THE NEXT generation of West Australian talent took centre stage on Saturday, as the Under 17 and Under 19 state squads went head-to-head in Claremont. As expected, the elder and more developed Under 19s took out a one-sided victory, 17.13 (115) to 4.9 (33), but prospects from both sides were able to showcase high-level potential. We highlight some of the top performers in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.
Note, Neil Erasmus, Josh Browne, Jaiden Hunter (injured), Jack Avery, Corey Warner, and Jesse Motlop (League commitments) were all unavailable for the clash. Rucks Jake South and Eric Benning also swapped to play a half for either side.
WA U17s 1.2 | 1.5 | 4.7 | 4.9 (33)
WA U19s 4.4 | 9.6 | 14.9 | 17.13 (115)
U17s: J. South, D. Curtin, E. Hewitt, J. Baker
U19s: J. Stretch 3, J. Amiss 3, J. Williams 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar 2, J. van Rooyen, M. Johnson, L. Polson, E. Regan, K. Harbour
U17s: E. Hewitt, S. Gilbey, D. Jones, E. Allan, D. Curtin, J. Cleaver
U19s: K. Dittmar, M. Johnson, E. Regan, J. Stretch, J. Tunstill, A. Sheldrick
WA UNDER 17s (YELLOW):
By: Ed Pascoe
#1 Darcy Jones (Swan Districts)
3/04/2004 | 173cm/60kg | Midfielder
Jones didn’t play against South Australia in West Australia’s first 17s hitout, but proved he would have been a handy edition to the side as the creative small midfielder showed plenty with his clean hands and ability to find the football despite his size. Obvious comparisons could be made with Bulldogs star Caleb Daniel, who is another helmet wearing little star, although Jones’ disposal wasn’t to that high level. He still won plenty of the ball inside and outside the contest, and looked composed and clean when in possession.
#9 Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts)
27/05/2004 | 182cm/80kg | Midfielder
A tough customer and arguably best on ground for the 17s side, Hewett was a contested beast in the midfield, winning plenty of hard ball and releasing his runners well. Playing against some very solidly built midfielders in the 19s side, Hewett more than held his own in terms of contested ball winning and skill. He was a tough player to take down with his agility and ability to fend off with ease, and was rewarded with a lovely running goal after escaping congestion to dish off before working hard to get on the end of it and kick a long bomb from 50m in the third quarter. The solid midfielder continues to show he is one of the better midfield prospects for Western Australia in the 2022 draft.
#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)
14/05/2004 | 185cm/67kg | Defender
The smooth moving left-footed defender draws comparisons to a former Essendon star in Adam Ramanauskas, with his speed and agility to go with his class and skill by foot, making him one of the leading defensive prospects for the 2022 draft. Gilbey took a little bit of time to get into the game but once he did he got to show his quality, with his kicking and athleticism from the back half really catching the eye both offensively and defensively. A great run through the middle taking a bounce in the last quarter highlighted why he is such an exciting young talent, with the dangerous combination of speed and class.
#20 Jack Cleaver (East Fremantle)
22/05/2004 | 187cm/83kg | Midfielder
The tough left-footed midfielder has leadership written all over him and with his stronger body and smarts, he has shown over a few games now that he could play a range of positions. Cleaver didn’t get a huge amount of the ball but still showed plenty of his better traits with some nice bodywork and clean hands at stoppages, and an impressive mark in the second quarter which showed his strength overhead. Cleaver has proven to be one of WA’s leading draft prospects this season and will certainly feature again when the 17s championships continue later in the year.
#25 Edward Allan (Claremont)
26/05/2004 | 191cm/77kg | Wing
Missing the first game against South Australia like Jones, Allan showed he could have been a handy addition himself by winning plenty of the ball on the wing and proving to be a great link up option with his smarts and skills. A taller wingman at 191cm, he showed he could use that height to advantage, taking a very nice intercept mark down back in the first quarter to show he could work both ways as well. With solid skills and smarts, the Claremont prospect will look to stamp his place in the side when the championships conclude later in the year.
#30 Daniel Curtin (Claremont)
8/03/2005 | 190cm/86kg | Tall Defender/Forward
A standout in Western Australia’s first game of the Under 17 championships against South Australia, the medium sized key position player looked solid in his preferred role against the 19s down back in the first half, before getting a change of pace playing forward in the second half and showing some great versatility. It wasn’t the standout game like his first for the 17s, but he still managed to show his when class kicking a goal up forward. Although laconic in his approach, he was composed and strong with ball in hand and showed great bodywork against the bigger 19s key defenders.
WA UNDER 19s (BLACK):
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)
15/10/2004 | 174cm/71kg | Small Defender
The sole bottom-ager afield for the Under 19s, Hagan proved once again he is up to the level with an assured game from defence. While capable of rolling through midfield, the East Fremantle product took a back seat to allow draft eligible prospects to shine, but performed his role well. Hagan’s clean skills played perfectly into his side’s style, with his short kicking game seeing the Under 19s transition efficiently. He was even entrusted with the kick-in duties, which he looked comfortable with.
#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder/Forward
Rotating between the midfield and forwardline, Sheldrick played a key hand in his side’s midfield domination in the first half. The strong bodied ball winner wasn’t afraid to bustle through traffic and got his hands dirty at the contest, doing his best to break clear with little room to move. The second quarter was his best, as Sheldrick worked his opponent over to repeatedly get loose inside 50 and boot two goals. Both came via set shots, and Sheldrick even showcased some solid overhead marking on a couple of occasions later on.
#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
16/01/2003 | 181cm/62kg | Small Forward
A raw and exciting small forward, Stretch provided some spark for the Under 19s with his pace and pressure. He was gifted a good start by Jacob van Rooyen, who cut off an errant kick-in and handed him a goal over the top, but Stretch crafted his own chances as the game wore on. The Claremont talent took a nice two-grab mark at full stretch in the second term to convert another major, before adding a third in the following period from the same method. Stretch hit the post with a dribbler and put a couple more shots out on the full, but was certainly amongst the action inside 50. He capped his game with a spring-heeled fly and mark from the back just before the final siren.
#19 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)
14/01/2003 | 185cm/86kg | Inside Midfielder
Arguably the best player afield, Dittmar brought his bash-and-crash style to the midfield battle, but also added some more refined work in his disposal going forward. As expected of the big-bodied East Perth ball winner, he used his strength over the ball and burst out of packs at will, proving difficult to combat on the inside. He spread forward nicely too, breaking inside 50 to take a mark and goal in the first quarter, before bombing a long goal from the arc in term four. Dittmar also had a hand in multiple other goals, steadying to spear passes forward, hitting targets cleanly to really balance his game.
#20 James Tunstill (East Perth)
18/07/2003 | 185cm/76kg | Midfielder
Waxing with East Perth teammate Dittmar in midfield, Tunstill found plenty of possessions and impressed with his ability to burst onto the outer. His turn of speed was a key feature while getting first hands to the ball, as Tunstill broke tackles and move the ball on effectively from the engine room. With the likes of Neil Erasmus and Josh Browne still to return for WA, Tunstill is one who may have just caused selectors the right kind of selection headache.
#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder
Johnson showed his class on Saturday and was the most polished player afield, looking smooth as ever in midfield. The first round prospect benefitted from others’ hard work at the coalface, proving a point of difference with his cleanliness and poise in possession. He often propped in traffic, drew opponents, and found teammates with aplomb by hand, seemingly unfazed by oncoming pressure. His kicking was also terrific, making for a really well-rounded game in the middle. Johnson hit the scoreboard too by taking a clean half-volley and snapping the ball home during term two.
#25 Ethan Regan (East Perth)
9/04/2003 | 189cm/80kg | Forward
The West Coast NGA talent enjoyed a few really promising purple patches, where he looked dangerous as the Under 19s headed into attack. One of Regan’s first acts was a crucial mark in the corridor, showcasing his explosiveness and aerial ability to make a risky kick look good. That same leap and reach was on show in a couple more instances, and while he was often an effective link inside 50, Regan also got forward himself for some chances on goal. He ended with just one major, from a set shot in the third quarter.
#29 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)
16/04/2003 | 193cm/91kg | Key Forward/Defender
On what ended up being an indifferent day for van Rooyen, he spent the first half up forward before behind shifted to defence. After handing one off, missing a sitter from the open goalsquare and spurning a set shot, the Claremont key forward got on the board in term two having used his body well in a marking contest. van Rooyen’s second efforts and ability to break tackles translated well in defence, as he had a couple of tough one-on-one moments but recovered to apply pressure and help relieve any danger.
#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward
Amiss simply doesn’t miss out and that was no different on Saturday, as the WAFL Colts leading goalkicker snared three majors for the Under 19s. All three of them came after half time, as Amiss benefitted from a personnel shift in the front six. He showcased his improving ground level game with a good crumb and snap in term three, before getting on the lead for another major in the same quarter. While most of his best work was done inside attacking 50, Amiss also took a couple of strong grabs presenting further afield. He looks a lock for WA’s starting forwardline.
#32 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)
10/04/2003 | 196cm/94kg | Key Defender/Forward
Another tall who spent time at both ends of the ground, Polson earned another big tick for his versatility. He started in defence and displayed great mobility, enjoying his time in possession and looking to make things happen in transition. While that led to a few odd decisions in his disposal, Polson carried the ball well and stood up strongly in tackles. When shifted forward, he used that same strength when presenting as a leading target up the ground. The Peel Thunder prospect also slotted a nice goal on the fly during term three to further prove his dynamism.
#36 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)
17/10/2003 | 195cm/79kg | Key Defender
While not an overly prolific outing for Bazzo, the Swan Districts swingman was able to bring forward some of his best traits in defence. He looked composed on the ball and distributed it nicely by foot, choosing the right options when there was nothing to kick to down the line. He also rose for a couple of nice intercepts across the defensive 50, but generally did not have too much to do down back with the Under 19s dominant for large stints of the game.
#43 Jack Williams (East Fremantle)
1/12/2003 | 194cm/95kg | Key Forward/Ruck
Williams looked ominous early as he snagged two goals in the opening term, coming from a mixed bag of opportunities. The standout East Fremantle tall used his size and reach in aerial contests and followed up well on a few instances, but was caught out for a lack of speed in others. He also pinch-hit in the ruck and was solid with his bodywork, but arguably looked more productive in attack. Williams could have finished with a couple more majors if not for inaccuracy, missing a pair of long set shots in the final term with a heavy ball.
Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter