17/04/2024

Seth Campbell, Caleb Windsor and Charlie Dean made their AFL Debuts in 2024's Opening Round (Photos: Richmond FC, Melbourne FC and Collingwood FC)

With Opening Round taking place for the first time in the AFL’s history, there were only eight teams playing four games, with five players suiting up for their first AFL game.

Everyone is excited about the new wave of talent across the competition who get to show off their skills at the first time of asking. With another bumper crop of draftees, there were sure to be many who would impress.

The Inner Sanctum analyses all the players who stepped onto an AFL field for the first time in their careers across the inaugural AFL Opening Round.

Collingwood Magpies

Charlie Dean

It took Charlie Dean 834 days to make his AFL debut for Collingwood, after an injury ridden start to his career.

Tasked with deputising a Pies backline that was absent of Jeremy Howe and Nathan Murphy, the 22 year old played as the second tallest defender on the night.

In an overall poor showing from the Pies, Dean was one of few that stood out for the reigning premiers, recording a tidy 89% efficiency from his nine disposals. Most notably, Dean stayed true to the task throughout the final minutes of the last quarter, tackling Jesse Hogan as he attempted to take on the debutant, preventing a certain goal.

Thomas Colasante

GWS Giants

Harvey Thomas

Harvey Thomas didn’t play a major part in his team’s stirring win over reigning premiers Collingwood. His 82 per cent of game time produced a modest return of three kicks and six handballs. 

What the diminutive pick 59 from the 2023 national draft did do, however, is play his role, as Adam Kingsley would have demanded. 

One of the reasons behind Thomas’s selection for his debut is the energy that he brings to the group; an energy which permeated throughout the whole team in a comprehensive victory unexpected by many, at least in its magnitude.

Hugh Maclean

More AFL News

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Hardwick happy with first-up performance, but Yze encouraged by Tigers response

‘We didn’t connect’: Craig McRae reflects on Opening Round loss to GWS

Melbourne Demons

Caleb Windsor

The Demons’ first pick in the 2023 AFL Draft didn’t have to wait long for his chance at the top level. While not the most impressive statistical game first up, Windsor got on the end of some neat passages of play from the Demons, having four score involvements in a solid debut. 

Blake Howes

On debut after two seasons in the system, Howes made an immediate impact in the Demon defence alongside Steven May and Jake Lever. He had a game high 12 intercept possessions and seven marks, the most of any Demon in their loss to Sydney.

Thomas Grattan

Richmond Tigers

Seth Campbell

After being taken by the Tigers with pick No.12 in the 2022 Rookie Draft, Seth Campbell made his long-awaited debut.

The 19-year-old has been battling groin and leg issues, seeing him only play five VFL games last season, but with patience and positivity, Campbell earned his AFL debut over the weekend against the Gold Coast Suns.

Despite a 39-point loss to the Suns, Campbell showed glimpses of his skill and footwork. The crafty small forward kicked two impressive goals on debut, one was a quick crumb and snap kick and the other was a set shot 50 metres out on a slight angle. He also managed to collect nine disposals and four tackles, which was an equal game-high for the Tigers, in 80 per cent time on ground.

Campbell showed many positive signs on the weekend, which will surely see him make the cut for selection when the Tigers take on Carlton at the MCG on Thursday night. 

Owen Watts

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