(Photo: Essendon FC) (Photo: Hawthorn FC) (Photo: @PAFC Twitter) (Photo: Collingwood FC)

Collingwood recruit Bobby Hill made an unforgettable entrance into the club’s history books with an extraordinary first season at the club. Which recruit will strive to have a comparable impact in this upcoming year?

Jack Ginnivan

Collingwood’s young star and premiership pie Jack Ginnivan was traded to Collingwood on the final day of the 2023 Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period.

Details on the full trade:

Collingwood received: Pick 33, Hawthorn’s Future 2nd + Hawthorns’s Future 3rd

Hawthorn received: Ginnivan, Pick 39, Pies Future 2nd + Pies Future 4th

In his second season in 2022, the rookie-listed Ginnivan kicked 40 goals and 19 behinds while averaging 9.7 disposals in 23 games. 

In 2023, Ginnivan managed to play 14 games, including five as a sub, and kicked a mere 12 goals and eight behinds, as he had to fight every week for selection in Collingwood’s premiership-winning forwardline.

The forward can now advance his career at Hawthorn, the team he has barracked for his whole life. The 21-year-old has already established himself as one of the most exciting figures in football. 

Ginnivan, now coached by one of his childhood idols in Sam Mitchell, knows how to make an impact and isn’t scared of the big stage.

He’s already a premiership player as well as an Anzac Day medallist, awarded after his ridiculous five-goal display at the MCG. Ginnivan will be sure to provide Hawks fans with heaps of goals, celebrations, and excitement for years to come.

Shaun Mannagh

26-year-old Werribee half-forward/midfielder Shaun Mannagh proved to recruiters why he deserves to be on an AFL list after an incredible VFL season in 2023. He won the Norm Goss Medal in a losing Werribee side in the 2023 VFL Grand Final against Gold Coast, where he kicked six goals from 27 disposals.

Mannagh was also named in the VFL team of the year and finished second in his club’s best and fairest after averaging 25 disposals and kicking 40 goals through the season.

“The club’s willingness to take mature-age players and play them fills me with heaps of confidence that I can do the same thing,” Mannagh said. 

Geelong has a history of finding diamonds in the rough, as they often relish giving opportunities to untried and overlooked footballers.

For example star midfielder Tim Kelly, who now plays for West Coast, was selected with Pick 24 by Geelong in the 2017 national draft.

The year prior, Geelong selected Tom Stewart with Pick 40 in the draft, who is now a five-time All-Australian and premiership player. 

Mark Blicavs was also selected at Pick 54 in the 2012 Rookie Draft and has since played 246 games for Geelong. Tom Atkins and Brad Close are other current examples.

The Cats used Pick 36 to select Mannagh in the 2023 National Draft and hope he can prove to be another remarkable recruiting story at Geelong.

Esava Ratugolea 

Esava Ratugolea was traded to Port Adelaide for Picks 25, 76, and 94 in the 2023 AFL Trade Period. Port Adelaide made a focus on targeting the 25-year-old, as they desperately needed to boost their tall defensive stocks.

The Geelong swingman, who recently found his home in the backline, managed only four games in the Cat’s 2022 premiership-winning year and went on to play 16 games in 2023 in an up-and-down season where he dealt with injuries and selection.

In his sixth season in the AFL, he averaged 8.88 disposals and 4.38 marks in 16 games for the Cats.

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Lachie Schultz

Gun Fremantle forward Lachie Schulz was traded to Collingwood for a future first round selection and Pick 34. This move was one of the most talked about, as Schultz’s resume shows just how much of an impact he can have on the reigning premiers.

The small forward has kicked 85 goals and 55 behinds in his 66 games for the Dockers.

Schulz was awarded the Glendinning-Allan Medal in the 2023 Derby as he collected 24 disposals, seven inside 50s, and five goals.  

He was drafted back in 2018 by Fremantle with Pick 57 as a 20-year-old playing VFL for Williamstown.

Pies fans got a first look at their prized recruit in their first practice match against North Melbourne at the AIA Centre. The Schultz kicked a goal, set up a couple for his new teammates, and provided plenty of forward pressure all afternoon.

The lively pressure forward will hope to have a Bobby Hill-type influence on the Pies forward line, as the Norm Smith winner arrived at Collingwood through the trade period at the same time last year.

His impact up forward could propel Collingwood into a position to have a back-to-back premiership winning season.

Jade Gresham

A restricted free agent, Jade Gresham nominated Essendon as his preferred destination with the Saints receiving Pick 21 as compensation for Gresham’s move to Tullamarine.

Gresham was St Kilda’s leading goal kicker in 2018, used exclusively as a small forward for the Saints. He was rewarded with selection to the final ‘22under22 team’ in that year, and the following season in 2019 as well.

Since then, he has developed into a fast and slick midfielder who excels at escaping congestion, goal-sense, and has quick hands.

Gresham will add speed to the Dons midfield and will complement the likes of Parish, Caldwell, and Merrett.

Brodie Grundy

After a frustrating first year at Melbourne, Brodie Grundy has landed at his third AFL club, after being traded at the end of the 2023 season.

Grundy was a dual All-Australian ruckman at Collingwood and was sent to Melbourne as a part of an experiment where he would partner with star ruckman Max Gawn.

The experiment ultimately failed, as Grundy was left to watch most of Melbourne’s season and finals campaign from the sidelines. Seeking more opportunity, Grundy requested a trade to Sydney.


“Playing VFL, it’s pretty sobering when you get dropped,” Grundy told Triple M’s The Rush Hour. 

“For me, getting towards the end of my career, I want to be able to maximise my time playing AFL footy.”

The 29 year-old has played 194 games for two clubs and was originally selected with Pick 19 in the 2012 AFL Draft. Sydney are hoping Grundy can help push them deep into the finals in 2024, as he has featured in four finals campaigns and the 2018 Grand Final. 

Sydney Swans Executive GM-Football, Charlie Gardiner, said Grundy is a welcomed and wanted member to the club.

“We’re excited to be able to bring Brodie to Sydney – he is an elite ruckman in the competition, and will be a fantastic addition to our club.” said Gardiner.

Grundy impressed in Sydney’s first practice match against cross-town rivals Greater Western Sydney. Grundy had 17 disposals, 9 tackles, and 22 hit-outs. Sydney will be hoping Grundy can step-up and replace retired ruckman Tom Hickey.

Mabior Chol

Mobile ruck/forward Mabior Chol requested a trade back to Victoria after being starved of opportunity at the Gold Coast Suns.

Chol played 22 games for the Suns in 2022, where he was the Suns’ leading goal-kicker, averaged four hit-outs, and 8.4 disposals.

In 2023, Chol unfortunately fell out of favour for the Suns, as he managed only eight games for the Suns. However, he impressed for Gold Coast’s VFL side in the club’s premiership season. Chol was a standout down forward for the Suns on Grand Final Day, notching up four goals. 

The 27-year-old was traded to Hawthorn for a future second-round pick and has signed a four-year deal with a game trigger for a fifth season. 

The athletic ruck/forward will play mainly forward for the Hawks and will help provide aerial support for Mitch Lewis and Jack Gunston. Here are some of Chol’s exciting highlights from his 66 AFL games for Richmond and Gold Coast. 

Ben McKay

Essendon recruit Ben McKay was recruited from North Melbourne at the end of the 2023 AFL season. McKay managed 71 games for North Melbourne across eight seasons after being drafted with Pick 21 in the 2015 AFL Draft by the Kangaroos.

The restricted free agent chose Essendon over keen suitors in Sydney, Hawthorn, and Port Adelaide. The Kangaroos were compensated with Pick 3 in the 2023 AFL Draft.

The key defender, who played 19 games in 2023 while averaging 12.2 disposals and 6 marks, is set to be one of the highest players in the league. McKay signed a six-year contract that is believed to be worth up to $850,000 a season. 

McKay will reunite with his first AFL coach, Brad Scott, who coached him at North Melbourne from 2015 to 2019.

General Manager of List and Recruiting Adrian Dodoro said the club was very excited to add McKay’s to their list.

“He will be an excellent addition to our backline through his experience and physical presence on the field,” Dodoro said.

“At more than 200cm tall, Ben can shut down opposition key forwards and will play a key role in our defensive structures.”

The Bombers were ranked 15th in opponent points per game and are hoping the 202 cm defender can help fix their defensive woes.

Liam Henry

The talented Fremantle forward and winger requested a trade to St Kilda after managing to only play 43 games in four seasons for the Dockers.

Henry was drafted with Pick 9 by Fremantle in the 2019 AFL Draft, as Henry was a part of their ‘Next Generation Academy’. Henry was traded to St Kilda along with a future fourth-round Pick for St Kilda’s future second-round and fourth-round Picks.

After a positional change from the forward-line to the wing, Henry averaged 20.4 disposals and five marks across 16 games for Fremantle in 2023.

“Liam is an exciting young player with plenty of upside to excite Saints fans,” List Manager Stephen Silvagni said.

“His ability to find space is complemented by his elite skills and composure with ball in hand.” 

Saints fans got their first look at the 22-year-old recruit in their club’s first two practice matches. Henry recorded a lively 14 disposals against Essendon and kicked a goal as well.

In St Kilda’s second practice match against the Kangaroos, Henry played a large part in his team’s win, including this incredible goal from the boundary line.

As the AFL season draws closer and closer, fans are eagerly waiting to see which talented recruits will have the biggest impact on their new teams.

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