High 5s – The NAB League number of choice
NUMEROLOGY, tradition, superstition… chance. All are factors when it comes to players picking their jersey numbers, and it just so happens one particular digit dominated the NAB League in 2022. You’d be hard pressed to find a more high-level group of representatives than those who donned the number five this season, with a handful of likely first round picks wearing it well.
GUN NUMBER 5s
Boasting a league-high seven Under 18 National Championship representatives, the list of gun number fives is not only long, but elite. Headlining the group is pick one fancy Aaron Cadman, who topped the league’s goal kicking charts as spearhead of the Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Luckily for him, Tanner Bruhn has just vacated the number five jersey at Greater Western Sydney – his likely destination.
Pegged as a top three lock coming into the year, George Wardlaw only pulled on his Oakleigh jumper thrice this season, but made the most of it. An outstanding Round 1 showing against eventual premier Sandringham was his most esteemed performance in the famous five, and the hardened midfielder is likely to be snapped up by North Melbourne early in the draft.
Following the aforementioned pair closely in top 10 contention are Bailey Humphrey and Jhye Clark. Both skippered their respective regions with fierce competitiveness, and the latter even joined Cadman as co-captain of Vic Country. Clark carried his number into representative duties, doing it justice as he took out MVP honours in the Big V.
Murray Bushrangers midfielder Oliver Hollands will likely be next off the board come draft time, making it a handful of number fives within the first round. That’s not to mention next year’s crop, with electric Eastern Ranges forward Nick Watson already staking his claims for early selection in 2023. Rounding out the esteemed list is Bendigo’s Noah Long, who overcame injury to press his claims as a second-round prospect.
Aside from Clark, a couple more handy NAB Leaguers took on the dominant digit come National Championships time. Essendon father-son Alwyn Davey Jr did so for Vic Metro, while Tasmanian bottom-ager Colby McKercher earned the honour for the Allies.
ALL NAB LEAGUE NUMBER 5s:
Bendigo Pioneers – Noah Long
Calder Cannons – Shane Clough
Dandenong Stingrays – Harrison Jones
Eastern Ranges – Nick Watson
Geelong Falcons – Jhye Clark
Gippsland Power – Bailey Humphrey
GWV Rebels – Aaron Cadman
Murray Bushrangers – Ollie Hollands
Northern Knights – Jarred Seiter
Oakleigh Chargers – George Wardlaw
Sandringham Dragons – Lachlan Benton
Tasmania Devils – Beau Nash
Western Jets – Lucas Edmonds
Fittingly, coming in second spot on the numerology ladder is number two. Five players who donned the number in the NAB League earned state honours this season, making up a solid group of draft prospects.
Arguably the top prospect is Brayden George, who missed out on representing Vic Country through injury. The Murray Bushrangers forward is a game-winner at his best, but was ruled out for much of the year and eventually had it cut short by an ACL tear. He remains in first round contention.
Another around the mark is Charlie Clarke, whose forward 50 exploits helped Sandringham to a flag. He’s been linked with GWS and Collingwood, with Dandenong Stingrays workhorse Mitch Szybkowski also a chance to end up at the latter. Then there’s Oakleigh mid-forward Blake Drury, who like Szybkowski, also snared the number two jersey at the national carnival.
A couple more state players round out the list, with over-ager Harvey Gallagher rising steeply into draft contention, while dynamic Northern Knights forward Nate Caddy has done so as a bottom-ager. Caddy may end up the best of the lot, considered an early top 10 candidate for 2023.
Despite the strong competition from those in the number two, five stands alone as the most prolific producer of top-end talent in 2022. Though with the lower digits typically in high demand across all levels, these prospects face a battle to hold onto the jerseys they achieved so much in already, despite any previous tradition, superstition, or chance.