SEASON GUIDE | 2023 Coates Talent League

THE 2023 Coates Talent League season is set to get underway tomorrow, with eight games filling out a bumper opening round. Along with the 13 full-time regions, five northern academies will take part throughout the year, meaning plenty of fresh and familiar faces are set to take centre stage.

We run you through all you need to know ahead of Saturday’s opening bounce; from the star players from each region, new coaches, and ones to watch across the age groups. Of course, it wouldn’t be a comprehensive preview without our predictions too.



Coach: Danny O’Bree
Captain: Harley Reid
AFL Academy/Vic Country hub members: Harley Reid / Malik Gordon
The star: Harley Reid
One to watch: Mitch Doddos
Bottom-age riser: Tobie Travaglia

>> Season Preview: Bendigo Pioneers

Malik Gordan (right) | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Andrew Sturgess
Captain: Kade Mueller
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Nil / Jordan Croft, Mahmoud Taha
The star: Mahmoud Taha
One to watch: Rye Penny
Bottom-age riser: Isaac Kako

Isaac Kako | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Nick Cox
Captain: Cooper Simpson & Harry De Mattia
AFL Academy / Vic Country hub members: Cooper Simpson / Kade De La Rue, Sam Frangalas, Kobe Shipp, Harry De Mattia, Riak Andrew
The star: Cooper Simpson
One to watch: Joziah Nannup, Billy Wilson

>> Season Preview: Dandenong Stingrays

Sam Frangalas | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Lauren Morecroft
Captain: Brayden LaPlanche & Josh Tovey
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Nick Watson / Brayden LaPlanche, Cam Nyko, Josh Smillie, Illiro Smit, Riley Weatherill, Caleb Windsor
The star: Nick Watson
One to watch: Riley Weatherill
Bottom-age riser: Josh Smillie

>> Season Preview: Eastern Ranges

Nick Watson | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Paul Corrigan
Captain: Hamish Pierson & Michael Rudd
AFL Academy / Vic Country hub members: Nil / Michael Rudd, Patrick Hughes, Joe Pike, Brady Hall
The star: Michael Rudd
One to watch: Hamish Pierson
Bottom-age riser: Xavier Ivisic

>> Season Preview: Geelong Falcons

Patrick Hughes | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Rhett McLennan
Captain: TBC
AFL Academy / Vic Country hub members: Zane Duursma, Archer Reid / Lachlan Smith, Xavier Lindsay
The star: Zane Duursma
One to watch: Tom Stern
Bottom-age riser: Xavier Lindsay

>> Season Preview: Gippsland Power

Zane Duursma | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: David Loader
Captain: TBC
AFL Academy / Vic Country hub members: George Stevens / Joel Freijah, Luamon Lual, Sam Lalor, Flynn Penry
The star: George Stevens
One to watch: Luamon Lual
Bottom-age riser: Sam Lalor

Luamon Lual | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Mark Brown
Captain: TBC
AFL Academy / Vic Country hub members: Darcy Wilson, Connor O’Sullivan / Coby James
The star: Darcy Wilson
One to watch: Joeve Cooper
Bottom-age riser: Oliver Warburton

Connor O’Sullivan | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Anthony Rocca
Captain: Christian Mardini, Will Green
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Nate Caddy, Will Green
The star: Nate Caddy
One to watch: Charlie Naish
Bottom-age riser: Zak Johnson

>> Season Preview: Northern Knights

Nate Caddy (right) | Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos


Coach: TBC
Captain: Nathan Philactides & Kynan Brown
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Will Lorenz, Nathan Philactides / Kynan Brown, Jagga Smith, Finn O’Sullivan, Tadhg McCarthy, Boston Dowling
The star: Nathan Philactides
One to watch: Harvey Thomas
Bottom-age riser: Finn O’Sullivan

Nathan Philactides | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Rob Harding
Captain: Will Brown
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Archie Roberts, Ryley Sanders / Will Brown, Levi Ashcroft, Vigo Visentini, Luke Trainor
The star: Archie Roberts
One to watch: Will Nish
Bottom-age riser: Levi Ashcroft

>> Season Preview: Sandringham Dragons

Sandringham Dragons | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Jeromey Webberley
Captain: Tom Beaumont
AFL Academy members: Colby McKercher, Jack Callinan
The star: Colby McKercher
One to watch: Arie Schoenmaker
Bottom-age riser: Oliver Depaoli-Kubank

Colby McKercher | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Coach: Trent Dennis-Lane
Captain: Diesel Moloney
AFL Academy / Vic Metro hub members: Logan Morris
The star: Logan Morris
One to watch: Alex Tsia
Bottom-age riser: Lucca Grego

>> Season Preview: Western Jets

Logan Morris (centre) | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Gold Coast is primed to be the leading northern academy this year, boasting a high of three National Academy members – Jed Walter, Ethan Read, and Jake Rogers. The former two are talls with high-end potential, while Rogers’ ground level game is exciting.

Watch for bottom-ager Leonardo Lombard through midfield and forward, as well as Under 16 talent Zeke Uwland. The likes of Harry Sullivan (Sandringham) and Caleb Nancarrow (Oakleigh) are others to have come through the Suns’ pathway, but board at school in Victoria.

Jed Walter | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Their Queensland counterparts, the Lions Academy, may be a touch more stretched for top-end talent. Top-agers like key position swingman Billy Richardson and Bradley McDonald will lead the way, while Maverick Garaicoa and bottom-ager Alex Pope showed promise in last year’s Under 16 championships.

Down in New South Wales, Sydney lays claim to two AFL Academy members in Lachlan Cabor and Caiden Cleary. Both are explosive athletes, with Cabor a running type off half-back, while Cleary is an inside bull who can accumulate.

Elsewhere, Bililign Robertson was a standout at preseason testing and is sure to impress alongside fellow over-agers Christian Webster and Tye Gander, who are plenty taller at above 190cm. Swans father-son candidate Indhi Kirk returns in the same age category.

Giants Academy | Image Credit: Rookie Me

GWS has some talent too. The aforementioned Harvey Thomas will link with Oakleigh, and Matthew Brown is in South Australia with Norwood. Watch for Malual Aleer, the 200cm cousin of Giants draftee Leek, to come on strongly, along with key forward/ruck Charlie McCormack.

The latter was super in combination with 2022 Under 16 MVP Cooper Bell, while helmeted midfielder Harvey Odgers is another to watch. Up the age levels, Luke Lawrence is set to give the draft one more crack as an over-ager.


Saturday March 25

Northern Knights vs. Giants Academy | 9:45am @ Highgate Recreation Reserve
Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges | 11:30am @ RSEA Park
Western Jets vs. Swans Academy | 2:00pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve
GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers | 3:30pm @ Mars Stadium

Sunday March 26

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays | 11:00am @ Central Reserve, Colac
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Lions Academy | 12:00pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve
Gippsland Power vs. Murray Bushrangers | 12:00pm @ Morwell Recreation Reserve
Calder Cannons vs. Suns Academy | 2:30pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve



Premier: Dandenong Stingrays
Runner-up: Sandringham Dragons
Morrish Medal: Nathan Philactides (Oakleigh Chargers) & Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
Leading Goalkicker: Logan Morris (Western Jets)

>> PODCAST: Coates Talent League season preview


Wildcard Round: September 2-3
Elimination Finals: September 9-10
Preliminary Finals: September 16-17
Grand Final: September 23

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