Almanac Teams: Round 1 debuts since 1980 (Part 4 – 2011 to 2022)




Gold Coast had 12 AFL debutants in their Round 2 match (due to the bye in Round 1) against Carlton. Harley Bennell, Charlie Dixon, Karmichael Hunt, Marc Lock, Alik Magin, Brandon Matera, Trent McKenzie, Dion Prestia, Zac Smith, David Swallow, Seb Tape and Josh Toy played their first game. From this list Dixon, McKenzie and Prestia are still on a AFL list though at different clubs and Swallow is now co-captain. Dixon kicked 2 goals on debut and Bennell and Swallow having 17 disposals.  For 19 year old Marc Lock this would be his only game having 8 disposals. 2011 rising star Dyson Heppell had 20 disposals in Essendon 55 point win over the Bulldogs. Debuting for the Bulldogs was son of Bulldog Brownlow Medallist Tom Liberatore with 19 disposals.


Other notable debuts are Ed Curnow (Carl), Reece Conca (Rich), Cameron Guthrie (Geel), Brodie Smith (Adel), Ryan Lester (Bne), Jack Darling (WCE) and Shaun Atley (NM)


Forgotten 2011 debut is Lukas Markovic who would play 29 games for the Bulldogs in three seasons.





GWS joined the AFL in 2012 with 17 players on debut. These players were Tomas Bugg, Jeremy Cameron, Stephen Coniglio, Israel Folau, Jonathan Giles, Toby Greene, Curtly Hampton, jack Hombsch, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Adam Kennedy, Tim Mohr, Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith, Jacob Townsend, Dom Tyson and Nathan Wilson. Coniglio, Greene and Kennedy are still with the Giants while Cameron, Hoskin-Elliott, Shiel and Wilson are at new clubs. Giants only kicked five goals in 67 point list with Giles, Wilson and Hoskin-Elliott kicking a goal each. Kennedy with 28 disposals had the most for the Giants with Bugg and Greene having 27. Opponents Sydney had one debutant in Harry Cunningham who had four disposals.


On debut for Geelong would be 29 year old ruckman Orren Stephenson who had three disposals and 10 hit outs. Stephenson would play 15 games in three seasons at Geelong and Richmond.


Other notable debuts in are Brandon Ellis (Rich), Aaron Hall (GCS), Tory Dickson & Clay Smith (WB) and Chad Wingard (Haw)





Younger brother of Adam, Brett Goodes was 29 when he debuted for Western Bulldogs in Round 1 2013. Brett would have 24 disposals in the Bulldogs 68 point win over Brisbane. In the match between Melbourne and Port Adelaide at the MCG, childhood friends Jack Viney and Ollie Wines  both play their first games. Likely to be both on ball at some stage as two hard nuts, Future Brownlow Medallist Wines would have 24 disposals and one goal while future captain Jack Viney would have 22 disposals and 1 goal. Other debutants in the same game were high draft pick Jimmy Toumpas with 9 disposals who would play 37 games for both clubs in five seasons and small forward Jake Neade who had 11 disposals and would play 66 games in five seasons.


Other notable debuts in are Dane Rampe (Syd), Jaeger O’Meara (GCS) and Mark Blicavs (Geel)


Forgotten 2013 debutant is Nick Kommer who play 22 games for Essendon in two seasons.





North Melbourne played Essendon in Round 1 2014 would feature debutants that would become new club captains in 2023. Zach Merrett would have 11 disposals in the 39 point win for Essendon, while Luke McDonald had 14 disposals for North Melbourne.


Also debuting for Essendon would be Patrick Ambrose 10 disposals and Martin Gleeson 14 disposals.


Other notable debuts in are Tom Langdon (Coll), Jack Martin (GCS), Jarman Impey (PA), James Aish & Lewis Taylor (Bne), Jack Billings & Luke Dunstan (St.K) and Dom Sheed (WCE)


23 year old Derick Wanganeen would debut as the sub for Hawthorn in his only game and have 4 disposals.





Kamdyn McIntosh earned himself a rising star nomination after his debut game against Carlton with 23 disposals and 1 goal. The 2015 rising star winner Jesse Hogan would have 15 disposals and two goals on debut while high draft pick Angus Brayshaw had 9 disposals and mature recruit 23 year old Aaron Vandenberg (51 games) had 17 disposals and one goal. Melbourne opponents Gold Coast also had three players on debut in current co captain Touk Miller who had 6 disposals and 1 goal, Adam Saad 13 disposals and 1 goal and Jarrod Garlett (30 games) who had 5 disposals.


Other notable Round 1 debuts in  were Isaac Heeney (Syd), Jordan De Goey (Coll) and Jack Sinclair (St.K)


Tom Lamb for West Coast played his AFL game as starting sub and had 10 disposals and kicked one goal in his only game.





Number 1 draft pick Jacob Weitering had 17 disposals as a key defender on debut in a nine point loss to Richmond. Richmond unveiled a famous name in Daniel Rioli cousin of Maurice, Cyril and Dean who had seven disposals on debut. Clayton Oliver started his career with 22 disposals against GWS while other current ball magnets in Josh Dunkley had 15 disposals and a goal for the Bulldogs and Darcy Parish had 25 disposals. Tom Papley kicked three goals on debut in Sydney 80 point against Collingwood while current co captain Callum Mills had 18 disposals and George Hewett had 15 disposals and kicked a goal.


Other notable Round 1 debuts are Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Ess) and Jade Gresham (St.K)





Number 1 draft pick Andrew McGrath started his career well with 22 disposals for Essendon in a 25 point win over Hawthorn. Port Adelaide beat Sydney by 28 points with debutant Sam Powell-Pepper one of the best with 19 disposals and two goals. Dan Houston would play his first game and have 12 disposals as well 27 year noted SANFL goal kicker Brett Eddy who had 3 disposals. Eddy would play just three games for three goals. For Sydney son of tennis player Oliver Florent made his debut with 8 disposals.


Noted Round 1 debuts in  are Jack Bowes (GCS), Jy Simpkin (NM), Tim Taranto (GWS) and Tom Stewart (Geel)





Number 1 draft pick Cameron Rayner would debut for Brisbane against St Kilda and have 8 disposals and kick one goal. Rising star winner Jaidyn Stephenson had an impressive debut for Collingwood with 16 disposals with Sam Murray (13 games) also having 19 disposals on debut. Adelaide after a Grand Final loss had impressive debuts from Tom Doedee who had 21 disposals and Darcy Fogarty 6 disposals and 2 goals show some potential.23 year old aged recruit Tim Kelly had 27 disposals and one goal against Melbourne in a 2 point win while Esava Ratugolea with 8 disposals and Lachie Fogarty with 20 disposals also kicked one goal while Melbourne had Bayley Fritsch on debut with 11 disposals and 1 goal.


Notable Round 1 debuts in were Andrew Brayshaw (Frem), Luke Davies-Uniacke (NM), Aaron Naughton (WB) and Liam Ryan (WCE)





Number 1 draft pick Sam Walsh showed he is ball magnet with 24 disposals on debut against Richmond, 23 year old Michael Gibbons (47 games) also debut with 11 disposals. Noah Balta was Richmond debutant having 5 disposals, 6 hit outs and a goal.


Port Adelaide would beat Melbourne by 26 points at the MCG and were helped by four impressive debuts in Zak Butters with 13 disposals and two goals, Willem Drew 21 disposals, Xavier Duursma 16 disposals and 1 goals and Connor Rozee with 18 disposals. Son of premiership Robert Scott, Bailey Scott earned a Round 1 rising star nomination with 21 disposals and one goal.


Other notable round 1 debuts in were Tom Atkins & Jordan Clark (Geel), Bailey Smith (WB), Nick Blakey (Syd), Callum Wilkie (St.K) and Jack Lukosius (GCS)





The 2020 Round 1 debutants had the unfortunate experience in playing in front of no crowds.  Port Adelaide beat Gold Coast by 47 points with the son of 1989 great debutant John Georgiades, Mitch Georgiades making his debut for Port Adelaide with 11 disposals and two goals.  Gold Coast unveiled Number 1 and 2 draft picks Matt Rowell with 19 disposals and Noah Anderson with 12 disposals and also Connor Budarick with 8 disposals.


Other notable debuts in Round 1 include Tom Green (GWS), Max King (St.K) and Kysiah Pickett (Melb)





Connor Downie made his debut for Hawthorn in Round 1 as the unused Medi Sub and obviously never got on the ground but he would get a Gatorade shower. Downie had to wait until Round 22 to play his official 2ndgame but first time on the ground where he had 12 disposals. Downie would not get another game and was delisted at end of 2022. Opponents Essendon debut promising talls in Nik Cox 9 disposals and Harry Jones 13 disposals. Sydney would beat Brisbane by 31 points at the Gabba in a shock win with Errol Gulden with 19 disposals and 3 goals and Logan McDonald with 11 disposals and 3 goals and Braeden Campbell with 12 disposals rejuvenating the Swans.


Other notable debuts in Round 1 were Oliver Henry (Coll) and Jacob Koschitzke (Haw)





Goalkickers was the theme of the 2022 Round 1 debuts.


Mature age recruit 25 year old tall Jack Hayes kicked 3 goals and 18 disposals against Collingwood. Sadly Hayes would injury his knee in Round 5. Opponents Collingwood unleashed son of a gun Nick Daicos who would 27 disposals and eventually win the Rising Star award.


Nic Martin who was a late pick up for Essendon was the rising star nomination for the week in dream debut of 27 disposals and 5 goals… In Adelaide classy small forward Josh Rachele kicked 5 goals from 14 disposals in a heartbreaking 1 point loss to Fremantle.  Rachele would get 1 Brownlow vote and Nick Martin 2 votes. Number 1 draft pick Jason Horne- Francis would have 13 disposals and kick one goal


Other Round 1 notable debuts in were Josh Gibcus (Rich), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (St.K), Connor MacDonald & Josh Ward (Haw).




Part 1:  1980 – 1989 can be read Here.


Part 2: 1990 – 2000 can be read Here


Part 3: 2001 – 2022 can be read Here


More from Rodney Here



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  1. Keiran Croker says

    Thanks Rodney, these have been very interesting pieces. It’s amazing how quickly time passes. Good to see some of the original Suns and Giants are still playing, although mostly with different clubs.

    As a Swans fan I well remember the two seasons where we had triple debutants in round 1: Mills, Papley & Hewett in 2016 and McDonald, Campbell & Gulden in 2021. Exciting times!

  2. Thanks Keiran, appreciate your kind words.
    Those Triple debutants were pretty good and have set Swans for their current era

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