Mitch Owens and Jack Hayes will make their AFL debuts tomorrow evening as St Kilda prepares to tackle Collingwood under Friday night lights.
A member of St Kilda’s PURA Next Generation Academy, Owens has bolted up the ranks in his first pre-season to clinch a spot in the Saints’ on-ball brigade.
The 18-year-old enticed several prospective clubs following his eye-catching run of form late in last year’s NAB League, which rocketed him into top-20 contention. Owens ended up slipping past the first 20 selections to allow St Kilda to match a bid from Sydney with pick No. 33 at last year's National Draft.
His form has been equally proficient while at RSEA Park, spending considerable time both opposite and alongside established midfielders Jack Steele, Brad Crouch, Seb Ross and Zak Jones during match simulation sessions.
Hayes’ time in red, white and black has been far more brief, only officially becoming a Saint a day before the pre-season Supplemental Selection Period (SSP) cut-off.
The two-time SANFL Premiership player has slotted seamlessly into the squad after being invited to train with the Saints prior to Christmas, cementing his credentials as a key forward/second ruck option.
Last year’s SANFL campaign saw Hayes win the famed Jack Oatey Medal – the SANFL equivalent of the Norm Smith Medal – as well as a third-placed finish in the Magarey Medal and captaincy honours for South Australia.
The full side for Friday night’s match against Collingwood at Marvel Stadium will be named tonight at 6:20pm AEDT.