Under 18s Championships: Victorian preview

Vic Country:

B: Isaiah Miller (Bendigo) – Fraser Fort (Geelong) – Zak Jones (Dandenong)
HB: Nathan Drummond (Murray) – Darcy Gardiner (Geelong) – Josh Pickess (Dandeong)
C: Nic Bourke (Geelong) – James Tsitas (Geelong) – Jaden McGrath (Bendigo)
HF: Lewis Taylor (Geelong) – Patrick McCartin (Geelong) – Josh Scott (Gippsland)
F: Alex Saunders (Gippsland) – Dallas Willsmore (North Ballarat) – Billy Hartung (Dandenong)
R: Jack Leslie (Gippsland) – Aaron Heppell (Gippsland) – Nic Holman (Murray)
INT: Jarman Impey (Murray) – Darcy Lang (Geelong) – Zac Merrett (Sandringham) – Kyle Hendy (North Ballarat) – Jake Thomas (Gippsland) – Clayton McCartney (Dandenong)

One to watch: Lewis Taylor

It’s hard not to love the 173cm Taylor who has a perfectly balanced offensive and defensive game. While he can really hurt teams around the clearances and on the scoreboard, Taylor also tackles like a possessed man and does the team things time and time again. He has plenty of Falcons teammates in the side, so it’ll feel like home. Other high draft picks include James Tsitas, Billy Hartung and Darcy Gardiner.

X-Factor: Clayton McCartney

McCartney is a pocket rocket who can drift through the midfield while also being incredibly dangerous around goals. He has good pace and agility, knows how to turn his man inside-out and can kick some ridiculous goals. Needs to continue his Vic Country form from the last match where he booted six and maintain consistency which is something so many small forwards lack.

Time to step up: Josh Scott

Josh Scott is having a fantastic TAC Cup season, leading the goal kicking and ever-dangerous in the forward line. Being an over-ager, Scott has the experience and nous to know when to lead and has a great kicking action. He had all that talent last year, but didn’t get to stand up against the bigger bodies, and as a medium forward who plays tall, Scott would love nothing more than to score a bag here, especially considering he’ll get plenty of chances.

Keep in mind for 2014: Patrick McCartin

McCartin is under-age and therefore won’t be eligible to be drafted until 2014. Watch for him and his teammate Hugh Goddard (not in this week’s side) to be key movers next year. He’s a strong mark, good lead and everything you want in a key forward. It will be great exposure for him this year to see what it takes to become a leading key forward at the Under 18s Championships.


Vic Metro:

B: Nick Evans (Eastern) – Alex Spencer (Sandringham) – Lachlan Ritchie (Sandringham)
HB: Tom Cutler (Oakleigh) – Elliot Le Grice (Sandringham) – Joshua Kelly (Sandringham)
C: Marcus Bontempelli (Northern) – Luke McDonald (Werribee) – Hugh Curnow (Northern)
HF: Jack Billings (Oakleigh) – Max Hayes (Sandringham) – Ben Lennon (Northern)
F: Jesse Tardio (Northern) – Thomas Boyd (Eastern) – Christian Salem (Sandringham)
R: Michael Apeness (Eastern) – Will Maginness (Oakleigh) – Nathan Freeman (Sandringham)
INT: Sean McLaren (Sandringham) – Karl Amon (Sandringham) – Jordan Walker (Eastern) – Aidan Franetic (Oakleigh) – Mitchell Keedle (Eastern)

One to watch: Jack Billings

You could throw a blanket over a heap of players here including Tom Boyd, Josh Kelly and Christian Salem, but I’ve gone for Billings. Having been playing APS footy, Billings hasn’t played since the first match of the year so will be keen to get out there and impress. A top ten draft pick, Billings’ attack on the footy through the midfield and up forward is fantastic. He usually finds space inside 50 and can sneak a couple of goals which will be telling.

X-Factor: Christian Salem

Salem is the footballing ‘Rolls-Royce’ and has drawn many comparisons to Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury. He is a ‘time and space’ type player who seemingly doesn’t rush while others are panicking around him. His disposal is elite and knows how to hit targets in traffic. The one concern is his ability to find the football compared to others, but when he does, you know it’s going to hurt the opposition.

Time to step up: Karl Amon

This team has plenty of midfield stars and the reason I’ve chosen Amon as the one to stand up is because he’s considered to be behind Billings, Salem, Kelly, McDonald, Bontempelli and Freeman among others so he’s competing to put his name in recruiters considerations ahead of his fellow midfielders. Amon has been ultra-impressive this season and he’ll want to continue that form because he has talent, and now is the time to show it on the big stage.

Keep in mind for 2014: Sean McLaren

McLaren is an underrated tall who has played both ruck and up forward. He doesn’t find a heap of the footy, but 18 hitouts a game isn’t to be sniggered at. He’ll only improve and with a full TAC Cup season under his belt, the 197cm, 91kg Sandringham ruck is one that is likely to bloom in 2014 so keep him in mind for next year.


The Opposition:


Players to watch:

Kade Kolodjashnij – Two stellar performances including a 37 disposal game last week sees him shoot up the draft rankings.
Zac Webster – Livewire with good pace and knows how to find the footy, one with plenty of potential.
Eli Templeton – Good movement, finds space and regularly hits target by hand or foot.
Toby Nankervis – Really impressive game last week rotating between ruck and forward, definitely one to consider this year.



Players to watch:

Michael Gibbons – An absolute star. Nuggety midfielder who racks up the footy and is good in contested situations.
Elijah Edwards – If you wanted an X-Factor, he’s your man. Faster than Lewis Jetta, Edwards will be one player Pies fans will love at a bargain basement price.
Kieran Ellis – Underrated Bushrangers midfielder who does his job and uses it well. Loves to run too.
Jedd Clothier – Another player who has been impressive for Calder this season and a good Under 18s Championships could really see him cement a spot on an AFL list

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