The Division Two Under 18 Championships kick off tonight in the Northern Territory. In a different format to the previous editions, the three rounds of the championships will be run in May before a ‘best of’ Allies team will feature the best performing players against the Division One sides through June. The disparity between NSW/ACT and Queensland compared to Northern Territory and Tasmania is large and it’s hard to see either side trouble for the championship, while it appears likely that the ‘winner takes all’ from the clash on Sunday between NSW/ACT & Queensland.
AFL Draft Central division two prediction:
- NSW/ACT (3-0)
- Queensland (2-1)
- Northern Territory (1-2)
- Tasmania (0-3)
NSW/ACT – (Peter Williams)
NEW South Wales will be battling it out with Queensland for the division two title in this under 18s championships.
So much has been talked about academy prospects, and it is pretty much the Giants versus the Suns academy prospects in this tantalising match-up.
Luckily the two sides face off against each other in the first round this weekend, and there are a number of good prospects to watch out for from the Rams.
At the top of the list is Harrison Macreadie.
A top five pick and linked to the Giants academy, Macreadie is like a mix of two players.
One is the running defender who can play a negating or offensive role, and the other is a wingman/half-forward who can find the ball and impact the scoreboard.
The best versatile player in the draft, Macreadie will be the one to watch.
But moving to the midfield, the starting three of Will Setterfield, Kobe Mutch and Harry Perryman – again, all zoned to the Giants, is ridiculously good.
All three players find the ball with ease and Perryman in particular just uses it incredibly well.
Setterfield is that tall midfielder that moves well around the ground and just does everything right, while Mutch is a spiritual leader, who is hard at it.
Looking up forward, the New South Wales forward line also has some merit, with Todd Marshall, Jacob Turner, Charlie Spargo and Zac Sproule all likely to cause headaches for the Queensland defence.
Marshall is one of the most looked at talls in this draft, and will be the key target up forward.
Turner impressed a fortnight ago against Dandenong Stingrays and has the potential to find the ball and impact the scoreboard, which is important.
Queensland – (Matt Balmer)
QUEENSLAND come into the championships as the only side capable of defeating NSW/ACT.
Queensland’s midfield power is what will give them hope of pulling off a victory over NSW/ACT.
With both Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions academy prospects pushing through the midfielder, they will have the chance to impress at Blacktown on Sunday.
Three Gold Coast academy members Jack Bowes, Brad Scheer and Curtis Marsden will spend a lot of time running through the middle.
All three have the ability to rack up large possessions and will finally give Gold Coast their first high academy pick in November.
The Lions too have players involved with Jacob Allison and Jack Rolls two to watch.
At 194cm, tall midfielder will spend time on the inside midfield for Queensland and thanks to a long kick should give the Lions plenty of inside 50s.
Rolls himself is another midfielder who will run off the wing and use his pace to beat his opponent to the ball.
Another one to keep an eye on is tall forward Connor Ballenden, who is eligible for the Brisbane Lions in 2017.
Ballenden is a tall leading forward who dominated the trial game in April, kicking 2.2 and taking nine marks.
Northern Territory – (Peter Williams)
NORTHERN Territory comes into the Under 18 National Championships as the perennial underdog.
Time and time again we see only one or two kids drafted from the squad, with first round draft pick Daniel Rioli an example last year.
In 2016, they do not have a stand-out first round prospect, however Brandon Parfitt appears to the top kid on many draft watchers lips.
He missed NT’s clash with Oakleigh last week but has been named to take on Tasmania.
Northern Territory is arguably the greatest unknown for many draft watchers, but there are a number of players with some raw talent.
Last week a kid by the name of Isaiah Farrell-Nelson stood up in his first game, kicking four goals and could have had a fifth.
He looked composed, was strong overhead and timed his leaps well playing at half-forward.
Another one that will constantly come up in recruiters eye will be Tony Olango.
The ultra-athletic ruck/key forward has X-factor to the max, but has a lot he needs to work on.
In terms of raw potential, he has it, but his skinny frame and strength in marking contests will be something that works against him.
A good Under 18 championships will put his name on the recruiters’ boards.
Michael Hagan is another player who might come under the watchful eye of recruiters.
An overager, Hagan needs to stand up and show what he has to offer against the other division two states, if he is to get his name read out in November.
A few others that impressed against Oakleigh were Rohan Armstrong and Nigel Lockyer.
Armstrong is a running midfielder, who just has a neat burst of acceleration and runs through traffic like a hot knife through butter.
He will need to improve his skills to be considered, but he has the attributes that may cause recruiters to lick their lips.
Lockyer while quiet early, stood up late against a dangerous Jordan Ridley.
Playing in deep defence, he was moved onto Ridley who had kicked three goals in 20 minutes and threatened to win the game for the Chargers.
Lockyer outmarked him in two crucial one-on-one wrestles and just showed a characteristic that is rare in undersized defenders.
Tasmania – (Matt Balmer)
TASMANIA have a young squad that with a lack of depth and size appear likely to struggle in the championships.
The Mariners will field their youngest side for a national championships with 12 of 23 players aged 17 or under including three U16 boys.
Overager Nicholas Dodge has returned to great effect for the Mariners.
Playing predominantly as a forward in 2015, Dodge kicked five goals in the 2015 championships.
However, in 2016 he has played a different role running off the half back flank where he has averaged 33 disposals in the TAC Cup rebounding out of defence.
Dodge’s speed makes him a tough match up for the opposition and will have a big role for Tasmania in the championships.
Midfielder Ben McGuinness will be another crucial player for the Mariners in 2016.
McGuinness has floated between playing in defence but will spent majority of the championships in the midfield.
The athletic and agile mover has been solid in his two TAC Cup games, averaging 22 disposals and laying 13 tackles.
Another to keep an eye on is Thomas Mundy, a small forward who kicked three goals in the trial match against Vic Metro.
The 183cm forward is a bottom age player who has been named in the game against Northern Territory on Friday.