Fourteen debutants in the past 16 games. And we’re just getting started.
It was inevitable. The depth at every club was going to be tested like never before as footy departments navigate through a season with endless challenges.
Here’s a look at your club’s uncapped players who are on the cusp of selection.
Debutants: 8 – Yet to debut: 5
The last-placed Crows have blooded a league-high eight debutants, as Matthew Nicks desperately searches for that elusive maiden victory.
Adelaide has been super impressed with the development of the 20-year-old intercept key defender who they selected in the 2018 rookie draft.
His eye-catching form in the SANFL last season earned him a two-year contract extension.
Lightly built but towering at almost 200cm, Butts has been trialed as a forward at times as well.
One of the most exciting prospects out of last year’s draft, Worrell is as versatile as they come but appears to have settled in defence despite leading the goalkicking for Vic Metro.
Worrell has showcased his aerial ability, speed and quality ball use coming out of the back half in recent scratch matches.
Won’t have to wait long for a chance at the top level.
Others yet to debut: Ronin O’Connor, Lachie Gollant and Ayce Taylor.
Debutants: 4 – Yet to debut: 10
A good run with injuries in the first half of 2020 has the Lions primed to tackle the challenges ahead with depth to call upon including a number of untried youngsters.
A Lions Academy product via Katherine in the NT, Coleman is an exciting utility who worked his way onto the senior list after being overlooked in 2018.
Has been trialled in all parts of the ground at NEAFL level and in scratch matches, and appears to be on the brink of a debut after being named an emergency in recent weeks.
Brisbane’s first selection in 2018 has patiently waited for an opportunity to arise in the Lions’ deep engine room.
The big-bodied midfielder averaged just under 20 disposals and kicked 13 goals in the Lions’ undefeated 2019 NEAFL campaign.
Re-contracted until the end of 2022, Smith’s mature body and natural ball-winning ability should see him make an immediate impact when his chance comes.
Athletic tall forwards Toby Wooller and Tom Fullarton have runs on the board at the lower level, while Brock Smith, Corey Lyons, Jaxon Prior, Tom Joyce and James Madden are others also waiting in the wings.
Debutants: 1 – Yet to debut: 8
Sam Philp has been the Blues’ sole debutant so far this season, which speaks to the improved performance of David Teague’s side as a whole, but expect an injection of untried youth in the run home.
An excitement machine out of the Western Jets footy factory, Honey has lit up recent scratch matches with his freakish ability in the air and around goals.
Not just a flashy, burst player, his GPS numbers have been equally impressive.
A regular emergency for the Blues, it’s now a matter of when he gets a taste at senior level in 2020, not if.
The endurance king arrived at the Navy Blues together with Michael Gibbons as a SSP signing early last year.
Has been used predominantly across half back and on the wing in
practice matches, but has also been exposed to roles at the coal face and inside 50.
Another Blue who has been named an emergency in recent times.
Will be a story worth celebrating when he gets the nod.
Former Australian underage basketballer Matt Owies has been a consistent goalkicker in scratch matches and is working towards a debut, while Sam Ramsay, Ben Silvagni, Fraser Phillips, Finbar O’Dwyer and injured first-rounder Brodie Kemp are others yet to feature at the top level.
Debutants: 5 – Yet to debut: 6
Injuries, off-field issues and patchy form has seen Collingwood blood five debutants so far in 2020, and there may be room for one or two more before season’s end.
The Pies’ first selection in last year’s draft is an elite runner, has clean hands, a creative streak and comes from a basketball background. Sound familiar?
Rantall has impressed in a number of scratch matches and has been named an emergency twice.
A diminutive midfielder/defender who recently overcame a shoulder injury and has since impressed in match simulation.
A prolific ball-winner with a high footy IQ who will likely push into the midfield after he serves an apprenticeship down back.
It could be now or never for fourth-year ruckman Max Lynch, while exciting Irishman Anton Tohill and basketball convert Tom Wilson are developing nicely.
Debutants: 3 – Yet to debut: 9
The Bombers famously landed the highly-sought after pocket rocket with pick 38 two years ago, and after some battles with injury, the boy from Halls Creek looks primed for the big time.
He has been used in a number of roles in scratch matches, with his run, ball use, pressure and marking ability all on show. An opportunity shouldn’t be too far away.
One of two Irishmen who found an AFL home last year via an international rookie spot.
The 21-year-old was a rising Gaelic football and basketball star before turning heads at last year’s AFL Europe Combine.
His development down back has been rapid and the Dons love his versatility and appetite to learn. A smoky to debut late in the season.
Developing talls Harrison Jones and Nick Bryan likely need more time to develop before being thrust into senior football. Noah Gown, Cian McBride, Henry Crauford and injured duo Lachie Johnson and Tom Hird are others yet to debut.
Debutants: 5 – Yet to debut: 8
The Freo faithful have been forced to wait to see the highly-touted South Australian at AFL level after the Dockers snapped up the born leader at pick 32 in 2018.
Injuries and a deep midfield have held Valente back but some impressive form in match simulation has him on the cusp of realising his AFL dream.
The Victorian midfielder has been around the mark in each of his three seasons with the Dockers, but hasn’t been able to crack into a full engine room.
A strong inside player who can be damaging when using his left foot.
Must show his worth at AFL level when given the chance.
Fremantle swooped on the mercurial Liam Henry with pick 9 last year, but have had to wait to see him in full flight due to a knee injury. His class and skill is undoubted.
Should see some senior action this year if his body holds up.
Mammoth ruckman Lloyd Meek continues to develop and could slot in if a vacancy opens up. Others pushing for a taste of senior football: Isaiah Butters, Jarvis Pina, Leno Thomas and Dillon O’Reilly.
Debutants: 1 – Yet to debut: 11
Chris Scott has again steered clear of ‘playing the kids’, with Brad Close, a 22-year-old mature age recruit the only first-gamer so far in 2020.
The Cats have a raft of swingmen which has made it tough for Kreuger, a mature age athletic forward to crack into the senior side despite a promising debut VFL season and eye-catching performances in recent scratch matches.
Has the athleticism to pinch-hit in the ruck and play up the ground.
Stephen Wells and co. nabbed Stephens with a rare first round pick, despite the talented midfielder missing most of his draft year with a broken leg.
A hard-runner and elite decision-maker, Stephens is developing his craft at half back and on the wing before earning his stripes in Geelong’s star-studded midfield. Named an emergency in recent weeks.
Draft bolter Francis Evans and second-year utility Ben Jarvis are both on the verge of senior selection, while Sam De Koning, Oscar Brownless, Jake Tarca, Blake Schlensog, Jacob Kennerley, Cameron Taheny and Stefan Okunbor are others yet to debut.
Debutants: 5 – Yet to debut: 10
Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Izak Rankine, Connor Budarick and Jeremy Sharp.
The best crop of debutants picked by any side this year. And the Suns aren’t done yet.
Gold Coast traded up to pick 11 to snaffle the dangerous forward and it appears his wait to join fellow draftees Rowell and Anderson at AFL level is almost over.
Powerful for his size, Flanders loves the contest and isn’t afraid to fly for his marks.
An AFL debut for the richly-gifted mature-ager may come quicker than expected.
The Halls Creek product travelled an unorthodox path onto the Suns’ list last year and has wasted no time mounting a case for senior call up.
He has kicked multiple goals regularly in scratch matches and would bring energy, pressure and X-factor to an already exciting forward setup.
Others yet to debut: Malcolm Rosas, Patrick Murtagh, Jez McLennan, Sam Fletcher, Luke Towey, Matt Conroy, Hewago Paul Oea and the injured Mitch Riordan.
Debutants: 3* – Yet to debut: 7
2019 draftees Lachie Ash and Tom Green have been ultra-impressive in their debut seasons, but the Giants could turn to a host of untried mature-age players in the second half of 2020.
The third midfielder taken by the Giants in the first round of the 2018 draft, O’Halloran is a hard-running inside player with an impressive mix of power and speed.
His form in match practice was finally rewarded, with Leon Cameron handing the former Western Jet a debut against Essendon tonight.
The mature age Category B rookie is in his third year at the club and finally is in the frame for AFL selection.
An athletic forward with many strings to his bow, Buckley is strong in the
air and has a running capacity that allows him to do damage up the ground.
GWS scoured the state leagues and landed 25-year-old mid-forward Tom Hutchesson (SANFL) and the VFL’s 2019 Rising Star, versatile goalkicker Jake Riccardi.
Both are impressing on the track and may be called on in the coming weeks. Big men Matt Flynn and Kieran Briggs are waiting in the wings, while Irishman Callum Brown is taking positive strides.
Debutants: 3 – Yet to debut: 9
With the Hawks’ ageing list under the microscope, expect Alistair Clarkson to have a look at a few untried youngsters in the run home.
Hawthorn fans have already had a look at two exciting prospects from their most recent draft haul, but they are still hanging out for perhaps the most exciting one of the lot, father/son Finn Maginness.
An inside midfielder with pace to burn and a knack for hitting the scoreboard.
Exciting forwards Mat Walker and Jackson Ross would provide an injection of youthful energy into the Hawks’ front half, with both capable of the remarkable.
Walker is an excitement machine in the air and knows where the goals are, while Ross is in his third year on the Hawks’ list and has served a VFL apprenticeship that has yielded 51 goals in 35 games.
Second-year rookie Damon Greaves impressed in the Marsh Series down back but has settled into a new role on the wing and thrived.
Jacob Koschitzke, Emerson Jeka, Ned Reeves, Harrison Pepper and the injured Will Golds are also yet to debut.
Debutants: 4 – Yet to debut: 3
Melbourne has called on the kids over the past couple of seasons with just three players on their list yet to debut.
A second round selection two years ago for Melbourne, Jordan has yet to earn a debut but appears a good chance to during the compressed fixture.
A tough but polished player who can be used inside or down back.
Raw Category B rookie Austin Bradtke is seen as a project player at Melbourne and with a glut of rucks on their books, will likely to have develop his forward craft if he’s to breakthrough for an AFL match.
Aaron Nietschke has suffered two ACL injuries since arriving at the Dees and won’t be in the senior frame for some time.
Debutants: 3 – Yet to debut: 4
A long list of casualties and a lack of positive results have seen North’s youth given opportunities, with mid-season mature age recruit Lachie Hosie the most recent debutant.
The father/son utility is one of only four on North’s list yet to play senior football.
The rangy defender put an injury-riddled draft year behind him to play every VFL game in 2019 where he impressed with his ability to turn defence into attack.
Jamie Macmillan’s impending hub exit could open the door for Darren’s son to officially continue the family tradition at the top level.
There’s hype around soccer convert Flynn Perez who has recently returned to full training after recovering from an ACL injury.
The skillful midfielder will need a block of match practice before being considered for senior selection.
NGA product Matt McGuinness and injured draftee Charlie Comben round out North’s short list of uncapped players.
Debutants: 2 – Yet to debut: 10
But wait, there’s more. The Power’s recent draft hauls could genuinely set them up for a sustained period of success, a lot sooner than most thought.
It won’t be long before Port fans see another young gun blooded with last year’s pick 14 on the cusp of senior selection.
The athletic utility brings plenty of excitement to the table with his power, high-marking and long-kicking all weapons in his arsenal.
The Power’s ploy to bring in match-winning talent in recent drafts continued with the selection of Oakleigh Charger X-factor Dylan Williams.
Raw but unafraid of the big moments.
Port Adelaide could be the most exciting team to watch over the next decade if their young players live up to potential.
Others yet to debut: Tobin Cox, Sam Hayes, Trent Burgoyne, Jake Patmore, Riley Grundy, Jackson Mead, Martin Frederick and Jake Pisani.
Debutants: 1 – Yet to debut: 9
The Tigers’ depth has been lauded during another injury-hit season and they’ve got a host of impressive youngsters who are ready and waiting to contribute at the top level.
Now the only top 20 draftee from 2018 yet to debut, the supremely-talented midfielder has been made to earn his first start more than most, but when he does get the green light, expect him to make an immediate impact.
The prototype midfielder is tall, quick, strong and already a big game player, having helped lift the VFL Tigers to premiership glory with two
epic grand final goals.
One of the Tigers’ best-performing players at the lower level in 2020, Dow has impressed with his elite running ability and contest work inside despite his slight frame.
Won’t have to wait too much longer for a taste at the top.
Hugo Ralphsmith, Fraser Turner, Luke English, Will Martyn, Ben Miller and injured duo Noah Cumberland and Bigoa Nyuon are others who have also not featured at senior level yet.
Debutants: 2 – Yet to debut: 6
The injection of speed and class in the form of off-season recruits coupled with the emergence of Max King, Hunter Clark, Nick Coffield and co. has the Saints primed for finals footy.
A highly-touted ball-magnet who missed all of his first year on the Saints’ list owing to back surgery.
He’s up and running and on the verge of senior selection on the back of consistent form in match practice.
Saints fans are excited by Bytel. Recent injuries in the engine room
could open the door for him.
The third-year intercept defender has been cursed by injuries but recent signs on the track suggest a long-awaited debut isn’t far away.
The Saints’ third selection back in 2017 is athletic, supreme in the air and equipped to play on all shapes and sizes down back.
The remaining untried Saints are Leo Connolly, Jack Bell, Sam Alabakis and the injured Jack Mayo.
Debutants: 5 – Yet to debut: 8
The struggling Swans have had a good look at the next wave, with John Longmire selecting five new bloods so far this season, and we could see a few more in the coming weeks.
The teenage pocket rocket has turned heads since arriving at the Swans via the Dandenong Stingrays in 2018.
Blessed with an abundance of speed and a deep bag of tricks, Foot has arguably the best small forward in the competition to learn from in Tom Papley.
Sydney swooped on the hulking South Aussie teen at pick 26 in last year’s draft.
Mature in every sense, Gould was a dominant force across half back in back-to-back underage campaigns and then more than matched it with men at senior SANFL level with Glenelg.
Ruckmen Joel Amartey and Michael Knoll have had their respective injury issues but have been close when fit, while Jack Maibaum, Barry O’Connor, Brady Rowles and Harry Reynolds are the other untried Swans.
Debutants: 1 – Yet to debut: 9
The Eagles are flying and have only called on one debutant so far in 2020, and he, Harry Edwards lasted less than a quarter (concussion).
There’s depth in all parts of the ground for Adam Simpson to call on when needed.
Touted as the best junior ruckman in his draft year, Williams has had to bide his time with the Eagles’ big-men stocks fit and firing.
The versatile 20-year-old has moved ahead of Tom Hickey and Nathan Vardy and has been named as an emergency on half a dozen occasions
so far this season.
An AFL debut seemed miles away when Reid was playing amateur footy a few years ago, but a shift in mindset and an impressive 2019 under the Eagles’ noses in their WAFL side saw the mature-age forward picked up in March as a SSP signing.
Strong, quick and clever.
The middle Brayshaw brother, Hamish is into his third year on the Eagles’ list and is awaiting an opening in arguably the best midfield in the competition.
2018 second-rounder Xavier O’Neill has also been around the mark for a debut.
Others yet to play at senior level: Luke Foley, Ben Johnson, Callum Jamieson, Anthony Treacy and the injured Mitch O’Neill.
Debutants: 5 – Yet to debut: 3
There’s a very real chance that the Dogs will have used every player on their list come season’s end.
Luke Beveridge hasn’t been afraid to expose youth throughout 2020, handing debuts to five young pups.
The mature-age second-year ruckman has been a regular emergency but is realistically only a chance to debut if Tim English needs a rest.
The SANFL premiership player is a popular member of the group and the Dogs like his physicality.
A list flushed with intercept/rebounding defenders has seen the NGA product not in the selection frame throughout his two years at the kennel, but the compressed fixture could be his best chance to impress at the top level.
All-Australian in his draft year, Khamis is athletic, reads the play well, a good runner and neat by foot.
Energetic WA midfielder Riley Garcia recently made his long-awaited return from an ACL injury he sustained in the final game of the U18 Championships, and if his body holds up, is a chance of a late-season look.