AFL Rookie Draft timeline
Adelaide’s rookie draft selections since 1997 have found future All-Australians, premierships players, 200-gamers and Club Champions.
Not every pick will be a winner but nearly 50 Crows rookies have gone on to play in the AFL and six – including two who started as rookies at other clubs – are Crows Life Members.
The AFL’s rookie list rules have changed significantly in the past 25 years, along with their status within the squad, training requirements, potential pay and eligibility to play for their AFL club.
Star Crow Rory Laird is the current poster-boy for the potential value of the AFL rookie’s list.
Twice an All-Australian, the three-time Club Champion defender-turned midfielder was overlooked at the 2011 AFL national draft and then picked by the Crows at the rookie draft, after training with Essendon.
Reilly O’Brien, Club Champion in 2020, also started as a rookie. Other current Crows Jordan Butts, Lachlan Murphy, Mitch Hinge, Ben Keays, Kieran Strachan started on the rookie list while Mark Keane, James Borlase, Nick Murray, Tyler Brown and Patrick Parnell are on the rookie list but eligible to play.
West Adelaide’s Ben Marsh and Steve Coghill were Adelaide’s first rookie selections ahead of the 1997 season but they remained with their SANFL club, only making the occasional appearance at West Lakes. Players picked as rookies needed to be aged between 18 and 23.
Marsh recalls: “I had some one-on-one ruck sessions with Mark Mickan during the year and attended a few training nights but we weren’t insiders. We got tickets to the (1997) grand final but weren’t really a part of the official celebrations.”
A year later, however, Marsh was an AFL premiership player in just his ninth AFL game. After a full pre-season he was included on the rookie list for a second time and trained more with the main squad, earning an elevation mid-season and kicking three goals on debut.
Norwood 1997 premiership rover Sudjai Cook was the first Crows rookie to play in the AFL, making his debut in round nine against Brisbane. He played seven games for the Crows.
Another Norwood product, Nathan Bassett, moved from Melbourne’s first rookie list to the Crows at the end of 1997 and was an All-Australian in 2006. He played his 200th AFL game in 2008.
Michael Doughty was the first Crows rookie to play 200 games for the Club. He was drafted from South Adelaide at the end of 1999 and only played five AFL games in his first two years at the club. “I was a bit wild as a young kid and it took probably two or three years for me to settle and I was lucky enough that Adelaide had enough belief they could turn me around,” Doughty told afc.com.au after announcing his retirement in 2012.
The success rate from the 2001 rookie draft was extraordinary.
Nathan Bock developed into a Club Champion and All-Australian, Ben Rutten was an All-Australian in 2005 and played 229 games for the Crows and Martin Mattner played 98 games for Adelaide and then moved to Sydney where he won a premiership and added 124 games.
Paul Thomas was Adelaide’s first pick in this rookie draft and although he did not play a game for the Crows, he later won the SANFL’s 2004 Magarey Medal, played eight games for Essendon, and captained Central District premiership teams.
Thomas, who returned to Adelaide as a development coach before the 2016 season, juggled his Crows rookie commitments with full-time university study, part-time work and playing with the Bulldogs.
Jason Porplyzia’s rookie stint lasted only the 2003 season but after winning a best-and-fairest back at West Adelaide he returned to the Crows through the 2006 pre-season draft. In 2009 he was Club Champion runner-up and leading goalkicker.
“It was a blessing in disguise, really, being delisted as a rookie to then working my way back onto the list,” Porplyzia said. “Knowing that it wasn’t going to come easy and that I really had to do it myself and not rely on others to get me through. It really set me up for my career and I’ve carried that with me through life, that professionalism and hard-working attitude.”
Ed Curnow’s one year as a Crows rookie in 2008 did not go to plan but he later was claimed by Carlton as a rookie and remains on the list in 2023, having played more than 200 AFL games.
Sam Jacobs went the other way. Drafted as a rookie by Carlton in 2006, the ruckman was traded to Adelaide at the end of 2010 and played 184 AFL games for the Crows, winning three Showdown Medals.
Adelaide’s first efforts at recruiting from other codes were made in 2008. Ricky Henderson was playing basketball when spotted by the Crows and went on to play 159 games for Adelaide and Hawthorn. The Club’s first Irish recruit was Brian Donnelly, who spent two seasons in the SANFL before returning home.
Basketballer Hugh Greenwood and cricketer Alex Keath also returned to Australian football as Category B rookies and remain in the AFL system.
Ian Callinan was the Club’s oldest rookie selection after years of success at State League level. He played 32 AFL games and then captained Adelaide’s SANFL side in its first two years.
Tim Davis (North Adelaide)
Sudjai Cook (Norwood), Adelaide AFL games: 7
Steven Hall (Woodville-West Torrens
Stuart Bown (Norwood), Adelaide AFL games: 4
Dean Howard (West Adelaide), Adelaide AFL games: 2
Matthew Golding (Glenelg), Adelaide AFL games: 7
Jarrod Twitt (Sturt)
Scott Mathews (Woodville-West Torrens)
Kane McLean (Norwood)
Justin Cicolella (Woodville-West Torrens), Adelaide AFL games: 5
James Gallagher (Norwood), Adelaide AFL games: 38
Paul Thomas (Central District), Adelaide AFL: 0 games. Essendon: 8
Nathan Bock (Woodville-West Torrens), Adelaide AFL: 113 games. Gold Coast: 27. Crows Club Champion 2008. All-Australian 2008.
Ben Rutten (West Adelaide). Adelaide AFL games: 229. All-Australian 2005.
Martin Mattner (Sturt), Adelaide AFL: 98 games. Sydney: 124. Sydney premiership player 2012.
Tim Hazell (Hawthorn)
Rowan Andrews (Clarence)
Brad Dabrowski (Woodville-West Torrens),
Matthew Smith (Adelaide)
Ryan Nye (Peel)
Jonathon Griffin (East Fremantle), Adelaide AFL: 41 games. Fremantle: 56.
John Hinge (Glenelg), Adelaide AFL games: 1
Brad Sugars (Glenelg)
Tom Redden (Glenelg)
Adrian Bonaddio (Port Melbourne)
Sam Elliott (South Adelaide)
Andrew McIntyre (North Adelaide)
James Turner (South Adelaide)
Rhys Archard (South Adelaide)
Greg Gallman (North Adelaide)
Brodie Martin (Sturt), Adelaide AFL: 38 games
Ricky Henderson (Ballarat), Adelaide AFL: 90 games. Hawthorn: 69 games. 2012 Adelaide pre-season premiership.
Chris Schmidt (West Adelaide/Brisbane), Adelaide AFL: 18 games.
Brian Donnelly (County Louth)
Rory Laird (West Adelaide), Adelaide AFL: 202* games (at start of 2023 season). Adelaide Club Champion 2018, 2021, 2022. All-Australian 2017, 2018.
Dylan Orval (Oakleigh U18)
Tim McIntyre (Sturt), Adelaide AFL: 1 game
Will Young (Ballarat), Adelaide AFL: 2 games
James Craig (North Adelaide)
Ben Dowdell (basketball)
Alex Spina (North Adelaide)
Reilly O’Brien (Coburg), Adelaide AFL: 77* games (at start of 2023 season)
Keenan Ramsey (Port Adelaide Magpies)
Anthony Wilson (Norwood)
Paul Hunter (Redland), Adelaide AFL: 0 games. St Kilda: 7 games.
Jonathon Beech (West Adelaide), Adelaide AFL: 3 games.
Hugh Greenwood (basketball), Adelaide AFL: 51 games. Gold Coast: 32 games. North Melbourne 21* (at start of 2023 season)
Alex Keath (cricket), Adelaide AFL: 30 games. Western Bulldogs: 56* (at start of 2023 season)
Ben Jarman (father-son, North Adelaide)
Patrick Wilson (Sturt), Adelaide AFL: 2 games
Lachlan Murphy (Northern U18/Adelaide SANFL), Adelaide AFL: 76* games (at start of 2023 season)
Jackson Edwards (father-son, Glenelg)
Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne), Adelaide AFL: 5* games (at start of 2023 season).
Jordon Butts (Murray U18/Shepparton), Adelaide AFL: 43* career games (at start of 2023 season).
Ben Keays (Brisbane), Adelaide AFL: 60* games (at start of 2023 season).
Ben Crocker (Collingwood), Adelaide AFL: 7 games
Pre-season Supplemental selection, Ayce Taylor (Northern U18)
Next Generation Academy: James Borlase* (Port Adelaide).
Next Generation Academy: Tariek Newchurch* (North Adelaide)
Pre-season Supplemental selection, Nick Murray (Murray U18/Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong), Adelaide AFL: 29 games (at start of 2023 season).
Mid-season, Patrick Parnell (Murray U18), Adelaide AFL: 11 games (at start of 2023 season).
Mid-season, Brett Turner (Glenelg)
Pre-season Supplemental selection, Tyler Brown (Collingwood)*
Pre-season Supplemental selection, Mark Keane (Collingwood/County Cork)*
*Denotes current AFL player