Talent League wrap: Northern Academies

THE END of Round 7 means all five Northern Academies have completed their Coates Talent League stints for 2023. Four AFL-aligned programs – Brisbane, Gold Coast, GWS, and Sydney – participated alongside the Northern Territory Academy, making for an 18-team competition ladder.

With each five-game spell (three for the NT) now over, it is time to look back on how the academies fared by the numbers, and which prospects may well go on to earn representative honours with the Allies. We break it down club by club.


Record: 0-5, 58.9%
Streak: LLLLL

Best result:
Round 2 – def. by Dandenong Stingrays by 18 points

There may not have been a win to speak of for the Lions, but a couple of competitive three-goal losses made for some positives. One came at the hands of Dandenong, who have since compiled a 4-1 record. Brisbane was level at half time and despite conceding six goals in the third term, won the final quarter to peg the Stingrays back to a more than respectable margin.

Stat leaders (average):

Disposals – Josh Cooper (84)
Marks – Josh Cooper, Hunter Moore, Billy Richardson, Patrick Snell (23)
Tackles – Tom Fry (21)
Inside 50s – Frasier Lay (17)
Rebound 50s – Josh Cooper (20)
Hitouts – Nathan Jensen (74)
Goals – Maverick Garaicoa (5)

The Lions were competitive | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Draft eligible talent:

The Lions have a bunch of promising talls and solid midfielders across each age group, but perhaps not the outstanding or high-end draft prospects of other academies this year. Over-agers Joshua Cooper and Jack Manly returned, as did Owen Collins for a one-game stint out of the VFL.

Skipper Bradley McDonald held down the fort as a key defender and the likes of Patrick Snell and Billy Richardson are developable talls who featured at either end of the ground. Elsewhere, Elijah Glass recently made his state league debut as another to watch in the top-age crop.

The future:

Perhaps the most impressive of Brisbane’s under-agers is a prospect eligible in 2025, Daniel Annable. The midfielder averaged 21 disposals across four games in a great showing of consistency, only once dipping below 20 touches.

The likes of Tom Fry and Frasier Lay also fared well, leading the side for tackles and inside 50s respectively as two talents for next year’s crop. Alex Pope is another in that category, as are clever forward Jake Fazldeen and gutsy small Harrison Ronchi.


Record: 2-3, 91.3%
Streak: LLLWW

Best result:
Round 7 – def. GWV Rebels by 17 points

Though the Suns have a 99-point win to their name (against the NT), arguably their most impressive feat was Sunday’s defeat of GWV. Playing on neutral ground at Ikon Park, the lead changed hands in the first half but Gold Coast pulled away to a slender buffer at the main break and never looked back. It seemed the Suns had finally put all the pieces together, led by their National Academy stars.

Stat leaders (total):

Disposals – Leo Lombard (124)
Marks – Jared Eckersley, Nick Williams (24)
Tackles – Will Graham (32)
Inside 50s – Leo Lombard (24)
Rebound 50s – Nelson Belkoff-Smart (16)
Hitouts – Ethan Read (78)
Goals – Jed Walter (18)

Jake Rogers shone brightly in Suns colours | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Draft eligible talent:

The Suns are set for a bumper crop with three National Academy members all in first round contention. Key forward Jed Walter and ruck Ethan Read are in the top 10 conversation, while small midfielder Jake Rogers is hovering in the 10-15 range on the back of his strong recent form.

Elsewhere, big-bodied ball winner Will Graham hasn’t done much wrong in his outings for the Suns as another 2005-born talent. Allies representatives from 2022 in Marlin Corbett and Jared Eckersley have juggled their time in the VFL setup, along with the likes of Cody Harrington and Nick Williams.

>> Suns in the spotlight: Gold Coast’s draft conundrum

The future:

Last year’s Under 16 MVP Leo Lombard delivered on his promise from that campaign to lead the Under 18 side for disposals and inside 50s. He’s an explosive type through midfield and up forward, leading the 2006-born Suns talent.

Also in that crop is Nelson Belkoff-Smart, a crafty half-back who waxed nicely with fellow small Zeke Uwland (2025-eligible). The latter is the brother of Bodhi, who made his AFL debut this season. Elsewhere, the Suns also have St Kilda father-son candidate Boston Everitt in their squad.


Record: 0-5, 37.6%
Streak: LLLLL

Best result:
Round 1 – def. by Northern Knights by 7 points

Easily the tightest of the Giants’ five losses was their first, by just seven points at the hands of Northern. It was a low-scoring, scrappy affair in Craigieburn which saw the Knights kick 5.19 and essentially keep GWS in the game. The Giants were even up at the first two breaks but eventually fell in the wake of their opponents’ wealth of scores, despite fighting back into the lead during term four.

Stat leaders (total):

Disposals – Jack Glanvill (114)
Marks – Jack Glanvill (31)
Tackles – Daniel Gauci (36)
Inside 50s – Jack Glanvill (21)
Rebound 50s – Jackson Savage (29)
Hitouts – Logan Smith (88)
Goals – Charlie McCormack (7)

Logan Smith rises for a ruck tap | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Draft eligible talent:

Perhaps akin to the Lions, GWS has some solid operators without necessarily boasting high-end draft prospects like Gold Coast. Though, captaining the side this season was arguably the Giants’ top talent in classy midfielder Harvey Thomas, who is also tied to the Oakleigh Chargers.

Fellow onballers Jack Glanvill and Daniel Gauci were reliable figures, while Jackson Savage had plenty of work to do down back. At the other end of the ground, fellow 2005-born player Charlie McCormack was one of a few talls to have shown raw ability and glimpses of promise.

The future:

There are a couple more key position prospects to monitor for GWS in next year’s draft class. Cooper Bell was the Giants’ Under 16 MVP last year and found a home in defence, while ruck Logan Smith looks like a handy find. In the small department, Josaia Delana is a crafty forward who makes things happen.


Record: 2-3, 92.5%
Streak: WLLWL

Best result:
Round 1 – def. Western Jets by 28 points

Like a couple of other academies, arguably the Swans’ best performance was their first. They landed in Melbourne and knocked off the Western Jets, coming back from 20 points down in the final quarter with a flurry of seven unanswered goals. Sydney beat the Lions Academy by a higher margin and fell just short of beating GWV, as other results which could have taken out top spot this year.

Stat leaders (total):

Disposals – Indhi Kirk (119)
Marks – Khy Gibbs (22)
Tackles – Indhi Kirk (41)
Inside 50s – Indhi Kirk (34)
Rebound 50s – Christian Webster (23)
Hitouts – Caleb May (166)
Goals – Max Rider (11)

Lachlan Cabor wheels away with the ball | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Draft eligible talent:

Sydney lays claim to a pair of National Academy members in Caiden Cleary and Lachlan Cabor, with the former proving a consistent performer at all levels. The Swans are also high on ruck Caleb May and over-age son of a gun Indhi Kirk.

Elsewhere, dynamic 19th-year talls Christian Webster and Tye Gander showed signs at either end of the ground, while top-age forward Max Rider topped the goal kicking charts. Other promising 2005-born players include midfielder James Lugsdin and wingman Ned Hawkins.

The future:

Sydney is sure to uncover more under-age talent over the next year or so, but was largely served by strong top and over-age contingents this season. Nonetheless, Joe Harrison established himself as one to watch in midfield, and 2022 Under 16 MVP Mitchell Woods is an exciting small forward with speed to burn.

Northern Territory Academy

Record: 0-3, 21.2%
Streak: LLL

Best result:
Round 6 – def. by Suns Academy by 99 points

Two of the NT’s three losses came in excess of 100 points, but their third was just shy of triple digits and yielded the team’s highest score. Going down by 99 points to Gold Coast, the Thunder booted 7.3 to improve on their effort of 6.4 the previous week, pegging back the margin of defeat with each passing game. The individual talent of a bunch of players (listed below) began to shine through.

Stat leaders (total):

Disposals – Andrew Green (59)
Marks – Andrew Green (23)
Tackles – William Munkara, Taj Stanley (13)
Inside 50s – Orlando Turner (9)
Rebound 50s – Andrew Green (14)
Hitouts – Lewis Robbins (48)
Goals – Orlando Turner (3)

Orlando Turner at AFL Academy training this year | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Draft eligible talent:

The NT’s 2023-eligible group is headlined by National Academy member Orlando Turner, a silky skilled and speedy forward who likes to take the game on. South Australia based midfielder-forward William Rowlands also looked a class above in the Thunders’ short stint.

Elsewhere, Stanley Waistcoat is a great story having shifted to Western Australia, plying his trade with South Fremantle. He’s capable of a few highlight reel moments, while over-age defender Andrew Green was a reliable figure in arguably the side’s toughest job.

The future:

Waylon Davey-Motlop is a youngster who descends from strong footballing pedigree, and he’s blazing his own trail as a powerful small forward with plenty of tricks. Taj Stanley was a consistent ball winner in midfield, while the likes of Clay Shadforth and Ricky Mentha also showed signs as 2006-born players.

Down in the 2025-eligible category is Calvin Peris-Chong, the brother of Geelong Cats midfielder Brandan Parfitt. Having spent plenty of time in midfield as a double under-ager, he’s bound to boast a similar amount of toughness to his elder sibling.

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