ONE OF the highlights of having a full, uninterrupted draft campaign last year was the ability for under-17 players to press their claims well in advance of their own draft dates.
It is why recruiters, fresh from completing the NAB AFL Draft in November, are already contemplating the talent pool for this coming season.
And so are we. It looks an exciting squad of prospects of a diverse range of types at the top end, with some obvious standouts on show already.
Here are 10 prospects (in alphabetical order) to watch that will capture plenty of attention throughout 2023.
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
The nephew of Richmond's dual premiership player Josh had good exposure at under-18 level last year with the Northern Knights and Vic Metro. He can play as a marking forward, with his aerial strength catching the eye, and he also shows great athleticism in his movement around the ground.
The tall defender missed out on playing for Western Australia in the under-18 championships through injury but returned late in the year with Claremont and also featured in the NAB AFL Futures game on Grand Final day at the MCG. He was judged best afield that game after compiling 20 disposals and eight marks in a controlling display.
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
Duursma pieced together a brilliant highlights reel last year, kicking 31 goals from 14 games for Gippsland and also showing his talents for Vic Country and in under-17s futures games. The younger brother of Port Adelaide's Xavier is a different player – a taller marking forward who can leap, outrun and kick goals from everywhere, which he often showed. Duursma is a unique blend of traits that will have recruiters watching him as a potential top-five pick in 2023.
Peel Thunder/Western Australia
Edwards got a taste of things for Western Australia and at his size and athleticism shapes as big watch for clubs this year. Edwards played in Peel Thunder's WAFL colts premiership side and should be a dominant player in his draft season, and he can get around the ground and have a say on things too.
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
The grandson of Hawthorn great Graham Arthur, Lorenz finished his season showing his poise with a polished display on Grand Final day in the under-17s futures game. Can weave through traffic, run well and also use his pinpoint left-foot kicking to create the play in the midfield.
A classy player who performed well for Tasmania last season, averaging 23 disposals and four tackles. His sharp kicking under pressure, classy hands and ability to move through congested spaces caught the eye and he shapes as one of the midfielders who could dominate this year.
Another player who has shown he is capable of the sublime. Moir kicked 30 goals from 10 games for Glenelg's under-18 side and has an exciting leap and goes for his marks. He's also an outstanding kick on both his right and left feet, making the difficult look easy around goal. Moir's best game of the championships came against Western Australia when he kicked four goals.
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country
If Reid was available in last year's draft, even as a 17-year-old, there's every chance he would have been the No.1 pick. That's how good his bottom-aged year was in 2022, with the versatile prospect playing in the back half for Vic Country and as a midfielder/forward for Bendigo in the NAB League. He made the under-18 All-Australian team and is a strong-marking, bullocking player who plays the game in a fun, aggressive, skilful manner.
Gold Coast Academy/Allies
Walter was named in the under-18 All Australian team after kicking multiple goals in three carnival matches for the Allies and finishing with nine goals for the championships. The powerful key forward shapes as one of the most promising talls in the 2023 pool – he's aggressive, can take a pack mark and has a presence near goal. He is tied to Gold Coast, who will get first access to Walter through its Academy.
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
The 'Wizard' Watson delighted last year with his skills as a small forward. He kicked 18 goals from seven games in the NAB League, including nine goals in the first two rounds, and also featured prominently in Vic Metro's under-18 carnival win. Watson kicks goals from all angles, is classy and crafty inside-50, has speed off the mark, can jump on heads and gets in the face of opponents in true small forward style.