Local rookies selected in mid season draft

18-year-old Iliro Smit was drafted at pick 10 by Collingwood. Picture: COLLINGWOOD FC.

By Mikayla van Loon

A former Yarra Glen junior footballer has been given a chance to play at the elite level, having been selected at the AFL Mid-Season Draft on Wednesday 29 May.

At pick number four, Box Hill Hawks VFL player Max Hall was chosen by St Kilda for his midfield and half forward talent.

St Kilda’s talent identification and player movement manager Simon Dalrymple said the club had its eye on the 22-year-old for some time and “we’re thrilled to have him as a part of our list”.

“He’s a tough midfielder/half-forward who comes equipped with speed, endurance and tenacity, but also has good football smarts and the ability to make sound decisions under pressure,” he said.

Receiving the phone call from Dalrymple, he congratulated Hall for “sticking at it” and said the draft pick was “well deserved”.

A spot on the Saints’ list opened up after defender James Van Es was moved to the inactive list due to injury.

Hall began his junior career notching up 82 games at Yarra Glen Football Netball Club before transferring to Wandin Junior Football Club where he played another 30 games.

Taking a leap from the Outer Eastern League to the Eastern League to play out his junior football days at Montrose, Hall became a dual best and fairest winner and a junior premiership player.

In 2021 he was selected by the Eastern Ranges where he was awarded runner up best and fairest.

Come the 2022 season, Hall signed to Montrose’s senior side as well as being picked for the Box Hill Hawks.

The accolades kept coming for the young gun, receiving back to back best first year player awards for both his local club and the VFL side.

Hall played 30 VFL games for the Hawks over the last three seasons and took his game to another level in 2024, averaging 24 disposals and four tackles across seven appearances, while also kicking five goals.

Following a similar path, despite some injuries, 18-year-old Iliro Smit became Collingwood’s newest draftee on Wednesday night coming in at pick number 10.

The 200cm tall ruckman was selected for his hitouts, physicality and aggression, with the club’s head recruiter Derek Hine commenting he would sit nicely as “a developing ruck” behind current listed player Oscar Steene.

“He’s going to be a guy who can work into our system. We’ll give him the time to develop in our system and athletically, I feel, and the group feels that he’s a player that can play the way we play,” he said.

Hearing the news surrounded by family and friends at home, Smit said when his name was called he thought “no way that’s my name”.

“It was a great surprise, crazy, surreal,” he said.

Smit said it was “up in the air” whether he was going to be selected mid-season or during the end of year draft.

“We had an interview and we talked but it wasn’t set in stone…I’m just stoked it’s happened,” he said.

As to his playing style, Smit confirmed the recruitment team’s interest in him and said he was someone who liked “putting pressure around the ground not just in the ruck”.

“I love playing with an aggressive nature, going hard at the ball, following up and repeat efforts, especially around the ground,” he said.