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Rising Saint Owens: How good will he be?

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Roar Rookie
11th April, 2023

Mitchito ‘Mitch’ Owens is the Round 4 Rising Star nominee after an excellent first month of the season that was capped off by 27 touches and two goals against the Suns on Saturday evening.

Owens was a member of St Kilda’s NGA by virtue of his mother being Japanese. Before going any further into this, what an absolute crock the NGA is for kids like Owens who live in lovely middle class suburbs and attend big private schools.

Owens was not a kid who was going to slip through the cracks or lack exposure to AFL due to his ancestry – in fact he had an upbringing which has perfectly set him up for an AFL career – and it makes absolutely no sense that St Kilda had a priority right to him.

I don’t have an improved suggestion as to how the NGA program should work though, because I am sure some clubs (and St Kilda may very well be one of these clubs) dedicate plenty of money and resources to their NGAs and therefore the kids involved actually get a terrific benefit from it.

That rant over, Owens was drafted at #33 after the Saints matched Sydney’s bid on him in the 2021 National Draft. Owens was a small forward in under 16s, but a 15cm growth spurt meant that by the end of that season he was playing in the ruck for his local team and by the time he was a top age under 18 he was 191cm.

Mitchito 'Mitch' Owens

Mitch Owens and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera of the Saints embrace after the round four AFL match between St Kilda Saints and Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium, on April 08, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)


He is a powerful athlete with great straight-line speed and an excellent leap who is likely to bide his time forward of centre with cameos in the midfield before, hopefully, switching that around as his experience grows. He was drafted at 85kg, and based on his appearance he is carrying a little more than that now, but obviously his body shape would be expected to change given AFL level training.

In any case, he is dynamic, strong and appears absolutely ready to deal with the rigours of the game – worth bearing in mind of course that this is his second season though.

Owens is another product of the Sandringham Dragons, though only played five games in 2021 due to injury, COVID lockdowns and his school football commitments with Mentone Grammar in the AGSV competition (I am told, reliably, that he played an excellent game against Ivanhoe Grammar during the 2021 season!)

His power had been the standout during his draft year, but it is also accompanied by courage and a real appetite for hard work – if the 2021 season had gone for an extra six months the feeling is that Owens would not have fallen to a pick in the 30s.

Owens played seven games in the 2022 season, making his debut in round one before being omitted, playing Rounds 11 and 13 (separated by a bye) and then properly having his appetite whetted by four games to close out the season.

He impressed with his natural ability in these games, but in the 2023 season he has truly shone (and don’t the Saints fans on Twitter let you know about it!) roaming the forward line and not just competing in the air but also using his size and strength at ground level to apply pressure – I am sure he is a player that Ross Lyon already loves.

As a mid-sized 19 year old forward, taking any contested marks would be a big positive, but Owens managed four on the weekend to go with his 19 contested possessions.


When you add in that he had four shots at goal – from only nine kicks – it shows solid diversity for someone playing a very difficult role in the forward line.

Harnessing his athletic capabilities whilst also allowing the contested side of his game to flourish is likely to be a challenge throughout his career – getting the right balance is likely to be very important for both Owens and the Saints.

Chances of winning the Rising Star

My initial thought is very low, mainly because second year players are judged more critically than first years, but if his contested game remains consistent and is interspersed with some spectacular moments then he is in with a chance.

Ross Lyon’s time at Triple M also means that Owens will get a plum ride from that part of the media – deifying colleagues past and present is what they do best!

Plays like

I hate to put too much pressure on a young player, and maybe I’m actually forgetting just how good this guy was in his first season or two, but Nat Fyfe is the player who Mitch Owens should absolutely be aiming to play like.



Mitch Owens has the size, shape and appetite for the contest to be anything. I’d prefer him to kick a bit more, but the gap between his current output and his ceiling is far larger than many of his contemporaries given the lack of football he’s played in recent years combined with a serious growth spurt meaning he’s still getting used to being able to be a battering ram!

Owens could be a good, solid half forward flanker or he could be a superstar of the competition – I don’t reckon there’s much in between.

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