Lachie Sullivan during Collingwood's intraclub match on February 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

MATURE-AGE recruit Lachie Sullivan will make his debut against Carlton on Friday night, just 10 weeks after being signed by Collingwood at the end of the pre-season supplemental selection period.

The 26-year-old was considering a return to local football after being overlooked in last November's AFL and Rookie Drafts, before the Magpies offered him the opportunity to trial for a rookie contract across the summer.

Now the 180cm inside midfielder will play his first AFL game against the likes of Carlton stars Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh in front of a crowd forecast to exceed 90,000 people at the MCG.


Sullivan has been one of the best players in the VFL across the past few seasons, winning the 2022 and 2023 best and fairest awards at Footscray, where Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was an admirer.

The St Kevin's College product won the Coaches MVP Award last year after averaging 30.9 disposals and 7.9 clearances, finished third in the J.J. Liston Trophy and was named captain in the VFL team of the year.

Despite that form, AFL clubs chose not to sign him, although Essendon expressed interested in him ahead of the 2022 Mid-Season Rookie Draft but he wasn't eligible due to not nominating for the previous draft.

Collingwood considered Sullivan for last Thursday's Anzac Day blockbuster against Essendon due to the short turnaround between games, holding him out of the VFL the previous weekend, but opted to promote Harvey Harrison instead.

But with Jordan De Goey (groin) and Tom Mitchell (foot) both ruled out of the game against the Blues, Craig McRae told Sullivan on Wednesday afternoon that he would play on Friday night.

Sullivan will become the second player this season to debut after his 26th birthday, following Geelong midfielder-forward Shaun Mannagh.

Richmond forward Mykelti Lefau and North Melbourne key defender Toby Pink both landed a shot at the age of 25 earlier this year.