2023 AFL Draft | Ones to Watch: Allies
SIX players were selected out of the Allied states and territories in last year’s National AFL Draft, and there is plenty more talent pushing through ahead of the 2023 intake. We highlight the top 10 prospects to watch out of the combined pool of NSW-ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, with a focus on top-agers.
TOP 10 TO WATCH
Lachlan Cabor (NSW-ACT/Swans Academy)
28/09/2005 | 181cm | Defender
One of two Swans Academy members selected in the National Academy intake, Cabor is an explosive athlete who hits the ball in straight lines. Jetting off from the defensive half or through midfield, the 17-year-old offers speed and dare with ball in hand, but can look to add polish throughout his top-age campaign. He was also selected in the 2022 AFL Academy, was part of the Under 17 Futures showcase, and represented NSW-ACT last year.
Jack Callinan (Tasmania Devils)
07/10/2005 | 177cm | Small Forward
The son of 32-game Adelaide Crow, Ian Callinan, Jack is a diminutive and clever forward who is proving the apple hardly falls far from the tree. He also featured in midfield across 15 NAB League appearances last year, booting 21 goals from an average of 15 disposals. He plays in perpetual motion and can cause headaches for opposition defenders with a sharp turn of speed and crafty skills to boot. He’ll be one of a few Tasmanians in the draft frame.
Caiden Cleary (NSW-ACT/Swans Academy)
05/03/2005 | 180cm | Midfielder
The second Swans Academy member to have earned national honours heading into his top-age season, Cleary impressed with over 30 touches in last year’s Under 17 Futures showcase. That performance can after he found a home on the wing for the Allies, having played both sides of midfield in Swans colours. He has little trouble finding the footy, can inject speed and power to the play, and has already found his feet at Under 18 representative level.
Colby McKercher (Tasmania Devils)
12/04/2005 | 181cm | Midfielder
Arguably one of the top two or three players on this list, McKercher compiled an outstanding bottom-age season to quickly become a key member of Tasmania’s NAB League outfit. Whether on the inside or outside, or even up forward, McKercher sets off with eye-catching speed and can split defences open with his searing left foot. He averaged a tick under 23 touches last season and has plenty of tools to carry on his promising feats into 2023, as a primary mid.
Connor O’Sullivan (NSW-ACT/Murray Bushrangers)
19/05/2005 | 196cm | Key Forward/Defender
A mobile key position prospect with terrific reach, clean hands and the ability to play at either end of the ground, O’Sullivan has plenty of obvious potential. He already garnered a good amount of experience throughout 10 NAB League games last year, and will benefit from being more of a primary outlet for Murray in 2023. His status as an Allied talent also means he can take a key mantle during the National Championships should his promise translate to form.
Ethan Read (Queensland/Suns Academy)
07/07/2005 | 200cm | Ruck
Read has some rare attributes for an athlete who measures up at over 200cm. The smooth Suns Academy ruck is super clean in possession and not only beats opponents for reach aerially, but also covers the ground well and is polished below his knees. He’s the type of tall who could end up being anything, with his primary station being on-ball but with potential to enhance his potential with development up forward.
Jake Rogers (Queensland/Suns Academy)
02/03/2005 | 172cm | Small Forward/Midfielder
Another Suns Academy member with plenty of tricks and upside, Rogers ticks a heap of boxes as a small. Whether it be up forward or on either side of midfield, the nippy prospect absolutely cleans up at ground level and gets out of tight spots with a blend of eye-catching agility and sound decision making. Having already made his Allies debut, Rogers defies his size with performance and the natural nous to hold his own.
Ryley Sanders (Tasmania/Sandringham Dragons)
21/01/2005 | 185cm | Midfielder
There are few more accomplished and polished inside midfielders in the 2023 draft crop than Sanders, who has much of his game down pat. The Tasmanian moved up to board at Melbourne Grammar last year, linking with the Sandringham Dragons and continuing his pathway development. He boasts super clean hands and distributive skills in midfield, but can look to expand his outside game and kicking exploits going forward.
Orlando Turner (Northern Territory/Norwood)
16/05/2005 | Small Forward
Perhaps one of the less-heralded names on this list, Turner is the lone Northern Territory native in the 2023 AFL Academy. Hailing from Alice Springs, he boards at Rostrevor College in Adelaide and is part of Norwood’s Under 18 setup. Turner has also played NTFL footy with Palmerston and represented the NT Under 16s last year, as a crafty small forward who moves smoothly and has notable goal sense. He also spent time on a wing in last year’s Under 17 Futures game.
Jed Walter (Queensland/Suns Academy)
08/06/2005 | 194cm | Key Forward
Potentially the best of the lot as far as Allies prospects go, Walter is one of the top key position talents in this year’s crop. The Suns Academy standout loves to compete and throws his well-developed frame around, offering true presence inside attacking 50. He hunts the ball and hits packs hard when leaping for marks, capping off his work with proven scoreboard impact. Walter could well be the first club-tied player to attract a bid come draft time.
IN THE MIX
A talented Allies crop boasting 10 National Academy members will be filled out by plenty more promising prospects. Tasmanian defender Arie Schoenmaker looks primed to take over Lachlan Cowan‘s rebounding role in the Devils side, while well-built on-baller Tom Beaumont is quickly honing his craft.
The Oakleigh Chargers talent factory will have access to another Giants Academy talent in Harvey Thomas, whose foot skills make for a great watch. There may not be much of him, but he hold his own on-ball with clever and efficient use.
Rounding out a solid Queensland crop are the likes of Billy Richardson, Bradley McDonald, and Will Graham. The former two are key position talents who are mostly utilised behind the ball and have plenty of improvement to make, while Graham is a midfielder who holds strong in the contest.
Elsewhere, Territorian Will Rowlands is another Top End talent out of the NTFL, Rostrevor College and Norwood like Turner, with the midfielder-forward an established state representative who has some nice tricks to offer.