We’re just weeks out from the start of the AFL season but it was only Wednesday that lists were finalised for the 2023 campaign.
The pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP) saw dozens of ex-AFL players and fresh-faced hopefuls bidding for the last spots on team lists – and many were fortunate enough to earn a contract.
Foxfooty.com.au runs through your club’s SSP activities, who they signed and snubbed, and what the new faces could bring to the team.
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Walsh yet to confirm Carlton return | 01:55
The Crows opted to add experience to their young list for 2023 as they signed former Pies Tyler Brown and Mark Keane. Irish key defender Keane had filled the final spot on Adelaide’s list after Fisher McAsey’s decision to step away from the game. But the call to place Paul Seedsman (concussion) on the inactive list opened up a second opportunity at the club. Seedsman hasn’t played since suffered a head knock at training in late 2021 and is continuing to battle lingering symptoms. Brown was then added to the Crows squad in a whirlwind couple of days as the 23-year-old packed up his belongings in Melbourne and relocated to South Australia. The club is hoping his versatility and top-level experience can provide valuable depth to their emerging list.
With plenty of young talent secured in the AFL Draft, the Lions turned to a pair of Irish defenders to complete their list. Former Bomber Conor McKenna made the call to return to Australia after a break from the game during Covid. And after being chased by four clubs, he opted for Brisbane where he teams up with compatriot Darragh Joyce. Joyce was signed as the replacement for Marcus Adams, after the defender was placed on the inactive list due to concussion symptoms. Joyce managed 13 games for the Saints before “jumping” on the call to head north. Both McKenna and Joyce are on track to play in Round 1, having featured in the A side during recent match simulations, adding to a revamped defence that was exploited throughout last season. The 195cm Joyce will provide tall timber alongside Darcy Gardiner and Harris Andrews while McKenna’s burst from halfback will be critical.
The Blues have moved to bolster their squad by adding ruckman Hudson O’Keeffe and defender Alex Cincotta – two keys areas Carlton needed injury cover for in 2022. With Marc Pittonet struggling with a knee injury last year, it left back up options Jack Silvagni and Tom de Koning to do the heavy lifting. Standing at more than 2m tall, O’Keeffe completed a medical at the club before being added to the list a short time later when a spot opened up due to Sam Philp on the inactive list. Cincoctta was then the club’s late addition hours before the SSP deadline on Wednesday, as replacement for luckless defender Zac Williams who has been ruled out of the 2023 season. In an ideal world neither will be required but if the Blues’ injury luck keeps getting worse, they’re now there to be used.
The Magpies moved quickly with ruckman Oscar Steene, as he arrived at club training back in November. The 204cm South Australian “fitted in seamlessly” according to Collingwood before he was added to the list – reportedly ahead of ex-beach volleyballer Max Guehrer. Then came the drama surrounding Oleg Markov. The former Sun trained at the club for weeks and then moved on to Carlton – where he joined in just one session – before the Magpies came racing back. With luckless youngster Charlie Dean placed on the inactive list after a training mishap in February, the spot for Markov was suddenly open. Markov has played 51 games combined at both Richmond and the Gold Coast; he’s unlikely to force his way into the best 23 right away, with Nathan Murphy and Billy Frampton seemingly battling for the last spot in the back six.
Bombers dismiss Stringer injury concerns | 02:30
Once Bombers draftee Jayden Davey (ACL injury) was placed on the inactive list, a spot opened up at Essendon. But so far, no one has won the race. Ruckman Hudson O’Keeffe reportedly trained at the club before his decision to sign with the Blues while Mitch Szybkowski was overlooked. The club then opted to offer a train and trial run to three players – former Magpie and Hawk Tom Phillips,and West Aussie duo Jack Cleaver and Brad Lynch. Cleaver, a teenaged defender, was a late addition to the Bombers squad at the end of January while Lynch has reportedly been training at Essendon since November after plying his trade in the VFL for Southport.
Heppell in the captains seat | 02:14
The Dockers have made the big call to keep a spot open on their playing list, despite having Sam Stubbs and Liam Serong – brother of Fremantle star Caleb – train with the club over summer. Stubbs, a forward who kicked 23 goals for Perth in the WAFL last year and Serong, the Gippsland teen, impressed Dockers footy boss Peter Bell. But ultimately Bell said the club wanted “greater flexibility” heading into the Mid-Season Draft.
The Cats were one of four clubs that opted against trialling players across the pre-season. There’s no doubt there’s plenty of depth and competition for spots at the Cattery in season 2023 – they’re already struggling to find best 23 slots for the guys they traded for.
Stengle to remain a Cat until 2024 | 00:57
With two list spots open over summer, the Suns invited ex-AFL listed duo Jed Anderson and Boyd Woodcock, along with academy product Brinn Little and VFL star Brodie McLaughlin to train and trial. And in the end Gold Coast opted for the experienced Anderson in defence over Little, the 2022 Academy Player of the Year. The club then signed versatile forward McLaughlin for season 2023 over ex-Port forward Woodcock. Neither are likely to play right away with the big pre-season talk on the glitter strip abut Charlie Constable (now in defence) and Sam Flanders.
The Giants finalised their list after a big draft haul in 2022 with new coach Adam Kingsley already having plenty of fresh faces to work with. They like the looks of Leek Aleer who could get first go at centre half back while 2021 No.3 pick Finn Callaghan, after a quiet first season, appears ready to excite.
Greene gets the gig as sole GWS captain | 01:16
The biggest revolving door of this SSP period belonged to the Hawks, as they trialled at least five different players… with no one getting signed. Callum Brown, the former Pie who was delisted along brother Tyler last season, loomed as the most likely addition for Hawthorn given his performances in match simulation. Brown was one of four Box Hill listed players to take part over the summer, alongside ex-Tiger and Eagle Patrick Naish, and Hawks’ Covid top-up duo Liam Coghlan and Callum Porter. Tasmanian Brandon Leary also spent time at the club but was ruled out of contention in late January. Brown even featured in a match simulation on Wednesday night but will instead return to their VFL affiliate.
The Demons left their decision until the final day when they opted to sign Kye Turner to the rookie list -ahead of former Port father-son pick Trent Burgoyne. Turner, the 21-year-old defender, impressed with his versatility. It was disappointment for Burgoyne who had been training at the Demons for a few months.
Till 2025! May inks new Dees deal | 00:53
The Kangaroos finalised their list quickly with new coach Alastair Clarkson reuniting with three-time premiership Hawk Liam Shiels. After being cut from Hawthorn’s young squad, Clarkson opted to add the experienced Shiels to his squad. Otherwise the Roos aren’t exactly lacking for youngsters who need best 23 experience.
The Power reportedly didn’t have any players come in on a train and trial basis – although there was reported interest in former West Aussie rep player Jed Hagan who joined Port Adelaide’s SANFL side for the upcoming season.
Dixon feeling good ahead of season 13 | 01:21
The Tigers had one of the biggest calls to make this SSP – former Cat Quinton Narkle or 195cm forward Kaelan Bradtke. In the end it was Bradtke who edged out Narkle for the final spot at Richmond, with the Tigers conceding Narkle “couldn’t have done any more” in a bid to win an AFL lifeline.
With a new coach and a decimated forward line, there were two opportunities available at the Saints this pre-season for those who wanted it badly enough. First up was ex-Blue Liam Stocker who spoke passionately about his desire to get back to top-level footy after a run of injury and mental health battles. Stocker impressed Ross Lyon immediately and won an AFL lifeline; Stephen Silvagni’s new role as list manager wouldn’t hurt either. Sadly for ex-Bombers forward Josh Eyre, his hopes of a Saints list spot ended when he went down with a hamstring complaint after arriving at the club at the start of December. There were rumours ex-Tiger Sydney Stack was in contact with the Saints this pre-season, but it was teenage forward Anthony Caminiti who secured the last spot on St Kilda’s list – despite only being at the club for five days, and taking part in just four training sessions. He was that impressive in a match simulation last Friday he was offered a contract before he left for the weekend.
The Swans had their list finalised before heading into the New Year with just six combined draftee and rookie additions this past off-season, showing how stable the Grand Finalists are.
Mills eager to stay Swans all-rounder | 00:51
The Eagles were left with a big call to make in recent days after Jack Darling went down hurt. With fears it could be a serious ankle injury, there were reports ex-Bomber Alec Waterman, the son of club great Chris, could be brought on with Darling sent to the inactive list. He had already joined brother Jake at West Coast training in recent weeks. However Darling appears to have escaped a long-term blow.
The Doggies made one of the earliest moves of the pre-season supplemental period with Oskar Baker, delisted by Melbourne, joining the club in December. In effect the teams might’ve swapped wingmen with Lachie Hunter heading to Demonland, but all reports are Baker has impressed throughout the pre-season and could force his way into Luke Beveridge’s best 23. Former Pie Caleb Poulter looms as a recruit for Footscray in the VFL.
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au