ANOTHER northern Academy product will make his AFL debut on Friday night.

But unlike Sydney's Isaac Heeney, Greater Western Sydney's Jacob Hopper or Gold Coast's Jack Bowes, Brisbane Academy graduate Will Martyn will do so for another club.

Captain of the Lions' program in 2019, the Aspley product was also named the team's most valuable player before being overlooked at the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.

Martyn, 20, has since won plaudits at the Tigers with his aggressive approach, even flattening captain Trent Cotchin in a notable pre-season session this summer.

And now the hard-nosed midfielder will run out alongside Cotchin in the Tigers' blockbuster with Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

Will Martyn in action during the 2021 AAMI Community Series match between Collingwood and Richmond at Marvel Stadium on March 5, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Martyn joined fellow Lions Academy member Noah Cumberland as a Tiger at the end of 2019 with the Lions opting not to match bids on either player. The pair followed in the footsteps of teammate Mabior Chol as another the Brisbane Academy member not taken by the Lions.

Tigers ruck prospect Samson Ryan, taken as a 20-year-old last year, was also part of the Brisbane Academy as a junior but was ineligible to be selected by the Lions with his family's late move north ruling him out on a zoning technicality.

The Lions have had a host of successful stories stemming from their Academy, including All-Australian Harris Andrews and emerging forward Eric Hipwood.

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But the stories of Martyn, Chol and Cumberland highlight the growing talent pool in the northern markets that has spilled out to other clubs and is only expected to continue.

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New South Wales, ACT and Queensland have supplied 11.2 per cent of new AFL talent since 2012, up from 8.4 per cent in the preceding 15 years.

Brisbane and Sydney Academies were set-up in 2005, with Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney programs following in line with their entry into the competition. 

A total of 42 current players on AFL lists were selected direct from northern Academies, but each of the four clubs have a story of others who snuck through.

Port Adelaide pounced when Greater Western Sydney opted to pass on key talls Dougal Howard and Logan Austin at the 2014 NAB AFL Draft due to a lack of list sizes.

Both were later traded to St Kilda, and while Austin was delisted at the end of last year, Howard has become one of Saints' most reliable players and is now joint vice-captain.

Carlton forward Michael Gibbons was also tied to the GWS Academy as part of an intake that included now-Blues gun Zac Williams but was overlooked before starring in the VFL and winning his way into the AFL.

Circled: Zac Williams and Michael Gibbons representing the UWS GIANTS in 2012. Picture:

And speedster Harry Cunningham has a similar story to tell as a member of the Giants program snapped up by the Swans.

Luke Parks, 19, who debuted for Carlton last week, was part of Sydney's program – seen as the benchmark of the northern Academies – but was passed and won a spot at the Blues in December after spending 2020 with Glenelg in the SANFL.

Carlton development boss Luke Power had a link to Parks after coaching him in the under-18 Allies system and Blues recruiting boss Michael Agresta saw him at Sydney in his former job at the Swans.

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Jack Buckley graduated from the Swans' program, and after time away from football, was rookie-listed by the Giants after impressing at local level in Sydney.

And Townsville local Braydon Preuss was overlooked by Gold Coast before being selected by North Melbourne at the 2015 Rookie Draft and now calls Greater Western Sydney home with a stint at Melbourne in between.

Braydon Preuss at training in February. Picture: Getty Images / AFL Photos

The Suns also had North Melbourne's Bailey Scott as part of their program. However, he opted to join the Roos where his father Robert won a premiership, after he was given the choice of the Suns, Roos or Geelong, where his dad played 132 games.

Adelaide's Elliott Himmelberg was once part of Brisbane's Academy but ineligible after a late move north, with his older brother Harry one of 10 current Giants who came through the GWS Academy.

Elsewhere, West Coast's Jarrod Brander, Melbourne's Charlie Spargo and Hawthorn's Jacob Koschitzke were graduates of the GWS Academy only for zoning boundaries to change, ruling them out of a direct passage to the AFL's newest club.

And in a sense of irony, Gold Coast's Lachie Weller was an early member of the Suns' Academy, but having only moved north from Tasmania at 15, was ineligible to be taken as a priority selection at the 2014 NAB AFL Draft. Instead, he spent three years at Fremantle and requested a trade to the Suns at the end of 2017.


Eligible players selected by other clubs: Harry Cunningham (Sydney), Ryan Garthwaite (Richmond), Dougal Howard (Port Adelaide), Michael Gibbons (Carlton)

Current listed Giants Academy products: Kieren Briggs, Isaac Cumming, Jeremy Finlayson, Matthew Flynn, Tom Green, Harry Himmelberg, Jacob Hopper, Harry Perryman, Nick Shipley, Zach Sproule

Selected Academy Giants now at other clubs: Matt Kennedy (Carlton), Will Setterfield (Carlton), Jack Steele (St Kilda), Zac Williams (Carlton)


Eligible players selected by other clubs: Mabior Chol (Richmond), Noah Cumberland (Richmond), Will Martyn (Richmond)

Current listed Lions Academy products: Harris Andrews, Connor Ballenden, Blake Coleman, Keidean Coleman, Eric Hipwood, Connor McFayden, Carter Michael, Jack Payne, Archie Smith, Tom Fullarton (Academy product who played basketball in between)

Selected Academy Lions now at other clubs: Ben Keays (Adelaide)


Eligible players selected by other clubs: Luke Parks (Carlton), Ben Davis (Adelaide), Jack Buckley (Greater Western Sydney)

Current listed Swans Academy products: James Bell, Nick Blakey, Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Sam Naismith, Marc Sheather, Sam Wicks


Eligible players selected by other clubs: Braydon Preuss (North Melbourne)

Current listed Suns Academy products: Jack Bowes, Connor Budarick, Matt Conroy, Alex Davies, Aiden Fyfe, Caleb Graham, Joel Jeffrey, Patrick Murtagh, Rhys Nicholls, Lachie Weller*

*Was part of the club's Academy but wasn't selected as an Academy pick