Torrens University SA U18 National Championships players Will McCabe, Jack Delean and Tyler Welsh. (Picture – AFL Photos)

Hawthorn fans will be rapt to have watched the emergence of father-son prospect Will McCabe this year, with the Central District key defender arguably the leading name out of South Australia for 2023.

The 197cm intercept backman is the son of 138-time Hawthorn representative Luke, who was positioned at Waverley for a decade between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

Having since crossed back to South Australia, McCabe's son Will has developed with the Bulldogs through the SANFL development pathways and with Tanunda at the grassroots level.

McCabe would earn an U16 All-Australian selection as a promising talent for the croweaters, possessing an ability to play in a key position role at either end of the field.

While McCabe is perhaps better suited as a secondary tall defender who can influence the aerial contest with his leaping and intercept capabilities, the potential Hawks draftee can be swung forward as a damaging target in the front half of the field also.

His close-out speed in defence and physicality have him highly rated, with McCabe able to show off his best traits across a trio of appearances at the National Championships this year for SA in what was a smaller backline that required the teenager to take on some of this year's leading key forwards.

McCabe would also feature in a reserves-level hitout for Central District this year, collecting 13 possessions, 10 marks and three rebound 50s while showing off his clean ball movement with a disposal efficiency rating of 85%.

He tallied nine games for the Bulldogs' U18s side, averaging 21.8 disposals and 5.9 marks per game in a campaign spent at both ends of the field.

His versatility as a potential swingman option, coupled with his height and building frame, could have McCabe drawing comparisons to the likes of Essendon recruit Ben McKay, Collingwood's Billy Frampton, and Richmond's Ben Miller.

At the time of writing, McCabe is yet to confirm his allegiance to Hawthorn as a father-son prospect but is expected to link up with the Hawks at next month's National Draft.

South Australian draft prospect Will McCabe (Image by Rookie Me Central)

Position: Key Defender
Height:
197cm
Weight: 86kg
State: South Australia
Club: Tanunda

Strengths

Vertical
Intercepting
Close Out Speed
Flexibility

Draft Range

Pick 15-25

Potential Landing Spots

Hawthorn (F/S selection)

AFL Comparisons

Ben McKay
Billy Frampton
Ben Miller

Expert comments

"Super athletic. His ability to leap at the ball, get it at its highest point and then take off as well. He's got a pretty good, long right foot kick. He's got really good speed as well." - Rookie Me Central's Michael Alvaro