Which NSW/ACT players could debut this weekend?
With the announcement of Matt Flynn’s debut for the GIANTS this weekend, we take a look at which other NSW/ACT products could be set for an opening round debut.
1944 days after being drafted, Narrandera’s Matt Flynn will make his AFL debut against St Kilda on Sunday at GIANTS Stadium.
The 23-year-old was told he’d be playing his first AFL game by coach Leon Cameron, with draftee Tanner Bruhn also named to debut.
Growing up in Narrandera in Southern NSW, Flynn was a member of the GIANTS Academy since the age of 12 and was drafted on November 24, 2015 with pick 41.
Recruited as a developing ruckman, he was on the cusp of debuting in 2019 before tearing his ACL in a NEAFL match.
Agile and courageous, he can push forward and be dangerous as a marking forward.
He is excellent below the knees for a player of his size and has developed his ruck craft working alongside Shane Mumford, Dawson Simpson, Sam Jacobs and new recruit Braydon Preuss.
Gulden, a product of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy, will look for opportunities in the midfield and as a small forward this season after being selected at pick 32 in the 2020 AFL Draft.
The UNSW-ES Bulldog already has a strong body and has adapted to the AFL level quickly, playing a prominent role for Sydney throughout the AAMI Community Series match against the GIANTS.
The diminutive 172cm speedster represented the Allies at Under 18 level, running out for all four games in 2019’s national carnival, after donning NSW/ACT colours for its Under 17 side and earning the 2018 Under 16 Division 2 MVP award.
Fellow QBE Sydney Swans Academy product Braeden Campbell is also in contention to make his AFL debut this weekend after impressing in Sydney’s AAMI Community Series defeat to the GIANTS earlier this month.
The 19-year-old, taken fifth in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft by Sydney after the Swans matched a bid from Hawthorn, has settled seamlessly into life on the senior list.
Albury’s Jacob Koschitzke threw his name up for an opening round debut in Hawthorn’s win over North Melbourne in the Community Cup series earlier this month.
Koschitzke, the cousin of retired St Kilda star Justin, kicked six goals and three behinds while pulling in some strong marks as Hawthorn controlled the majority of the game to claim a 39-point win at Arden Street Oval.
Entering his third season Koschitzke was drafted to the Hawks as a defender but late last year was switched forward as the club hunted for new key goal kicking targets. He impressed in those VFL practice matches and has trained all summer as a forward.
Mature-age St Kilda recruit Tom Highmore has shot into round one calculations as the club prepare to shuffle their defensive half in the wake of the club’s latest injury setback.
The 23-year-old has impressed throughout his first AFL pre-season with Brett Ratten suggesting the Tuggeranong and Marist junior could develop into playing a “second or third” tall role in defence after being taken at pick No.45 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft.
“Young Tom Highmore is nearly a Wilkie clone in the way he goes about it but he’s a right-footer and he played exceptionally well mopping up,” Ratten told AFL.com.au last month.
“He kicks the ball well, he’s brave, he’s a good size, so whether he’s a second-tall defender or third he’s sort of in that category.
“Is he going to play round one? We’re not sure. Is he going to play this year? We’re not sure.”
Highmore was named in the 2019 NEAFL Team of the Year playing for the Canberra Demons before crossing to the SANFL last year with South Adelaide.