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Watch Out Fans, AFL’s Youngest Players are Hungry for Premiership Success


As the summer months wind down and the AFL pre-season games begin, AFL fans start to think about the upcoming season and think ‘this is our year’.

So, who are the ‘young guns’ coming through who could lead your team to the 2022 AFL premiership?

If the Melbourne Demons are again to be a force in this season’s AFL competition, they will need key forward/ruckman Luke Jackson to have another big season.

Jackson won the 2021 NAB AFL Rising Star, the award given to the best young player in the AFL and was a constant threat for the opposition each game he played.

The 20-year-old had an outstanding season and played a big role in the Demons winning the flag, kicking 15 goals as a key forward/ruckman. 

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Sydney Swans defender Tom McCartin had an outstanding season in 2021 and will be hoping for another big year.

The 22-year-old ended the season with a career high 13.5 disposals, 5 marks, 6.4 spoils, 2.5 intercept marks and 5.2 contested possessions, averaged across the 22 matches he played last season.

It is remarkable to think McCartin played as a forward early in his career and in 2021 was one of the Swans key defenders during their campaign.

“I was obviously down back this year for the first time and I learnt a lot this year which was great,” McCartin said.

“I was very lucky to have Benny Matthews as my back line coach and to be working alongside the likes of Dane Rampe, Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd.”

Brisbane Lions former number one draft pick Cam Rayner will be aiming to get back to his best after he ruptured his ACL in a pre-season match last year against the Gold Coast Suns. The injury forced him to miss the entire 2021 season.

The 22-year-old, renowned for being an exciting and powerful midfielder and forward line player, says he is ‘back to normal’ and feeling confident.

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“This year I’m really confident in how my body is going,” Rayner said.

“It’s a bit of a mental battle. You build it up a bit in your head, but after the first practice match I had a couple of contests where I hit the ground and popped up and didn’t feel anything. I felt like I was back to normal.”

Fremantle Dockers young gun Caleb Serong believes his side have the talent to go far in the competition.

The 21-year-old has picked up a number of awards in his short AFL career including the 2020 NAB AFL Rising Star, the 2021 AFLCA Best Young Player and the 2021 AFL Goal of the Year.

“I’m fully and solely focused on bringing a flag to the Dockers and I think a lot of the guys are in the same boat,” Serong said.

“We’ve got a really driven young group and all we want to do is play finals and win flags for the Fremantle family. I think we’re on track to do that at the moment, but for us, we’re just focusing on the pre-season right now and getting the most out of every single session.”

Can the Demons go back-to-back? Who will make the eight? Which young star will emerge as the standout player this season? With so many questions to be answered, it is shaping up to be an exciting season of AFL in 2022.

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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