PREVIEW | 2024 Coates Talent League: Sandringham Dragons

WITH back-to-back premierships in tow, Sandringham Dragons are ominously poised for a Coates Talent League three-peat if their squad depth is anything to go by. Coach Rob Harding was on hand in preseason to take us through the season ahead, and his region’s top prospects.


“It’s really exciting with this new group coming in. We had a number of bottom-agers play for us last year and three of them that played in the premiership team. So, there were quite a few that were outside of that team that we felt were pretty good prospects for this year.

“Preseason has been really good. It’s been really competitive for spots and only in the last week have we been able to finalise our list. We bring 68 players into the Coates Talent League for 2024 and we’ve got an exciting crop to work with.”


Levi Ashcroft
Midfielder | 179cm | 18/12/2006

“Levi’s a special talent really. He won our best and fairest as a bottom-ager last year in a premiership team, up against 10 guys that got drafted. So, it just tells you how good he is. He’s got a really complete game all over the field and his leadership’s growing really well at the moment.

“I’ve been really excited by what Levi’s done in his part of preseason with us. The rest of his time he’s actually been up with the (Brisbane) Lions, so it’s been a great experience for him to start doing some training there as well.”

Sam Marshall
Midfielder | 185cm | 19/01/2006

“Sam’s a great story. He came down to Melbourne to do schooling at Melbourne Grammar and played a couple of games for us last year in the Talent League. He played a little bit for the Brisbane Lions Academy as well at the start of the year and his game’s grown over the offseason.

“He’s driving his legs really powerfully out of contest and he’s an elite runner. He runs a sub-six minute 2km. So, the Lions are doing pretty well this year. They’ve got a couple of really good prospects coming through.”

Luke Trainor
Tall Defender | 194cm | 10/04/2006

“A third tall defender, really penetrating kick, good runner and he’s an exciting prospect. There’s not a lot of talls in this draft and at 194-195cm, he’s going to be that third tall interceptor and potentially in his school foot he might play a little bit forward as well at Brighton Grammar, potentially a bit with us too.”

>> Profiled: 2024 Vic Metro Talent Hub

Harry Armstrong
Tall Forward | 195cm | 14/06/2006

“Harry’s a big key forward. He won the goal kicking at APS level last year with Haileybury and hasn’t played a Talent League game yet. That was a little bit just through the injury at the end of the year, we potentially could have got him in.

“Powerful mark, really strong. He’s very quick for his size so I can’t wait to see Harry play. He’s a great prospect and as I said with Luke Trainor, the talls in this draft I think are going to be high value commodities and we’re really excited by how Harry can develop through the year.”

Taj Hotton
Midfielder/Forward | 182cm | 17/06/2006

“We moved Taj up into the midfield for this preseason. Everyone saw him last year as a small forward that could jump and take hangers. I think he took our four best hangers for last year here at the Dragons, and we moved him into the midfield.

“His running’s improved, and his overall contest work is fantastic. Taj has probably been one of our best performed players over this preseason and I can’t wait to see him play Talent League in a couple of weeks time.”

Harrison Oliver
Defender | 181cm | 15/06/2006

“Harry’s a running half-back, ultra competitive, ultra combative. He’s probably the heartbeat of our team at the moment. He’s a great character and a great personality and he’s a beautiful kick as well. Harry brings a point of difference to a lot of players particularly in such a midfield heavy draft that he can play half-back, half-forward, and I think potentially even through a wing at AFL level.”

Murphy Reid
Midfielder/Forward | 180cm | 30/07/2006

“‘Murph’ was one of the three (bottom-agers) that played in the premiership team for us and he’ll play midfield with a mix of high half-forward. You loathe to make AFL comparisons, but Murphy’s calm and composed like a Scott Pendlebury. He understands where the traffic is and slides his way through it. He’s just a really sleek player and can’t wait to see how Murphy continues to progress this year.”


“We’ve got some other really exciting prospects coming through. I think Nathaniel Sulzberger is a really good one. He’s a Tassie boy that’s come over and he’s boarding at Caulfield Grammar this year. We expect he’ll make the Allies squad pretty quickly, he’s not there at the moment.

“He’s a big bodied, powerful inside mid who pushes off guys like Dustin Martin. He’s in that mould, but he runs a sub-six minute 2km as well, which is elite. Josh Dolan is the third member of our bottom-agers who played in the premiership last year as our 23rd player. As a midfielder/high half-forward with elite skills, we think he’s an exciting prospect.

“I could rattle off a bunch of names here, but Luke Kennedy‘s another one as a midfielder. He won the Ormond Prem C VAFA best and fairest as a 16-year-old last year only playing really through the middle of the year. You’ve got to be pretty special to do that.

Julian Galbally, who’s a big 201cm ruckman that’s joined us this year. We’re excited to see how he develops. Luka Pecer, Sam Buck, Oscar Cheetham, Adrian Cole, and Lenny Hoffman‘s a third tall. He’s a member of the St Kilda NGA that we’re really excited about.

“We’ve got a deep list at the Dragons. We’re really fortunate to have a strong region, but we’re just excited to see how these guys develop and hopefully showcase their talents for the AFL recruiters this year.”


“We’re likely to go with co-captains this year and we do need a broader leadership group at the Dragons given we lose a significant chunk of our squad to school footy in the middle of the year. We’ll make sure we balance that out and there are a number of guys that have put their hands up for it already.”

Co-captains: Levi Ashcroft, Brodie Findlay
Vice-captains: Adrian Cole, Sam Linder
Deputy-vice captain: Harrison Oliver


“We have three tough matchups in our first three games and it’s a great opportunity for recruiters to see some of the elite talent from Calder, Oakleigh and Eastern up against our guys as well. We’re looking forward to three games in a row at RSEA Park and to hopefully put on a good show for the recruiters.”

vs. Calder Cannons @ RSEA Park
Saturday March 23, 1:30pm

>> Season Preview: Calder Cannons

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