SANFL’s AFL Debutants on the Big Stage

Woodville-West Torrens draftee Mattaes Phillipou celebrates kicking his first AFL goal for St Kilda. Picture - Peter Argent


The first two South Australians secured in the 2022 AFL Draft, Mattaes Phillipou and Max Michalanney, both debuted in the AFL’s Round One in Sydney and Melbourne respectively.

Phillipou, drafted to St Kilda with their first pick (No.10) for the Saints’ milestone 150th season, started in the final game of the round against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium.

He kicked a pivotal goal in the second term and enjoyed the fruits of victory in his inaugural AFL game as the Saints defeated their more fancied opponents, Fremantle by 15 points, 10.7 (67) to 7.10 (52).

He also collected a highly respectable 16 disposals, which included 10 handballs and took three marks along with slotting through that major.

Mattaes is a third generation footballer, as his father Sam played for Woodville-West Torrens and a handful of AFL games with the Western Bulldogs.

Grandfather Peter Phillipou is a legend of the West Torrens Eagles, in the era before their merger with Woodville, playing 272 games in a career which spanned 1967 to 1984.

He also played for three years at Eastlake in Canberra from 1974, where he won the competition’s best-and-fairest, the Mulrooney Medal in the first season and led them to a flag in 1976.

Matching a bid by Sydney, Adelaide secured Max Michalanney with pick No. 17, under the current AFL father-son rules.

After an impressive pre-season he debuted for the Crows in their season-opener against the GWS at Giants Stadium, starting on a half-back flank.

In a game of many ebbs and flows, the Crows conceded a 28-point half time lead, going down by 16 points to their hosts, 15.16 (106) to 12.18 (90).

Michalanney finished with a solid 12 possessions (nine kicks and three handballs) along with taking four marks and laying a tackle.

Like Mattaes, Max has a rich heritage in the SANFL.

His dad, Jim Michalanney, is a four-time premiership player with Norwood in a golden era at the Parade, where they won in 1975, 1978, 1982 and 1984, a 200-game SANFL life member and he also enjoyed an NFL Champions of Australia Night Competition title in 1977.

Three other high-profile SANFL Underage talents also made impressive debuts with new clubs in Round One.

Number one pick last year, South Adelaide export Jason Horne-Francis, was outstanding in his first game in the black, white and teal, as Port Adelaide defeated the pre-game favourites Brisbane by nine goals at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon.

In a best-on-ground effort, Horne-Francis found the ball 25 times, kicked a goal and won seven clearances.

In the marquee Saturday night fixture at the MCG between the Demons and the Bulldogs, 202cm Sturt bigman Brodie Grundy also excelled, as Melbourne won by 50 points.

Grundy won 17 touches in general play, kicked a final quarter goal and won 12 hit outs as a wonderful foil for Demons captain Max Gawn.

At the Crows, pick No.3 in the 2018 draft to the Gold Coast, the mercurial Izak Rankine, also had an impact for in his initial outing in the tri-colours, being among their best and kicking 2.3.

Adelaide father-son selection Max Michalanney prepares to run out for his first AFL game. Picture – AFL Photos

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