THE COUNTRY’S brightest draft eligible players will run out on the MCG on Saturday in the AFL Academy’s VFL hitout.
The curtain raiser to the Melbourne and North Melbourne clash, will see the 2018 Level Two AFL Academy squad, for players eligible for the 2018 National AFL Draft take on the North Melbourne VFL side.
The annual match for the AFL Academy against VFL opposition has seen players in the past put their hand up for higher honours against the often bigger and more experienced VFL opponents.
Past strong performances from Will Brodie (2016) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (2017) helped push their top-10 draft credentials. Against Werribee two years ago, Brodie recorded 20 disposals and seven inside 50s, while last year against the Northern Blues, Davies-Uniacke had 22 disposals and six clearances.
Over the summer, the members of the AFL Academy headed to America for a high performance camp at the IMG Academy in Florida, while also training at AFL clubs to gain an insight into what it is like in the AFL environment. There is a good mix of talls and smalls in the AFL Academy squad and they will be hoping to put in a good showing in front of every clubs recruiting team, who will be following their every move right up until the draft, which will be held later in the year.
South Australians Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine are likely to feature in the top handful or so of players for the draft, while twins Max and Ben King put together an outstanding performance in Round 2 of the TAC Cup, where Max booted eight goals, while Ben collected 20 disposals as both brothers pulled down nine marks each for the contest.
Vic Country midfielder Sam Walsh also looms as an early pick and is one who will likely relish the contest against the bigger opposition, coming off a 36 disposal game for the Geelong Falcons against GWV Rebels in the TAC Cup on the weekend. Nick Blakey (NSW-ACT) and Tarryn Thomas (TAS) are two of the best prospects out of the pool of players who will take part in the Under 18 Academy Series, which kicks off Saturday week at Blacktown.
The number one pick in the 2017 AFL National Draft Cameron Rayner had 11 disposals and booted an outstanding goal on the run in last year’s AFL Academy clash against VFL opposition and there’s no doubt the Lions would’ve been watching that game closely last year. If there is a game for the 2018 draft prospects to announce themselves on the big stage, then this game is for them.
This weekend will also see the inaugural “tall camp” take place in Melbourne from April 9-11, with players 195cm or taller taking place. The players aged between 17 and 20 in this calendar year will be invited for training sessions over the weekend.
A full list of players invited to both the ‘tall camp’ and the final AFL Academy squads will be released later in the week.
Saturday 7th April 2018
AFL Academy vs. North Melbourne VFL