By Beth Newman
Queensland’s U18 season reaches its climax this week, with the final two matches of the National Championships.
Coming off a comfortable 29–win over Tasmania in their first championship match last Saturday, Queensland’s U18 team faces another challenge in the Northern Territory, before their final clash with NSW/ACT next Wednesday.
These three matches are the focal point of the season for the team, and AFL Queensland Academy and High Performance Coach, Adrian Fletcher, says his side will be ready.
“We started out this year with the mantra of ‘climb the mountain’ and this is our mountain,” he said.
“I think they are more significant than other games and I ramp it up to be.”
Fletcher said the side would be looking to restrict the Territorians’ trademark running game.
“We don’t want to give them time or space,” he said.
“They’ve got leg speed and you know they’re always going to try and take you on
“I’ll back our guys in.”
Fletcher has focused on team balance this season, an approach which has proven successful with the Queenslanders on a three-match winning streak, and that will again be critical tomorrow.
“In the modern game, it’s crucial to have that balance,” he said.
“Only so many people can touch the ball in certain areas and we teach our players that.
“They’re the best players, they’ve been told to play anywhere, but if you’re going into an AFL team, they’re going to put you straight into a role before they’ve even recruited you.”
Queensland’s bottom-agers stood up against Tasmania and have been rewarded, with three 17 year-olds in the squad of 25 travelling to Melbourne.
2013 World XVIII representative, Mabior Chol, is one of the bottom agers in the side, with the Sudan-born teen making his U18 Queensland debut.
Key forward, Matt Hammelmann, will be looking to continue his recent good form, while their inside midfielders, led by captain, Darcy Cameron-Reeves, will be crucial to the match tomorrow.
The Maroons will line up against a familiar face in Melbourne, with former Queensland representative Adam Tipungwuti lining up for the NT.
Abraham Ankers will be a major threat for Queensland tomorrow, after he picked up36 touches in a losing side, in the first round of nationals, while classy midfielder, Errin Wasley-Black will certainly not go under the radar.
Queensland takes on NT tomorrow at 12pm at Windy Hill, Essendon.
FB James Holland Jesse Walton Jacob Watson HB Daniel Henderson Harris Andrews Darcy Trask C Corey Wagner Darcy Cameron-Reeves Dylan Mutu
HF Soul Cormick Matthew Hammelmann Lachlan Weller
FF Mabior Chol Matthew Uebergang Liam Dawson Rucks: Braydon Preuss James Rayner Ben Keays
Interchange: Nick Jackson Liam Moseley Isaac Corvo
Nate Dennis Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds Henry Leong