By Callum Twomey www.afl.com.au
THE GRAND Final curtainraiser will return to the MCG this year, with the NAB AFL Academy to play an Allies team of draft prospects.
The two sides will play ahead of the AFL’s premiership decider, with the NAB AFL ‘All Stars’ match to start at 10am on Grand Final morning.
The Academy side, featuring the best players eligible for next year’s 2015 draft, will take on the Allies side.
The Allies will consist of the best players from NSW/ACT, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania who are eligible for this year’s draft.
Queensland Midfielder Lachie Weller is among this year’s likely first-round draft selections who will be picked in the Allies squad.
The game will be the last opportunity for the Allies players to impress, with many under consideration as possible zone academy picks for the four northern-state AFL clubs.
The bidding day for zone academy players will be held just over a week after the All Stars match, on Monday, October 6.
The Grand Final day game marks a new era for the NAB AFL Academy after 17 years of support from the Australian Institute of Sport.
A restructured program will see the NAB AFL Academy squad travel to Florida in January for a high performance camp.
Next year’s draft already is shaping as one with excellent midfield depth, with Callum Mills, Darcy Parish and Rhys Mathieson among the highly-touted youngsters.
The NAB AFL All Stars match will be played for a trophy in the name of Kevin Sheehan, the AFL’s long-time national and international talent manager.