The significance of Under 16 and Futures (U17s) games have gone up a notch in 2016 due to the added ability for clubs to trade future draft picks.
The new concept came in force in 2015, pivotal in trades such as Adam Trealoar to Collingwood and Lachie Henderson to Geelong. AFL clubs sent scouts across the country to watch the opening round which occurred a fortnight ago, with some braving the single digit temperatures in Tasmania- while others baked in the Darwin sun.
In Tasmania, the cold temperatures seemed foreign to the Queensland opposition, with Tasmania collecting the win 66-23. Tasmania were disappointing in the Under 18 championships, with many fearing this may be the first draft in a long time without a Tasmanian representative.
However, Tasmania showed plenty of promise in the Futures (U17) game played before despite going down by nine-points. Queensland U18 representative and Level One academy member Jack Clayton was best on ground, booting a goal and working hard off half back .
Tasmania’s strong Under 16 effort was led by Tarryn Thomas– who was the winner of Tasmania’s Under 18 MVP after a strong showing in the national carnival despite being two years younger than everyone.
Thomas’ 26 disposal effort and two goals earnt him best on ground honours, with teammate Mitchell Anderton was also one of the Mariners best playing in defence.
For Queensland, there weren’t too many standouts in the chilly conditions. Tom Matthews worked hard through the midfield but it was Ethan Hunt who was the leading disposal winner for the away team.
TASMANIA: Rubock 2, Thomas 2, Boyd 2, Jubb, Banks-Smith
QUEENSLAND: Matthews, Deacon, S. Parkin-Owens
TASMANIA: Anderton, Thomas, Jackson, Rubock, Auckland, Jones, Gadomski, Banks-Smith, Boyd
QUEENSLAND: Portelli, Graham, McFadyen, Mills, Coleman
Up in Darwin, NSW/ACT collected a big win in the Futures game and were simply too good for Northern Territory at night in the Under 16 match.
The futures match was all one way traffic, with the Rams winning by 190-points. Midfielder Jake Brown had over 30 disposals and booted a bag of five goals. Connor Byrne, Liam Maze, Jacob Turner, Jack Hardan were also amongst the best for the Rams.
In the Under 16 contest, the match was evenly poised at Half Time, before the Rams kicked away to win by 46-points.
Jai Reed booted four goals for the Rams, while Liam Holt-Fitz starred for Northern Territory. Michael Mummery also provided a good target inside 50 and has featured in the Northern Territory‘s TAC Cup side this season.
NSW/ACT: Reed 4, Walker 3, Carmody 2, Close 2, Lucas
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Mummery, Green, Cameron, Kossack, Stevens
NSW/ACT: Holten, Rowston, Corbett, Blakey, Beaumont, Kelly
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Holt-Fitz, Green, Althouse-Cooper, Brown, Jungfer, Blake
Despite not kicking off their Round 1 carnival until Sunday 26th June, both Victorian sides had a hit out against different opposition.
Vic Metro Futures (U17) played the Vic Metro Under 16 side at Warrawee Park (Oakleigh). The result was always going to go one way, but the under 16s battled hard all game to only go down by five-goals.
Rhylee West (Son of Western Bulldogs great Scott) stood out and was best afield. West was hard at the ball and kicked well off both feet. The 179cm midfielder is one to watch throughout the carnival due to his strength in the contest as shown against the bigger Under 17 opposition.
Sandringham Dragons talls Ben & Max King both showed promise at both ends of the field, while Joel Crocker (Son of North Melbourne player Darren) was missing in action with a shoulder injury.
For the Futures, Ethan Casey was superb in the ruck contests all day, willing to get to every stoppage in the rain. Max Philpot also was good in defence for the Under 17s while Angus Styles rebounded the ball out of defence well.
In the other match, Vic Country U16s played the Laguntas at Punt Road Oval.
The Laguntas Program is an initiative between AFL Victoria and Richmond’s centre of Indigenous youth (Korin Gamadji Institude).
Country were too strong for the Laguntas, running out winners by 59-points.
Under the watch of the Country U18 squad, there were many familiar names for Vic Country. Oscar Brownless (Son of Billy), Thomas Berry (Brother of Jarrod), Jacob Atley (Brother of Shaun & Joe) and Kyle Dunkley (Brother of Josh).
In flashy blue boots, Atley was strong working through the midfield, teaming up with Dunkley who used his long boot to propell the ball inside 50 from the wing.
Scott Carlin and Jye Caldwell were also two names who showed glimpses and will be ones to watch in the Under 16 carnival.
Murray Bushrangers overager Jordan Butts has impressed in the TAC Cup and was a strong pillar in defence for Vic Country, helping them rebound the ball forward.
For the Laguntas side, Jhdra Jones (Brother of Liam) had great speed and dash from the backline and used his right foot well on multiple occassions.
Bendigo Pioneer Jamaine Jones worked hard off half back but was unable to stop the Vic Country pressure.
Round One of the Under 16 carnival continues this weekend with South Australia playing Western Australia on Saturday before Vic Country meet Vic Metro on Sunday at 11.30am at Simonds Stadium.
Rounds two & three will be held on the Gold Coast
Monday 4th July: (Metricon Stadium)
South Australia v Vic Metro
Vic Country v Western Australia
Tuesday 5th July: (Metricon Stadium)
NSW/ACT v Queensland
Tasmania v Northern Territory
Friday 8th July: (Southport)
South Australia v Vic Country
Vic Metro v Western Australia
Saturday 9th July (Southport)
NSW/ACT v Tasmania
Queensland v Northern Territory