A number of overlooked draft prospects from last year are back in the frame to join AFL lists. Find out who is back in the frame.
The 2023 season is coming up quickly and some clubs still have available spots on their lists as pre-season training resumes this month.
Adelaide, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs each have one list spot still available, while St Kilda has two.
The vacancies are able to be filled through the AFL’s Supplemental Selection Period, which ends on February 15, with many of the clubs with vacant spots having invited train-on players to trial for them over summer.
Paddy McCartin showed just how effective an SSP signing can be, becoming Sydney’s intercept king down back and helping them to a grand final last year.
This year several other delisted players will be fighting it out for a second – or third – chance.
Among the group of train-ons are a number who were considered unlucky to be overlooked in last year’s draft period, including midfielder Mitch Szybkowski.
The son of a great and the brother of a future star also feature among the list.
Here are the players training at your club in search of a late AFL lifeline.
Tyler Brown (Collingwood)
Midfielder, 23, 192cm, 86kg
Former Collingwood midfielder Tyler Brown will audition for a spot on Adelaide’s rookie list from next week. Brown, the son of Magpies great Gavin Brown, played 27 games in five seasons, including 11 in 2022, before being delisted in September.
Adelaide has a vacant list spot after the retirement of 21-year-old swingman Fischer McAsey on Monday. Clubs have until February 15 to add players to their squad as part of the pre-season supplemental selection period. Standing at 192cm and 86kg, Brown would add depth and height to the Crows’ on-ball unit, rather than be a like-for-like replacement for McAsey.
Adelaide was reported to have had some interest in the 23-year-old after Collingwood axed him but filled its list with draftees Max Michalanney, Billy Dowling and Hugh Bond.
Brown played in 10 of the Magpies’ first 13 matches last season then featured just once more at AFL level – as an unused medical substitute. He averaged 23.8 disposals and 6.2 tackles from six VFL games in 2022. Brown signed with VFL club Footscray last month.
Adelaide added key defender Nick Murray during the pre-season supplemental selection period in 2021. McAsey, who featured in 10 games for the Crows after being taken with pick 6 in 2019, quit the AFL on Monday, citing a lack of passion to make it at the top level.
Oleg Markov (Gold Coast)
Defender, 26, 188cm, 85kg
Collingwood appears open to granting Oleg Markov an AFL lifeline in a move that could inject a splash of speed into the premiership contender’s halfback line. Markov, 26, was pictured having a run with Magpies Isaac Quaynor, John Noble, Tom Mitchell and Tom Wilson this week and is poised to join official training in the hope of securing a place on the AFL list. Markov spent four years with Collingwood coach Craig McRae at Richmond. He played 38 VFL games for the Tigers under McRae when McRae was coach of Richmond’s reserves. Magpies assistant coach Justin Leppitsch also spent several seasons with Markov at Punt Rd. Should Markov become a Magpie it would be his third AFL club in four seasons, having been traded to Gold Coast at the end of 2020 and then delisted last year. Markov has played 51 AFL games. The Magpies’ pre-season resumes on Thursday and Markov is likely to participate as early as next week.
Oscar Steene (West Adelaide)
Ruck, 19, 204cm, 87kg
Turning 20 this year, the Pies could look to add Steene through the SSP as a long-term ruck prospect with only three recognised ruckman on their list after Brodie Grundy’s departure. Steene caught the eye of recruiters with some promising form late last season after breaking into West Adelaide’s league side, averaging 16.5 hit-outs, 9.5 disposals and 75 ranking points, and was invited to last year’s SA state combine. The beanpole ruckman shot up to 204cm last year and will take time to develop at just 87kg, but he has strong hands overhead and good footy IQ.
Ruck, 26, 204cm
Max Guehrer has traded the volleyball for the Sherrin after the former Volleyroo announced his retirement from international competition in October. Guehrer, who helped the Aussies qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will trial for a Category B rookie spot with Collingwood. The 26-year-old stands at 204cm and would need to be brought up to speed with his skills, but his atheliticism and height would be suited to the modern day ruck role.
Rye Penny (Calder Cannons)
Defender, 19, 185cm, 79kg
Forget skipper Scott Pendlebury’s basketball background, the Pies are now clearly eyeing former volleyballers, with Penny also playing at the professional level as a junior. Penny’s athleticism is off the charts, blitzing the state combine last year. He equalled the all-time record in the standing vertical jump (89cm) and came first in both the running vertical (104cm) and 20m sprint (2.843) tests. The intercept defender showcased his exceptional spring with a massive specky over a pack in the opening round of the NAB League last year, and broke into Vic Metro’s side for the last national champs. Penny is set to incorporate VFL and AFL training in his trial with the Pies.
Tom Phillips (Hawthorn)
Midfielder/forward, 26, 187cm, 80kg
Phillips was an important player on the wing in Collingwood’s runner up year in 2018, coming sixth in the best and fairest and averaging 25 disposals, and finished seventh the next year. A victim of the Magpies’ salary cap crisis in 2020, Phillips struggled to recapture the same form at Hawthorn and managed just four games at the Hawks before being thrown on the scrap heap. The elite-running 26-year-old has linked with Essendon’s VFL side and will train with the AFL set-up in pursuit of a list spot. If back to his best, Phillips could add to the Bombers’ outside midfield stocks right away – and he is hungry, telling Code Sports in November that it will be the “best version” of himself vying for another opportunity.
Mitch Szybkowski (Dandenong Stingrays)
Midfielder, 19, 186cm, 86kg
Szybkowski was the heartbreak story – and perhaps the biggest shock – of last year’s draft as the AFL Academy graduate was sadly left on the board as club interest dwindled. But list manager Adrian Dodoro and recruiting manager Rob Forster-Knight came knocking to keep his AFL dreams alive, and he will begin his training stint with the Bombers on his 19th birthday. The 186cm midfielder was one of the top performers for Vic Country in the first three matches of the national championships, averaging 27.3 disposals and 24 disposals and 120 ranking points, and at that stage he was in the top-20 conversation. It is believed club recruiters didn’t share a specific concern on Szybkowski, who was also named in the NAB League Team of the Year in the midfield. Essendon already added No. 5 pick Elijah Tsatas and Will Setterfield as taller midfielders in the off-season, but, like Nic Martin last year, he could prove to be a supplemental steal.
Hudson O’Keeffe (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ruck, 18, 202cm, 90kg
The towering ruckman had a big finish to the 2022 season and is viewed as a player who still has plenty of improvement left in him. O’Keeffe has a physical presence around the ground, is super competitive and displays good ruck craft. He averaged 21.6 hit-outs per game in the NAB League, with 31.9 per cent going to advantage. O’Keefe was part of a Chargers midfielder which also included Elijah Tsatas, who the Bombers snapped up with pick 5 in last year’s national draft. O’Keeffe begins training with the Bombers this week, with Tsatas saying he is “super keen to welcome him into the fold”.
Brad Lynch (Swan Districts WAFL)
Defender, 25, 187cm, 79kg
Former Western Bulldog and Swan Districts product Lynch has also been training with the club. The rebounding defender was cut from the Bulldogs at the end of 2020 after playing nine games across five seasons, all of which came in 2019. Now he gets another chance after the Bombers threw him a train-on lifeline. He last played with Southport in 2021 where he played five matches and averaged 13.2 disposals.
Liam Serong (Gippsland Power)
Forward, 19, 193cm
Serong has been given the chance to join his brother, emerging midfielder and Rising Star winner Caleb, at the Dockers. The tall had limited opportunities to prove himself due to injury in his draft year, playing just two NAB League games for the Gippsland Power, meaning he is a largely unknown quantity. But he comes from good pedigree and could become the third Serong on an AFL list, with his brother Jai joining Hawthorn in the 2021 draft at pick 53.
Sam Stubbs (Perth WAFL)
Forward, 25, 186cm, 88kg
Stubbs has some serious power. The WAFL goalkicker uses his leap to impact in the air and he able to burst away from opponents to kick goals at ground level. Stubbs averaged 12.8 disposals, 8.2 contested possessions, 79 ranking points and kicked 23 goals across 12 matches for Perth last season, with his best game coming against Fremantle’s affiliate, Peel Thunder earlier in the year. The 25-year-old can add some immediate spark to the Dockers’ forward line if he gets the nod.
Boyd Woodcock (Southport Sharks VFL)
Midfielder/forward, 22, 179cm, 78kg
Delisted by Port Adelaide at the end of 2021, Woodcock put himself back in the AFL frame with a sensational season for Southport. The 22-year-old finished equal second in the JJ. Liston Trophy as a prolific goalkicking midfielder, averaging a formidable 28.1 disposals, 110 ranking points, 7.0 clearances and 1.1 goals from his 20 matches. And he also produced two screamers, including an incredible hanger in the goalsquare against the Swans. The Suns signed former Roos inside midfielder Jed Anderson last month and while Woodcock played a similar role at VFL level, he has proved his effectiveness as a dangerous small forward – for Southport and during his stint at the Power.
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Defender, 19, 196cm, 84kg
A lightly framed defender, Little can play on a variety of talls and smalls and reads the play well in defence. The Sus Academy graduate played five matches for Gold Coast’s VFL side last year and showcased his intercept ability at junior level as an over-ager, averaging 2.7 intercept marks at the under-18 championships and in the NAB League.
Brodie McLaughlin (Frankston VFL)
Key forward, 25, 193cm, 85kg
A mature-age key forward with a strong pair of hands, McLaughlin had a breakout campaign for Frankston’s VFL side after injury had held him back in previous seasons. The 25-year-old slotted 24 goals in 12 matches, being held goalless just once and averaging 5.5 marks and 1.5 contested marks. McLaughlin also showcased his pinpoint goalkicking and his nous at ground level throughout the season.
Brandon Leary (Tasmania Devils)
Forward, 19, 177cm, 72kg
A dangerous small forward who can hit the scoreboard, Leary finished second on the NAB League goalkicking table last season behind only No. 1 draft pick Aaron Cadman. He averaged 2.4 goals and 12.6 disposals across 14 games, with the Hawks among a few clubs to show interest in Leary before last year’s draft intake.. He also booted five goals across two matches for the Allies in the under-18 national championships and featured in one VFL match for North Melbourne late in the year. Leary had been overlooked after an interrupted draft year in 2021 before returning as a 19-year-old with the Devils. The Hawks showed interest in Leary in the lead-up to last year’s draft intake and he joined training at Waverley Park in December.
Trent Burgoyne (Port Adelaide SANFL)
Midfielder-Forward, 21, 177cm, 70kg
The son of Power great Peter and brother of 2021 draftee Jase, Burgoyne was delisted at the end of the 2021 season without playing a game for the club. Burgoyne’s two years at AFL level were cruelled by hamstring injuries, playing just four SANFL matches during this period, and his stint in the Demons could. He remained with Port Adelaide’s SANFL side last year and caught the eye with his agility and reading of the play in defence, highlighted by 24 disposals and seven tackles against Norwood.
Kye Turner (Old Haileybury/Frankston VFL)
Key defender, 20
Turner gets his chance to trial at the Demons after playing just two VFL games for Frankston late in the year. The key defender showed promising signs for the Dolphins, averaging 12 disposals and three intercepts while going at 79 per cent kicking efficiency. He also starred in VAFA B-Grade competition for premiership winners Old Haileybury, with Turner named at full back in the team of the year. The Demons already picked up unknown VAFA prospect Oliver Sestan in November’s rookie draft, could it be a similar story for Turner?
Quinton Narkle (Geelong)
Midfielder, 25, 182cm, 88kg
Originally selected at pick 60 in the 2016 national draft, Narkle suffered an ACL injury in his first year at the top level before eventually making his AFL debut in Round 15, 2018. But outside of the 2021 season — when he featured in 16 senior games — Narkle struggled to hold down a spot in a strong Geelong side and was delisted at the end of last season. He was picked for just eight AFL games last year, being a medical substitute in four of those. At his best, Narkle has pace to burn and plenty of tricks and he could complement the Richmond midfield nicely. Narkle tallied 34 disposals, eight marks and 115 ranking points in round 9 of 2021, and backed it up with 25 disposals the following week
Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
Defender, 18, 189cm, 80kg
Considered unlucky by some to miss selection in last year’s drafts, Teal had been a member of the AFL Academy last year but had a rough run with injury and illness which restricted him to one national championships match and four NAB League games with the Chargers. When he was out on the field he showed that he is an athletic defender who can run and create off halfback or on a wing. He is also strong overhead and has a penetrating kick. He is the son of Robert Teal, who played 18 games for Sydney in 1989 and 1990.
Kaelan Bradtke (Sydney VFL)
Forward, 21, 195cm, 97kg
The big forward spent most of last year lining up for country football for Corowa-Rutherglen in the Ovens and Murray Football League, before being invited to play two VFL matches for Sydney in the second half of the season. Catching the eyes of recruiters in those performances, Bradtke went on to be invited to the state draft combine where he put his impressive athletic traits on show by posting a 20m sprint time of 2.98 seconds. Bradtke played under former North Melbourne player and legendary development coach Peter German at Corowa-Rutherglen, who has described him as one of the “top five best athletes” he has coached.
Liam Stocker (Carlton)
Defender, 184cm, 85kg
Stocker was a shock axing from Carlton just four years after the Blues infamously traded a future first-round selection to nab him on draft night. As reported by the Herald Sun in November, a second chance beckons at St Kilda, where Stocker could fulfil a role as a rebounding defender. Stocker played just six games for the Blues last year but averaged 24 disposals and six intercepts at VFL, and certainly has AFL attributes.
Josh Eyre (Essendon)
Key defender, 198cm, 85kg
The Bombers were forced to match at pick 39 from ‘Bidmond’ in the 2020 draft to secure the Essendon Next Generation Academy tall, but he was out the door two years later. The developing tall is now trying his luck at the Saints, who are short on key position players despite picking up James Van Es and Isaac Keeler in last year’s intake. Eyre was used at played at both ends in the VFL last year, with his best form coming as an intercepting defender who can hurt the opposition with his kicking when he wins the ball back. Eyre was even entrusted with kick-ins at stages last year.
Originally published as AFL 2023: Train-on players vying for rookie spot in pre-season supplemental selection period
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