SANFL clubs have been busy securing a host of quality signings ahead of the 2024 Hostplus League season. With several former AFL players poised to play in the SANFL next year, and a couple of players switching clubs, ZAC MILBANK sifts through the likely difference-makers.
Sturt made a surprise splash leading into summer when it sealed the signature of delisted Essendon player Will Snelling.
Earning a SANFL League premiership medal with West Adelaide in 2015, Snelling opted to join the Double Blues instead of returning to the Bloods.
Boasting 65 AFL games of experience, the 26-year-old looms as the most influential recruit this off-season given his penchant for finding the footy with ease through the middle while also being able to hit the scoreboard.
Suddenly, a midfield group featuring Snelling, James Battersby and Tom Lewis looks to be a formidable one on paper for coach Marty Mattner.
Will Gould was in Glenelg’s victorious changerooms after the 2023 Hostplus SANFL League Grand Final so it was little surprise he signed with the Tigers after the AFL Rookie Draft.
A member of the Bays’ drought-breaking 2019 premiership, Gould spent four seasons on Sydney’s list while making a total of four AFL appearances last year.
Starved of opportunity amongst elite company, he returns to Brighton Road as a proven performer at State League level, having won the 2022 VFL Player of the Year Award.
Where the 23-year-old lines up under coach Darren Reeves will be interesting, given Gould could play as a big-bodied midfielder following the confirmed presence of premiership captains Max Proud and Chris Curran, who will play in defence, in 2024.
Norwood was desperate to bolster its midfield brigade following the departures of Nik Rokahr, Matthew Nunn and Josh Richards.
And the Redlegs have certainly done so with the addition of South Adelaide ball magnet Mitch O’Neill.
Averaging 24 disposals, six tackles, five clearances and 96 Champion Data ranking points in his 18 matches last year, the 22-year-old also represented the West End State team in 2022.
West Adelaide was desperate to land a big fish and the Bloods certainly got it with the signature of Sturt premiership star Patrick Wilson.
Inking a two-year deal, the 29-year-old is recovering from ACL surgery, ensuring he will at least miss the first half of the season before looking to make an impact late in the minor round.
But the sheer presence of Wilson amongst West’s multitude of young and inexperienced players will certainly be a confidence-boost at Milner Road.
After three seasons on Adelaide’s list, Newchurch returns to Prospect to play a valuable role for the Roosters in 2024.
Boasting exceptional pace and agility, the 21-year-old fills a need for speed on the outside of the contest for coach Jacob Surjan.
Booting 28 goals from 19 matches for the Crows at SANFL level last year, Newchurch could find himself playing further up the field, on a wing, this season.
Excitement is high regarding Norwood signing Billy Cootee, who was Essendon’s VFL captain in 2023 despite being aged just 20.
Placing third in the Bombers’ best-and-fairest, the midfielder/forward displayed great consistency against AFL-listed opposition last year.
Joining fellow recruits Mitch O’Neill and Ben Simpson in the Legs’ new-look midfield group, Cootee had been on the radar of coach Jade Rawlings for much of last year.
Sturt’s selective recruiting campaign landed another AFL-delisted player in North Melbourne’s Flynn Perez.
A classy rebounding defender, the 22-year-old managed 24 AFL games in four seasons at Arden Street.
Despite having undergone two knee reconstructions in his fledgling career, Perez will add much-needed efficiency by foot wherever he is used at Unley.
South Adelaide fans are in for a treat this season when returning Arlo Draper pairs up with his younger brother Sid inside the centre square.
Drafted by Collingwood with Pick No.45 in the 2021 AFL Draft, Arlo Draper was unable to break into the Magpies’ supremely talented line-up.
Used in multiple roles including half-back and the midfield in the VFL, the 20-year-old will add class and clearance-winning ability for the Panthers this season.
Versatility will be a key attribute Josh Morris will bring in his return to Oval Avenue in 2024.
Delisted by Hawthorn after playing 15 AFL games since being drafted in 2019, the 22-year-old will present coach Sam Jacobs with a viable option in attack or defence.
A member of the Eagles’ victorious SANFL U18 premiership team in 2019, Morris will have a point to prove in the Hostplus SANFL League this year.
The Bulldogs were unable to entice juniors Jackson Hately and Rhett Montgomerie back to the Ponderosa for 2024 but those in the know at Elizabeth are quietly excited about Wilson Barry.
A proven performer at State League level with the Brisbane Lions, the 21-year-old also represented Queensland in 2023.
Strongly-built, Barry is a nice size for a midfielder at 187cm while boasting impressive skills, decision-making and clearance-winning ability from stoppages.
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!