PROFILED | 2024 Vic Metro Talent Hub

THE 2024 Vic Metro summer training squad has been announced, with 22 prospects selected from across all six applicable Coates Talent League regions. In anticipation of their respective top and bottom-age campaigns, we profile each player and break down the overall squad.

>> ANNOUNCEMENT: 2024 Victorian summer training squads



AFL Academy members: 7

By age:

2006-born (top-age): 17
2007-born (bottom-age): 5

By region:

Calder Cannons: 3
Eastern Ranges: 4
Northern Knights: 2
Oakleigh Chargers: 4
Sandringham Dragons: 8
Western Jets: 1

>> ONES TO WATCH: 24 prospects for 2024 | Vic Country squad


Harry Armstrong (Sandringham Dragons)
Tall Forward | 193cm | 14/06/2006

One of the many budding representative stars out of Sandringham Dragons, Armstrong is yet to make his Coates Talent League debut but made a splash on the APS Football scene. Turning out for the undefeated, title-winning Haileybury College side, the left-footed tall kicked several bags of goals and even managed a haul of nine against Geelong Grammar. Has nice versatility and upside.

Levi Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)
Midfielder | 179cm | 18/12/2006

It’s hard to shake the tag of being the brother of Will Ashcroft and son of Marcus, but Levi is doing as good a job as any of blazing his own trail. The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect is a midfielder with high level footy IQ and the work rate to match his smarts. It results in monster disposal hauls across all levels and Ashcroft has proven to be a big game player who takes on the big moments.

Jack Dalton (Sandringham Dragons)
Midfielder | 176cm | 04/04/2007

The title-winning captain and MVP in Vic Metro’s Under 16 carnival last year. He’s a classy midfielder with a terrific balance of clean inside ball winning and classy movement on the outer, capping off each possession with sharp left-foot kicks. His running capacity and ability to pop up for clutch scores are among his other high-end traits which saw him earn a Dragons debut late in 2023.

Jesse Dattoli (Northern Knights)
Midfielder/Forward | 178cm | 07/08/2006

Having excited up forward during his debut Talent League campaign in 2022, Dattoli graduated to more midfield minutes in 2023. He mixed his time with Carey Grammar, but made six appearances for the Knights for averages of 16 disposals and over a goal per game. Dattoli, whose bag of tricks is deep, also earned a single outing for the Vic Metro Under 18s.

Lachy Dovaston (Eastern Ranges)
Forward/Midfielder | 175cm | 29/05/2007

A small who brings great energy, Dovaston would usually rotate through midfield and up forward but ended up earning Under 16 All Australian status as a wingman last year. He’s the type of player who sparks frequent attacks with his sharp step and driving outside run. Dovaston’s agility and bag of tricks also come to the fore in front of goal, where he may well be found this year.

Louis Emmett (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ruck | 198cm | 23/03/2007

Earning the starting Under 16 All Australian ruck spot in front other states’ MVPs last year, Emmett showed plenty with his work both aerially and across the ground. The developing 198cm tall is more athletic than strong, which suits the modern game, and his skillset was enough to see him play four Coates Talent League games with the Chargers.

Oliver Greeves (Eastern Ranges)
Midfielder/Forward | 190cm | 07/02/2007

Drawing comparisons to fellow Eastern Ranges prospect and 2022 Vic Metro MVP Josh Smillie, Greeves is a big bodied midfielder-forward with clean contested craft and efficient ball use. He blends his inside game with productivity on the attack, hardly looking phased in possession and bullying the opposition with his sheer size. He’s one of five 2023 Under 16 All Australians in the Metro setup.

Lucca Grego (Western Jets)
Midfielder/Defender | 183cm | 15/09/2006

Grego is a tough nut whose hardness and application have translated to a variety of roles. He is perhaps most natural as an inside midfielder, but has also found a home in Western’s defence and is beginning to add more elements to his robust ball winning style. Needless to say, he’ll continue to be a key man for the Jets in 2024 and the region’s top draft prospect.

Tom Gross (Oakleigh Chargers)
Midfielder/Forward | 180cm | 15/09/2006

An explosive type though midfield and up forward, Gross catches the eye with his turn of speed and ability to rise for overhead marks. He’s the type of player who can hurt the opposition by taking metres, breaking the lines with long kicking, and hitting the scorebard. Talent League averages of 23 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s saw him recognised with a call up to the Vic Metro Under 18 squad.

Taj Hotton (Sandringham Dragons)
Forward | 180cm | 17/06/2006

Hotton is the brother of St Kilda’s Olli and son of former Blue and Magpie Trent, though is not father-son eligible for either club. The spring-heeled forward offers strong athletic upside and is crafty inside attacking 50 with the potential to develop his midfield acumen. He’s a low-possession, high-impact type who averaged 11 touches and nearly a goal per his seven Talent League games in 2023.

Zak Johnson (Northern Knights)
Midfielder | 185cm | 24/12/2006

Another top midfield talent out of Victoria, Johnson quickly established himself in Northern’s side and strung together a strong bottom-aged season consisting of 14 games. He averaged 21 disposals and booted 10 goals in that time, while also representing Vic Metro at Under 18 level. Johnson is a clever and composed on-baller who is difficult to pin down and often finds the right option out of a pack.

Isaac Kako (Calder Cannons)
Small Forward | 175cm | 07/03/2006

Kako is like a bee in a bottle out on the footy field, darting in all directions with one target in mind. He’s a creative small forward with great evasive technique and the smarts to spot up tricky options inside 50, or even go for goal himself. The Essendon NGA prospect bagged 24 majors in 11 Talent League games last year, including a haul of seven, and began to work further up the ground as the season wore on.

Nash King (Calder Cannons)
Midfielder | 181cm | 15/03/2006

A sharp-stepping midfielder, King is also among the production line of bottom-aged on-ballers who featured for Vic Metro’s Under 18s in 2023. He debuted for Calder Cannons in 2022 and made nine appearances this time around, averaging 22 touches, four tackles and as many inside 50s. King is one of those players who can move the ball from inside to outside with frequency and fluency.

Archie Ludowyke (Sandringham Dragons)
Tall Forward | 193cm | 19/11/2007

A tall forward with serious hops, Ludowyke soared for a few memorable marks for Vic Metro’s Under 16 side last year. The 193cm talent also provided a chop-out in the ruck, such is his leaping ability, and had an impact which defied his relatively modest numbers. Ludowyke is a talent with serious upside, projecting as an exciting spearhead forward.

Christian Moraes (Eastern Ranges)
Midfielder | 182cm | 08/11/2006

Having missed out on Vic Metro Under 18 selection in 2023, Moraes starred in the Eastern Ranges’ Grand Final run. Hailing from a basketball background, he’s a smooth mover with clean hands who thrives in attacking phases, carrying the ball at speed and with frequency. He also has the ability to roll forward and hit the scoreboard, or play on either side of midfield as a more outside type.

Harry O’Farrell (Calder Cannons)
Tall Defender | 196cm | 03/05/2006

A versatile key position prospect, O’Farrell has predominantly played his representative and Talent League football down back, but also features up forward when turning out for St Kevin’s College in the APS competition. He only managed five games with Calder in 2023 but earned a Vic Metro Under 18 berth and has some potential to harness as a top-ager this year.

Harrison Oliver (Sandringham Dragons)
Utility | 181cm | 15/06/2006

Perhaps a name flying under the radar in Sandringham’s stacked side, Oliver has long been involved in the Vic Metro pathway. Most recently, he was part of the Under 16 and 17 squads, making a natural progression to the Under 18 talent hub this year. He turned out five times for the Dragons in 2023, averaging 12 touches and four tackles as a forward flanker with flashes of class.

Murphy Reid (Sandringham Dragons)
Midfielder/Forward | 181cm | 30/07/2006

While midfield minutes in Sandringham’s stacked engine room have been hard to come by, Reid made every post a winner up forward, too. He’s a super clean handler of the ball and composed in tight spots, doing his best work at the contest and translating those same smarts around goal. He has averaged 21 touches and over a goal per his nine Talent League games in 2023, and helped take out the flag.

Charlie Richardson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Forward | 190cm | 20/02/2006

Richardson is the grandson of five-time premiership Tiger and 403-game Australian football legend, Kevin Bartlett. He’s paving his own path as a link-up forward who possesses natural craft inside 50, strong hands overhead and a good knack for hitting the scoreboard. He made his Talent League debut with Oakleigh last year, averaging 3.4 marks and over a goal per his seven games.

Josh Smillie (Eastern Ranges)
Midfielder | 194cm | 17/05/2006

Likely among the top handful of prospects for 2024, Smillie missed out on last year’s Talent League Grand Final through injury but has done more than enough to prove his potential. The 194cm utility is a monster at the contest with his size, clean hands and high level footy IQ, all of which have been on display since his Under 16 carnival with Vic Metro last year. He’s a phenom at Under 18 level, too.

Jagga Smith (Oakleigh Chargers)
Midfielder | 181cm | 28/01/2006

The headlines write themselves with Smith, who plays up to them with some of the slickest work of any midfielder in the pathway. While juggling school footy commitments, he averaged 30 disposals in 10 Talent League games and seamlessly stepped up to representative level with Vic Metro’s Under 18s. He’s lightly built, but clean and agile enough to take inside ball to the outer without being touched.

Luke Trainor (Sandringham Dragons)
Defender | 193cm | 10/04/2006

Trainor is yet another bottom-ager who cracked Vic Metro’s Under 18 team this year and it’s easy to see why. He’s a versatile type at 193cm who can swing to either end of the ground, but arguably looks best as a third-up intercept defender. Trainor sparks rebounds with his aerial ability and distributive skills by foot, which were on show in consecutive 25-disposal games in the Talent League last season.

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