South and West Australia set for changes galore in grand final curtain raiser

DRAFT watchers and recruiters alike will be treated to another Under 19 National Championships spectacle this weekend, with South Australia and Western Australia going head-to-head in Saturday’s AFL grand final curtain raiser. Having already met once this year, the two sides will look much different this time around with a bunch of changes set to take place. With finals and senior football taking precedence across the two states, along with injuries and general squad rotation, there could be a combined 22 fresh faces lining up in the Optus Stadium showcase. It means players previously on the periphery may now get a look-in, while some bottom-agers have also entered the mix after Jed Hagan (2004-born) was the youngest player afield in August.

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Three players will instead turn out for state league finals this weekend, with two of them belonging to South Adelaide. The Panthers take on Glenelg in Friday night’s preliminary final, set to take on South Australian skipper Jason Horne-Francis and first round prospect Matthew Roberts. Having both been part of the Croweaters’ starting midfield group, they leave big gaps to fill. Jesse Motlop, who snared a goal in August’s carnival clash, is also a required man at senior level. The speedy and smart small forward will again run out for South Fremantle in Sunday’s WAFL preliminary final bout, against Claremont. WA should be covered well for the loss, with previous emergencies Jahmal Stretch and Kaden Harbour both in contention to play along with Richard Farmer.

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The South Australian Under 18s competition came to a close last week, but Western Australia’s Colts remain in the thick of a finals series. East Fremantle, which generates a raft of the state’s prospects each year, takes on Swan Districts this week and thus rules out a combined nine players who featured last time. Among the Sharks’ group are highly-touted midfielders Corey Warner, Josh Browne, and Taj Woewodin along with Max Chipper of the Swans. The Sandgropers will have to dip into their rich key defensive stocks with Jack Williams and Rhett Bazzo also missing, while rebounding defenders Judd McVee and Bryce Watson leave more holes in the backline with Hagan. Luckily for WA, captain Finn Gorringe remains given he has been part of East Fremantle’s League set-up.

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Among the other rotations for the hosts will be Neil Erasmus, whose season is over. The vice-captain and Subiaco standout was a late out in August, and will rest up ahead of draft day. Dynamic West Coast Next Generation Academy (NGA) forward Ethan Regan and Subiaco ruck Jake South also come out of the side. For SA, Jase Burgoyne looms as another major loss after he also missed Woodville-West Torrens’ Under 18 flag triumph last week. Elsewhere, Morgan Ferres has not been named after not playing Sturt’s Reserves loss last week.

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It’s not all bad news for both sides despite the omissions, with some terrific bottom-age talent in line to take the field. SA has called up Alan Stewart Medal winner Adam D’Aloia, along with key forward Harry Lemmey and 190cm defender Max Michalanney. For WA, key defender Jedd Busslinger is again among the squad in one of many defensive adjustments. Luke Michael and Sam Gilbey promise to add to the team’s marking quality down back, while Kane Bevan may also do so but can play in a variety of roles.

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Peel Thunder ruck Jackson Broadbent comes in having earned a League debut this season, as 2005-born prospects Chase Bourne and Daniel Curtin look set to be named as emergencies. The hosts’ tall division will be further bolstered by the addition of Luke Polson, with Arthur Jones and Oscar Armstrong very different types of wingmen who offer some quality on the outside. Zac Fleiner is another to watch among the inclusions, as he looks to slot in as a small defender after some time on the sidelines.

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Previous SA emergencies Luca Whitelum, Harvey Harrison, and Shay Linke will fancy a crack in the starting side this time around, with a couple of extended squad members also in the mix. Sturt midfielder-forward Will Spain has been called up having featured in the Double Blues’ Reserves, and Brayden Calvett is another new name in the extended squad after his two-goal display for the Eagles’ twos.

FULL SQUADS

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

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#3 Richard Farmer (Subiaco)
#5 Kaden Harbour (East Perth)
#6 Zac Fleiner (West Perth)
#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
#10 Arthur Jones (Claremont)
#12 Lochlan Paton (West Perth)
#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)
#15 Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle), (c)
#17 Luke Michael (West Perth)
#19 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)
#20 James Tunstill (East Perth)
#22 Jack Avery (Perth)
#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
#24 Jedd Busslinger (East Perth)
#26 Kane Bevan (West Perth)
#27 Oscar Armstrong (East Fremantle)
#29 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)
#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
#31 Eric Benning (Claremont)
#32 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)
#38 Brady Hough (Peel Thunder)
#45 Jackson Broadbent (Peel Thunder)
Chase Bourne (South Fremantle)
Daniel Curtin (Claremont)

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IN: Jedd Busslinger, Jahmal Stretch, Kaden Harbour*, Luke Michael, Sam Gilbey, Arthur Jones, Richard Farmer, Luke Polson, Jackson Broadbent, Oscar Armstrong, Kane Bevan, Zac Fleiner, Chase Bourne, Daniel Curtin
OUT: Jesse Motlop (League), Jed Hagan (Colts), Judd McVee (Colts), Max Chipper (Colts), Bryce Watson (Colts), Taj Woewodin (Colts), Josh Browne (Colts), Corey Warner (Colts), Rhett Bazzo (Colts), Jack Williams (Colts), Ethan Regan, Jake South, Neil Erasmus * – denotes previously emergency

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

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#2 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide)
#3 Will Spain (Sturt)
#6 Lachlan Grubb (Central District)
#7 Brayden Calvett (Woodville-West Torrens)
#8 Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
#9 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)
#11 Harvey Harrison (North Adelaide)
#12 Cade Kennedy (West Adelaide)
#13 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
#14 Jacob Owens (Glenelg)
#17 Hugh Stagg (Glenelg)
#18 Arlo Draper (South Adelaide)
#21 Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)
#22 Mani Liddy (Sturt) #23 Cooper Beecken (Glenelg)
#24 Luca Whitelum (Central District)
#25 Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)
#26 Shay Linke (Central District)
#27 Max Michalanney (Norwood)
#31 Lukas Cooke (Woodville-West Torrens)
#32 Zac Becker (Sturt)
#33 Oscar Adams (Glenelg)
#34 Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)
#35 Oscar Steene (West Adelaide)
#36 Harry Lemmey (West Adelaide)

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IN: Luca Whitelum, Harvey, Harrison, Shay Linke*, Will Spain, Harry Lemmey, Adam D’Aloia, Max Michalanney, Brayden Calvett
OUT: Isaiah Dudley, Jase Burgoyne, Isaac Birt, Matthew Roberts, Jason Horne-Francis, Morgan Ferres * – denotes previously emergency

Image Credit: SANFL via Twitter

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