Fresh off their 2012 success, the Oakleigh Chargers are one of the many teams to beat in the 2013 TAC Cup.
After finishing sixth after the home and away season last year, the Chargers stormed home to beat the Gippsland Power by one point in the Grand Final. This season, the Chargers will face plenty of stiff competition, but look like one of the teams to beat.
Despite North Melbourne father-son future selection Luke McDonald electing to play with Werribee in the VFL, the Chargers are still a formidable line-up. Led by dynamo and top-10 hopeful Jack Billings, the Chargers will be aiming to go back-to-back in 2013.
Along with Billings, the Chargers host the likes of Guy Dickson, Tom Cutler and Collingwood New South Wales Scholarship player Elijah Edwards, who will be keen to have impressive seasons.
One team that could spoil Oakleigh’s chances of securing back-to-back flags are the Geelong Falcons. Recognised as a traditional ‘football factory’, the Falcons have an array of talent which will be on show. Players such as James Tsitas, Nick Bourke, Lewis Taylor and Darcy Gardiner are all names which could make their way onto AFL lists in 2014. After a disappointing finish for the Falcons’ standards last season, Geelong will be keen to bounce back and reclaim another flag.
A couple of dark horses in the TAC Cup are Sandringham and Dandenong, who also have a handful of players who will catch the eye of AFL recruiters throughout the season. Sandringham, after coming so close to achieving success last season, will be pushing even harder to claim that elusive flag with Christian Salem, Josh Kelly and Tim Allen in its starting line-up. Dandenong is in a similar position with impressive underage players from last season such as Clayton McCartney, Billy Hartung and Agape Patolo pulling on the Stingrays guernsey again.
Whilst there will be plenty of talent to eye off across the competition, one player that will be watched intensely is Thomas Boyd from Eastern Ranges. A potential number one pick in the same mould of Jonathon Patton, Boyd dominated last season as an under-aged player. With Tyler Hayward and Daniel Erasmus in his side, Ranges are expected to surprise.
A total of seven players were selected from the Calder Cannons in the 2012 National, Pre-Season or Rookie Drafts last year. They are expected to once again be highly competitive with players such as Aaron Christensen and Jason Cooke ones to watch.
A team certain to fly under the radar in 2013 are the Northern Knights who finished a lowly 10th last season. This year, they are expected to improve and become a big player in the finals. Ben Lennon, Cameron Conlon and Marcus Bontempelli are just some of the players that are helping to improve the Knights this season.
Leading the charge for the country teams are the North Ballarat Rebels and Murray Bushrangers. The Rebels have top 10 hopeful Matt Crouch, brother of Crows talent Brad. Crouch impressed last season against older bodies and whilst he was overlooked in the 17-year-old mini-draft in 2012, he is still expected to make a splash this season. For the Bushrangers, Jarman Impey and Nathan Drummond are two players that will be keen to impress recruiters this season.
The three remaining teams, the Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power and Western Jets, are teams that are confident about their youth pushing through from the under-16s. All three teams lost talented players through to the AFL last season which will make their jobs harder this year.
Bendigo will look to Isaiah Miller and Jacob Chisari to help achieve success whilst the Power have Aaron Heppell, who will be keen to follow in the footsteps of brother Dyson. For the Western Jets, leader Harrison King and over-ager Jake McKenzie are hoping their seasons can give them a chance at finding an AFL club.
No matter which team wins the competition in 2013, one thing that’s for sure is that we are sure to see a great crop of youngsters coming through.