presence in the midfield and around the ball, and he is averaging good numbers for a young ruckman, with four marks and 12 disposals per game.
Big men always take time to find their feet at AFL level, so what Meek has produced thus far would please coaches and fans alike. If he can continue to improve and progress in the coming years, then the Hawks should have a consistent AFL ruckman by the time they reach the top eight again.
Pick 46 in last year’s draft, O’Sullivan has been working hard in the VFL to try and earn a spot in the senior side. The young forward has been a bit inaccurate in front of goal to date, kicking 7.12 in his nine games.
A long-term prospect, the Hawks will be hoping for him to improve for the remainder of the season with the hope of an AFL career in the years to come.
The Hawks received the promising Cat via trade as part of the deal that sent Tom Mitchell to Collingwood. Despite the high rating the Cats had of the youngster (playing seven games in their premiership campaign last season), Stephens has not as yet been able to secure a spot in the Hawks AFL side.
His form for the VFL side has been sporadic but has shown some improvement in the last month, with two straight games of 20+ disposals and two goals. The Hawks will be hoping for this level of output more consistently before giving Stephens a game in the young midfield.
Since his debut in round seven, the number 18 draft pick from last season has improved each game and has shown quickly why the Hawks were so keen to draft him.
Whilst in his debut he only managed eight disposals, it was the five tackles and his general desire to impact the contest that pleased Hawks faithful the most. He is now finding the footy close to 20 times per match and was rewarded for his excellent form with a Rising Star nomination in round 10, where he amassed 28 disposals and kicked two goals against the Eagles.
Few top draft picks make an impact, so the Hawks would be most pleased with his output to date. He certainly looks like a 200+ game player for the club.
Adams has been plying his trade in the VFL, continuing to learn his craft as a key defender. The 196cm prospect form has been up and down at reserve level, his best game came against the Gold Coast Suns where he finished with 17 touches and eight marks.
One of the biggest moves from the trade period, and there were questions on how Grundy and Max Gawn playing in the same side would look. The duo has played 10 of 12 games together so far this season when they’ve been fit, and are still learning how to best play alongside each other.
When Gawn was out injured, we saw the best of Grundy as he took advantage of the extended time in the ruck, but we are yet to see them both fire in the same game.
Hunter has been a nice addition to the Demons in 2023, playing the wing role to perfection. The 28-year-old often finds himself helping his defenders running back for support but also gets involved when Melbourne moves the football forward.
Hunter is averaging 21.7 disposals, four marks, 3.7 inside 50s, five score involvements, and 410 metres gained across his 12 games this season.
Another long-term prospect, Jefferson started the VFL season on fire, kicking seven goals in the three rounds. The developing key forward has since cooled off but is progressing nicely, has kicked 14 goals and is averaging under eight disposals and three marks per game in his 11 games at reserve level.
Schache was brought across as key position depth after Sam Weideman’s departure to Essendon and has played roles at both ends of the ground at VFL level.
The 25-year-old has played only one game at senior level but has done some nice things in the eight games he has played for Casey, averaging 14.9 disposals and kicking 15 goals.
Sestan continues to build form at VFL level for the Casey Demons. The powerful medium forward has shown flashes in his 11-game stint so far this season, averaging nearly 10 touches, two tackles, and a goal per game. Sestan’s best game came in his VFL debut for the Demons, finishing with 12 touches, six marks, and three goals.
After training with the club in the pre-season, Turner won a spot on the list on the final day of the pre-season supplemental selection period back in February.
The 21-year-old has only played two VFL games this season due to being sidelined by injury.
The 200cm ruck prospect hasn’t been seen at any level this season, as he continues to recover from a long-term pelvis injury.
The ex-basketballer has spent time this season in the VFL and Coates Talent League as he continues to learn the craft of a professional footballer.
One of the shining lights for West Coast the season has been the emergence of former pick nine Reuben Ginbey. The talented defender turned midfielder was recruited due to his power, speed and endurance which has seen him really take to the AFL.
Averaging 14.3 disposals, half of which are contested, along with 2.7 clearances, 158.6 metres gained and 2.3 score involvements looks a little lean, however with the team he is currently in, he is showing as much as he can be.
In the Western derby, he impressed in the 41-point-loss contributing 20 disposals, eight tackles, six clearances and 13 contested possessions. With this performance, he received the Rising Star nomination for Round Three.
Elijah Hewett was taken by the Eagles with pick 14 in the National Draft after splitting pick 2. Having averaged 13.6 disposals in 2022 from his nine WAFL games, he has shown glimpses of potential using his speed and skill.
With the long-term prospect of more midfield time and with more experienced bodies in the team, Hewett will fare better than before the bye. He has had a meagre output so far, however, that is in the bottom-placed side which is without its mainstays.
The Eagles had the future in mind when they selected West Adelaide’s big man Harry Barnett.
With great marking prowess and the ability to impact the game around the ground, Barnett will need more time to develop before seeing time at AFL level.
Coming to the Eagles as a Category B Rookie through the Naitanui Academy, Jordyn Baker is an athletic wing prospect that has not made his debut this season.
He has averaged 12 disposals and 3.4 marks per game in his games in the WAFL and the Coates Talent League.
Another product of the West Coast Naitanui Academy, Tyrell Dewar is a small, classy forward that has natural ability.
Being a Category B rookie, he is also viewed as a long-term prospect who will grow at WAFL level.
A Bendigo Pioneers product, Noah Long was taken with pick 58 in last year’s draft. He made his debut in round one with a run of games through to round five before returning to the side in Round 10.
His forward craft and natural ability have been somewhat evident through his handful of games, however, he will only grow with a better side around him.
Picked up with pick 29 in the 2022 National Draft, Coby Burgiel is a quick and versatile player who can play through the midfield, half-forward and as a small.
Not having made his debut, Burgiel will only benefit from time left to develop.
Joining West Coast with pick one in the Mid-Season Draft, Ryan Maric has played one game, just 10 days after his arrival at the Eagles.
In the game against the Crows, Maric managed two goals to be the only multiple-goal kicker for his side on the day. He will continue to make the most of his opportunity in the injury-ravaged side, hoping to start to look at becoming a mainstay in the squad with each game.
Having played every game to date for his new side, former Demon Jayden Hunt has been more than serviceable down back. He has averaged 19.2 disposals, 4.8 marks and 2.6 tackles.
With the well-documented year that the side has had with injuries, he has played well under pressure in the backline and has slotted in seamlessly into the Eagles.
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