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We want the young blood: AFL debuts by round

AFL debuts by round

AFL teams have been increasingly ready to give draftees their first game in Round 1 in recent years.

Kangaroos Training Session

In compiling the round 1 team projection posts, I find that I’m being fairly conservative in predicting players to get their first senior game in the first round of the home & away season. In my last post on the subject, I had seven kids pulling on a senior jumper for the first time: Chris Yarran, Mitch Robinson, Simon Hogan, Daniel Rich, Jack Ziebell, Stephen Hill and Jarrad Grant.

When you look back at the recent history of when AFL-listed players have been given their first game, however, in the last two years the average number of debuts in round 1 has jumped to 13. Here’s the 2008 and 2007 lists of debuts by round.

2008 AFL season debuts by round
Round 1: 13 – Craig Bird, Nathan J. Brown, Jake Edwards, Jarryn Geary, David Mackay, Cale Morton, Cyril Rioli, Paul Stewart, Cameron Stokes, Scott D. Thompson, Kurt Tippett, Trent West, Isack Weetra
Round 2: 7 – Brad Ebert, Lachie Henderson, Chris Masten, Chris Mayne, Rhys Palmer, Darren Pfeiffer, Harry Taylor
Round 3: 4 – John Anthony, Matthew Kreuzer, Scott Selwood, Austin Wonaeamirri
Round 4: 3 – Tayte Pears, Ben Ross, Matthew Spangher
Round 5: 3 – Clayton Hinkley, Jarrhan Jacky, Nick Smith
Round 6: 5 – Steven Browne, Shane Mumford, James Polkinghorne, Sharrod Wellingham, Jesse White
Round 7: 6 – Jarrod Atkinson, Darcy Daniher, David Ellard, David Myers, James Sellar, Josh Smith
Round 8: 4 – Trent Cotchin, Ryan Davis, Alan Obst, Shane Valenti
Round 9: 4 – Tim Houlihan, Josh P. Kennedy, Jarryd Morton, Beau Wilkes
Round 10: 2 – Dennis Armfield, Gavin Urquhart
Round 11: 3 – Tom Bellchambers, James Hawksley, Callan Ward
Round 12: 2 – Andy Otten, Brent Renouf
Round 13: 4 – Jarryd Allen, Tom Collier, Robert Eddy, Ben McEvoy
Round 14: 2 – Josh Head, Stefan Martin
Round 15: 1 – Todd Goldstein
Round 16: 2 – Bradd Dalziell, Matthew O’Dwyer
Round 17: 1 – Addam Maric
Round 18: 5 – Ryan Brabazon, Scott Clouston, Mitch Farmer, Nick Salter, Patrick Veszpremi
Round 19: 4 – Chris Dawes, Rhys Magin, John McCarthy, Ryan Williams
Round 20: 3 – Patrick Dangerfield, Tony Notte, Matthew Westhoff
Round 21: 3 – Pearce Hanley, Cale Hooker, Marlon Motlop
Round 22: 3 – Jack Grimes, Sam Reid, John Williams

2007 AFL season debuts by round
Round 1: 13 – Mitchell Brown, Matt Campbell, Adam Cockshell, Alwyn Davey, Xavier Ellis, Bryce Gibbs, Jonathon Griffin, Lachie Hansen, Leroy Jetta, Nathan Krakouer, Matt Riggio, Joel Selwood, Lindsay Thomas
Round 2: 3 – Tom Hawkins, Travis Varcoe, Daniel Nicholls
Round 3: 4 – Shannon Cox, Brad Dick, Clinton Jones, Alan Toovey
Round 4: 5 – Joe Anderson, Shane Edwards, Jarrod Harbrow, Jake King, Tom Williams
Round 5: 3 – Leigh Adams, Colin Garland, Ricky Petterd
Round 6: 4 – Kieren Jack, Robert Warnock, John Hinge, Ross Young
Round 7: 2 – Bachar Houli, Garry Moss
Round 8: 5 – David Armitage, Tyson Goldsack, Brad Howard, Scott McMahon, Justin Sweeney
Round 9: 4 – James Frawley, Adam Hartlett, Jack Riewoldt, Clayton Collard
Round 10: 3 – Robbie Gray, Chris Schmidt, Justin Westhoff
Round 11: 2 – Garrick Ibbotson, Danny Stanley
Round 12: 4 – Travis Boak, Marty Clarke, Malcolm Lynch, Albert Proud
Round 13: 4 – Matthew Laidlaw, Michael Newton, Ben Reid, Daniel Dzufer
Round 14: 6 – Simon Buckley, Andrejs Everitt, Shaun Grigg, Tom Hislop, Matthew Leuenberger, Will Hamill
Round 15: 3 – Eric MacKenzie, Ben McKinley, Mitch Thorp
Round 16: 2 – Matt Little, Djaran Whyman
Round 17: 8 – Bryce Campbell, Daniel Connors, Nick Gill, Scott Gumbleton, Josh Hill, Will Schofield, Stephen Tiller, Travis Tuck
Round 18: 3 – Ryan Cook, Angus Graham, Michael Jamison
Round 19: 3 – Andrew Foster, Kyle Reimers, Jace Bode
Round 20: 3 – Ed Barlow, Heath Hocking, John Meesen
Round 21: 2 – Shaun Hampson, Jamie McNamara
Round 22: 3 – Mark Austin, Jay Neagle, Brock O’Brien

Prior to that – I won’t list them all because this post could get rather boring rather quickly – here are the first five round of debuts.

2006: 9,1,2,0,6
2005: 9,2,6,4,3
2004: 10,2,5,3,4
2003: 9,1,1,3,2
2002: 10,3,2,1,3

The major change to which I can attribute this change in the last two years is that clubs were made aware of the compromised drafts from 2009 onwards due to the introduction of the Gold Coast GC17 side, and have concentrated on developing their youth earlier and earlier to ensure they won’t be left with a depleted list in the next few years. That dynamic will only accelerate this year with the rookie concessions, especially after round 10.

It is interesting to drill down into the round 1 debuts to get an idea of the distribution from each tier of the previous drafts. In 2008, only two of the first-round picks from the 2007 draft got a game in the opening round, with a further five of them waiting until round two. In 2007 the corresponding figures were four in round 1 (plus the priority pick Jetta at the end of the first round of draft picks) and none in the second round. Seven of the 13 debuts in round 1 of 2008 were by players picked in previous drafts, while in 2007 that number was three. In each year there was one rookie draftee – Stokes and Campbell – while Cockshell bobbed up from the preseason draft in 2007.

So if we are on track for another 13 debuts in round 1 this year, which is not unreasonable to assume, who will be the half dozen others in addition to the seven I’ve already nominated? I’ve already named four first-rounders from the 2008 draft so based on historical records I probably should look outside there. Favourites in my mind would be: Dan McKenna, Dayne Beams, Jason Davenport, Taylor Walker, Jared Petrenko, Nick Suban, Greg Broughton and Wade Thompson. Michael Hurley would increase the first-rounder average, but he comes into calculation as well.

There’s no guarantees on how many there will be, of course, and all those round 2 debuts last year are a bit of a worry for fantasy coaches who don’t want to miss out on this year’s Palmer or Taylor. Give us your predictions on the number of debuts and who they will be in the comments.



  1. stevo

    February 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    i reckon 10 definate

    hill, robinson, swift, grant, yarran (but he will get dropped when stevens, carrazo, scotland come back), rich, zeibel, suban, walker, thompson

    maybe another few in hartlet, beams, petrenko
    which would make 13

    hogan wont make the 22 coz geeling will field an experienced team for round 1 v hawthorn

  2. Greg

    February 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Agree that you’ve been pretty conservative with the first round debuts- But its better to be cautious then WRONG!
    Plus it’s a good way to throw off the DT pretenders 🙂
    I’d say there won’t be huge numbers though given that the majority of top picks were more key position/utility types.
    There is still plenty of room for 2nd year rookies like Cheney or even third year types like Hogan

  3. Barnsy

    February 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Did Isaac Weetra begin his illustrious debut for the dees in rd1 last year?

    Rance no chance for rd 1?

  4. Dan

    February 27, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Who will Swift replace? Fletcher?

  5. mitch

    February 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Isnt Wade Thompson a rookie. If not I’m getting him. When will Ballantyne play?

  6. stevo

    February 27, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    he could replace fletcher, rosa is injured
    he will probly spend a bit of time on the bench and be used in rotation
    could play off the flanks too
    he’s very highly rated and with draft concessions going to the likes of GC17 the eagles will develop him

  7. bomber man

    February 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Sam Lonegan of Essendon played round last year and im pretty sure that was his first game. It doesnt surprise me that you forgot him though as he seemed to slip under the rookie radar last year as he never gets mentioned along with the Rioli’s & Palmers as the 2007 ‘moneymakers’…. you only have to look at his price this year to realise how well he averaged.

  8. m0nty

    February 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Lonergan played one game in 2006, bomber man.

  9. m0nty

    February 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    mitch, Wade Thompson is a rookie but Trengove has been put on the LTI list so there’s a spot open for a rookie elevation.

  10. Superfist

    February 27, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I also think Swift is a big chance. Fletcher has already said this is his last year so I wonder why the Eagles would bother persisting with him. Embley is a chance to miss a couple of games. Also Brisbane have a lot of small/medium players to WC may pick a side to match that.

  11. bomber man

    February 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Ok my bad… seems you know more about my team than i do, then again you seem you know more about Adelaide than most of their fans on here do. Awesome job on site!! for the amount of criticism you recieve you dont get enough credit. If i win the 55g i’ll have to shout you a beer!

  12. mitch

    February 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Will we see Ballantyne, Sidebottom or Gumbleton in the first 3 rounds because there are all in my side.

    Or should i upgrade one of them and get rid of one for Beams??????

  13. Simon

    February 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    What this highlights to me that if you pick a rookie of genuine class and is around the mark, they’ll play in the first couple of rounds. No need for the last minutes rush…

  14. wal

    February 27, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I’ll go with Rich, Robinson, Swift , Beams, Ziebell, Hill, Grant, Walker, Rance, Petrenko, Nahas, Schoenmakers, Hogan & Hurley. 14 & a new record!

  15. freo man

    February 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    mark harvey said ballantyne won’t play round 1.

  16. stevo

    February 27, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    anyone know if jake spencer is eligible for round 1

  17. John

    February 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Spencer is impressing apparently giving the demons a selection headache according to the Herald Sun, and if Jamar is still injured assume his a chance.

    Can anyone else throw up a likely ruck debut in the under 150,000 department

  18. Max Power

    February 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Spencer is on the rookie list. Do the Dees have a spot open?

  19. m0nty

    February 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    No Max.

  20. James

    February 28, 2009 at 2:31 pm


  21. dub's$men

    February 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    is there a website where you can see who the rookiees are and whether their club has spots available for rookies..?

  22. m0nty

    February 28, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Dubsmen: this link should help.


    Sydney and Port Adelaide have one extra spot available due to long term injuries (Barry and Trengove).

  23. CC

    March 1, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Jesse White from Sydney would be a good bench ruckman I would think. Should get a few games.

  24. Muppett

    March 1, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Melbourne could put Meesen on LTI (He is semi-retarded after all) and elevate the Spence 🙂

  25. Roger

    March 2, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Is there any websites to look at nab challenge match statistics? I have checked a few website and have found the bests but no stats.

  26. ETOH

    March 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    roger theres a fantasy freako email with stast from nabchallenge

  27. peppers

    March 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    It’s interesting that two of the best rookies last year (palmer and taylor) debuted in R2 last year

  28. Roger

    March 2, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks Etoh. I just signed up for the email. Is there anyway i can get a copy of this weeks email though? Is it published anywhere? thanks mate

  29. Kaizen

    March 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    No emails yet Rog, expect first one as early as this Wednesday. As soon as they are out though you’ll know cause the numbers will get plastered everywhere!

  30. christoff

    March 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    hey guys what u think of dangerfeild chances of playing round 1?

  31. Muppet Executioner

    March 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Dangerfield wont play R1

  32. Tommy Mid

    March 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    so will john meesen stand any chance of a gig?

    also did nick suban play on the weekend because if he has any chance of playing rd 1 hey better play sooner rather than later.

  33. Adam 1.0

    March 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I was at the game on the weekend Meesen was well better than Spencer. Both of them beat Pyke – despite what Roos thinks – but while Meesen almost broke even with Jolly, Spencer was absolutely destroyed by him.

    Our entire club is on drugs though so who knows. Dean Irving will probably get a game.

  34. Go Hawks

    March 2, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Scott Lucas??? What are peoples thoughts??

    Looked rubbish on the weekend but is very well priced.

  35. Dan

    March 3, 2009 at 1:42 am

    He looks like last years Lucas 🙁

    It is early days, but I’m definitely not sold at the moment

    I have had him in my prototype teams for a long time, but I have removed him from my latest team

    See if he can redeem himself in the next two matches…

  36. steve

    March 3, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Hey Guys what do you think, should i take skipworth as a forward or a middle man. i currently have him as my 5th forward ?? due to lack of forward rookies thanks

  37. Muppett

    March 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Lack of forward rookies? You’d be joikn’….Gumby, Walker, Brown, Grant, Ballantyne, Ziebell, Yarran

  38. steve

    March 3, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Muppett, I have ziebell in the middle and Grant as a forward.gumbleton, yarran, brown,and walker are only bench warmers and have not shown ANYTHING !! and Ballantyne is injured. So you may need to investigate a little more hey !

  39. jazz

    March 4, 2009 at 1:30 am

    steve it depends on the balance of your team to me. if you have too many rookies in the mids put him there. i have him in the midfield, as I already have ~200k forwards in higgins and veszpremi so I put skippy in the mids to balance it out a little. just my opinion tho.

  40. Disco (UK)

    March 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Midfield cash cows are a dime a dozen. I suggest you slot Skippy and Z-bel up forward. A rookie mid will pop up during the season or R1. I think the more mid style players you can fit in your team, the better.


    March 4, 2009 at 10:59 am

    With Warnock injured and the fact that the Blues have not veterens, what are the thoughts on Sam Jabobs coming in ???
    He has reportedly impressed down there and is on his 3rd rookie year at the Blues..

  42. christoff

    March 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    malcolm lynch from the dogs what u guys think of him as a bench player? u think he will get many game this yr? and back to dangerfeild is it worth spending the extra 30k to get him?

  43. mitch

    March 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    McIntosh or Ottens as second ruck?

  44. Heater

    March 4, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Christoff, Eade has said Lynch is likely to get game time this year; when that will be is probably the key question. He is a KPP (I think) so perhaps he may be fighting for a spot with J.Grant? Not sure.

    Got my doubts Dangerfield will play especially if van Berlo is right for Rd1.

  45. Disco (UK)

    March 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    M.Lynch is a small forward and aboriginal:

  46. christoff

    March 4, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    im stressing over the first yr players i dont know who to pick coz i’ve got a few on the feild aswell so its really important i pick the 1’s that will play round 1. i’ve got 1 rookie in the back 2 in the mid and 2 up forward! suggestions would b great on other peoples thoughts u guys seem to know more about these things than me!

  47. benson

    March 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    whats the go with zac dawson is he going to get a game at all this year would be handy back at the hawks with there injurys at the moment

  48. Sleepwalk

    March 8, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Hi guys, as a Supercoach rookie I just want to say this is a great site with a stack of invaluable information. Thanks!

    For what it’s worth my feelings on the bench players are –

    Forwards: Injured or not, Ballantyne is great value as a developed and proven player in a team that’s a little short of forward firepower (notwithstanding Pav), especially considering plans to try Chris Tarrant in the back line this year.

    Rats is on record as saying Yarran is integral to plans for a dual-small forward attack to take some pressure off Fev, and Sidebottom looks pretty good to me so far, especially in a team well known for rotating its younger players early.

    Rucks: Always hard because the big kids need a lot of development time. Unfortunate that Nic Nat ended up at WC, one of three sides (with Swans and North) that are low percentage chances for first year players getting game time. Save your money and don’t take him – he is not this year’s Kruizer. J. Trengove and Z. Clarke are some sort of chance for game time.

    Midfielders: Easy enough to imagine a few getting game time here (eg. Swift) – harder to pick $94k SC prospects. I like Beams a lot and think the gutsy sort of in and under type he is will appeal to his coach. Mick Malthouse loves a goer and I think he’ll reward this guy with an early start. Swift at WC is problematic because of his team and injury concerns, but he looks fantastic too.

    Backs: S. Hill is really expensive but should play. Remember if Petterd is fit he’s only 40k more expensive. Hawthorn may throw up a smokey with the way their injuries are early – your choice of who, maybe Lisle. Post from Richmond is a chance too. Really, I’d be hoping someone – anyone was named early enough in the final teams on that horrible split round one to allow time for their inclusion.

  49. Pauly Walnuts

    March 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Sleepwalk “J. Trengove and Z. Clarke are some sort of chance for game time.”

    Trengove on Long Term Injury list, read previous posts mate.

  50. dimmy

    March 11, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    who are the best rookies/cheap players with potential to pick up for dreamteam???

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