There’s still hope for an array of snubbed prospects, with Wednesday’s AFL rookie draft to provide ample young guns with a pathway to a senior footy lifeline.
The annual AFL rookie draft will be held on Wednesday November 30 at 3pm (AEDT) where clubs will have the opportunity to add rookies to its playing list.
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Just under 60 players had their AFL wishes granted across the national draft on Monday and Tuesday, with the Giants taking Aaron Cadman with the No. 1 pick.
Now teams’ attention turns to Wednesday’s rookie draft before club training invites are handed out to players ahead of the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP), which provides another pathway for players to join a rookie list.
According to the Fox Footy/Champion Data rankings, Claremont medium defender Sam Gilbey (188cm, 71kg) is the best player in the draft class still up for grabs. The classy distributor had a wretched run in 2022 due to injury and illness, with many clubs believing he would’ve been higher on draft boards if he’d played a full season. Gilbey has been linked to both West Coast and Fremantle in recent weeks.
Strong inside midfielders Mitch Szybkowski (186cm, 86kg) and Adam D’Aloia (186cm, 83kg) would also be worthy of consideration. D’Aloia won SA’s MVP award for his consistent national championships campaign, while Szybkowski was among Victoria Country’s best players averaging 24 disposals and four tackles.
Exciting forward-midfielder Jaiden Maigor (185cm, 79kg) and Liam Baker-like utility Jed Hagan (175cm, 73kg) were also overlooked at the national draft, as was 191cm prospect Jason Gillbee (191cm, 77kg), who can play in any third of the ground. Glenelg forward-midfielder Archie Lovelock (178cm, 72kg), who won the best on ground medal in this year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, is also one to watch.
Both Blake Drury (178cm, 73kg) and Luke Teal (190cm, 81kg) have attributes that would appeal to AFL clubs. Teal is a dashing defender with shades of his idols — Will Day at Hawthorn and Bailey Dale at the Western Bulldogs — while Drury has been compared to Saint Jack Higgins for his ability to win the ball up the ground and goalsense inside 50.
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Geelong Falcons defender Oscar Murdoch (190cm, 91kg) also has interest from AFL clubs due to his penetrating kick and excellent intercept ability. Sturt midfielder Nick Sadler (180cm, 74kg), who showed off his lovely kick, clean hands and awareness at national Under 18s and SANFL league level this year, would be in the mix for clubs too.
Of the mature-age prospects, Port Melbourne VFL star Ethan Phillips (196cm, 94kg) would be one of the best still on the board. A tall defender who’s strong one-on-one and an outstanding interceptor, Phillips this year won the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell medal, which is awarded to the VFL’s most promising Under 23 talent. The past 15 winners of the medal have all found their way onto an AFL list, including Collingwood’s Charlie Dean via the 2021 rookie draft.
Rival clubs also wouldn’t be shocked if the Western Bulldogs again dipped into their VFL program — like they did in 2018 and 2021 to select Will Hayes and Robbie McComb respectively — and recruited Footscray captain Lachie Sullivan (180cm, 81kg) — a ball magnet who won the team’s best and fairest award this season and was named in the VFL team of the year.
A few Tasmanian prospects could be taken too: Consistent small forward Brandon Leary (177cm, 72kg), crafty goalkicker Seth Campbell (182cm, 73kg) and ruck Cameron Owen (203cm, 94kg).
The rookie draft also gives clubs the opportunity to officially sign Academy and some father-son prospects to their list.
Essendon will pick up exciting NGA medium forward Anthony Munkara (187cm, 81kg), while Geelong will pounce on its own NGA graduate Ted Clohesy (184cm, 76kg), whose on-field traits have seen him compared to Josh Dunkley. The Cats also have a father-son prospect in midfielder Osca Riccardi (177cm, 65kg) — whose dad Peter played 288 games for Geelong — they’ll take as a rookie.
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Fremantle will take a couple of its Academy prospects, with the athletic Josh Draper (194cm, 93kg) considered the best ahead of West Perth’s Jasper Scaife (195cm, 87kg) and Conrad Williams (182cm, 63kg). West Coast could also look at NGA small forward Tyrell Dewar (183cm, 67kg), who impressed for WA during the national championships.
The top two northern Academy prospects still left on the board are big ruck Nick Madden (204cm, 112kg) and medium forward Shadeau Brain (186cm, 80kg). The Giants have already committed to taking Madden as a Category B rookie, while the Lions are expected to do the same with Brain.
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