Who could still debut for your AFL club?

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Picture: westernbulldogs.com.au

As we approach the halfway mark of the AFL season, The Inner Sanctum team has looked at who could still make an impact at AFL level for your club.

Adelaide

Tariek Newchurch. Photo: afc.com.au.

Reeling after four straight losses, there are plenty of selection headaches down at West Lakes with a number of impressive performers at SANFL level giving Matthew Nicks plenty to think about. 

The standout for the Crows reserves so far this season has without a doubt been second-year key position Josh Worrell, who is really coming into his own as an intercepting defender. 

Listed at 193cm and 94kg, Worrell would provide Adelaide’s defence with some much needed height as their inexperience in the key posts has left them vulnerable to power forwards in recent weeks. 

With small forwards Ned McHenry and Lachie Murphy both going down with injuries in Saturday night’s showdown, the door opens up for exciting prospect Tariek Newchurch to come in for his AFL debut. 

Coming to the club in last year’s Rookie Draft, the 18-year-old has shown his prodigious talent on occasion at SANFL level this season, and although still very raw, would provide a spark in Adelaide’s faltering attacking half. 

First round draft pick’s Luke Pedlar and Brayden Cook have had injury interrupted starts to the 2021 season and have begun to get some momentum behind them in the SANFL. Look for them to potentially push for senior honours as the year progresses.   

Zac Standish

Brisbane

After a tumultuous start to the season, the Brisbane Lions have hit their straps over the past few months and are now firing at all cylinders.

With limited injuries and a nice mix of experience and youth currently in the side, it is hard to see many debutants making their way into the Lions lineup. 

2018 first round draft pick Ely Smith would be the closest to senior selection at the moment, following a strong pre-season and bright start to the VFL season.

A hard-nosed midfielder, the 20-year old has certainly paid his dues in the reserves and looks the sort of player that will have an immediate impact at the highest level. 

With injuries having a significant impact on the start of his career, midfielder Tom Joyce is finally enjoying some great continuity in his game and serves as a great depth piece if required.

Selected with pick 33 in the 2019 draft, utility Brock Smith could also enter the frame for senior selection at some point this year, with his dedicated approach to the contest and speed either inside 50 or across half back an enticing prospect for Chris Fagan and his coaching team. 

Brother of Keidean, livewire small forward Blake Coleman has provided some highlights in the VFL, with the raw talent very much a long term prospect for the Lions. 

Much in the mould of Oscar McInerny, ruckman Henry Smith, is another youngster bursting with talent and is currently learning his craft in the VFL with a string of solid performances. 

Zac Standish

Carlton

With its season teetering at 3 wins and 5 losses and a spate of injuries to regular first choice players, Carlton’s depth in its list has been tested early in season 2021. 

Having already handed out one AFL debut to Luke Parks in round 3, there could be more young blues putting their hands up later in the season for their first opportunities in the big time.

Pick 17 from last season Brodie Kemp had been the name on everyone’s lips this pre-season before a training mishap ruled him out for three months with a syndesmosis injury. 

Following an ACL injury in his draft year and spending season 2020 recovering – Kemp is finally in ful training and will play his first VFL game in a couple of weeks with an eye towards a senior debut later in the season.

Pick 47 from 2019 Sam Ramsay has put six consistent weeks together in the VFL (regular season and practice matches) and has been firming to break through to the senior team in recent weeks with consistent performances having moved into the midfield showcasing his closing speed, pressure and distribution of the ball.

Both 2020 national draft selections Corey Durdin and Jack Carroll have both had injury interrupted starts to their career at Ikon Park and will both be looking to take their opportunities in the second half of the year. 

Carroll only made his VFL debut last week against Footscray after a finger injury. 

Durdin has played four games in a row now and is starting to build into some form which could see him get his chance later in the season. 

Jono Baruch 

Collingwood

With Collingwood’s shocking luck with injuries this year already, the side has been forced to debut five players already as the AFL approaches round nine. In contrast, the remaining zero-capped players can remain hopeful for a debut this year.

Trent Bianco, who has been on Collingwood’s list since 2019 made his long awaited return to the VFL after recovering from knee inflammation picked up in the preseason. 

He was among the Pies best in his return, racking up an equal team best 29 disposals and also kicking one goal. A run around for the next couple of weeks might finally be enough for Bianco to make his AFL debut.

It’s been a rough start to his AFL career for Reef McInnes, who was selected with pick 23 in the 2020 National Draft.  

McInnes suffered a finger tendon injury during the off season but was able to recover for round one of the VFL where has starred in the side, only to have sustained a medium grade syndesmosis injury in round four and is expected to be unavailable for eight to 10 weeks. 

McInnes may make a late appearance for Collingwood should recovery go well.

Taken in the Rookie Draft, Jack Ginnivan will also be among the Pies yet to debut who will push for a spot in the senior side. 

The 18-year-old has a footy IQ greater than his years, which will play an integral part in the midfield, which is something Collingwood at this stage needs; a quick yet efficient mover of the ball.

Tricia Mifsud

Essendon

Kaine Baldwin. Picture: Alex Catalano

Essendon has blooded six debutants this season. 

Top 10 selections Nik Cox (pick eight), Archie Perkins (nine) and Zach Reid (10) have impressed, with Cox joining Harry Jones (pick 30 in 2019) as the two debutants to play every game in 2021. Alec Waterman and young ruckman Nick Bryan are the other two debutants for the Bombers this season.

The Bombers matched a bid for Josh Eyre at pick 39 in the 2020 draft, and the key forward has been steadily developing in the VFL. 

He is a long term project and will need to add size to his 197cm, 85kg frame before he debuts for the club. Eyre is yet to kick a goal, but his elite aerobic capacity has been a feature of his game through three rounds of the VFL.

Essendon’s fifth selection of the draft was NGA product Cody Brand (53), who has impressed lately in defence. 

Brand had 15 disposals and six marks in round three as he settled into a key back role in the VFL. He sits behind Brandon Zerk-Thatcher in the key defender pecking order so may have to wait until next season to appear at senior level. 

After a successful comeback from an ACL, Lachie Johnson has found his home rotating between the forward line and the engine room of Essendon’s VFL side. 

His attack on the ball and the man has been a feature of his game, laying seven tackles and collecting 12 disposals against Collingwood in round two. He may be the closest player to a debut at the AFL level.

Son of Essendon legend James, Tom Hird won’t be featured at AFL level this year but is tracking well as a project piece for the Bombers. 

The Category B rookie’s highlight is his elite endurance, using it to his advantage as he works tirelessly from positions on the wing and half back. 

Hird had 16 disposals and six marks in round two, and backed it up with 14 disposals and three rebound 50s.

Supplementary selection period signing Kaine Baldwin won’t be seen this season as the club takes a cautious approach to his recovery from multiple ACL injuries in his junior years. 

Cian McBride is an Irish Category B rookie who continues to learn the game. 

At 197cm and 90kg, he has been learning a defensive role and has had 12 and five disposals in his two VFL matches in 2021.

Jasper Chellappah 

Fremantle

Fremantle has given games to the majority of its young playing list, with Lloyd Meek, Heath Chapman and Josh Treacy having already debuted this season. 

But the five remaining uncapped players could soon be given a chance because of the club’s growing injury list.

Out of the quintet, Joel Western is the closest to making his debut, and it could happen in the coming weeks. 

Taken with pick 54 in last year’s draft as an NGA Academy player, Western is the only untried player who travelled with the 30-player squad during the club’s 11-day road trip and was an emergency for last Sunday’s game against Brisbane. 

The exciting young mid-forward finished with 26 disposals, 10 marks and a goal in his last game against West Coast in the WAFL and could be a handy addition to Fremantle’s forward line.

Western’s fellow NGA Academy player Brandon Walker is further off though, he only just made his WAFL league debut last week after recovering from a concussion.

After suffering a calf injury during the pre-season, third-year midfielder Luke Valente has been building form and match fitness in the WAFL. 

In his third game back against Perth, Valente was among Peel’s best with 23 disposals. 

The former Under-18 South Australian captain could finally make his debut this year if he has some luck with injuries. 

He will face a tough battle for selection though, with Nat Fyfe, Caleb Serong, Darcy Tucker, Andrew Brayshaw and David Mundy already locking down the inside midfield spots.

Nathan O’Driscoll, the Dockers’ second pick in last year’s draft, has been progressing well off half-back in the WAFL. 

The 18-year-old has impressed so far with his rebounding ability, toughness and improvement from week to week.

Leno Thomas, Fremantle’s only uncapped player from the 2019 Draft, has not played in the last three rounds of the WAFL for Peel.

Hamish Spence 

Geelong

The Cats have already blooded three debutants in 2021, with Sam De Koning, Max Holmes and Francis Evans debuting in the first eight rounds of the season. 

However, there are still nine players on the Cats’ list who are yet to be seen at AFL level, some of whom could feature at AFL level later this year. 

2020 draftee Nick Stevens impressed in round four of the VFL, gathering 23 disposals and taking six marks in Geelong’s big win over the Northern Bullants. 

Fellow first-year player Shannon Neale has played two VFL games but appears a bit further down the pecking order, both as a key forward and a ruckman. 

The uncapped trio of Irishman Stefan Okunbor, Cameron Taheny and father-son selection Oscar Brownless have featured in all three of Geelong’s VFL games this season, averaging 16.7, 17.7 and 19.7 disposals respectively.

2019 first-round draftee Cooper Stephens and key forward Nathan Kreuger are currently recovering from injury, Kreuger a test for selection ahead of round five of the VFL. 

Rookie ruckman Paul Tsapatolis has not yet featured at VFL level in 2021.

Will Cuckson

Gold Coast Suns

The Suns will no longer be the only club to not debut a player heading into round nine as they announced forward Malcom Rosas Jr would make his debut in the Q-Clash. 

Causing a headache up forward with Rosas is Papua New Guinean Hewego Paul Oea, who continues to impress coach Stuart Dew after his exceptional NEAFL run in 2019. 

Boasting speed and pressure, Oea can also transition into the midfield if needed. 

There’s plenty to like about the academy product. 

Also showing enormous promise and confidence in the VFL, is third year Jez McLennan

The rebounding defender has looked assured all year and intercepts well. 

Should he continue to string these solid performances together and impress selectors, he will be the next Sun to debut. 

Academy product and former basketballer Alex Davies has been one of the Suns’ best in the VFL of the uncapped brigade, with his ball winning ability on show. 

Also travelling well at state level, is fellow first year and rookie listed Aidan Fyfe.  

A graduate from the academy program, Fyfe possesses power and athleticism that could help him become a big bodied midfielder down the line. 

The pair still have things to work on before they earn a debut, but nonetheless, they’re still two exciting players to keep an eye on.

21-year-old former Queensland decathlon champion Patrick Murtagh made the switch to AFL in 2019 after impressing in the state draft combine. 

After showing ruck prowess at the VFL and NEAFL level, the Suns will continue to ready him for an AFL debut which could come soon due numerous injuries to their ruckmen.

Joel Jeffery, son of former St Kilda and Brisbane player Russell Jeffery, will continue to develop into an AFL ready player at VFL level. 

His ability to read the play and control the air is a major strength as is his athleticism and versatility which allows him to play a utility role for the Suns. 

A quieter performer in the VFL is rookie listed Rhys Nicholls, another Suns’ academy product. 

With speed and clean ball usage on his side, the exciting prospect has plenty of potential, but is lower on the pecking order. 

Last year’s pick seven Elijah Hollands won’t be seen on the field for a while as he recovers from an ACL sustained in February 2020. 

Also benched is ruckman Matt Conroy (knee) and defender Luke Towey (foot), who won’t be available for another few weeks.

Rebecca Ruthven

GWS Giants

Matthew Flynn was one of the stories of the year when he made his debut after being in the GWS academy since he was 12 years old. 

He made his debut after multiple injuries in round one this season. 

Kieren Briggs will make his long-awaited debut for the Giants in round nine. 

The 200cm, 103kg big-man comes in to replace Lachie Keeffe down back, but has the capacity to move into the ruck and even go up forward. 

Briggs has the potential to become a cult hero for GWS, and will be learning to use his big frame under ruck-coach/first-choice ruckman Shane Mumford. 

Tanner Bruhn and Connor Stone have also impressed in their taste of the big time.

Mature-age recruit Jacob Wehr is a ready-made prospect out of the SANFL who was taken with the last pick of the 2020 draft. 

He is close to a debut with the injuries GWS have in their backline. 

He was a bolter in the 2020 draft, but Ryan Angwin (pick 18) has impressed in his rapid development in the lower level. 

The winger has immediately impressed with his elite running capacity, but will need to spend time building up his body for the rigours of the AFL.

Cameron Fleeton is the other draftee yet to debut, but he will be some time as he finds his feet at the lower level. 

He was taken with pick 58 out of the Geelong Falcons.

The two rookie-listed players Will Shaw and Callum Brown have time on their sides. 

Shaw is a small defender picked up in the off-season, and Brown is an Irish native from County Derry who will develop his game at the lower level.

Jasper Chellappah

Hawthorn

Highly touted defender Denver Grainger-Barras is the Hawks’ highest-profiled rookie yet to debut. 

His knee injury and subsequent bone bruising has kept him out of VFL football, but he’s expected to return soon. 

He’ll need to put on a bit of size before playing consistent football at the AFL level, but the Hawks may be eager to give him experience. 

Ned Reeves has been on Hawthorn’s list for a few years, and is developing nicely according to all reports. 

Whilst he’s still not ready for AFL football, an injury to one of Hawthorn’s existing rucks may be enough for him to get into the side. 

Connor Downie has technically debuted, but he is still yet to grace the field, and may get a chance later in the season. 

Seamus Mitchell, Jack Saunders and Lachie Bramble are all under 77kg and will be unlikely to debut as they build their AFL bodies.

Matthew Forrest

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Melbourne

Still undefeated after eight rounds, the Demons are one of the hardest sides to break into in the AFL at the moment, with a particularly strong level of senior depth in both the forward and backlines.

With Sam Weideman confirmed to be playing his first game of 2021, last year’s second round draft pick Fraser Rosman will have to push his case hard to find a debut this year. 

The mobile tall forward has shown his capability to move up the ground and play as a genuine winger, notching up 17 disposals and five marks in Casey’s win over North Melbourne in round three, also hitting the scoreboard.

On the other wing and across half-forward has been Jake Bowey, the 176cm Sandringham Dragons product averaging 24.7 disposals and 5.3 marks across his three VFL games so far. 

Fellow small and NGA Academy product Deakyn Smith had a huge 20 disposal, seven mark and six tackle game against Box Hill in round one, but has been quiet since.

Austin Bradtke has been playing second string ruck to Majak Daw, with plenty of development still to be had, averaging just over 11 hit outs. 

He did hit the scoreboard against Richmond, but will likely benefit from more time spent in the VFL.

Bailey Laurie and Aaron Nietschke have not played any football this year due to injury, Nietschke suffering a third ACL tear before the start of the season.

Of the available players, Bowey and Rosman are shaping as the most likely to debut in 2021.

Alex Catalano

North Melbourne

North is in the midst of an injury crisis with 15 listed players already ruled out for round 10. 

First-year players Will Phillips (third selection in the 2020 Draft), Tom Powell (13) and Charlie Lazzaro (36) have impressed in their games this season.

The only potential debutant available for selection is Eddie Ford (56th). 

Ford is averaging 10 disposals in the VFL as he finds his feet at the level. 

Playing in the forward line for North’s VFL side has been a thankless task as it languishes at the bottom of the ladder with a percentage of 29.9.

Charlie Comben is yet to debut, but is an indefinite out with a stress fracture in his right tibia. 

The 2019 Draft’s 31st pick was ear-marked to replace Ben Brown as the focal point up forward alongside Nick Larkey, but a timeframe is not yet in place for the big man to make his debut this year.

Phoenix Spicer was showing some good form in the VFL before being struck down with a hamstring strain. 

The zippy small forward is now some weeks away from a return to football, but a debut is on the cards in the second half of the season.

Other players awaiting a debut but are on the injury list include Matt McGuinness (foot) and Patrick Walker (hip) who both do not have time frames on their return to action.

Jasper Chellappah 

Port Adelaide

With Scott Lycett’s suspension lasting a month, it could be time untried ruckman Sam Hayes gets his first crack at AFL level.

Hayes, who was widely considered the best ruckman in his draft class despite being selected at Pick 47, has been terrific at SANFL level for Port.

He’s averaged 33 hitouts in six games this season, on top of 4.5 marks and 3.5 clearances a game. 

A name on many Port’s fans’ lips at the moment is Dylan Williams.

His bag of three goals against reigning premiers Woodville-West Torrens had many calling for a potential debut in the Showdown, but all of those came in the first quarter.

After no state league football in 2020, Williams will require a fair bit of time gaining some match fitness before moving up to AFL level.

Another one impressing at SANFL level is father-son selection Taj Schofield.

The son of 2004 premiership midfielder Jarrad, Taj has shown remarkable composure and skill in his first season against built bodies in the SANFL.

He’s averaged 18.3 touches a game, and despite his smaller frame, has shown he’s not afraid of getting into the thick of it with 3.2 tackles a game.

Fellow father-son selection Jackson Mead was on track to get named in the AFL side before rupturing his spleen in the narrow loss to South Adelaide.

He’ll have a significant stint on the sidelines, as will tall defender Jake Pasini, after he injured his shoulder in the pre-season.

Trent Burgoyne had looked serviceable in his first three games of the year before suffering an injury to the ANZAC weekend loss to Glenelg.

The last of Port Adelaide’s list to not play a game is with tall forward Ollie Lord.

Lord’s best game for Port came in the win over Central District, where he had 14 touches and a goal to his name.

Key forwards take time to develop, and he’s behind Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiades and Pete Ladhams.

He can mark and he can kick, he just needs time and we probably won’t see him at AFL level this year.

Jack Hudson

Richmond

The reigning premiers have given AFL-level experience to Rhyan Mansell, Will Martyn, and Riley Collier-Dawkins in 2021. 

Mansell is a SANFL SSP recruit on the Tigers’ rookie list who hasn’t missed a game since debuting in round four. 

Will Martyn has played the singular game for the Tigers, while the long awaited debut of contested midfielder Collier-Dawkins was met with ovation from supporters who have seen him impress at VFL level for several years. 

The Tigers will be adding one more debutant to that list in round nine, when Hugo Ralphsmith makes his first AFL appearance. 

The 19-year-old Brighton local was drafted in 2019, and will make his debut off the back of a 19 disposal game in the VFL playing on a half-forward flank. 

He is an outside type with a keen goal sense.

Another who has spent two-and-a-half years on the Richmond list is Noah Cumberland, who is slowly progressing in the VFL. 

The 20-year-old has been playing as a deep forward and kicked two goals from his five disposals in his latest game.

Next in line for a debut could be Maurice Rioli Jr after impressing with his rapid development since being selected with pick 51 last year. 

Son of the great man himself, Rioli adds to the immensely talented mix of small forwards Tigerland has produced over its period of dominance. 

His nine tackles in round three will delight coaches at Punt Road who value pressure on the ball carrier.

The rookie-listed Ben Miller had 13 disposals in his last match in the VFL – a heavy defeat to Williamstown. 

The 21-year-old big-man is showing good signs, and has added weight to his frame in the off-season to now come in at 93kg.

Young ruckman Samson Ryan made news when coach Damien Hardwick used him as an example of someone he would loan to Gold Coast if there was a system in place – that doesn’t bode too well for his debut chances this year, but he remains third in line with Ivan Soldo recovering from his ACL.

Bigoa Nyuon is still learning the game, but has impressed in patches in his first game of VFL in round three. 

The 195cm prospect had 10 disposals as he continues to get acclimated to the pace of the VFL game. 

Category B rookie and former basketballer Mate Colina is a project for the Tigers – the soon-to-be 22-year-old is a staggering 213cm tall and weighs in at 111kg. 

He’s the cousin of Noah Balta and is two centimeters taller than Mason Cox and Aaron Sandilands. 

Jasper Chellappah

St Kilda

Tom Highmore and Paul Hunter’s debuts at AFL level this year leave the Saints with only four untried players on their list.

Malaysian born, US college Basketballer and the equal tallest player in AFL history, Sam Alabakis has a similar athletic background to many others. 

A category B selection for the Saints in 2018, Alabakis has not only worked on his ruck craft over his journey but has also shown skills as a forward as well.

Playing for Sandringham in the VFL this year, Alabakis has continued his work up forward as well as in the ruck, and his most recent game of 14 hitouts and a goal was arguably his best so far for the Zebras. 

With more performances like that, all that he has put in over the last three years could pay off at some point with a debut.

Like Alabakis, rookie Oscar Clavarino has had to bide his time in the reserves for three years, with several setbacks, including a syndesmosis injury, hamstrings, among other setbacks.

Several appearances in the best for Sandringham over the years a good indication of a debut that could potentially have occurred already, if not for stints on the sidelines.

A recent stint up forward could make the young defender more versatile. And with already one return to the best list in 2021, if Clavarino continues to fight hard and gets some luck, he could potentially make his debut soon for St Kilda.

One of the last picks (64) in the 2019 draft, Leo Connelly, like Alabakis, had his best game recently with 30 disposals and nine marks for Sandringham.

This was just the latest in a run of good form for Connelly, with 19 touches off halfback to start the year.

And if he continues to use his powers of good leg speed and a solid kick to his advantage, Connelly could be in the mix sooner rather than later.

St Kilda’s first pick in the 2020 draft, Matt Allison has been working on his craft in his first year on the list, and his versatility has seen him thrown around to start the year, with stints on the wing and in the backline as well.

Still fresh to the AFL system, Allison will likely have to wait for his debut, but continued improvement, which he is already starting to show for the Zebras, will have him in the conversation as the season goes on. 

Thomas Grattan

Sydney Swans

Three of the most hyped young stars have already made their debuts so far this year, and some that have made their mark in 2021 had already taken to the field for the first time in 2020, leaving the Swans with only four untried youngsters on the list. 

One of the most hyped youngsters in Sydney’s recent memory, Will Gould’s long-awaited debut is edging closer and closer.

Taken at pick 26 in the 2019 draft, Gould has had to work especially hard to get into the conversation with no reserves competition in 2020 leaving him, among many others, with no clear pathway to the senior team.

Now that he is finally getting some reserves matches under his belt, the jungle drums are growing louder, with solid form so far this season in the VFL.

Gould’s credentials at the under level spoke for themselves and with stronger defensive craft plus greater fitness, the Swans may finally go for Gould this year.

Pick 3 in the rookie draft for the Swans this year, Malachy Carruthers is a medium defender and like teammates Dylan Stephens and Will Hayward, is a former St. Peter’s graduate.

Carruthers registered 16 touches and 10 marks in round one and has maintained similar stats for the Swans in the matches since, with 21 and 9 against Gold Coast.

Carruthers looks to be a strong prospect for the Swans in years to come, but given his youth and relatively limber frame, he is not expected to debut this year.

There is no rush with him, and a solid year in the reserves, plus another pre-season under his belt, could see him in the Swans 22 for 2022.

A Category B selection in 2019 for Sydney, Barry O’Connor, who hails from Ireland, has been building a strong profile in early games for the Swans Reserves.

O’Connor is growing in confidence every match he plays, playing on both tall and small forwards, and having strong rebound possessions out of defence into attack.

20 disposals and 8 marks in round one a good launching pad for him to continue to build on, and if he continues taking steps forward, he could potentially debut later in the year, as the latest Irish import to make it to the AFL.

And finally, Marc Sheather has something in common with a few of his teammates, as he is one of the latest members of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy to make it onto the Swans list.

While Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell have already made their debuts, Sheather has more work to do before he potentially gets his chance.

A utility, Sheather is playing predominantly as a small forward, and has hit the scoreboard on a handful of occasions.

Round 3 against Geelong was his most complete game so far, with 16 disposals, nine tackles, and 1.3.

Such performances suggest he could find a spot in the Sydney midfield, or if he fixes his accuracy, in the forward line. 

A debut may not be on the cards just yet, but keep an eye on him going forward, because Sydney may unleash another Academy product on the AFL soon. 

Thomas Grattan

West Coast Eagles

Given West Coast’s injury crises over the last two seasons, it’s unsurprising only four uncapped players remain on the list, two of which were drafted in 2020.

So far, the only player to earn his wings is Isiah Winder ,who debuted as a medical sub, but managed to spent time on ground after former skipper Shannon Hurn suffered a calf injury.

Last week, West Coast announced emerging duo Callum Jamieson and Zane Trew signed contract extensions, suggesting the pair are in the picture going forward. 

As Nic Naitanui and Nathan Vardy aren’t getting any younger, West Coast need to plan for the future. 

That future is Callum Jamieson, a promising second year ruckman, who can be thrown forward if needed. 

Still slightly inexperienced due to little WAFL time last year, Jamieson averages 12 hitouts and is doing well against more experienced ruckmen. 

However, West Coast already has a tall lineup and at this stage, a debut is unlikely purely because of his height and stage in development.

After much preseason hype and a huge slide in the draft, fans saw a glimpse of Zane Trew in West Coast’s preseason derby and since then, his defensive pressure and stoppage work in the WAFL has been exceptional, leading tackles for the side. 

Excelling in areas Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey dominate, it would be worth trialing Trew as the pair are sidelined with long term injuries. 

Fellow first year and son of Adelaide champion Tyson Edwards, Luke Edwards has added depth to West Coast’s on-ball brigade, with versatility, stoppage work and clean hands to boot. 

Rewarded for his consistency in the WAFL, the defender-turned-midfielder traveled to Melbourne as an emergency in round eight, suggesting, of the quartet, he is possibly the closest to debuting.

With tremendous backline depth, it’s going to be tough for second year Ben Johnson to break into the side. Since arriving in 2019, he has been an exciting prospect, biding his time and performing exceptionally in the WAFL backline. 

After doing plenty of work in the gym to build size, hopefully, his precise and powerful kicking, speed, two way running, and rebounding will be displayed on an AFL field soon.

Rebecca Ruthven

Western Bulldogs

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Picture: westernbulldogs.com.au

Remarkably, there are only three players on the Western Bulldogs’ list who are yet to debut at AFL level after round eight, with four players having debuted already for the 7-1 Dogs. 

The name that’s undoubtedly at the front of mind for Dogs fans is 2020 pick 1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who’s already displayed impressive form at VFL level. 

Ugle-Hagan had kicked nine goals in four games before sustaining a concussion in Footscray’s round four win over Carlton, delaying a potential debut by a couple of weeks. 

However, coach Luke Beveridge recently conceded that the Dogs won’t rush Ugle-Hagan into the senior side, but will wait until they deem him ready for a debut. 

2019 draftee Riley Garcia has been impressive at VFL level, averaging 23 disposals and seven tackles per game, however may need to bide his time for a debut due to the pecking order of the Dogs’ star-studded midfield. 

2019 draftee Dominic Bedendo has kicked six goals in his last three VFL outings playing as a medium forward, including a bag of three against the Northern Bullants, but a debut looks further down the line, again due to the depth of the Dogs’ forward line. 

Will Cuckson

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