Ryley Sanders

height: 185cm

weight: 86kg

D.O.B: 21-01-2005

Leagues: AFL U18 Championships, Coates Talent League Boys

  • Snapshot
  • Analysis
  • Summary

SNAPSHOT: “A picture of consistency over the last two years, Ryley Sanders is a high-accumulating, no fuss midfielder with clean hands and high footy IQ.”

On the radar as a high-end prospect for over two years now, Ryley Sanders is one of the most accomplished players in the 2023 draft pool. Boasting two Coates Talent League premierships with the Sandringham Dragons, an undefeated national carnival with the Allies and the Larke Medal, Sanders’ accolades are reward for the consistency he brings to every level.

The Tasmanian, who boards at Melbourne Grammar, averaged 33 disposals across the Talent League and National Championships this season, never registering below 25 disposals in any game. He has been part of the AFL Academy for two years, performing well in showcase games against the Port Adelaide and Carlton reserves this season where he rarely moved from the on-ball rotation.



+ Accumulation
+ Clean hands
+ Consistency
+ Inside game
+ Stoppage craft
+ Work rate


- Explosive speed
- Impact-per-possession

An old school footballer in both look and method, Sanders is the embodiment of ‘pull your socks up’. He often cracks in at the contest with 100 per cent intensity, and that team orientated focus allows his more outside-leaning teammates to thrive off his inside craft. For this reason, Sanders has been a mainstay in his various sides' midfield groups over the last two years.

Playing a major role in the undefeated Allies side this year, Sanders was recognised for his efforts across the four games with the Larke Medal, given to the best player across the carnival. It was well deserved given he averaged 35.8 disposals, 5.0 clearances, 6.3 marks, 4.0 tackles and a goal. Sanders linked up well with fellow Tasmanian Colby McKercher at the Champs, with one of them often handing it off to the other if they had won a clearance, or finding each other around the ground.

Sanders has a well-rounded midfield game and balances between inside and outside roles - which he has vastly improved on this year - but thrives more when given the responsibility to win the ball in the coalface. Sanders’ size and strength lend to the contested side of the game, but is by no means the sole reason he is so effective. Sanders uses his physical advantage along with his natural stoppage craft and technique to push opponents off the ball and take it on himself, running at roughly a 40 per cent contested possession rate through the Champs.

On the outside, Sanders is an exceptionally hard worker around the ground, often breaching the defensive 50 arc to assist in winning the ball back, or running hard to lose opponents and accumulate uncontested marks around the ground. However, Sanders is a fairly good contested mark when caught in the situation, displaying strong hands overhead.

Sanders' disposal and general cleanliness at ground level make him extraordinarily reliable. Although he does tend to favour handballing and is often in situations where it’s the best option, Sanders is a damaging kick when given time and space. He's able to assess options quickly and pick out inside-45s almost before his opponents have time to react. What's more, he has developed his scoreboard impact to compound that hurt factor.

There’s not much holding Sanders back from becoming a top level midfielder given his traits and well developed game, with his current style well suited to a first possession winner at the next level. However, Sanders could become an even more damaging player if he more often looked to drive his legs out of congestion to give himself better opportunities to kick rather than handball. An overall focus on improving his explosive power would allow him to do so easier, with more pressure in the elite grade.



There was much conjecture over Sanders’ ties to North Melbourne as a Next Generation Academy member, and while that status has been approved this year, the Roos will not have special concession to match a bid within the first 40 picks. Regardless, Sanders may end up in blue and white with a pick at the pointy end of the draft. A lack of genuine midfield depth among the top 10-12 players means his price will be at a premium, though he is arguably within the top six to eight prospects in any case. Having added strings to his bow this year in the way of an outside game, Sanders’ already impressive profile just gets better. He’ll be a genuine, readymade gun.

AFL U18 Championships


Coates Talent League Boys

2021Tasmania Devils6052112310029001613178.67.416.
2022Sandringham Dragons6895163190032001890106.89.516.
2023Sandringham Dragons911842753500480037225910.120.430.
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