National U18 Championships preview: Allies

THE Allies head into the National Under 18 Championships as a side that is often underrated given it is fielded by players from multiple states that may not have regularly played together like some of the representative states. In 2018, the Allies have a couple of elite talents in Tarryn Thomas and Nick Blakey, and then some good midfield depth in Chayce Jones, Matthew Green and Bailey Scott.

Where they stand out is in their key position stocks with plenty of depth across the field. For fans of the northern academies, they will be keen to see how the likes of Caleb Graham (Gold Coast), Connor McFadyen (Brisbane), Kieren Briggs (GIANTS) and of course Blakey (Sydney) all slot into the side. Blakey is currently injured and will miss round one, but has shown enough to suggest he will give the top 10 a shake.

AFL Academy member Matthew Green is Northern Territory’s top prospect, along with the talented X-factor of Michael Mummery. Fraser Turner had the ball on a string in the Allies trial game, while Conor Budarick and Matthew Walker are other players who have been key contributors to the side. It is hard to work out exactly where they will fall in the scheme of things, but will be keen to start the tournament off with a win against Vic Country at home this weekend.

Players to watch:

Tarryn Thomas
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward | 189cm | 73kg | Tasmania

The biggest X-factor on the team, Tarryn Thomas looms as the critical player in the Allies campaign. He can get the job done through the midfield or up forward, and while he has traditionally been an outside midfielder, he showed in the trial game he can win his share of contested possessions. One of a number of players in contention for the Most Valuable Player award in the tournament, but will cop a lot of attention from opposing sides.

Nick Blakey
Key Position Forward | 195cm | 80kg | Sydney Swans Academy

Though he is missing game one through illness, Blakey will be a player to watch not only during the National Carnival, but throughout the year. He is a very athletic forward who can push up the ground and move into the midfield. In the Under 18 Academy Series he dominated, booting goals at will and was a clear top performer for the Swans across the carnival.

Chayce Jones
Balanced Midfielder | 180cm | 74kg | Tasmania

Building up some nice form through the Under 18 Academy Series and trial game, Jones looms as the top full-time midfielder in the Allies side. Along with Green and Bailey Scott, Jones will be on the inside winning clearances, then have the ability to find space and get the job done on the outside before hitting the scoreboard up forward.

Matthew Green
Outside Midfielder | 189cm | 73kg | Northern Territory

Green is a lightly built tall midfielder who is a smooth mover in transition. Not a huge contested ball winner, the Northern Territory product is a member of the AFL Academy and can often pivot on the spot and release a 360 handball to a teammate in space. He is the type of player used to move the ball quickly between half-back and half-forward and has a nice side-step as well.

Bailey Scott
Balanced Midfielder | 186cm | 74kg | Gold Coast Academy

The other father-son and Academy prospect who has been able to fly under the radar somewhat due to Nick Blakey’s influence, is Bailey Scott. He has had a solid start to the Under 18 Academy Series, Gold Coast’s top performer throughout and is a good size at 186cm. Expect him to play through the guts and be strong in there, also rotating forward and hopefully kicking some goals as well.

Caleb Graham
Key Position Utility | 195cm | 80kg | Gold Coast Academy

Graham can play at either end, and it will be exciting to see how he is used. He booted a huge bag in the Under 18 Academy Series, but is just as capable in defence. Gold Coast will monitor him closely as he could be one who continues to rise up the draft boards and draw a bid in the National Draft. Raw key position players take time, but he is one to watch.

Fraser Turner
Outside Midfielder | 186cm | 75kg | Tasmania

Turner played his best game of the season in the trial match where he notched up more than 30 disposals in a big game for the Allies. He is an outside midfielder who provides plenty of run, and also impacts on the scoreboard. He will likely rotate between midfield and forward like a number of players, and be the type who receives the handball and takes off.

Kieren Briggs
Ruck | 200cm | 98kg | GWS GIANTS Academy

The big GWS GIANTS MVP Award winner was impressive in the trial game for the Allies and unlike many talls in the team, he is readymade to tackle any opponent. Not as mobile as some of the others, he adds strength and is a strong contested mark. He spent time down forward in the trial game and while his radar was off, he provided a target and will rest down there in between his ruck duties. Will have a fascinating duel against Bailey Schmidt and Bailey Williams this weekend.

Connor McFadyen
Key Position Forward | 190cm | 88kg | Brisbane Lions Academy

The forward booted four goals and looked lively in the Allies trial game, and while he is that awkward medium height, he plays taller than his 190cm. He is well built at 88kg, so acts like a key position player, and is strong overhead, drawing free kicks at times. Expect him to line-up at full-forward and provide a target for his midfielders and is a good chance to get opportunities with the likes of Thomas and Jones kicking inside 50.

Mathew Walker
Balanced Midfielder | 187cm | 76kg | GWS GIANTS Academy

The Murray Bushrangers midfielder is not to be forgotten in the group, and looms as an underrated player on the team. He is a lovely user of the ball and wins most of his possessions in a contest. At 187cm, he is a taller midfielder and can drift around the field well. Expect him to have an impact at the stoppages and on the outside.

Fixtures:

Round 1: vs. Vic Country at Blacktown, Saturday, June 9, 10.30am
Round 2: vs. Vic Metro at Southport, Saturday, June 16, 11am
Round 3: Bye
Round 4: vs. South Australia at GMHBA Stadium, Friday, June 29, 2.10pm
Round 5: vs. Western Australia at Etihad Stadium, Wednesday, July 4, 2.10pm

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