By Beth Newman
Let them play.
That’s the edict from Queensland U18 coach, Adrian Fletcher, as the state’s rising stars prepare to face Tac Cup side, Sandringham, on Saturday.
Fletcher said the match would be a chance for players to shake off the shackles.
“We play an exciting brand of football,” he said.
“I want to let the shackles go and let them play, see what happens.
“We’ve given the tools to the players, it’s their opportunity to show what they’ve got.”
Fletcher said the side was focused on increasing their awareness across the ground, after their opening loss to Oakleigh three weeks ago.
“We turned back into traffic a lot (that game), and that’s what happens when the blinkers get on and you don’t look 180 degrees,” he said.
“If we can’t have that awareness, we don’t see loose players.”
Playing 23 in the match, Queensland welcomes its AIS-AFL Academy members, Lachie Weller, Matt Hammelmann and Liam Dawson into the side, along with North Queensland bottom-ager, Glendon Woosup.
Weller and Dawson, the side’s vice-captains, are crucial inclusions both for their impact on and off the field.
While the side is close to its strongest, Fletcher said paper would need to translate into action on Saturday.
“I’m always positive and on paper we should be able to (win), but can we play as a group?” he said.
“We played as a group for three quarters last game and then we went off in our own direction.
“I want to see if they can do it for 120 minutes.”
The Dragons have dropped just the one game in 2014, and Fletcher said they would prove a good test.
The match will also give spectators a first-hand look at some father-son prospects, one of whom could find his way to Queensland permanently in 2015.
Dragons captain, Angus Brayshaw, leads the contingent of famous surnames, son of Mark and nephew of North president, James, and has impressed in the early stages of the season, winning the medal as AIS-AFL Academy’s best in their match against the Collingwood VFL side last month.
Tyler Roos, son of Melbourne coach and 269-game player with Fitzroy, Paul and Harry Dear, son of Hawthorn premiership player, Paul, will both line up for the Dragons on Saturday.
The match kicks off at 3pm at Bond University.
QUEENSLAND team of 23
SANDRINGHAM squad of 24
1 Tyler Roos
2 Michael Manteit
3 Martin Ho
4 Brayden Maynard
6 Taylor Grace
8 Malcolm Neiwand
10 Angus Brayshaw
11 William Fordham
13 Luke Gogis
16 Haydon Whitehead
17 Anthony Giuliano
18 Lachlan Ritchie
19 Lucas Hemming
23 Sean Gunning
24 Tyler Hayward
28 Fergus Huntington
29 Sam Mason
30 Harrison Dear
36 Matthew Zagni
37 Kurt Lopo
41 Harley Balic
44 Goy (Got) Lok
56 Joshua Green
61 Dylan Atkins