Box Hill graduates (L-R) Ryan Maric, Jai Newcombe, Max Hall. Pictures: AFL Photos

NO STATE league club is having more success at this than the Box Hill Hawks. 

Since the AFL introduced the pre-season supplemental selection period at the end of 2018 and reintroduced the Mid-Season Rookie Draft in 2019, the VFL club has helped 10 players land in the AFL. 

Max Hall became the latest player when St Kilda selected him at pick No.4 on Wednesday night, following a stunning surge in form across the past two months. 

The 22-year-old became a permanent fixture in the VFL last year, playing 15 games for Box Hill, but things changed this year. Recruiters watched the Eastern Ranges product during a seven-game burst where he averaged 23.6 disposals and had a couple of standout performances that demanded attention. 

Jai Newcombe is the poster boy of Box Hill's VFL program – and one of the success stories of the Mid-Season Rookie Draft – finishing runner-up in the past two Peter Crimmins Medals, as well as being named in the 44-man All-Australian squad last year at the end of his second full season. 

Hawthorn has added six other players to its list via its alignment with Box Hill during this period – Ned Reeves (SSP), Lachie Bramble (SSP), James Blanck (MSD), Clay Tucker (MSD) and Ethan Phillips (SSP) – including former Western Bulldogs forward Fergus Greene, who was signed as a delisted free agent at the end of 2022. 

James Blanck and Lachie Bramble (middle) with Jarman Impey (L) and James Worpel (R) after the R10 match between Hawthorn and West Coast at UTAS Stadium on May 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fremantle signed Ethan Stanley via Box Hill this time last year, while Ryan Maric also played some games for the club before West Coast selected him at pick No.1 in the 2023 mid-season draft. 

Before Sam Mitchell became a four-time premiership player at Hawthorn – and two decades before he became the Hawks' senior coach – the Mooroolbark product played for Box Hill after being overlooked in the 2000 National Draft, despite winning back-to-back best and fairests at the Eastern Ranges.  

Mitchell became the first of 37 AFL graduates out of Box Hill's alignment with Hawthorn when the Hawks selected him at pick No.36 in the 2001 draft, after the club chose another iconic figure in Luke Hodge with the first overall pick. 

"The Box Hill connection is fantastic because of what it has been able to do from a development sense," Mitchell told after Hall's selection on Wednesday night. 

Sam Mitchell during his playing days with Box Hill. Picture: Box Hill Hawks

"Everyone talks about Jai Newcombe as a really key person that has come out of Box Hill, but I always look at James Blanck as well. He actually developed and improved a lot as a player during his time at Box Hill. 

"Max Hall is the same. What he was when he first got to Box Hill compared to what he is when he leaves Box Hill and heads to the Saints, I think the development he had as a player shows the alignment and what they are doing is fantastic. 

"It was pleasing that we were able to get another player drafted from the program. I was rapt for Maxxy."

Max Hall during the round nine VFL match between Box Hill and Southport at Box Hill City Oval, May 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

While Williamstown and Port Melbourne were both integral in the development of Bramble and Phillips before they landed a gig at Hawthorn, their decision to move to Box Hill during that pre-season put them under the noses of the Hawks, paving the way for them to secure AFL contracts. 

Former Hawthorn rookie Ned Long also played predominantly at Box Hill but was delisted at the end of last year, before joining Collingwood's VFL program where his early-season form was rewarded this week with a spot on the Magpies' AFL list. 

Four other VFL players – Saad El-Hawli (Northern Bullants), Jack Hutchinson (Collingwood), Cooper Lord (North Melbourne) and Campbell Gray (Essendon) - were selected on Wednesday night.

Woodville-West Torrens has also produced a stack of AFL talent across the SSP and Mid-Season Rookie Draft era, including Tyson Stengle who resurrected his football career with the Eagles before being signed by Geelong as a delisted free agent in 2021. 

Luke Beecken became the latest when Brisbane selected the 23-year-old defender with its second pick on Wednesday night, joining Mitch Hardie (Geelong), Cooper Sharman (St Kilda) and Zane Williams (Geelong) as WWT mid-season recruits. 

Rhyan Mansell (Richmond), Jack Hayes (St Kilda) and James Tsitas (Gold Coast) have also landed in the AFL via the SSP after playing at Woodville Oval and remain in the system. 

Jack Hayes, playing for Woodville West-Torrens, battles with West Adelaide's Jade Cleeland in the SANFL in 2021. Picture: David Mariuz/SANFL

Footscray has also had a lot of success, with Caleb Poulter, Tony Scott and Ryan Gardner all earning a shot with the AFL program at the Whitten Oval, while Lachie Sullivan (Collingwood), Jordan Boyd (Carlton) and Kyle Dunkley (Melbourne) have all risen to the next level. 

Down the road, Williamstown has helped Michael Gibbons (Carlton), Kallan Dawson (North Melbourne), Marty Hore (Melbourne), Oscar McDonald (Fremantle) and Mitchell Cox (Brisbane) get AFL deals, during a period where Charlie Dean (Collingwood) has also been recruited via the rookie draft.

WAFL club East Fremantle has produced four AFL recruits in this period, including Brynn Teakle who became the first player to be selected twice in the Mid-Season Rookie Draft – Port Adelaide in 2022 and North Melbourne in 2024. 

SANFL sides Glenelg and West Adelaide – who have produced three Collingwood players in John Noble, Josh Carmichael and Oscar Steene – have also had four recruits each. 

While this year's Mid-Season Rookie Draft was being held, Hall was on the farm in Yea, where the family run beef and lamb over 10,000 acres of land. Life has changed dramatically for the Box Hill product since then.