With the draft and trade frenzy coming to an end, clubs will be placing their attention toward pre-season training, while new recruits look to start the next chapter of their careers.

Players will be looking to impress coaches in the coming months on the track, whether it be through gruelling time trials or skill drills.

Others are hoping for an uninterrupted pre-season following a long injury battle through 2022, while the younger cohort at each club will be hoping to take major strides prior to the new year.


Izak Rankine

One of the biggest signings this off-season was Adelaide's acquisition of Izak Rankine in an $800k per year deal. The 22-year-old is one of the most exciting young players in the competition but is yet to show the consistent form that a contract like this typically warrants.

While Adelaide are still rebuilding with a young list, they are at a stage where they should start climbing the ladder and show signs of their potential. Rankine himself is at a similar stage; young, loaded with potential and ready to establish himself.

Adelaide's Izak Rankine during the 2023 AFL pre-season (Image: Adelaide Crows Twitter)

If he can improve his fitness to a midfielder's level while improving his forward craft and strength further, Crows fans could watch him take the league by storm very soon.

Other: Riley Thilthorpe


Cam Rayner

Rayner showed glimpses of superstardom this season with career highs across the board and some notable performances, including a four-goal best-on-ground performance against St Kilda in Round 22.

Rayner impacts matches forward of centre like a Dustin Martin-type and is explosive out of the midfield. If he can improve his running capacity and defensive accountability, he is another player who could shake the competition and become an All-Australian in 2023.

Cameron Rayner during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

After one of the best off-seasons in AFL history, Brisbane are ready to chase a premiership within the next few years and the rise of Cam Rayner could be the difference between a premiership and a finals exit.

Other: Eric Hipwood


Mitch McGovern

McGovern has never quite reached the potential that many thought he was capable of at the Crows as a spine player. He showed glimpses as a forward before finding a more suitable role in defence at Carlton. He has had a poor run with health in recent seasons but is primed for a full 2023 preseason.

(L-R): Carlton's Tom De Koning, Mitch McGovern, Sam Durdin and Alex Mirkov during the 2023 AFL pre-season (Image: Carlton FC Twitter)

If he too can improve his endurance and establish his role within the Blues back six, he should become a consistent intercepter and contribute to Carlton's finals hopes in a major way.

Other: Adam Cerra


Jordan De Goey

De Goey resurrected his diminishing reputation this season with some stellar finals performances which saw Collingwood come one kick short of a fairy-tale grand final appearance.

Like Cam Rayner, De Goey is a forward-of-centre contributor who hasn't been able to string together a consistent All-Australian level season.

Nick Daicos and Jordan De Goey during Collingwood training, September 15, 2022. (Photo by Jake Benoiton)

It's a trend on this list but he is another player who would benefit from improving his tank and increasing his capacity to perform week in and week out. De Goey has the potential to reach the level of a Christian Petracca-like player and help Collingwood inflict major damage in their premiership window.

Other: Daniel McStay


Andrew McGrath

The former number one draft pick has struggled to take his game to the elite level while his side face perpetual struggles, but a fresh start under new coach Brad Scott could assist his development.

He rose steadily into his best year in 2020 where he averaged 22.1 disposals and 4.8 tackles in shortened quarters, but hasn't been able to reach this level since.

AFL Rd 9 - Essendon v Brisbane
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 31: Andrew McGrath of the Bombers handballs during the round nine AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium on July 31, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The Bombers success relies on improvements all around the ground, but this preseason will be big for McGrath in particular to establish himself as an Essendon star and potential future captain of the club.

Other: Sam Weideman


Nat Fyfe

Fyfe has become a controversial figure on Fremantle's list as they look to inflict damage in the finals for the forseeable future.

The rise of Andrew Brayshaw, Caleb Serong as well as the acquisitions of Will Brodie and Jaeger O'Meara have threatened his spot in the midfield dramatically.

The Dockers have trialled Fyfe at full-forward with hopes of making good use of his overhead marking ability but this strategy hasn't been productive as of yet.

Nat Fyfe during the 2022 AFL Round 19 match between Richmond and Fremantle (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

If Fyfe can dedicate this preseason to becoming an effective key forward or demand his spot back in the midfield, Fremantle will be a dangerous prospect for opponents.

Other: Josh Corbett


Esava Ratugolea

Ratugolea has struggled to earn a routine spot in a stacked Geelong forward line headlined by Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron but has still shown glimpses of his potential with some strong games marking the ball and posing a goal threat.

2023 will be the final year on his current contract so he is playing both for his spot in a successful team and for maximum value in his next contract offer.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Esava Ratugolea of the Cats and Marlion Pickett of the Tigers in action during the 2021 AFL Round 08 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 07, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Now 24 years old, if he can continue to take big clunks and nail some set-shots early in the season, Ratugolea could be in for a big year and potentially a big future at Geelong or elsewhere.

Other: Oliver Henry

Gold Coast

Ben King

There is more pressure than ever on Gold Coast to make their first finals appearance in history and after an absent 2022 season, Ben King could lead the Suns to a top-eight spot in 2023.

The emergence of Mabior Chol as a valuable key forward creates a dynamic tall duo, assuming King can continue to improve on the quality start to his career.

Like his brother Max, Ben King has potential to become a premier key position player in the competition and 2023 will be vital for his and Gold Coast's future.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Ben King of the Suns and Darcy MacPherson celebrate a goal during the round 3 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium on June 21, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

He kicked the 10th most goals in 2021 as a 20/21-year-old. As he turns 23 midway through the season, Suns fans will hope he can grow into a top-five goal-kicker and be a primary factor in Gold Coast's potential rise up the ladder.

Other: Jack Lukosius


Lachie Ash

As a top five pick in 2019, Ash looked to be on the rise in 2021 with some monster performances; 35 disposals, 15 marks in round 6 vs Bulldogs, 28 disposals, 11 marks in Round 4 vs Collingwood. As the Giants have fallen down the ladder, however, Ash's form has followed.

In a dismal year for GWS in 2022, Ash averaged a below-par 16 disposals and couldn't impact games in the way that teammates like Tom Green could.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Conor Stone (left) and Lachie Ash of the Giants celebrate during the 2021 AFL Round 04 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the GWS Giants at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

2023 should be the year where Ash shows his top-five talent and puts together more of the superstar performances we saw in 2021.

Other: Jake Riccardi


James Worpel

After a positive first year under Sam Mitchell, Hawthorn's rebuild is well and truly underway with the departures of Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara, Jack Gunston and Liam Shiels. These losses leave gaping holes through the Hawk's midfield, which will now be led by a 24-year-old James Worpel in 2023.

After 11 games in his first year, Worpel emerged as a star in 2019, averaging over 26 disposals per game and polling 10 Brownlow votes. He hasn't been able to sustain this form since the covid-struck 2020 season however, dropping to a 21 disposal average in 2021 season and 15 per game in 2022.

James Worpel during the AFL match between Hawthorn and St Kilda in Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

The pressure is on Worpel to develop into a star as Hawthorn seek to enter a premiership window in the next five years.


Ben Brown

2021 gave us one of the feel-good stories in football with the revival of Ben Brown in the AFL landscape. After a shocking form drop in his time with the Kangaroos, Brown's career was on life-support before Melbourne acquired him and allowed him to reinvigorate his near All-Australian form.

After the historic 2021 premiership, Melbourne's future appeared set with Ben Brown at full forward.

2022 however, saw Melbourne's forward efficiency exposed as they struggled to find the inside 50 connection they had in 2021. Ben Brown was a liability at times, struggling to hold his own in marking contests and providing little at ground level. Melbourne's success in 2023 relies on improvements forward of centre and Ben Brown is a key factor in that.

Ben Brown during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

If he can become an aerial headache for opposition defenders impact games with his strong leading ability once again, the sky is the limit for the Demons.

Other: Josh Schache

North Melbourne

Jaidyn Stephenson

Jaidyn Stephenson's poor form in recent seasons has been symbolic of North Melbourne's terminal struggles. Since his blistering first season with the Magpies in 2018, Stephenson has been faced with many career-altering off-field scandals and events which has heavily impacted his status in the AFL.

His gambling incident in 2019 and bike accident in 2021 were notable occurrences which stifled his career considerably.

Under the illustrious Alastair Clarkson in 2023 and onwards, Stephenson should be provided with the tools to succeed in a new environment. This pre-season will be telling, he could either show that he is capable of being a future star of the league, or show that he is not up to the AFL standard.

Other: Tarryn Thomas

Port Adelaide

Sam Hayes

Sam Hayes has been in the AFL system for five seasons now, and is yet to show the ability to be a full-time ruckman at the elite level. He managed seven games in 2022 to get his career started, but struggled notably to run out games.

As Scott Lycett enters his 30s, Hayes will be tasked with developing into Port Adelaide's primary ruckman while Finlayson plays the utility role.

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Tom Campbell of the Saints contests the ball with Sam Hayes of the Power during the round seven AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Port Adelaide Power at Cazalys Stadium on April 30, 2022 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

He has shown ability to dominate at reserves level and has the capacity to win 30+ hit-outs per game at AFL level, the focus for Hayes is to develop his tank and enter every ruck contest he can around the ground.

Other: Junior Rioli


Dustin Martin

The finals GOAT has come back down to earth since his third premiership and Norm Mmith Medal in 2020, but as Richmond look to win another premiership in 2023 with an improved list, Dusty has a chance to add further to his already illustrious legacy.

A fourth premiership would put him further into the all-time GOAT debate. A fourth Norm Smith would make him a consensus top three all time player.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates during the 2019 AFL Second Qualifying Final match between the Brisbane Lions and the Richmond Tigers at The Gabba on September 07, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Richmond fans will hope Dusty can regain his finals form with a big 2023 preseason and lead the tigers to a landmark fourth premiership since 2017.

Other: Maurice Rioli, Josh Gibcus

St Kilda

Hunter Clark

St Kilda saw the best of Hunter Clark in 2020 where he averaged 17 disposals in shortened quarters and provided elite ball use and composure out of defensive 50.

Poor luck with injury has hampered his form and seen him in and out of the lineup and a shoulder collision against Carlton ended his 2022 campaign prematurely.

Hunter Clark during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Under Ross Lyon, Saints fans will hope Clark can return to form and impact games off half-back and potentially earn some midfield minutes. St Kilda's future success relies on the development of young stars like Hunter Clark and 2023 will be important for the growth of the club.

Other: Nick Coffield, Dan Butler, Tom Highmore


Logan McDonald

Lance Franklin will enter the 2023 season at 37 years of age, meaning Logan McDonald should be primed to take his full-forward spot as he continues to develop his skill set and body.

He will be 21 at the start of the season and should hopefully start to show signs of future superstardom after two positive seasons to start his career.

Sydney have tended not to play McDonald and Franklin in the same lineup given the presence of Sam Reid as a secondary key forward and around-the-ground utility.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Logan McDonald of the Swans kicks a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 12 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 04, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

For McDonald to earn a routine spot in this Swan's side, he must prove to be a clear-cut better option than Buddy and a big preseason will be crucial to that.

Other: Dylan Stephens

West Coast

Oscar Allen

Oscar Allen sat out the entire 2022 season with a foot injury and watched his side underperform significantly in a difficult year. Many would agree that the entire West Coast squad needs a productive pre-season, primarily to improve their running capacity.

However, it is Oscar Allen who looks to be the future of the Eagles after some quality early career seasons and some best-on-ground performances.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Oscar Allen of the Eagles runs with the ball during the round four AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium on April 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

No one expects West Coast to inflict much damage in the foreseeable future, but the rise of Oscar Allen will put bums on seats and make him the foundational piece of their rebuild.

Other: Nic Naitanui

Western Bulldogs

Josh Bruce

With a top-heavy list in 2023, Josh Bruce may struggle to find a place in a Bulldog's forward line led by Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and now Sam Darcy.

A big pre-season for him would create massive selection headaches, seeing Sam Darcy or potentially Aaron Naughton trial a defensive role.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 08: Josh Bruce of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the 2021 AFL Round 21 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Essendon Bombers at Marvel Stadium on August 8, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The acquisition of Liam Jones should make life easier for the Bulldogs backline, but there is pressure on Josh Bruce to perform in 2023 or else enjoy a spot in the reserves.

Other: Tim English