Tag: nsw-act

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.

BRISBANE LIONS

Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.

Others:

Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.

GOLD COAST SUNS

Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.

Others:

Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.

GWS GIANTS

Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.

Others:

Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.

SYDNEY SWANS

Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.

Others:

William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

Rogers looks towards Gulden source of inspiration

THE Sydney Swans Academy has been a raging success for the New South Wales-based club, producing the likes of Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, and most recently Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell. It means the next generation of Swans stars never have to look far for inspiration, with the visual of their elders’ journeys serving as a clear pathway to the top.

For current Academy member Felix Rogers, that pathway has taken on a varied route but still holds some influence from closer to home. The small midfielder-forward is crafty with ball in hand and has little trouble finding it, much like one of the Swans’ most recent Academy graduates.

“I’d say someone who I’ve really moulded my game on pretty recently is Errol Gulden,” Rogers said. “He was only a year ahead of me in the academy. I played and trained with him and was always underneath him in that role as the link forward or midfielder. “My biggest strengths would be my kicking and that kicking leading to goals… this year I played on-ball and drifted forward again, I think another strength which showed was my ability to find the footy pretty well.

“(Tackling) is a part of my game I can improve. “Definitely because I’m shorter than the average AFL player, that’s always looked upon as a bit of a weakness but I guess it’s not the size of the dog in the fight.”

Born in London, Rogers moved to Australia with his family at age four, only picking up the native football code when he was about 10. After missing the cut in his first crack at entering the Swans Academy, the 18-year-old has been there ever since and yielded some terrific honours en route to Allies squad selection this season.

“I only really started playing AFL when I was about 10 and really, really got into it,” Rogers said. “I was playing (European) football up until then, obviously coming from England. “Outside of the Swans Academy, I’ve gone through my local club which is Willoughby Wildcats, then into (AFL Sydney) Premier League with the North Shore Bombers.

“(NSW-ACT) Rams was great fun for Under 16s. We were up on the Gold Coast and had a pretty good team. I played pretty decent in that carnival but ended up doing my shoulder at the end of it, in the last game against Tasmania. Ever since then I’ve had to get that right and I was lucky enough to have it ready and okay this year. “That lead me into a couple of good NAB League games for the Swans and lead into Allies selection which was my goal all year round. I was super ecstatic to make the squad. It’s just unfortunate that’s looking more and more unlikely to go ahead.”

While currently in lockdown and pondering the “what ifs” of season 2021, Rogers still managed to produce some blistering form when allowed on the park. He got a taste for senior football with four games in Sydney’s Premier Division and turned out in a VFL scratch match, while also averaging 28.3 disposals, 6.7 inside 50s and booting four goals across three NAB League outings.

“I think I’ve probably had one of my better years to date,” he said. “For me, this year’s kind of been a bit of a ‘wonder if?’. “Had the Swans had five more games where I kept up the numbers I had, could I be in a lot better position to try and get myself drafted? “Had the Swans not finished up so early and COVID not interrupted, would I have gotten games for the Allies?

“This was my first year of senior footy. It was good fun, it’s a good group and it’s really interesting to play with bigger bodies. “It’s not as fleet-footed as NAB League games and what-not but it’s an interesting dynamic.”

Having been immersed in the Sydney pathway program for many years now, Rogers is an avid Swans supporter and says landing at his home club would be his “first choice”, but is happy to land just about anywhere at the end of this “crazy” year.

The budding draft prospect is also completing his Year 12 studies online with sights studying business and law alongside football next year. As for his escapes from “repetitive” lockdown living, Rogers has gotten into golf. A stint on the Gold Coast also helped him focus on football and get out of the current bubble.

“I’m big time into my golf, that’s my hobby outside of AFL,” he said. “It’s a bit hard with all the time it takes up but I find that a good release from footy and from school. “Day to day is very repetitive. I’ve still got online classes so I try and do a bit of exercise in and around them – go to the little home gym we have here and go for a kick or go for a run. It’s hard to try and keep that routine but it’s definitely valuable, especially with the small chance of Allies games still going ahead.

“I was in the Gold Coast about a month ago. “I lived up there and was training with the Suns Academy for a bit and played a VFL game. “That was a good experience and that was a bit of an escape from COVID lockdown which was lovely and meant I could focus on my footy a bit more as well.”

With such a series of experiences comes some important mentors too, from those who have nurtured Rogers through the Swans Academy, to others who have come in and guided him more recently.

Jared Crouch, Chris Smith, and Nick Davis at the Academy have been phenomenal,” he said. “They help us in every facet of the game. I think another key mentor for me only really came this year and that was Lloyd Perris. He used to be in the academy system and played with Isaac Heeney. He’s now our North Shore Bombers coach, he knows all about the system and has been very good with me and trying to help forge a path.”

While overlooked for the initial National Combine intake, Rogers caught the eye this year and if there is anything his journey through the Swans’ pathway has shown, it’s that he can overcome early obstacles to produce great things.

Anderson rides the wave of a long footballing journey

THERE are few junior footballers who have experienced a journey quite like that of Angus Anderson. The Sydney Swans Academy captain hails from Sawtell, a coastal town in northern New South Wales, but has ticked off a plethora of other destinations en route to earning a National Draft Combine invite this month.

The six-hour drive to Sydney initially made it difficult for the 18-year-old to regularly participate with the Swans Academy, but he put his name in lights this year after spending a preseason with the Southport Sharks VFL side, and earning a spot on their supplementary list.

“I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be the skipper for the Swans Academy,” Anderson said. “It’s a great honour really, especially since I’m not down there every weekend, so it just shows that the coaching staff and the team have had faith in me.”

Anderson travelled three hours up to the Gold Coast to train with Southport, ticking off a third state on his list of destinations. The second was Victoria, where he lived with his aunty and uncle while linking with the Eastern Ranges’ Under 16 NAB League program. In Melbourne, he also spent a term at Box Hill Secondary College and is currently completing his Year 12 studies back home in lockdown.

With a diverse range of experiences, Anderson has also been able to lean on a bunch of highly renowned coaches and staff. Among them are former AFL players, along with current and former NAB League coaches; including Jared Crouch and Chris Smith (Swans Academy), Leigh Clarke (Box Hill Secondary), Sean Toohey (Eastern Ranges), and Jarrod Field (Southport).

Also on that list of mentors is Anderson’s Victorian father, who coached him locally “all the way through” to senior level at the Sawtell-Toormina Saints, making him “a big influence” over his footballing career.

From enjoying the surf in the “laid back” town of Sawtell to “maturing as a person” while living with his aunty and uncle in Melbourne, Anderson has learned plenty over the last few years and gained a ravenous work-ethic. That trait translates to his football, where the big-bodied midfielder showcases a great appetite for contested ball.

“I feel like my contested ball is my strength,” Anderson said. “I’m a big-bodied mid who can win the ball and I’m slowly developing my outside game. “I can run out games well for a big-bodied mid, I like the physical aspect of AFL so I can tackle, and my hands around the ball and my ability to use both sides (are strengths).”

While leading the Swans Academy in a three-game NAB League stint this year, Anderson averaged 24 disposals, 3.5 tackles and a goal per game, as one of his side’s standout performers. Having already gotten a taste of senior football, he went on to represent the Swans at VFL level, and earned selection in the Under 19 Allies squad. Still, there is plenty the youngster is working on.

“I have heaps of areas I’m focusing on,” he said. “I feel like since I’m a bigger-bodied mid, I’ll be paired up with a couple of smaller mids occasionally. I’ve been working on my pack marking and I get to drift down forward I’ve been working on my goalkicking as well.”

Swans star Luke Parker is a player Anderson looks to mould his game on, while also noting the likes of Christian Petracca, Dustin Martin, Patrick Cripps, and Marcus Bontempelli as some of his favourite players. As one of just five NSW-ACT natives to earn a combine invite thus far, he is one step closer to joining them in the big leagues.

“Especially if I look back at myself at the beginning of the year, these achievements have been so big and I’ve been so proud of myself that I’ve made it this far,” he said. “It’s a huge honour to be a part of the initial 90 for the combine. “From a little kid coming from northern New South Wales, a little coastal town. “Barely anyone has been this far so it’s a huge honour.”

For now, Anderson is enjoying some of the extra down time he gets to relax in between school, going out for a surf every day and itching to get back on the park should the opportunity await.

He sought to thank all of his mentors and coaches along the way, Southport and the Sydney Swans for the opportunities they presented, and AFL North Coast for their support over the years.

State Leagues wrap: Finals spots shaken up

THERE were some key changes to finals calculations across the state league this weekend, with ladder leaders soaring as the following packs jostle for position. Victorian sides still await their return, but it was business as usual in South Australia and Tasmania, while West Australian fans had two fixtures to take in on Saturday and Sunday. We run you through all the results and outstanding performances in this week’s state league wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

Teams from everywhere but Victoria carried the Victorian Football League through another round of action, with three AFL reserves sides taking the field across a pair on Saturday afternoon fixtures. The first saw Gold Coast complete a dramatic turnaround against Sydney Swans, with first year utility Joel Jeffrey putting the SUNS ahead in the dying stages having trailed by as much as 38 points in term two. An eight-goal third quarter blitz set up the 17.5 (107) to 16.8 (104) victory, with Jeffrey among four SUNS to boot three goals. Brayden Fiorini racked up a game-high 45 disposals upon returning to the grade, as Sydney bigman Hayden McLean claimed four majors.

In the day’s second fixture, over at Blacktown International Sportspark, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) stormed home with seven final term goals to topple Aspley by 49 points. Having been trialled in numerous roles, GIANTS youngster Jake Riccardi returned to his familiar forward post and bagged eight goal to spearhead his side’s victory. Up the other end, competition leading goalkicker Matthew Hammelmann snared six of the Hornets’ nine major scores, as teammate Matthew Payne led all comers for disposals (32). Young GIANTS Tanner Bruhn (25 disposals, two goals) and Kieren Briggs (23 disposals, 28 hitouts, one goal) were also outstanding.

With Victorian teams back in training as of last week, a return normal programming should be just around the corner. Southport currently tops the ladder at 6-1 having played twice more than most other teams, while Casey Demons and Footscray remain undefeated at 5-0 to sit second and third respectively.

South Australia (SANFL):

Woodville-West Torrens moved up to second spot with a comprehensive 68-point drubbing of Port Adelaide, seeing the Magpies drop to fifth. The Eagles broke away with 10 goals to one after half time, with Jack Hayes (28 disposals, three goals) and James Tsitas (41 disposals, eight clearances) among the prominent figures. Jarrod Lienert was kept busy for Port, registering 14 rebound 50s among his 26 disposals as first year forward Ollie Lord showed some promise with two goals and three contested marks.

The Eagles overtook South Adelaide in second, as the Panthers went down to Norwood by nine points. Mitch Grigg continued his return to form for the Redlegs, racking up 34 touches and booting three goals in the win while Matthew Nunn (29 disposals) and Richard Douglas (19, one goal) also played key hands. Former AFL veterans Matthew Broadbent (25 disposals) and Bryce Gibbs (24, 11 clearances and one goal) stood up for the Panthers, as 200-gamer Joel Cross also hit the scoreboard and top draft prospect Jason Horne booted a goal from his 19 touches.

Ladder leader Glenelg moved to an ominous 10-0, defeating North Adelaide by 23 points as Liam McBean (five goals) and Matthew Snook (34 disposals) took hold. Meanwhile, Adelaide jumped Sturt after its 10-point win over the Double Blues, which saw senior-listed players Jackson Hately (31 disposals, seven clearances and one goal) and Billy Frampton (three goals) knock on the door for a call-up.

Tasmania (TSL):

Round 11 of the Tasmanian State League (TSL) went largely as expected, with ladder position telling the story of all three results. The round of action opened on Friday night as Tigers stormed KGV to come away 22-point victors over Glenorchy, seeing the visitors stretch the gap to their weekend opponents to three wins. Max Collidge booted three goals for Tigers, while Riley Oakley snared two for the Magpies as Edward Cole and Nathan Blowfield were named best afield for their respective sides.

North Launceston maintained its chase for top spot on Saturday, doubling Lauderdale’s score to win by 35 points in enemy territory. 14 of the combined 15 goals scored were kicked at one end of the ground, with the Northern Bombers dealing more damaging blows in the first and third terms. Jay Foon booted a game-high three goals and was named the victors’ best player, while Phillip Bellchambers snared two for Lauderdale as Rhys Sutton earned the coaches votes.

Competition leading goalkicker Dylan Riley enjoyed another day out, booting eight majors in Launceston’s 103-point thumping of North Hobart. Riley has bullied the Demons this season, kicking 18 goals in two meetings – including a season-high bag of 10. Alec Wright also featured prominently for the table topping Blues, while Callum Fitzpatrick was named the best for North Hobart after a tough outing.

Western Australia (WAFL):

Claremont rose to the top of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) ladder in Round 10, coming from behind to beat Peel Thunder by seven points on Saturday. The Tigers trailed at each of the first three breaks, before piling on five goals in the final term to sneak ahead at the clutch. Jye Bolton continued his dominance with another 35 disposals and nine inside 50s for Claremont, as youngster Jack Buller booted four goals in the win. Fremantle-listed midfielder Luke Valente was Peel’s biggest ball winner (26 disposals), as the Thunder again yielded a heavy amount of rotations.

The round’s sole other fixture came on Sunday, with East Perth causing a boilover to beat reigning premier South Fremantle by five points. The Royals were ahead at each break and while South remained within striking distance, they were unable to turn the tables and snatch victory. The Bulldogs still sit pretty comfortably in third though, with the Royals’ second win sees them remain ninth. The likes of Angus Scott (26 disposals), Angus Schumacher and Shayne Hill were terrific for East Perth, as Chad Pearson (29 disposals) led all comers and Brandon Donaldson (four goals) proved potent going forward for South Freo.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

State leagues preview: VFL nears full return

TEAMS from NSW-ACT and Queensland will again shoulder the load in the Victorian Football League (VFL), but the competition is nearing a full return with Victorian sides back in training and the AFL scrambling to make fixtures work. It’s business as usual in South Australia and Tasmania, while West Australian fans will have just two fixtures to feast on this weekend. That, and more in our state leagues preview.

South Australia (SANFL League):

A couple of top five clashes headline the Round 9 SANFL League action, while competition frontrunner Glenelg looks to push its winning record to 10 games. The Bays take on North Adelaide on Monday, and the sixth-placed Roosters may find the going tough without Billy Hartung this week.

Also on Monday, South Adelaide and Norwood lock horns at Flinders University Stadium for the first of two top five bouts. The Panthers currently sit pretty in second and will want to celebrate Joel Cross‘ 200th League game with a win. Norwood rounds out the finals places as it stands, with potential debutant Sam Morris named on a seven-man Redlegs bench.

On Saturday afternoon, Woodville-West Torrens will look to remain clear in third as Port Adelaide comes to town, looking to maintain its strong run of form. The Magpies will be without skipper Cam Sutcliffe (shoulder), but are set to field mid-season draftee Jed McEntee, who crosses from Sturt. His old side will do battle with Adelaide on the same afternoon, to see which side can grabs its third victory of the season.

Tasmania (TSL):

Among the raft of team changes this week in the TSL are a good number of Tasmania Devils representatives, who come out of the state league to fulfil their NAB League duties this weekend. Another three-game round kicks off tonight as Glenorchy (fifth) and Tigers (fourth) go head-to-head at KVG. It looms as the closest game of the round, and is in terms of ladder position, though Tigers sit two games and plenty of percentage clear of their weekend rivals.

Elsewhere, Launceston takes on the returning North Hobart in a top versus bottom clash on Saturday afternoon. Pending other results, the Demons could climb out of seventh spot with a win and should come in fresh after a bye round. They have been heavily hit by the NAB League return though, with a bunch of first team youngsters filtering back out of the side.

Saturday afternoon’s other game pits Lauderdale against North Launceston in what looms as another one-sided affair. The Northern Bombers sit second, level on points with Launceston, while Lauderdale is all the way down in sixth at 1-8. Hardly a side to show mercy, last year’s minor premier will look to flex its muscle here and keep touch with the Blues.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

The Victorian-branded VFL again presses on without teams from its home state, as NSW-ACT and Queensland again shoulder the totality of fixtures this weekend. Round 9 sees the Sydney Swans and Gold Coast SUNS reserves do battle at Tramway Oval on Saturday afternoon, with both sides looking to bounce back from respective losses to Southport.

GWS GIANTS take on Aspley at Blacktown International Sportspark in the day’s other game, making for another fresh Queensland derby – at least in the expanded VFL competition. The Hornets sit one ladder wrung below the GIANTS (2-3) with one win from six outings, but will be hungry to avenge last week’s dramatic one-point loss to Brisbane, spearheaded by competition leading goalkicker Matthew Hammelmann.

The AFL announced that Victorian clubs have returned to training as of June 11, and say they are committed to working through the final rounds in both the VFL, and VFL Women’s competitions.

Western Australia (WAFL):

West Australian state league fans will only have two games to keep tabs on this weekend, as Claremont battles Peel Thunder on Saturday afternoon, and East Perth meets South Fremantle on Sunday.

The Tigers are riding a three-game winning streak having only gone down to ladder leader, Subiaco thus far, and will be full of confidence. On the flip-side, Peel sits seventh after three-consecutive losses and will again deal with a raft of team changes. Both sides have named extended branches, with promising Colts tall Luke Polson in line to make his League debut for the Thunder.

South Fremantle (third, 6-2) will fancy its chances against East Perth (ninth, 1-7), with both teams set to make at least one change this week. Having won consecutive games, the reigning premiers will hope to draw level with the top two, but that is pending how Claremont fares over at Revo Fitness Stadium the previous afternoon.

Image Credit: David Mariuz / SANFL

Zreika an “inspiration” for fast-rising Whelan

GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy member Jess Whelan doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as she powers through her footballing journey. In the same charcoal and orange colours she donned this year during a one-game NAB League Girls stint, a top-flight gem has already paved a path worth following.

That gem is Haneen Zreika, a zippy GIANTS midfielder whose journey to the AFLW skipped through a couple of codes – much like Whelan is currently emulating.

“(Zreika) is an inspiration,” Whelan said. “Probably because she played Rugby League and AFL as well, which is similar to me.”

The 18-year-old says “positional play” and “tackling” are just a couple of the skills she has transferred from one sport to the other, making the transition that bit easier. For a prospect who only started out in Australian football “a few years ago”, she has made significant strides throughout the pathway – representing the Eastern Allies thrice in 2019, before turning out for the Allies this year.

“I played a year and then got picked to play (NSW-ACT) Rams,” she said. “I did that and then got into the Eastern Allies squad that year as well, then Covid hit the next year and now I’m with the Allies.”

In a slightly different mix to Whelan’s Eastern Allies experience, the 2021 Allies squad was comprised of players from NSW-ACT, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Whelan was one of eight GIANTS Academy members to be included in the 24-player squad.

“(The Allies experience) has been pretty good,” she said. “I’m getting along with a lot of the Tassie girls and it’s good just to meet people across Australia and see their different ways and how their footy’s going.”

Whelan, a 175cm winger also collected 15 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal as the GIANTS Academy defeated Murray Bushrangers in Round 6 of this year’s NAB League Girls competition. She was able to showcase a couple of her core strengths in that outing, with the key ones she identified being kicking and her running capacity on the wing.

While kicking on one foot is a strength, Whelan is working on becoming a more dual-sided player as she makes her left-sided kicking “more precise.”

As far as her footballing goals go, the youngster is keeping them relatively simple. Having come so far already in a short span of time, she says the end goal is to “try and get as far as (she) can.”

Three Fs drive Parker to success

FAMILY, footy and farming are the three Fs that have been the key pillars in country girl Alyce Parker‘s life. Now 18, Parker is in her final year of junior football and months away from the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft, but she has not forgotten the importance of the other two Fs.

“I live on a farm, and being on a farm with dad and mum and my two sisters since I could walk and I absolutely loved getting out on the farm and just doing everything I can,” Parker said. “It’s a huge part of not only my football career, but my life in general. “There’s football, there’s school, but then there’s the farm and I’ll be there every chance I get out on the farm.”

Parker is thankful for all the opportunities that have come along on her football journey, something that started by chance at school.

“I come from a farming family, we’re very much involved with footy and learnt to kick basically when I was walking,” Parker said. “So I always had a footy in my hand, but actually in my first game wasn’t until I was 12 with the school boys team. “The PE (Physical Education) teacher asked if I wanted a game. “I’d never played, I actually didn’t even know the rules but I had a left foot he noticed that, so that was where it all started. “Lucky for me I came in at a really prime time, as soon as I moved into Year 7 in high school the Youth Girls pathway just developed and I never had to stop, I was so lucky coming in that wave where the pathway is completely exploded and I had opportunities coming everywhere.”

Parker said both herself and all the other girls across Australia have the Youth Girls programs to thank for the rise of female football.

“It’s a huge gate opener to a career in AFL which in the last 12 months because of these programs,” Parker said. “I’ve developed and I have a huge passion for AFL now, and that’s purely for those pathways and without them I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking today, so they’re the reason why so many girls, especially the younger age girls are playing AFL, and definitely in the coming years the reason why the game is just going to improve in every way.”

The talented midfielder said she noticed the difference in New South Wales (NSW) football and the fact that many younger girls saw Australian Rules as a viable option over rugby in the state.

“Yeah definitely, I come from southern New South Wales and even in Wagga, it’s very much rugby orientated, but now I’m training in Wagga a lot with AFL and see huge improvement in the population of girls playing AFL,” Parker said. “Coming from Albury, it’s (football) always been there, but in the last couple of years it’s just exploded and there’s so many new faces, but also there’s girls that just have this raw talent and they’re definitely going places and it’s amazing to be a part of.”

Living in rural NSW has made travelling to training and games challenging for Parker and her family, but it is something she has become accustomed to, and would not have it any other way.

“In a way it is disadvantaged living in rural NSW but at the same time, I’m only an hour or 50 minutes away from Wagga and an hour away from Albury, so in a way it’s no trouble at all,” Parker said. “Compared to girls who live five minutes around from the their training ground, but for me and my family we’re used to it, and we’re very lucky to have access to those two major growing talents of football in Albury and Wagga.”

Speaking of her family, Parker said she could not be more grateful of the sacrifices they have made for her football and life in general.

“Having them apart of my journey is obviously incredibly special to me, but also them too,” Parker said. “Mum and Dad are my number one supporters and the reason why I’ve achieved so much in my short career in a way. “Now that I have my Ps I can actually go to training myself, but they’ve been there since day one and the reason I’ve developed into the person I have and achieved the success in football, but also in other sports too.”

Having represented the Eastern Allies at the recent AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Parker enjoyed having the experience of bonding with new Tasmanian teammates and running out alongside them all within a few days of the first meeting.

“Yeah it definitely does add challenges,” Parker said. “We basically met on Saturday night having played against each other a couple of weeks ago, but for me that’s exciting having a few girls that I’ve never played with, but you know you can trust them and it just makes the last three days, you get to know them so quickly. “For the girls that I’ve known for years, in a way I’ve caught up with the girls I don’t know, because in a way we’re sort of, not forced but definitely have to, we don’t have a choice we’re playing together in two days, so we get to know each other as much as we can and we just know that we can trust each other and they’ll be there playing in the same guernsey.”

Having collected back-to-back Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies, Parker is not resting on her laurels, believing there is still much improvement in her game, and she has benefited under the tutelage of GWS GIANTS’ star Alicia Eva, who coached both her state sides at the two series.

“I have been working on a couple of things this year,” she said. “Particularly under the coaching of Alicia and the help and support she’s given me. “Having an opportunity in the winter series to play against some bigger bodies and in a way the AFLW players has definitely helped me. “It’s a very different contrast between Youth Girls and the AFL, so little things like, you only have one chance really when you’re up against the big bodies you don’t have much time so there’s quick decisions are something I’m working on.”

Parker has also been able to represent the Southern GIANTS in the Women’s Winter Series, giving her vital experience against bigger bodies having returned to compete against teenagers.

“Yeah definitely (it has helped),” Parker said. “I’ve noticed a huge difference a couple of weeks ago playing against Brisbane Lions obviously a very tough game, the scoreline wasn’t pretty. “But that experience against the likes of Sabrina (Frederick-Traub) and those amazing girls, then coming back to this level. “It’s not easier, but it’s definitely different and I feel it’s definitely improved my football in the last couple of weeks just coming a step down to those smaller bodies and having that experience against the bigger bodies, you can beat those younger ones.”

While her AFL Women’s dream could be just a couple of months away now, Parker is still balancing all of her passions.

“Being a family farm, I’m very much involved in it,” Parker said. “But I also have my AFL career so I’ll see where that takes me, but I’m very much involved in agriculture, and very interested by it. “But at the same time I’m interested by my sport and exercise too, so it will pan out and see what interests me the most. “But at the moment my focus will be on AFL in the coming months.”

NSW/ACT and Western Australia claim wins in Series One of AFLW National Championships

AS the opening series of the AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships continues, four teams took to the field on the weekend to display their skills. New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) and Western Australia were the big winners, with many players standing out across the four games.

NSW/ACT 6.7 (43) defeated Tasmania 1.1 (7)

NSW/ACT kept Tasmania scoreless up until half time, asserting its dominance at Blacktown International Sports Park.

Emily Hurley got on the board with two majors for NSW/ACT, and was complemented by Brea Quinlivan, Lillian Doyle, Zoe Hurrell and Eliza Cumming, who all scored a goal in the 36-point win. Georgia Garnett was named best afield for NSW/ACT while Alexia Hamilton and Brenna Tarrant also had solid performances. AFLW Academy member, Alyce Parker began her Nationals tournament strongly with a great performance. Fellow AFLW Academy member,

Libby Haines was also impressive, named amongst the best for Tasmania. She was joined by Mia King, Kelsie Hill, Tahlia Bortington, Hailee Baldwin and Netty Garlo. Mya Slatter was Tasmania’s only goalkicker on the day.

Western Australia 4.6 (30) defeated Queensland 3.9 (27)

Western Australia recorded a brilliant come-from-behind win at Domain Stadium. Queensland led at every change but after being kept scoreless in the last quarter, Western Australia ran over the top by just three points.

AFLW Academy member, McKenzie Dowrick was named best afield for Western Australia, and was complemented by fellow Academy member, Sabreena Duffy. Duffy also got a goal on the board, which brought Western Australia’s deficit to 10 points. She was complemented by Mikayla Hyde, who scored two majors, and Kate Bartlett, who scored one. Bartlett’s goal was a crucial one, as it gave Western Australia the lead for the first time in the game, which ultimately delivered the win.

It was a brave effort by Queensland, whose goals came from Charlotte Hammans, Jemma Abbott and Georgia Brehmer. Dee Heslop was named best-on-ground for Queensland and was complemented by Lily Postlethwaite, Kitara Farrar, Lauren Bella and Zimmorlei Farquharson.

NSW/ACT 6.8 (44) defeated Tasmania 0.3 (3)

In the second battle between NSW/ACT and Tasmania, it was NSW/ ACT that came out on top with another big win.

Lillian Doyle was NSW/ACT’s only multiple goalkicker with two majors, while Brea Quinlivan and Eliza Cumming got on the scoreboard once again. This time, it was Ahlani Eddy who was judged best afield for NSW/ACT, but AFLW Academy member, Alyce Parker and the best-on-ground in NSW/ACT’s first hit-out against Tasmania, Georgia Garnett were not far off the mark. Although there were no goalkickers for Tasmania, there was still a host of impressive performances.

Backing up their solid performances from their last match against NSW/ACT were Tahlia Bortington, Hailee Baldwin, Libby Haines, Netty Garlo and Mia King. They were complemented by Elise Barwick, who played a solid game against NSW/ACT.

Western Australia 6.4 (40) defeated Queensland 2.3 (15)

Western Australia continued its winning ways with another big victory over Queensland.

AFLW Academy member, McKenzie Dowrick was again named in the best for Western Australia. This time she was joined by Mikayla Bowen, Emma O’Driscoll, Roxanne Roux, Abbey Dowrick and Taylor Pescud. The goalkickers in the last match stepped up again on Monday’s hit-out, as Kate Bartlett got on the board with two majors while Sabreena Duffy and Mikayla Hyde each kicked one.

Queensland claims Under 16s Championships Division Two with undefeated carnival

QUEENSLAND has claimed the NAB AFL Under 16 Championships Division Two title, going through undefeated on their home turf.

Bar a close opening round clash against NSW-ACT, Queensland, led by coach Adrian Fletcher, was largely unchallenged throughout the carnival.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA CLAIM UNDER 16s CHAMPIONSHIPS DIVISION ONE TITLE

Kobe Tozer was one of a number of standouts from Queensland. The Brisbane Lions Academy member stands at 194cm, averaging 16 disposals, six marks and three goals per game at the Under 16 Championships. Tozer is very agile, marks well overhead and has some tricks inside 50. He presented well on the lead and was close to winning Queensland’s MVP for the carnival. Tom Wischnat was another star for Queensland with the 188cm forward using his big frame to help him outmuscle his opponents. Wischnat is strong overhead and booted eight goals for the carnival.

Mitch Fitzpatrick was Queensland’s MVP, playing most of the carnival across half-back. Fitzpatrick reads the play well and was able to rebound the ball efficiently out of the defensive half of the ground. A surprise packet was Hewago “Ace” Paul Oea, a Papua New Guinean prospect who kicked nine goals in the last two games. The forward showed off his speed and is a name to keep an eye on.

For NSW/ACT, Liam Delahunty was the clear standout. The 191cm forward won the Alan McLean Medal as the best player in Division Two. Delahunty booted nine goals for the carnival, including a bag of five against Northern Territory. He is a smart player who can mark the ball well in the air. Delahunty could develop into one of the better key forwards in the 2019 draft pool, and is tied to the GWS Giants Academy. Jackson Barling – the son of Tim Barling (who played 27 AFL games for Richmond and Sydney) possesses clean hands and has both midfield and forward craft. Barling has a nice set shot and moves well as a medium sized forward at 181cm. Sam Thorne won NSW/ACT’s MVP as one of their more consistent players right throughout the carnival. Thorne booted seven goals for the Championships and had one of his best games against Northern Territory at Metricon Stadium in round two. The small forward currently stands at 172cm and is linked with the Sydney Swans Academy.

Standing out in the number one guernsey was Tasmania’s MVP Jared Dakin. The 178cm midfielder/small forward showed some promise and has a good footy IQ. Dakin knows where the goals are, booting three goals for the carnival and was one of their best in Tasmania’s big win over Northern Territory. Midfielders Bailey Gordon and Will Peppin impressed in round one, using their smarts around the ground to get to the right positions. Tasmania won just the single game for the carnival and from the outlook it appears to be another bleak draft representation from Tasmania at this early stage.

For Northern Territory, all eyes were on Maurice Rioli jnr – with the 14 year-old Richmond father-son prospect providing good glimpses despite playing far outside his own age group. He found 15 disposals against Tasmania, using it well on his right foot, willing to win the ball in the contest. Rioli is already 176cm and 74kg, so will be interesting to see how he develops over the next few years. Possesses good vision and the signs bode well for the future. Their MVP Dominic Forbes played as a rebounding defender and is a skillful right footer. Forbes uses it effectively by hand and the 186cm player will be one of their possible draftees in 2019. Barrindi Ngurrwuthun playted as a ruckman, and, standing at just 190cm, showed off some very impressive athletic traits and is a player to track.

South Warrnambool teenager Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was the Boomerangs standout, showing off a decent leap and good agility – two traits that have boded him well having played basketball. Manfred Kelly won the World XVIII MVP.

MVP:

NSW/ACT: Sam Thorne
Queensland: Mitch Fitzpatrick
Tasmania: Jared Dakin
Northern Territory: Dominic Forbes
Boomerangs: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
World XVIII: Manfred Kelly

2017 Alan McLean Medal: Liam Delahunty (NSW/ACT)

2017 NAB AFL Under 16 Championships Division TWO results:

ROUND 1

Queensland 13.13 (91) d NSW/ACT 13.8 (86) 

Goals
Queensland: Wischnat 4, Jefferey 2, Tozer 2, Gore 2, Scroulk, Budarick, Conroy
NSW/ACT: Delahunty 4, Barling 4, Thorne 2, Ellem, Wilks, Russell 

Best
Queensland: Wischnat, Griffiths, Liessi, Fitzpatrick, Budarick, Martyn
NSW/ACT: Barleing, McGrath, Gaden, Thorne, Delahunty, Edwards, Green 

Tasmania 19.13 (127) d Northern Territory 6.4 (40) 

Goals
Tasmania: Rand 4, Peppin 3, Green 2, Dakin 2, Turner 2, Gordan 2, Paprotny, Cooke, Ireland, Chaplin
Northern Territory: Gindikindi 2, Jeffrey, Ngurrwuthun, Rusca, Palmer 

Best
Tasmania: Gordan, Peppin, Reeves, Ireland, Burrow-Cheng, Dakin, Rand
Northern Territory: Brown, Braun, Rioli, Ngurrwuthun, Lampton, Rusca

ROUND 2

NSW/ACT 20.16 (136) d Northern Territory 1.10 (16)

Goals
NSW/ACT: Delahunty 5, Thorne 4, Barling 4, Ellem 2, McGuire 2, Swaney, Russell, Allen
Northern Territory: Gindikindi

Best
NSW/ACT: Grant, Delahunty, Thorne, Martin, Barling, Rannan
Northern Territory: Forbes, Jungfer, Rosas, Cole, Rioli

Queensland 14.10 (94) d Tasmania 8.4 (52)

Goals
Queensland: Hewago 5, Jeffery 2, Tozer 2, Reville, Wischnat, Joyce, Clayton, Maloney
Tasmania: Routledge 2, Burrows-Cheng, Dakin, Paprotny, Cook, Purton, Chaplin

Best
Queensland: Hewago, Conroy, Wingrave, Griffiths, Fitzpatrick, Fraser
Tasmania: Dakin, Turner, O’Neill, Reeves, Jones, Simpson

Boomerangs 16.10 (106) d World XVIII 5.7 (37)

Goals
Boomerangs: Canerdo 4, Gerrand 3, Ugle-Hagan 2, Lake 2, Johnson 2, Holland, Jetta, Bynder
World XVIII: Hawash, Haddow, C. Walker, Uwandu, Haley

Best
Boomerangs: Smith, Jeffrey, Jetta, Mallard, Canerdo, Lui
World XVIII: Western, Kelly, C. Walker, B. Walker, Chan, Haddow

ROUND 3

NSW/ACT 11.13 (79) d Tasmania 7.10 (52)

Goals
NSW/ACT: Barling 2, Russell 2, Delahunty 2, Mack, McGuire, Thorne, Parker, Allen
Tasmania: Chaplin 3, Walsh 2, Routledge, Simpson

Best
NSW/ACT: Kannan, McGuire, Delahunty, Thorne, Brewer, McGrath
Tasmania: O’Neill, Burrows-Cheng, Dakin, Simpson, Turner

Queensland 17.11 (113) d Northern Territory 6.6 (42)

Goals
Queensland: Tozer 5, Hewago 4, Jeffery 3, Wischnat 3, Gore, Marytn
Northern Territory: Ngurrwuthun 3, Brown, Bruce, Rioli

Best
Queensland: Fitzpatrick, Tozer, Moloney, Jeffery, Liessi, Budarick
Northern Territory: Braun, Jungfer, Lampton, Rusca, Rosas, Brown.

Boomerangs 10.12 (72) d World XVIII 9.10 (64)

Goals
Boomerangs: Ugle-Hagan 4, Jetta 2, Lake, Holland, Gallagher, Gerrand
World XVIII: Haddow 3, B. Walker 2, C. Walker 2, Kelly, Murphy

Best
Boomerangs: Ugle-Hagan, Smith, Mifsud, Jetta, George, Dwyer
World XVIII: Kelly, Haddow, Fuatimau, Western, Walker, Haley.

Level One NAB AFL Academy to play NZ Hawks

THE Australian Under 17 team as part of the NAB AFL Academy will return to New Zealand shores to take on the senior NZ Hawks national side in a one off game at Westpac Stadium on Monday the 24th of April.

Led by AFL National Talent Manager Kevin “Shifter” Sheehan and AFL Academy coach Luke Power, the team will fly out on Thursday before returning on Tuesday. The trip is the sixth time the Australian Under 17 side has toured New Zealand.

“We certainly look forward returning to New Zealand once again and building on the successful experiences of past NAB AFL Academy tours.” Sheehan said.

After five competitive matches since its inception in 2011, the New Zealand Hawks open age team will be looking to record their first win over the AFL Academy.

The Hawks team last played the Australian Under 17’s in April 2016 at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland where the New Zealanders performed well, but were heavily defeated.

Brisbane Lions three-time premiership player Simon Black will run out in the New Zealand team. Black has a rich history associated with AFL football in New Zealand, after being selected in the inaugural New Zealand Hertiage team in 2013. The past three years has seen his role move to a selector of the team in conjunction with fellow selectors Warren Jones and Wayne Schwass.

Black was considered eligible for New Zealand with New Zealand being his father’s birth place.

The New Zealand team will be selected from the AFL New Zealand Premiership which commenced on February 12, while the Australian Under 17 team will be made up of the members of the Level One AFL Academy.

Sydney Swans Academy member Nick Blakey has performed well in the Under 18 Academy Series so far, using his left foot well up forward, while Vic Metro’s Ben King will be one to watch in defence for the Australians.

Jack Lukosius (South Australia) and Sam Walsh (Vic Country) both performed exceptionally well at the MCG in the AFL Academy’s 20th anniversary match at the MCG earlier this month.

LEVEL ONE NAB AFL ACADEMY SQUAD

Northern Territory: Michael Mummery
NSW-ACT: Nick Blakey, Matthew Walker
Queensland: Bailey Scott
Vic Country: Zane Barzen, Jye Caldwell, Ajak Dang, Sam Fletcher, Hudson Garoni **, Sam Walsh
Vic Metro: Jack Bytel, Buku Khamis, Ben King, Max King **, Rhylee West
South Australia: Ruben Flinn, Jackson Hately, Jack Lukosius, Hugo Munn, Izak Rankine, Connor Rozee, Luke Valente
Tasmania: Chayce Jones, Tarryn Thomas
Western Australia: Jason Carter, Ian Hill, Tom Joyce, Sydney Stack

** – Currently injured

GAME DETAILS:

MON, 24 APR 2017

Start: 11.30am – 1.15pm (Local time, Westpac Stadium Wellington)

MATCH DAY TIMINGS

9.00am – Gates open

9.10am – Curtain raiser

11.30am – Kick off NZ Hawks v NAB AFL Academy

1.15pm – Estimated end of match