Eight Queenslanders will help kick off AFL Grand Final day, playing in the NAB AFL All Stars match on Saturday at the MCG.
The match, to be streamed live on afl.com.au from 9:55am, will see the state’s seven National Combine invitees (Braydon Preuss, Liam Dawson, Lachie Weller, Matthew Hammelmann, Matthew Uebergang, Nick Jackson and Harris Andrews) play in an Allies team, alongside players from NSW/ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
With the National Combine starting next week and the AFL Academy bidding meetings the week after, the match is one of the last chances for the players to take recruiters’ notice.
Coached by NSW-ACT’s Jason Saddington, the Allies will face the NAB AFL Academy level two squad, which comprises the country’s most talented teenagers eligible for the 2015 draft, including Queensland’s Ben Keays.
Midfielders Callum Mills and Rhys Mathieson have already shown themselves to be among the best-credentialed players leading into their draft season, while the versatile Jacob Weitering, tall forward Josh Schache and speedy Callum Ah Chee are others who have impressed.
“It’s a brilliant opportunity the AFL’s given us to showcase some of the best players in Australia,” national talent manager Kevin Sheehan said.
“For some, their moment’s now, the bidding system’s around the corner and clubs are keen to get a handle on many of those players.
“And for the best boys in the nation to come together and play as the Australian under-17 side is something that the kids really treasure.”
Sydney Swans father-son prospect Josh Dunkley and Sam Weideman, the grandson of Collingwood champion Murray, are likely to line up in attack for the Academy.
Ben Crocker, Keiran Agius and Charlie Curnow, the younger brother of Carlton’s Ed, will make their respective debuts for the Academy having recently been added to the prestigious program.
Darcy Parish (ankle), Darcy Tucker (ankle) and Ryan Burton (leg) – who have all shown enough to be viewed among the top players of the 2015 crop – will miss with injury.
The game will be streamed live on AFL.com.au on Saturday from 9.55am AEST ahead of the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn Grand Final.
B: Michael Mattingly (NSW-ACT) Logan Austin (NSW-ACT) Harris Andrews (QLD)
HB: Josh McGuinness (TAS) Abe Davis (NSW-ACT) Liam Dawson (QLD)
C: Lachie Weller (QLD) Tim Jones (TAS) Jack Hiscox (NSW-ACT)
HF: Nakia Cockatoo (NT) Jeremy Finlayson (NSW-ACT) Braydon Hodgson (NSW-ACT)
F: Matthew Uebergang (QLD) Matthew Hammelmann (QLD) Jack Steele (NSW-ACT)
R: Braydon Preuss (QLD) Isaac Heeney (NSW-ACT) Caleb Hislop (TAS)
I/C: Josh Watts (TAS) Nick Jackson (QLD) Jordan Foote (NSW-ACT) Dougal Howard (NSW-ACT) Nick Coughlan (NSW-ACT)
Coach: Jason Saddington
NAB AFL ACADEMY (U17 AUSTRALIAN TEAM)
B: Thomas Cole (VIC C) Sam Skinner (VIC C) Stephen Tahana (SA)
HB: Greg Clark (WA) Jacob Weitering (VIC C) Aaron Francis (SA)
C: Callum Ah Chee (WA) Rhys Mathieson (VIC C) James Parsons (VIC M)
HF: Ben Keays (QLD) Sam Weideman (VIC M) Harley Balic (VIC M)
F: Josh Dunkley (VIC C) Josh Schache (VIC C) Luke Partington (SA)
R: Tim Sullivan (SA) Callum Mills (NSW-ACT) Nick O’Kearney (VIC M)
I/C: Kieran Collins (VIC C) Liam Jeffs (VIC M) Jake Sushames (TAS) Kade Stewart (WA) Ben Crocker (VIC M) Keiran Agius (SA) Aidyn Johnson (VIC C) Dylan McDonald (NSW-ACT) Jordan Snaddon (WA) Yestin Eades (WA) Charlie Curnow (VIC C)
Coach: Brad Johnson