2021 AFL U17/U19 Championships preview: Queensland vs. Tasmania

WITH South Australia and Western Australia able to run out for a couple of representative games at the recent AFL Under 19 Championships, two of the Allied states join the party tomorrow when Queensland hosts Tasmania in a double-header of Under 17s and Under 19s action. The two games take place at Yeronga Sports Ground south of Brisbane, with the Under 17s kicking off from 9:30am, and the Under 19s locking horns at 11:30am.

With both state leagues in Queensland and Tasmania done and dusted, it means both states will have the pick of the players for their clash without having senior finals threatening to take away the top young talent. The visitors named their teams early a few days ago, with the Under 19s welcoming back Ollie Davis after playing for Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) in the bid to win a mid-season draft spot. Still remaining in the draft frame, the uncompromising Davis will lead a talented midfield that also features Darcy Gardner and Ollie Sanders.

Unfortunately the Devils will be without star talent Sam Banks who is still injured, but have a couple of National AFL Draft Combine invitees up either end in full-back Baker Smith, and centre half-forward Will Splann. Smith has been an impressive player for a number of years now with his reading of the ball in flight and intercepting capabilities. With Queensland having plenty of strong talls, he will be important to Tasmania getting the win. Splann is someone who has really enjoyed some fantastic form, first in the NAB League, and then in the TSL.

Others from the Apple Isle hoping to stake their case for the AFL Draft include top-agers Zac Morris and Sam Collins who have both been named in defence, as well as dangerous forward Jye Menzie. The Devils have nice balance across the ground and will be a difficult opponent for the Queensland side in this clash. Their opponents will be no push-overs either with some experienced top-age talent running around.

Saxon Crozier has continually put his hand up to be considered as a top-ager in 2021 after building more of an inside game, with he and Tahj Abberley among the midfielders who earned Draft Combine invites last year. Jack Briskey is a top-age tall who came close to earning a spot on Collingwood’s list after training with them over the summer, whilst goal-scoring machine Max Pescud, key defender Jack Johnston and the smooth-moving Bailey Reeves are all among those who were in consideration last year after combine invitations.

In 2021, Toby Trifett has continued to build for Morningside in the QAFL to put his hand up, whilst Cairns product Austin Harris remains Queensland’s key talent as a member of the AFL Academy. Bodhi Uwland has been the Sunshine State’s most consistent player in the NAB League, whilst Will Bella is hard to contain with his strength and overhead marking. Charlie Bowes, Brinn Little and Thomas Hofert round out the Allies Under 19 squad representatives.

Looking to the Under 17s clash, and the future year’s prospects will hope to catch the eye, lead by key forward Bryce Alomes who had a fantastic TSL Development Grand Final with five goals in a best-on-ground performance for Clarence. Ryley Sanders and Sam Banks-Smith will be players to watch in the midfield, with the Devils getting an additional chance at exposure to elite level football they missed out on in 2020, with a year or more to go to being in the AFL Draft selection frame.

For Queensland, they had a number of players who impressed in the NAB League and at QAFL level. Jaspa Fletcher is a potential father-son prospect to keep an eye on, but the other father-son in Will Ashcroft has been touted as a potential Top 5 selection. Though Ashcroft has been down in Victoria, the Lions have a couple of linked players for 2022. Ravi Schofield and Riley McMillan are other Lions players to watch in the big ‘Q’, while Cody Harrington is a high-level talent for the Suns with Jared Eckersley another name to watch coming out of the back half.

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