THE YOUTH driving Melbourne's rise up the AFL ranks this season has been recognised on Tuesday night, with five Demons youngsters selected in the AFL Players' Association's 22under22 squad.

Melbourne and Gold Coast each have five players named in the 40-man group, the most of any teams in the competition, with the squad selected by members of the AFLPA with input from Champion Data.

NAB AFL Rising Star favourite Luke Jackson heads the list of Demons to make the cut, with Harrison Petty, Kysaiah Pickett, Trent Rivers and James Jordon also acknowledged among the best talent under the age of 22 years.


The Suns (Charlie Ballard, Wil Powell, Jack Lukosius, Noah Anderson and Ben King) have also been rewarded with five players selected, while the Swans (Tom McCartin, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney and Errol Gulden) have four players picked.

Carlton jet Sam Walsh and Western Bulldogs key forward Aaron Naughton are the only two players gunning for their third consecutive selections in the 22under22 side, with 12 squad members already named in previous teams.

Carlton's Sam Walsh in action against Geelong in round 17, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong is the only club without a nominee within the 40-man squad, with a host of teams (including Carlton, Essendon, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast) all having just one player selected.

This season will be the ninth that the AFLPA has run the 22under22 side, with Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli holding the record for the most selections with five between 2014-18 (including three as captain in 2016, 2017 and 2018).

Western Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli celebrates a goal against Melbourne in round 15, 2014. Picture: AFL Photos

The squad is decided based on the best players in the competition aged either 22 or under for the entirety of the season, with only those who have played a minimum of 12 games in the 2021 campaign eligible to be included.

Supporters have the opportunity to decide on the final team and can vote here, with voting open between August 11-18. The final 22under22 side will be officially unveiled on August 24.

The 2021 AFL Players Association 22under22 squad

Jordon Butts (Adel), Brandon Starcevich (BL), Isaac Quaynor (Coll), Jordan Ridley (Ess), Charlie Ballard (GC), Wil Powell (GC), Sam Taylor (GWS), Changkuoth Jiath (Haw), Harrison Petty (Melb), Trent Rivers (Melb), Tom McCartin (Syd)

Sam Walsh (Carl), Josh Daicos (Coll), Adam Cerra (Frem), Andrew Brayshaw (Frem), Caleb Serong (Frem), Jack Lukosius (GC), Noah Anderson (GC), Tom Green (GWS), James Worpel (Haw), James Jordon (Melb), Luke Davies-Uniacke (NM), Willem Drew (PA), Shai Bolton (Rich), James Rowbottom (Syd), Justin McInerney (Syd), Bailey Smith (WB)

Harry Schoenberg (Adel), Zac Bailey (BL), Ben King (GC), Dylan Moore (Haw), Kysaiah Pickett (Melb), Jaidyn Stephenson (NM), Tarryn Thomas (NM), Mitchell Georgiades (PA), Max King (StK), Errol Gulden (Syd), Aaron Naughton (WB)

Luke Jackson (Melb), Oscar Allen (WC)