Squad predictions: 2020 South Australia Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro and Vic Country predictions, and today we take a look at South Australia’s (SA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are limited to a total of three spots
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the third squad prediction, with SA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged

DEFENCE

FB – Lachlan Jones, James Borlase, Isaiah Dudley*
HB – Will Schreiber, Jye Sinderberry, Zac Dumesny

Height looms as somewhat of an issue in our proposed defence, with versatile utility James Borlase the tallest of the lot at 189cm, joined in a key position post by the 188cm Jye Sinderberry. But that is not to say the chosen six lack in marking power or strength, with South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny a capable interceptor, while Lachlan Jones adds a good amount of grunt with his 184cm/88kg frame.

Glenelg’s Will Schreiber adds to the back six’s solidity, while diminutive bottom-ager Isaiah Dudley can fill a pocket at either end on account of his ground level pressure. Should the SA coaches look toward a more conventional key position structure, Riley Thilthorpe is a tall option who can play just about anywhere, but will more likely be used as a ruck/forward. Luke Edwards is another half-back option having played there during last year’s Under 18s carnival.

MIDFIELD

C – Bailey Chamberlain, Luke Edwards, Tom Powell
FOL – Riley Thilthorpe, Jamison Murphy, Taj Schofield

The Croweaters lay claim to one of the stronger and more diverse midfield groups, and we are excited about how this one stacks up. It was tough to whittle down the options, but the balance of this six looks about right.

On the outside, Bailey Chamberlain and Tom Powell provide some real dash and athleticism, and will also be able to rotate through the centre bounces with their speed/agility combination. There may be a slight query on Powell’s endurance coming off spates of long-term injuries, but he was impressive during preseason testing.

Forming the centre bounce core is arguably a group of four midfielders, with Thilthorpe a dynamic ruck option who fares just as well at ground level. While he may feature as a key forward or utility at times as he improves his ruck craft, the range of other options in that department means he can be utilised around the ground.

A couple of potential father-sons make their move into the middle, with Edwards a big-bodied inside type who compliments the smooth moving Taj Schofield very well. Edwards, who is also a very capable defender is a must in the midfield given Jamison Murphy and the remaining candidates stand no taller than 180cm. Murphy’s hard-at-it style means he should have no troubles on the inside though, and provides a great story as a former Australian Under-17 cricket captain.

FORWARD

HF – Tariek Newchurch, Kaine Baldwin, Jason Horne*
FF – Corey Durdin, Henry Smith, Lachlan Grubb

There are a couple of players who are simply essential choices in the final team; with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Corey Durdin slotting into a pocket, and returning key forward Kaine Baldwin a lock across half-forward. It was tempting to slot Thilthorpe in at centre-half forward, but Baldwin is just as capable there at 193cm and 91kg.

172cm pocket-rocket, Durdin is a terrific midfielder at Under 18s level, but is sure to find a home as a small forward at the next level – as justified by his form in said position for Central Districts’ League side. Baldwin has not played any footy for over a year due to an ACL tear, but is a contested marking phenom who can also roam further afield.

He will likely be joined up the spine by Henry Smith, a raw tall option who marks the ball at its highest point at over 200cm. At his feet and alongside Durdin in our side is Lachlan Grubb, another who has entered the senior realm for Centrals’ Reserves side. He is an impressive athlete, much like silky Adelaide NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch. Last year’s State Under 16s captain and MVP Jason Horne rounds out the six, a player already accustomed to playing above his age group and one who may also feature through midfield.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Caleb Poulter, Mani Liddy, Nicholas Kraemer, Ned Carey

This was a very difficult bench to select with a bunch of line-calls, as will become obvious with the depth listed below. Ned Carey features as the lone key position option, able to fulfil a ruck-oriented role alongside the likes of Thilthorpe and Smith while resting forward.

Caleb Poulter is a dynamic option who could well have made it onto the half-forward flank, much like how Nicholas Kraemer could enter the midfield fray and Mani Liddy could be utilised on either of the said lines. Kraemer is one who can add some strength through the engine room, while Liddy could feature there too having previously been pushed out to the flanks.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

A pair of smalls who will likely rotate through the squad include Henry Nelligan and Cooper Horsnell. Nelligan is a midfielder who is never far away from the action, able to find the ball with ease at 170cm. Horsnell is the more forward-inclined of the two, able to find the goals while adding the string of wing play to his bow.

Another 200cm key position option, Zac Phillips is from the Woodville-West Torrens program and could get a look-in as ruck or key forward depth. An impressive utility who may also come into consideration is Riley Holder, who posted very impressive numbers for Glenelg in a range of roles at 190cm.

Aside from the Academy-listed top-agers mentioned above, Glenelg quartet Kye DeanLuke Pedlar, Jordan Moore, and Reid Kuller are names who have floated around the system, while Bulldogs pair Samuel Falland and Lewis Cowham may also be thereabouts, along with Norwood tall Sam Duke and West Adelaide’s Harvey Bock. There are of course, many others who will come under consideration, but the Academy group is quite strong and difficult to look past.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

The top-agers for 2020 set the benchmark with a national carnival win in their Under 16s year, and while last year’s 16s crop could not achieve the same feat, there are certainly some bright talents who will feature in the future.

Cooper Murley and Matthew Roberts were equally difficult omissions from the starting squad given our stipulation of three bottom-agers, maximum, and a decent midfield core. An Under-16 All-Australian last year alongside Horne and Dudley, Murley is a highly talented small midfielder who can also move forward, while Roberts has similar versatility as a 182cm midfielder.

Arlo Draper and Lewis Rayson are another two bottom-aged prospects among the Academy ranks, and could both make a case for breaking into the side. Athletic tall forward Morgan Ferres could come into consideration among the key position ranks, though the stocks are already quite full in that department.

Harry Tunkin is a Prince Alfred College and Glenelg product who impressed at Under 16 level, while Port Adelaide father-son hopeful Jase Burgoyne is also coming through the ranks and could feature at some point before his top-age year.

>> SANFL U18 CLUB PAGES:

Central District // Preseason interviews
Glenelg // Preseason interviews
North Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Norwood // Preseason interviews
South Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Sturt // Preseason interviews
West Adelaide // Preseason interviews
WWT Eagles // Preseason interviews

>> SANFL U18 PLAYER FEATURES:

AFL Draft Watch:

Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:

Durdin vs. Campbell