Tag: grand final curtain raiser

PREVIEW | West meets South once more for curtain-raiser showcase

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.

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The final squads are in with benches trimmed to five players apiece, and there are plenty of fresh faces to note down. With League and Colts finals taking precedence, Western Australia has made 13 changes to its August squad, while the visitors will rotate seven players into their side as skipper Jason Horne-Francis and the injured Jase Burgoyne come the other way. It means Lewis Rayson will captain the Croweaters alongside Mani Liddy.

The much anticipated midfield battle of game one will look much different too, with two of SA’s centre bounce starters in Horne-Francis and Matthew Roberts instead turning out for South Adelaide in tonight’s SANFL preliminary final. Liddy will take on much of the contested ball winning load, accompanied by game one emergencies Harvey Harrison and Shay Linke. The latter, who gained senior experience this season, should add some size while Harrison is a handy forward driver.

The depth remains for SA too, with Hugh Jackson to call upon off the bench along with bottom-age standout Adam D’Aloia, who is fresh off a best afield performance in Woodville-West Torrens’ SANFL Under 18s premiership. Off other lines, the likes of Arlo Draper, Cade Kennedy, and injury returnee Will Spain should also bolster the Croweaters’ midfield stocks in rotation.

Western Australia’s engine room took a hit with Angus Sheldrick a late out, compounding the loss of vice-captain Neil Erasmus and East Fremantle trio Josh Browne, Corey Warner, and Taj Woewodin. A strong core remains from last time out with Matthew Johnson set to take the centre bounces alongside East Perth duo Kade Dittmar and James Tunstill, but WA’s ball winning depth should be much further stretched this time around.

Luckily for the hosts, their embarrassment of riches in the tall department should continue to hold them in good stead. While bookends Rhett Bazzo and Jack Williams are unavailable, Luke Polson comes in to support state spearhead Jye Amiss as Jacob van Rooyen swings down back once again. There should be plenty of marking power in a heavily rotated backline too, which includes incoming bottom-agers Jedd Busslinger, Luke Michael, and Sam Gilbey.

Another state Under 17s representative, Jackson Broadbent has taken up the starting ruck role after cracking a League berth with Peel Thunder this season. He looks likely to be supported by Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Eric Benning with Subiaco’s Jake South another out. Even younger than Broadbent, 2005-born Dockers NGA talent Chase Bourne has also earned selection and should add some spark going forward.

SA has called upon some bottom-age talent of its own, as Norwood’s Max Michalanney comes in to sure up the defence. With WA’s key position rotation so stacked, the Redlegs tall will have plenty to do alongside fellow inclusion Jarrad Parish. At the other end of the ground, exciting West Adelaide forward Harry Lemmey should plug a Morgan Ferres-sized gap nicely, offering something slightly different at 199cm. He is another who has played League football this year.

The game is set to be streamed via the AFL website, starting at 1:00pm local time as a special curtain-raiser event for this year’s AFL Grand Final. Stay tuned to Draft Central for Scouting Notes on every player afield.

FINAL SQUADS:

Western Australia:

B: 15. F. Gorringe (c) – 24. J. Busslinger – 17. L. Michael
HB: 22. J. Avery – 29. J. van Rooyen – 14. S. Gilbey
C: 38. B. Hough – 19. K. Dittmar – 10. A. Jones
HF: 5. K. Harbour – 30. J. Amiss – 12. L. Paton
F: 31. E. Benning – 32. L. Polson – 8. J. Stretch
FOL: 45. J. Broadbent – 23. M. Johnson – 20. J. Tunstill

INT:  C. Bourne, 3. R. Farmer, 6. Z. Fleiner, 26. K. Bevan, 27. O. Armstrong
EMG: D. Curtin, J. Draper, G. Julian

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*, Julian Draper*, Griff Julian*

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

South Australia:

B: 32. Z. Becker – J. Parish – 25. M. Litster
HB: 18. A. Draper – 33. O. Adams – 2. B. O’Loughlin
C: 8. L. Rayson (c) – 11. H. Harrison – 13. N. Wanganeen-Milera
HF: 12. C. Kennedy – 31. L. Cooke – 3. W. Spain
F: 36. H. Lemmey – 34. J. Lukac – 1. I. Dudley
FOL: 35. O. Steene – 22. M. Liddy – 26. S. Linke

INT: 6. L. Grubb, 9. H. Jackson, 14. J. Owens, 21. A. D’Aloia, 27. M. Michalanney
EMG: 7. B. Calvett, 17. H. Stagg, 23. C. Beecken, 24. L. Whitelum

IN: Harvey Harrison, Shay Linke, Jarrad Parish, Will Spain, Harry Lemmey, Adam D’Aloia, Max Michalanney, Brayden Calvett*

OUT: Jase Burgoyne, Isaac Birt, Matthew Roberts (League), Jason Horne-Francis (League), Morgan Ferres, Hugh Stagg*, Cooper Beecken*

* – denotes emergency

Featured Image: West Australian skipper Finn Gorringe (no. 15) addresses his side | Credit: WAFL

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos