PREVIEW | 2024 Coates Talent League: Northern Academies

THE 2024 Academy series is set to get underway this weekend, with the Giants and Swans Academies turning out in the Coates Talent League. The Northern Territory, Lions and Suns Academies will also enter the fray throughout Rounds 4-8, and we preview what to expect from each side.


vs. Northern Knights | Sun April 28, 12:40pm @ Brighton Homes Arena
vs. Eastern Ranges | Sun May 5, 10:30am @ Fenjiu Stadium
vs. Calder Cannons | Sun May 12, 10:30am @ Brighton Homes Arena
vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sun May 19, 10:00am @ Belvedere Reserve


National Academy member Samuel Marshall is the star of the show. Should he turn out in Lions colours again this year, the midfielder should have a major say on proceedings with his running power and ability to accumulate possessions. He boards at school in Melbourne and also plays for Sandringham Dragons.

Top-age ruck Tom Gillett is likely the Lions’ next most promising prospect. At 201cm, he’s capable of playing in each third of the ground and rates his athleticism as a key strength. Watch for powerful defender Ryan Gilder to impress after a strong preseason, too. He was part of the initial Allies camp.

In the over-age category, 2023 captain and Allies representative Bradley McDonald returns to the program. He’ll likely reprise his role in defence, while fellow 2005-born tall Billy Richardson will feature as well with scope to play at either end or chop-out in the ruck.


Prolific midfielder Daniel Annable is sure to stuff the stats sheet having already gained experience in the Lions’ Under 18 squad last year. He and defender Harrison Bridge earned Under 16 All Australian status in 2023, backing up from selection in the same SSA Under 15 team of 2022.

Also among the bottom-agers to watch is spring-heeled and speedy small forward Raphael Geesu. Another player likely to feature inside 50 is Jack Harrison, while Oscar Barry is a talent emerging at the other end of the ground. The latter pair may also roll through midfield.

Lions Under 16 MVP Daniel Annable | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central



vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Sat April 27, 12:40pm @ Austworld Centre Oval
vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sun May 5, 12:30pm @ Belvedere Reserve
vs. Geelong Falcons | Sun May 12, 12:40pm @ Austworld Centre Oval
vs. Calder Cannons | Sun May 19, 12:10pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve


The standout in Gold Coast’s academy this year is Leonardo Lombard, a powerful midfielder who played in the Suns’ 2023 VFL premiership. He’s a National Academy member and likely first round prospect who should stand clear as his side’s leading top-ager.

Lombard is joined in the leadership group by Zai Millane, the nephew of late Collingwood champion Darren. Another famous name out of the Suns’ 2006-born crop is St Kilda father-son candidate Boston Everitt (son of Peter). He now attends school in Melbourne and is tied to the Oakleigh Chargers.

High flying ruck Caleb Nancarrow took a similar path to Everitt, but is now back in Queensland after graduating from Scotch College. The Cairns native is based on the Gold Coast and will be looking to settle into his draft year with consistency.


The Suns have been blessed with a bumper bottom-age crop, one which may go close to matching that of 2023. Midfielder Beau Addinsall is the best of the lot and gained recognition as last year’s Pool B MVP at the National Under 16 Championships, beating out a talented field.

He was also one of five Suns to earn All Australian honours at the carnival. Classy mid-forwards Jai Murray and Dylan Patterson joined him in the side along with defenders Zeke Uwland (brother of Bodhi) and Kalani White (son of Jeff), who is also tied to Melbourne as a father-son prospect.

Likely to feature alongside White as a tall back is Max Hudson. Midfielder Zac Eckersley is another name to jot down for his hard running ability, while forward Cooper Collins showed strong potential in last year’s Under 16 squad and will look to build on his efforts.

The Suns have a bumper bottom-age crop | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central



vs. Tasmania Devils | Sun April 21, 12:30pm @ Blacktown ISP
vs. Sandringham Dragons | Sun April 28, 12:40pm @ Trevor Barker Oval
vs. Murray Bushrangers | Sat May 4, 1:10pm @ Albury Sports Ground


Twin talls Cooper Bell and Logan Smith are sure to be imposing figures for the orange team. Bell is likely to explore his versatility at 198cm and can virtually play any position, while Smith looks a lock for the primary ruck spot. Local talent Josaia Delana is another to watch through midfield.

Over-ager Charlie McCormack is another high flier and promises to build on a top-age campaign littered with exciting moments. Fellow 2005-born players Daniel Gauci and Jackson Savage should are also returning to the program. The latter has been based over in Adelaide.


A bunch of Giants Academy products who turned out at last year’s Under 16 championships now have alignments to Coates Talent League regions. That includes MVP Ryder Corrigan, defender Harrison Wilson, tall forward Liam Hetherton (all Murray Bushrangers), and Liam Gronow (Bendigo Pioneers).

Nonetheless, forwards Harper Bromson and Riley Hansen are sure to provide capable avenues to goal. Both measure up at over 190cm and are handy marking targets. Explosive defender Lachlan Moresi is another to jot down, possessing raw strength and room for growth.

Riley Hansen chases up a loose ball | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central



vs. Gippsland Power | Sat April 20, 12:45pm @ Shepley Oval
vs. Eastern Ranges | Sat April 27, 10:30am @ Highgate Recreation Reserve
vs. Tasmania Devils | Sat May 4, 5:15pm @ Blacktown ISP
vs. Sandringham Dragons | Sat May 18, 12:30pm @ RSEA Park


The Swans have access to Joel Cochran, a National Academy member and versatile 195cm talent. He looks poised to settle down back but has also had stints up forward and through the ruck. At his size, he moves well to intercept and is a handy user of the ball on his favoured left foot.

Perhaps the next best top-ager in the Swans program is midfielder Joe Harrison. He’s a hard runner who can also roll forward. Aside from the aforementioned pair, Sydney has talent scattered in both its over-age and bottom-age categories.

Former AFL Academy member Lachlan Cabor is back with more VFL experience under his belt. He and Ned Hawkins have been selected to play in the Swans’ first match, while forward Max Rider is another who should get a run with the Under 18 side.

After yielding quite an even top-age crop last year, Sydney could also call upon the likes of James Lugsdin, Harrison Podmore-Taylor, and Caleb May for its academy side. The latter two are imposing talls, with May an Allies representative in last year’s title-winning team.


Sydney produced two Under 16 All Australians last year in MVP Lachlan Carmichael and tall forward Noah Chamberlain. Carmichael is a medium defender capable of playing above his height on the intercept, but perhaps more prominent with his sharp rebound work.

Chamberlain has already gained experience in the Under 18 side, turning out for three games as a 16-year-old in 2023. At 192cm, he marks the ball strongly overhead and looms as the Swans’ most dangerous spearhead inside 50.

Another player to look out for is Max King, who blitzed the preseason combine. He has serious upside with such athletic potential, but can also find the footy and play in any third of the ground. He’ll most likely slot into a mid-forward rotation for the Swans.

Joel Cochran is part of the National Academy | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central



vs. Western Jets | Thu April 25, 1:15pm @ Skinner Reserve
vs. Tasmania Devils | Sun April 28, 10:30am @ La Trobe University


National Academy forward Ricky Mentha is far and away the Northern Territory’s best prospect this year. The skilful and agile small has a deep bag of tricks and always looks lively inside 50. He was also tried as a defender during last year’s Under 16 National Championships.

The Alice Springs native has moved down to Victoria and currently plays for Gippsland Power. In a similar vein, ruckman Lewis Robbins is also tied to the Power this year. He led the Thunder for hitouts in 2023 and is looming as a potential mid-season draft smokey.

Those to have made similar journeys include small forwards Clay Shadforth and Waylon Davey-Motlop. The former boards at school in South Australia and is tied to South Adelaide, while the latter attends Xavier College and has been turning out for Oakleigh Chargers.

Shadforth was part of last year’s title-winning Allies squad, playing one game. Davey-Motlop, meanwhile, has footballing royalty running through his veins. His uncles Alwyn and Aaron Davey, and cousin Jesse Motlop are among his family ties. He is not connected to any AFL club, however.


There are even more family connections in the NT’s bottom-age category. Calvin Peris-Chong is the brother of Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt and plays with a similarly hard edge through midfield. Elsewhere, 2023 Under 16 MVP Taj Murray is one to watch as a ruck-forward, having started the year in promising fashion down in South Australia with North Adelaide’s Under 18s.

Ricky Mentha is the NT’s top prospect | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

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