Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL U17 National Championships – South Australia vs. Western Australia

WESTERN Australia notched another win over South Australia in this year’s makeshift Under 17 National Championships, defeating the hosts by 13 points at Thebarton Oval on Sunday afternoon. In what was a curtain raiser for the Under 19 showcase, there was plenty of talent on show in a strong indicator of what to expect from the next two draft classes. We highlight some of the standout performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Tyson Walls (Norwood)

Walls was a little warrior in the midfield, showing his stature had no say on his impact. He offered plenty of drive from the midfield, winning his fair share of contested ball but also spreading hard to have impact on the outside. The Norwood prospect showed great agility around the ground, proving hard to tackle but having no trouble tackling others. In those instances, he was tenacious not just with his tackles, but also his attack on the ball. Walls formed a great partnership with the likes of Nick Sadler and Kobe Ryan, with all three showing great work rate all day.

#5 Jack Delean (South Adelaide)

Delean was a real handful for the WA defenders, with his leap and forward craft difficult to contain aerially, but also at ground level with his speed. Delean showed great judgment overhead for his first goal, with a nice contested mark coming from behind. He would kick another two goals from free kicks, showing how worried the opposition was about his leap at marking contests and they had very right as he would even outmark WA tall Jedd Busslinger in the last quarter, kicking one more of his four goals for the day. The talented South Adelaide prospect won’t be draft eligible until 2023, so is one to watch for then.

#9 Nick Sadler (Sturt)

The agile Sturt midfielder didn’t have a huge day disposal-wise, but added a nice defensive element to the SA midfield by offering plenty in the way of pressure and defensive efforts – like spoiling and intercepting. His best play happened in the first quarter, setting up the first goal by attacking the loose ball inside 50 at pace, before cleanly and quickly firing off a handball to Brodie Tuck who nailed the goal. Also taking some nice marks, he showed his clean hands aren’t just useful at ground level and the speedy midfielder shapes as a player to watch next year.

#10 Kobe Ryan (West Adelaide)

A typical game from the West Adelaide ball magnet, Ryan won plenty of the ball and was his side’s most effective clearance player, with his clean hands and reading of the play real standouts. Ryan doesn’t waste any time on ground, which he showed by being active at stoppages and around the ground, working well over four quarters. Ryan’s clean hands and ability to get his arms free ensured he always put a teammate in a better position and would be rewarded himself with a nice running goal in the last quarter, showing his class.

#12 Jakob Ryan (Glenelg)

The versatile Ryan has played a fair bit forward and on a wing for Glenelg, impressing in the Bays’ Under 18s Grand Final defeat, but Ryan showed his ability to be a steady head in defence – often propelling and setting up the play with clean hands and composure. Playing as a third tall, he had some nice spoils and worked well with fellow defenders Max Michalanney, Patrick Weckert and Will Patton who all had great games. Ryan shapes as a versatile talent at 188cm and has plenty of traits to make him a likeable prospect for 2022.

#35 Harry Barnett (West Adelaide)

The athletic key forward/ruck prospect who is one of many next year for West Adelaide spent most of his time in the ruck up against quality WA talls Alex Condon and Jackson Broadbent. Although he isn’t a pure tap ruckman, he managed to show his athleticism and skill around the ground; highlighted with a nice leap and contested mark, and two occasions on the wing in the first quarter. One was against quality ruckman Condon, and he also showed his clean hands at ground level by roving like a small forward on the wing before going for a short dash. Although he fumbled at the crucial time, Barnett still showed his talent and mobility in that instance.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

By: Declan Reeve

#1 Darcy Jones (Swan Districts)

Jones was a big part of Swan Districts’ premiership season in the WAFL Colts, playing on the wing and through the rover role. Jones took the same rotation for WA’s Under 17s against SA, where he impressed onlookers and stunned the opposition with his speed and agility, with SA unable to stop him when he got space to get to top speed. Jones’ spread from the contest was superb, where he also positioned well to get into the best spots to receive a releasing handball, burst away and use the ball well going forward. At times he’d get forward of the ball and be at the end of team handball chains, where again he’d use his speed and kick to hurt the opposition. Jones worked hard all day and was rewarded for his efforts in the final term with an impressive goal where he hit a front and centre perfectly before snapping the ball home.

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)

One of the only players afield with Under 19s representative experience, it was no surprise that Hagan was one of the WA players to step up and consistently impact the game. Hagan often played a kick behind the play early on the game, setting himself under some high kicks and taking marks regardless of what sort of pressure was coming towards him. As the game went on, Hagan seemingly got more and more involved in the thick of the contest, winning contested ball and getting involved in handball chains more often, looking to be more and more aggressiv with his ball use.

#4 Koen Sanchez (East Fremantle)

One of the few 2023 draft eligible players afield, Sanchez was one of the two multiple goal kickers for the WA side. Playing mostly as a small forward, Sanchez showed a lot of promise with his ability to hit front and centres in the forward 50 and then look to pass the ball off quickly when he won it. Sanchez applied pressure in the forward half well, not afraid to take on opponents bigger than him. Sanchez moved into the midfield in the latter stages of the game and brought some zip and classy ball use to go with his two goals, making for a well rounded performance.

#8 Conrad Williams (Claremont)

Whilst WIlliams may not have won the most amount of the footy on the ground, he was classy in his ball use by foot. He also moved well both in space and through traffic, often moving the ball into the corridor to open the ground up ahead for his teammates. The highlight of his game came as WA initiated a fast break from defence, getting a kick out in front of Williams as he ran onto it, waltzed inside 50 and kicked an easy goal.

#9 Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts)

After a starring role in the WAFL Colts Grand Final the previous week, Hewett backed that up with a best-on-ground performance against the SA 17s, as he racked up possessions through the midfield and used the ball effectively going forward. Hewett demonstrated a high level work rate throughout the game, consistently repeating his efforts when required, working hard to tackle and pressure opponents, and running repeatedly to get the ball back after giving it off. Hewett was relentless in his hunt for the ball, running through opponents and even teammates at times to win it at ground level or lay a hard tackle on an opponent. Hewett did his best work in the contest, but he wasn’t slack with his work on the outside, linking up to get handballs and happy to run his distance and take a bounce before moving the ball on. Hewett also hit the scoreboard twice; one coming as he took advantage of a teammate’s free kick on the wing, ran to the 50-metre mark and kicked well for his first.

#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)

Gilbey pushed up the ground to intercept closer to the forward 50 and send it back in, keeping the pressure on SA, or apply pressure on SA players trying to quickly transition the ball from defense to offense, earning himself a couple of free kicks in the centre of the ground. Gilbey’s composure under pressure was a stand out trait when going for marks or running the ball forward, looking to kick long to leading targets.

#20 Jack Cleaver (East Fremantle)

Having proven his ability to play in all thirds of the ground, Cleaver was deployed mostly in the defensive half of the ground against SA, positioning down the line from the play to take intercept marks up the ground and fire the ball forward with precision. Cleaver was a hassle for opponents around stoppages as well, as he’d win clearances when he was a midfielder, or he’d push up to get a releasing handball out the back when he was a defender, continuing to move the ball forward with speed. 

#26 Kane Bevan (West Perth)

The big bodied midfielder is another player who had prior Under 19 championships experience, and showed it through the contest with his composure with ball in hand and through traffic. Bevan has a size advantage over most of his midfield opponents, and shows it with his strength and ability to stand up in tackles, rarely being brought down when an opponent tried and getting boot to ball easily or firing out a handball to a runner. Bevan marks well above his head, able to take intercept marks and contested grabs, even against taller opponents.

#28 Jedd Busslinger (East Perth)

Whilst Busslinger wasn’t quite as prolific as he has been in previous representative fixtures, he was still reliable through the contest as an intercept marking tall, keeping his opponents honest all game whilst offering solid offensive output as well. Busslinger was typically safe with his ball use, often looking to switch the ball in defensive 50 or spot up free targets when he won the ball further up the field.

#40 Alex Condon (Claremont)

The highly touted tall prospect will have a tough decision to make within the next 12 months, representing WA at Under 18’s Basketball and winning a gold medal earlier in the year. Much like Luke Jackson before him, Condon will have options in both sports, and football fans will be hoping he chooses the Australian code. Condon was untouchable in the ruck throughout the game, using his reach, athleticism and body work to keep his opponents away from the ball. Condon’s leap is the most impressive part of his athletic profile, easily getting above his opponent and putting his knee in their chest, tapping the ball well every time to his teammates advantage, or putting it straight onto their chest. Condon did well to have an impact aerially through the game as well, taking a few marks overhead or intercept handballs to stop the SA side moving the ball easily.

Image Credit: WAFL via Twitter

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