AUSTRALIA’S top teenage footballers will take part in a new concept that is aimed to feature the best players for the 2017 draft.
Saturday’s Under 17 All Stars match will see players divided up into two teams to play against each other in an event that the AFL hope will be in front of a blockbuster crowd at Punt Road Oval in the lead up to the 2016 AFL Grand Final.
The two teams have been named after AFL greats Chris Judd and Michael O’Loughlin and will be a part of the AFL’s changing program for the Grand Final weekend.
The league were forced into making a late change with a venue swap from the MCG to Punt Road Oval. The match time has been pushed back and it is hoped that Western Bulldogs and Sydney Swans fans will attend on their way to the ‘G.
Current NAB AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson will coach the Chris Judd teams, while NSW/ACT & Allies coach Tadhg Kennelly will coach the Michael O’Loughlin teams.
The match will be broadcast live on AFL.com.au (or the AFL app) from 10.30am.
Jaidyn Stephenson injured his wrist a fortnight ago and will not take his place in the selected team. Full lines ups to be confirmed on Saturday morning.
For Team Judd, Charlie Spargo is the name to keep an eye on. The small midfielder can win the football and push forward to hit the scoreboard. Spargo was one of the Bushrangers best bottom age players in 2016, performing strongly in the TAC Cup Grand Final with 24 disposals.
Another player to watch is South Australian forward/midfielder Darcy Fogarty, who impressed recently in the SANFL U18s final series and has plenty of strength at the contest. He played more of a role up forward in the Under 18 championships and certainly provides scoreboard impact when not running through the midfield.
Other names to watch include Dandenong Stingrays rebounding defender Hunter Clark, Bendigo Pioneers speedy midfielder Lochie O’Brien and possible top five selection in the 2017 draft tall utility Jarrod Brander.
For Team O’Loughlan, midfielders such as Jack Higgins and Lachlan Fogarty are two to keep an eye on. Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Higgins was runner-up in their Best and Fairest, working hard around the ground and can hit the scoreboard. Fogarty has spent some time on the sidelines with injury, but is another worth noting down.
Another to watch is Queensland key forward Connor Ballenden. The 200 cm goal kicker is rated extremely highly for next years draft (apart of the Brisbane Lions academy) and could kick a big bag for Team O’Loughlan if not contained. Vic Metro All-Australian ruck/forward Sam Hayes, Queensland defender Jack Clayton and Vic Metro key forward Hayden McLean are others to watch for the game.
For Team Judd there were some surprise selections which include medium forward Jack Petruccelle, midfielder Matthew Ling and GWS Academy member Brendan Myers.
Petruccelle comes from an elite basketball background where he played for the Under 18 Vic Metro team and caught the eye in only two games for the Northern Knights. He kicked four goals in those two games and looks to be an exciting player for the future.
Ling too the more conventional path as a player but was just as much of a surprise selection. He played five games for the Falcons and impressed with his skills enough to be selected for Team Judd.
For Team O’Loughlan they have their fair share of surprise packets including Queensland medium forward Harry Simington and South Australian utility Nathan Kreuger.
Simington was a real shock selection as he hasn’t had much exposure as he has only played the one state game and a handful of NEAFL games for the Gold Coast Suns. Simington has shown a lot of qualities which translate well to AFL level up forward.
South Adelaide’s Kreuger was also an interesting choice for Team O’Loughlan. This year Kreuger has been toiling away in the SANFL Under 18s as a tall roaming player at 194 cm. He is a fast and agile player who can play practically everywhere on the ground. He has recently dominated a the Under 17 Futures trial game in SA.
Callum Coleman-Jones vs Nathan Richards
This year there have been two standout ruckman for the 2017 draft and for this game they will face off against each other in the ruck. Coleman-Jones is the more mobile of the pair, as he can spread unlike most ruckman in the draft. He can win his own football on the ground and almost become an extra midfielder in the stoppages.
Richards is the stronger of the two as he often out muscles opponents to get crucial taps on his team. He also has better disposal efficiency, making him more damaging with the football. Richards is also a strong contested mark, which will make him difficult to beat in the air. Who wins the match up will depend on if it is a free flowing game (suiting Coleman-Jones) or a scrappy game (suiting Richards).
Jake Patmore vs Tyrone Hayes
It looks likely that two indigenous speedsters will matchup on each other during the game. Gippsland Power small forward Hayes will likely play forward for Team O’Loughlin for most of the game. He provides lots of zip and class with ball in hand which could lead to him kicking a few if not held well.
Patmore on the other hand has been quiet about his business this year but has shown on many occasions he is just as damaging as Hayes. The West Australian is as classy as they come with the ball as he can deliver the ball to his teammates with great proficiency. This matchup will be crucial as whoever wins it could have a two or three goals swing in their way.
Connor Ballenden vs Oscar Clavarino
Another battle which will be pivotal is the one between potential top five prospects Clavarino and Ballenden. Ballenden is a massive key forward who marks the ball at the highest point and has shown on multiple occasions he can take games by the throat. On the other hand Clavarino is an intercept marking key defender with great skills and poise.
Ballenden as a tall is a better player one-on-one and is much taller than Clavarino, but Clavarino is a better judge of the ball in flight which will allow him to get good positioning to get marks as well as provide some rebound, but his kicking does need work. Both players are very highly touted and the fact that they will be facing each other is very exciting from a recruiters’ point of view.
Team Judd on paper looks too strong for Team O’Loughlin. Team Judd’s midfield looks too strong for the smaller and less dominant Team O’Loughlin midfield with the likes of Hunter Clark and James Worpel in their team.
O’Loughlin’s team in defense looks likely to be too small to battle against the likes of Darcy Fogarty, Tom De Koning and Jarrod Brander up forward and possibly lacking speed to contain Cam Rayner as well as Jordan Johnston up forward.
Worpel is an easy candidate for BOG honours, as the strong clearance midfielder wins plenty of the ball and showed that against bigger bodies in the Under 18 championships.
Team O’Loughlin v Team Judd
10.30am, Punt Road Oval
Live on AFL.com.au (& AFL app) from 10.30am