Gold Coast Suns recruit Bailey Humphrey and Geelong Cats youngster Tanner Bruhn have been two to watch this season for their respective clubs (Picture: AFL)

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 Geelong and Gold Coast.

Last week Brisbane, Fremantle, St Kilda and Sydney were analysed, you can read about them here.

Tanner Bruhn

The former Giant and number seven draft pick has taken his time to find his feet at his new club.  He played the first three weeks, but failed to capatilise on the starting midfield position and was quickly dropped to the reserves as some senior bodies returned.

The spate of injuries the club sustained, however, saw Bruhn earn a recall in Round Seven, and he has looked much better each game.  This improvement saw him play easily his best game the club in Round 12 against the Western Bulldogs, where is midfield pressure in laying 12 tackles played a big part in the team’s victory.

The club was always looking at the bigger picture in bringing Bruhn over, and would be satisfied with the improvement he is showing each week.

Jack Bowes

The halfback made his way to Geelong to the Gold Coast (along with pick seven) and in the first pre-season hitout, Bowes was clearly best on ground by halftime, before an injury delayed his debut for the club.  This debut came against the Blues in Round Two, where Bowes looked confident and assured across halfback and up on a wing.  

His ability to read the play and rebound from defensive 50 with his long, penetrating kick made him a valuable asset in the absence of other key backs due to injury.  Unfortunately another injury early in the Round Seven game against the Bombers derailed the continuity that was developing nicely between he and the other backmen.

With aging half backs in Tuohy and Duncan, the Cats are hopeful Bowes can become a regular for years to come, and despite the injuries, the signs are good.

Oliver Henry

The former Pie was greeted with a baptism of fire in Round One when he played his former side. After that heated affair, Henry has appeared to slowly work his way into the season and as part of a different forward line system than he was a part of last season.

His high-flying for marks and hard leading have seen him kick 18.11 in 12 games, however the club would be keen to see a greater intensity with his defensive pressure, as well as start holding more of the marks he flies for. 

At just 20 years of age though, the future is bright for the young Cat, and if he can continue to learn from Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron in particular, he has the potential to be a key target for many years to come.

Jhye Clark

The Cats were keen to do anything they could to move up in the draft to select Clark.  At pick seven, the youngster faced an interrupted start to the season, before some solid game time the VFL led to some best on ground performances and a senior debut against the Tigers in Round 9.

Clark came on as the sub, collecting six disposals and laying an impressive five tackles in a quarter of football.  Unfortunately for Clark, he sustained a stress fracture in his foot and has since been on the sidelines.

Given his pedigree, junior talent and great work ethic, the club will be keen to ensure he is eased back into football and no recurrence of the injury halts his career long-term.  

Phoenix Foster

Pick 53 in the 2022 national draft, Foster was always seen as a longer term prospect given the club had just come off a premiership. The South Australian has managed five games in the VFL side and has kicked 7.6 in those games.  The club will look for Foster to continue to develop in the VFL in the short term and produce some consistent footy.

Oscar Murdoch

Pick 18 in the 2023 rookie draft, the Geelong Falcon youngster has played all season in the VFL, plying his trade in a variety of positions to help accelerate his development and learning.  A speculative pick, the club will hope to see greater consistency of performance in the back half of the season.

Osca Riccardi

The son of former club champion Peter, Osca Riccardi was selected with pick 32 in the 2023 rookie draft.  The speedy youngster has played the majority of the VFL season across half back and up onto a wing, and has managed to hit the scoreboard most games, kicking 6.8 for the season.

Like fellow recruits Foster and Murdoch, the club will be hoping Riccardi continues to develop and improve as he plies his trade in the VFL for the remainder of the season.

Oisin Mullin

From Ireland to VFL to AFL in just four games, Mullin’s rise has been rapid, however, such are the skills of the dashing young half-back, it is not overly surprising he made his debut so quickly.  

Mullin was originally planning on joining the Cats back in 2019, however the covid years postponed his move.  Picked up as a Category B Rookie, he played Round One in the VFL, before a minor injury saw him miss three weeks. 

By Round 11, he was making his debut against the Giants, laying quality tackles and using his sidestep and dash to good effect.

Obviously there is plenty of improvement left in the Irishman – his kicking still lacks the penetration required in the AFL and he struggled to run out the games to date, but given the high regard he has in Ireland, Cats fans and the club alike can be excited about what his talents may produce when in 30-50 games time.

Ted Clohesy

Like Mullin, Clohesy was picked up as a Category B Rookie, having originally been born in South Africa and playing in the NAB league for the Geelong Falcons.

Clohesy has been a consistent performer for the VFL side, averaging 15 disposals and one goal per game playing mostly as a half-forward / forward-pocket. Another of the Cats longer term projects, Clohesy will continue to learn from the star-studded Cats small forwards at training and improve his skills in the VFL this season.

Mitch Hardie

Somewhat of a surprise selection in the 2023 mid-season draft, Mitch Hardie was taken at pick seven by the Cats to help bolster their midfield depth.  Formerly from New South Wales, Hardie has spent the past three seasons with SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens, playing 29 games and averaging 25 disposals.

A Swans fan, Hardie was not a huge fan of the Cats eight months ago, but the recent acquisition is excited for the opportunity and new challenge.  The Cats have a great record in selecting mature-age recruits from obscurity – could Hardie be another?

More AFL/AFLW News

Bailey Humphrey

The number six pick in last year’s AFL draft, Humphrey has impressed to date with his running ability and toughness.

After a couple of good games at VFL level, Humphrey was given his AFL debut in Round Four against the Saints.  His form over the first month was lacklustre at best, collating just 27 disposals across the four games.  

Since then, however, Humphrey has started to believe he belongs at the level. Averaging 20 disposals and kicking six goals in last five games, including the match-winner against the Bulldogs in Round 10, Humphrey has shown exactly why the Suns rated him so highly.

He also earned a rising star nomination in Round Nine for his 20 disposal, one goal game against the Eagles. The sky appears to be the limit for Humphrey, and with his no doubt continued improvement, he should play a key role in the club’s push for finals in 2023.

Tom Berry

Berry struggled to get a consistent run at AFL football at the Brisbane Lions, and with the Suns always keen on the young midfielder, they were able to facilitate a trade.  

Berry struggled with injury early in the season, but managed to make his club debut in Round Eight against the Melbourne. Since then, his form has been patchy at best, averaging just 10 disposals in the four games he has started, as well as just two touches when playing as the sub against his former club.

Both the Suns and Berry will be looking for a greater impact post the bye.

Jed Anderson

The former Hawk and Roo was delisted by North Melbourne at the end of last season and thrown a lifeline by the Suns as a rookie selection during the supplemental signing period.

A hamstring injury early in the season slowed his progress and the team’s strong midfield form have late have meant Anderson is yet to notch a senior game for the club and is stuck on 99 AFL games.

His form for the VFL side in the last month has been promising, and he will no doubt be looking to press his case for selection as his fitness really ramps up in the second half of the season.  

Connor Blakely

Ther former Fremantle defender was picked up by the Suns as a rookie, but has yet to make an impact at AFL level for his new club.  Blakely has performed admirably for the club’s VFL side, averaging close to 25 disposals playing predominantly in the midfield.

At 25 years of age, you feel as though the time is now for Blakely if he is to make it at the top level again.  Given the way the Suns are playing at the moment, however, this would seem unlikely in the short term.

Lloyd Johnston

The category B rookie has plied his trade in the club’s VFL side so far this season.  Playing in a variety of roles, the club has been impressed with his development and ability to take a mark.  

A long term prospect, Johnston is not expected to see AFL game time in 2023.

Ben Long

The former Saint was traded to the Suns this past offseason, and has played all bar one game in the Suns defence – a move that has proved beneficial for Long and the club alike.   His ability to read the play, along with his toughness around the contest, has been warmly appreciated by the young Sun’s backline.  

Long has averaged 13 disposals, three tackles and three rebound 50s per game, with over half his disposals contested – something the Suns have been missing in the defensive half in previous seasons.

As the club looks to push towards a maiden finals berth, Long appears to be front and centre in coach Dew’s plans for his back six.

Brodie McLaughlin

The former Frankston Dolphin, McLaughlin was also rookie listed during the supplementary selection period.  Yet many of the other late selections by the Suns, he is yet to make his AFL debut and has been toiling away in the VFL side, predominantly in the midfield.

McLaughlin will be keen to further develop his skills in the hope of making a dream AFL debut in the years to come.

Jake Stein

After 20 games with the Giants, Stein was delisted before being thrown a lifeline by the Suns as a rookie.  Selected more for depth, the Suns have not needed his services at AFL level to this point.  

Stein has shown promise, however, playing between ruck and the forward line, and would still be hopeful of having an impact at AFL level should the opportunity arise.  At 28 years of age, it appears if needs to happen quickly for him to get one last chance at the top level.

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