2023 AFL Draft wrap

Seven players from NSW can call themselves AFL listed players following the 2023 AFL Draft.

A week on from what would have been one of the best moments in these players’ lives, they’ve hit the training track, meeting their new teammates, coaches and club staff for the first time as a peer and colleague.

Below is an update of what the clubs have said about NSW’s magnificent seven.

Geelong

“We are really pleased to welcome Connor to the Club with our first selection, he is a versatile player with high potential.

“He has had a remarkable 12 months for the Bushrangers, his aerial ability, composure, ability to intercept mark and endurance at only 18 years of age is something we are really excited about.”

– Geelong Cats Recruiting Manager, Stephen Wells

GIANTS

Phoenix Gothard possesses many traits that make him an exciting recruit. Regarded as one of the most athletic players in the class of 2023, he’s a clean one-touch player who’s quick and agile. A creative and confidence force up forward, he also applies relentless pressure in defence. He averaged one goal a game during the National Championships, whilst booting nine goals and averaging 16 disposals and 3.7 tackles for the Murray Bushrangers.

“Phoenix is a small forward that we feel is a great fit for us. He plays in a way that suits the style we have adopted over the past 12 months, and he has attributes to succeed at the next level. Given it was his first year in the program this year we feel he will go to another level when in a full-time environment.”

GIANTS’ National Recruiting manager, Adrian Caruso and GIANTS media

Sydney Swans

“An inside bull who also works hard on the outside, Cleary impacts going both ways with serious power. Whether it’s in the stoppage or in transition, the hard running on-baller consistently finds a way to impact games.

In 2023 he dominated for the QBE Sydney Swans Academy with an average of 27 disposals, seven clearances, and six tackles across four games. He also earned All Australian selection for his performance at the U18 National Championships with the Allies, who won the title for the first time. For the Allies he averaged 29 touches, four clearances, and seven tackles.”

Sydney Swans media

Geelong Cats

“Shaun has deserved a chance to be on an AFL list. It became evident to us that we wanted him on our list, and we think he can make an impact straight away. At the end of the year when he played in the VFL Grand Final, it became a bit of a priority for us.”

– Geelong Cats Recruiting Manager, Stephen Wells

GIANTS

The GIANTS Academy product may be small in stature but his silky skills, endurance, and his versatility make him an exciting prospect. A smooth-moving left footer capable of playing all over the ground, Thomas’ ball-winning ability and his creative ball use are standouts in his game. Showing his versatility, Thomas averaged 18 disposals at 78 per cent efficiency playing predominantly down back for the Allies before botting four goals from 21 disposals for the Oakleigh Chargers later in the year. Thomas was named the 2023 GIANTS Academy Player of the Year.

“Another success story from the GIANTS Academy, Harvey is an elite runner and showed he could play multiple roles this year, but we see him settling more ahead of the ball.”

GIANTS’ National Recruiting manager, Adrian Caruso and GIANTS media

GIANTS

A prolific medium forward from the Hume league, kicking 149 goals in 49 matches, Wardius was a part of the GIANTS Academy alongside the likes of new teammate Harry Rowston until COVID complications saw him leave the program.  Despite his slight frame, Wardius has played senior football for three years and performed well, including the 2023 finals series where he kicked 15 goals from three finals.

“Nathan is an exciting medium forward with athleticism and football smarts, great touch on his left foot and is a hybrid type who is a threat in the air or on the ground. He has some forward-50 x-factor and can also push up the ground to impact. We got him in to play two VFL games this this year to give him a taste at a higher level, where he looked comfortable.”

GIANTS’ National Recruiting manager, Adrian Caruso and GIANTS media

Sydney Swans

Indhi Kirk enjoyed a stellar over-age season with the QBE Swans Academy this year, and is no stranger to the red and white, also featuring at VFL level this year for the Swans, making his senior debut against Sandringham in Round 15.

After putting in plenty of work and putting his best foot forward this year, Kirk lead the Talent League averages in 2023 for tackles (8.2 per game) and inside 50s (6.8) to go with his 23.8 disposals and and 3.6 marks from five appearances for the QBE Sydney Swans Academy. 

He also ran out for the Allies in 2023, part of the team that won the U18 National Championships for the first time.

Sydney Swans media