North Melbourne is set to unveil its sixth AFL debutant for 2024, with Wil Dawson making his first appearance this Sunday afternoon against Essendon at Marvel Stadium.

Standing tall at 200cm, Dawson was selected by the Roos with pick No. 22 in the 2023 AFL Draft, emerging as a key position prospect from the Gippsland Power. Hailing from Leongatha Junior Football Club, Dawson showcased his versatility and skill in underage football, excelling at both ends of the ground.

With a late December birthday, Dawson was one of the youngest eligible players in last year’s AFL draft. He started 2023 as a forward in the Gippsland and Victorian Country programs but found his true calling in defence as the year progressed. His adaptability and growth throughout the season made him a standout prospect.

Since joining North Melbourne, the 18-year-old has played five games at the VFL level, earning high praise from his coaches and teammates for his toughness both in the air and at ground level. His impressive performances have set the stage for his upcoming AFL debut.

Dawson discovered he would become Shinboner No. 1064 during the team’s meeting on Friday afternoon. His debut marks a significant milestone for North Melbourne’s 2023 draft class, as he becomes the fourth debutant from this group, joining Colby McKercher, Zane Duursma, and Riley Hardeman. Additionally, he follows in the footsteps of mature-age recruits Toby Pink and Tyler Sellers, who made their AFL debuts earlier this season.

Adding to the significance of his debut, Dawson will wear the No. 18 jersey, a number with a rich legacy at North Melbourne. The jersey was made famous by premiership skipper Wayne Carey, premiership player Paul Feltham, and other club legends such as Jock McCorkell, Tom Allison, and Shaun Atley.

As Wil Dawson takes the field on Sunday, he carries with him the hopes and excitement of his coaches, teammates, and fans. His debut promises to be a memorable moment in what looks to be a promising AFL career.