by Callum Twomey afl.com.au
Broadbeach youngster Lachlan Weller has underlined his standing as a prospect to watch, with the 16-year-old named the captain of the level one AIS-AFL Academy squad.
Weller, the younger brother of Gold Coast midfielder Maverick, will lead the group in a match against a New Zealand representative side at Wellington Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s an enormous honour for him,” said Kevin Sheehan, the AFL’s national talent manager.
“He’s developed his footy in Tasmania but has moved up to Queensland to be closer to his brother. He was a star for them in last year’s NAB AFL Under-16s Championships.”
Geelong Falcon Hugh Goddard was named vice-captain, although the key forward will not play in the game as he recovers from hip surgery in December.
Goddard, the cousin of Essendon’s high-profile recruit Brendon Goddard, is likely to play for Vic Country in this year’s NAB AFL Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, and has been touted as a promising player in the 2014 draft crop.
“His leadership on and off the ground, and during training sessions, has been outstanding,” Sheehan said.
“It’s great recognition for him.”
The squad has been joined on its 10-day tour of New Zealand by seven AFL club recruiting teams, who will interview the 30 players for the first time. The players are eligible for next year’s NAB AFL Draft.
Also in New Zealand is a contingent from St Kilda, ahead of the club’s first game in the country for premiership points on Anzac Day.
The tour has also been used as an opportunity to test some of the football talent coming through the region, with 40 boys aged 15-18 put through speed, agility, endurance and vertical leap testing.
A standout was 186cm Maia Westrupp, who topped the 20-metre sprint testing at 2.8 seconds.
Another Auckland prospect, Brock Messenger, led the way with a level 15 beep test.
It wasn’t just the physical test, we also did the skills testing too,” Sheehan said.
We did the kicking test, which was formed by Nathan Buckley, and the clean test, put together by Matthew Lloyd, and we had some decision-making games at the end.
Some of these guys had only touched a Sherrin a week ago, but they’re considering a switch in codes.