With the draft done and dusted for another year it’s only inevitable that we start turning our attention towards potential debutants in 2020.
But there’s still a plethora of kids on every list that remain uncapped, despite having been in the AFL system for more than a year.
Foxfooty.com.au reveals the players at your club who are still waiting for their debut.
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While top-10 draft pick Chayce Jones featured on eight occasions for the Crows this season, his three class mates from last year’s draft are still waiting to play their first AFL match. Ned McHenry, the endurance beast who was selected with Pick 16, appears the most likely to debut in 2020. Injuries – and a concussion sustained in a car crash – all but cruelled McHenry’s chance of playing at senior level this year. Will Hamill, Lachlan Scholl, Jordan Butts, Andrew McPherson and Lachlan Scholl are also uncapped, as are mature age prospects Shane McAdam and Kieran Strachan.
Ely Smith is fresh off signing a new deal and could be one of a host of young Lions to get their chance at an AFL debut in 202o, particularly given the club’s incredible run with injury this season. Thomas Berry, Tom Joyce and Academy product Connor McFadyen are the other 2018 draftees stranded on zero games, with older rookie prospects Tom Fullarton, Corey Lyons and James Madden also searching for their first AFL appearance. Promising 20-year-old Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne and Toby Wooller round out the group.
Only a small number of Blues players are yet to feature at senior level, with son of a gun Ben Silvagni among the crop. Forward Finbar O’Dwyer, another draftee from 2018, hasn’t featured at AFL level, as is the case with rookies Matt Owies and Matt Cottrell.
Tyler Brown headlines the young Magpies yet to taste AFL footy. The son of club champion Gavin, Brown is held in high esteem at the Holden Centre and would be unlucky not to debut early in 2020. Atu Bosenavulagi – the great nephew of Collingwood cheer squad leader “Joffa” – could face a more difficulty slotting into the club’s midfield. Father-son pick Will Kelly and rookies Mark Keane, Max Lynch and Anton Tohill are also waiting on their AFL debut.
Only a small handful of Bombers remain uncapped, with Irving Mosquito the player most Essendon fans would be keen to see at AFL level. A project player when selected at last year’s draft, Mosquito has natural instinct around goal and has already garnered a cult following. Ruckman Sam Draper, who’s recovering from an ACL injury, should debut sooner rather than later. Noah Gown and Irish product Cian Bride complete the players on zero AFL games.
The Dockers have two players from the 2018 draft waiting in the wings for their AFL debut: 189cm forward Sam Sturt and midfielder Luke Valente, who captained South Australia to victory at the under-18 Championship. Valente was given Matthew Pavlich’s No. 29 jumper when he joined the club, which gives you some idea of how highly the Dockers viewed the Norwood boy. Meek Lloyd, Dillon O’Reilly, Jarvis Pina and Tobe Watson are also uncapped.
For more than a decade Geelong has been one of the hardest teams to break into. And a number of young players find themselves in that predicament right now. Oscar Brownless was given a rookie lifeline and will look to repay the club in spades, while a number of forwards – Ben Jarvis, Nathan Kreuger, Jake Tarca and Blake Schlensog – are also yet to feature in the blue and white hoops. Jacob Kennerly and Stefan Okunbor are in the same boat, too.
Five teenagers are still waiting for their debut at the Suns, with Izak Rankine the player every footy fan is simply dying to see. The No. 3 draft pick was one of the most highly touted boys in 2018, but injuries prevented the half-forward from getting out on the park. Jez McLennan, Mitch Riordan, Sam Fletcher and Matt Conroy could also make their AFL debuts in 2020.
Xavier O’Halloran – a first-round draft pick from 2018 – headlines the promising uncapped youngsters at the Giants. As a midfielder at the Giants, O’Halloran’s task to make the club’s starting 22 is an arduous one. But as Jackson Hately and Jye Caldwell demonstrated this year, it’s possible to earn a start. Developing ruckman Kieren Briggs, Jack Buckley, Callum Brown and Jack Buckley are also marooned on zero games.
Six Hawks drafted prior to 2019 are still waiting for their debuts. Defender Jacob Koschitzke, the cousin of former Saint Justin, was selected with Pick 52 in 2018 and is yet to feature. Will Golds, Damon Greaves, Ned Reeves, Jackson Ross and Matthew Walker are waiting in the wings, too.
Aaron Nietschke ruptured his ACL at the start of the season, all but cruelling the midfielder his chance of debuting the year after he was drafted. The best and fairest winner in the SANFL under-18s in 2018, Nietschke could get his chance in 2020. Toby Bedford, Austin Bradtke and Jordan James are the remaining Demons who’ve yet to feature at senior level.
The majority of the Kangaroos drafted prior to 2019 have featured at least once at AFL level. Only 20-year-old ruckman Tristan Xerri, 22-year-old forward Lachlan Hosie (a mid-season draftee) and 19-year-old swingman Joel Crocker are waiting for coach Rhyce Shaw to tap them on the shoulder.
Despite blooding a smattering of youth this year, the Power possess a number of players who are still biding their time in the twos. Rookies Boyd Woodcock and Riley Grundy – the younger brother of Collingwood superstar Brodie – are two of those players. Jake Patmore, Sam Hayes and Martin Frederick round out the group of uncapped players.
Two midfielders drafted in 2018 are among the small number of Tigers wishing and waiting for their first taste of AFL footy. Riley Collier-Dawkins – who grew eight centimetres in his draft year to stand at 193cm tall – and Tasmanian product Fraser Turner haven’t played at senior level. Collier-Dawkins’ growth spurt saw him catapult up the draft order, with Richmond selecting the promising youngster with Pick 20. Small forward Jake Aarts, defender Ben Miller and on baller Luke English are still yet to be blooded.
Two words: Max King. The forward, who was drafted after sustaining an ACL injury in 2018, very nearly debuted at the end of this season. But the Saints decided to be more conservative, meaning that King will feature for the first time in red, black and white in 2020. Jack Bytel, who was also drafted alongside King, is another teen who could make a case for a debut. A back injury kept him sidelined for all of 2019. Oscar Clavarino, Jack Mayo and Sam Alabakis are also without an AFL game to their respective names.
The uncapped player Swans fans would be most eager to see is Matthew Ling, the club’s Pick 14 and first selection at the 2017 draft. With speed to burn, Ling could provide the club with some much needed run. He just needs to get his body right. Meanwhile, Joel Amartey, Zac Foot, Michael Knoll, Jack Maibaum, Harry Reynolds and Sam Wicks will all be hoping to get a gig in Sydney’s starting 22 in 2020.
A host of young Eagles continue to contemplate their AFL debuts which, given the club’s recent prominence, is hardly surprising. Three of those players – Harry Edwards, Callum Jamieson and Bailey Williams – are all 197cm or taller and shape as potential ruckman of the future. Hamish Brayshaw, Luke Foley and Xavier O’Neill complete the group without AFL experience.
Mature age draftee Ben Cavarra realised his boyhood dreams when the Bulldogs selected him with Pick 45 in the 2018 draft, but the small forward is still waiting for his AFL debut. He’s not alone, however, with Buku Khamis, Callum Porter, Jordon Sweet and Laitham Vandermeer waiting to crack into Luke Beveridge’s starting line up.