MELBOURNE’S young stars have received recognition for their impressive 2023 campaigns, named in the AFL Player’s Association’s (AFLPA) 22Under22 Squad.
Announced on Thursday morning, Kysaiah Pickett, Jake Bowey, Jacob van Rooyen and Trent Rivers were all named in the extended list of 44.
The 22Under22 team is a fan-voted concept created by the AFLPA to celebrate club stars aged 22 and under.
Players are rewarded for their consistency across the year, with those they are required to play 50 per cent of season games, equating to 12 matches.
This is the first-time selection for both Bowey and van Rooyen, while Pickett (2021, 2022) and Rivers (2021) have both been featured in the squad previously.
Pickett’s 2023 has seen him reach new heights through a fresh role within Melbourne’s side. His speed and agility has now been injected into the midfield adding further depth to the team’s already packed contest strengths.
His offence worked hasn’t been impacted though, with Pickett having kicked 32 goals across the 18 games this year, including a number of Goal of the Year contenders.
In his fourth year at the club, Rivers has pushed his potential even further this season, becoming a consistent contributor among the Demons’ impressive defensive line-up.
Keeping his own against some of the competition’s best forwards, the young Demon uses his power and strength, averaging 20 disposals and 6.7 intercept possessions.
Bowey also adds to that defensive talent and brings an elite skill across half-back, known for his accuracy with his fundamentals.
The 21-year-old continues to be a consistent force off half-back with his pin-point kicking wowing fans across the league.
In his second year at AFL level, van Rooyen’s ascent to stardom has been a notable feature within the Melbourne team. Debuting in Round 3, the tall forward has gone from strength to strength through his role in offence.
Known and loved among the supporter base - the roars of ‘Roo’ heard across the MCG - van Rooyen has added another level to the team’s forward line, kicking 24 goals over his 16 games.