Under 18 Championships Preview: Vic Country

VIC COUNTRY enters the National Under 18s Championships as a big question mark given it failed to produce a win last season despite being one of the favourites. In 2017, Country has a greater depth of inside ball winners, but less class on the outside, while a plethora of key forwards and the best key defender in the draft help straighten the team up.

It is well known that contested ball and clearances are a key to winning a football match and Country have plenty of players that can do that. Headlined by Dandenong ball winner Luke Davies-Uniacke – who could well be a top two pick – Country also has James Worpel, teammate Cassidy Parish and Stingray Hunter Clark.

On the outside, Country will need to rely on the likes of Matthew Ling, Lochie O’Brien and Harry Benson to provide some dash and get crucial inside 50s to Tom De Koning, Bailey Williams and Tom McCartin. Murray Bushranger Jordan Butts played forward in the trial game, whether he stays there or goes back is largely unknown and it could depend on whether or not the likes of Power duo Cody Henness and Sean Masterson are playing.

Stingray Oscar Clavarino will stand tall in defence and take out the opposition’s best forward, while Ethan Floyd and Ben Paton take the game on and try and penetrate zones with their kicking off half-back. Up forward, Jordan Johnston, David Handley and Gryan Miers are likely to cause headaches for opposition teams, providing both offensive and defensive pressure. Meanwhile in the ruck, Rebel Lloyd Meek will share the duties with Gippsland’s Julian Patterson.

Players to watch:

Luke Davies-Uniacke – The standout player in the country team, using his big frame to star for the Stingrays early in the year before impressing at school football since. Played in defence last season and has now built up to play a huge role in the Country midfield and expect him to lead by example with the other inside midfielders.

James Worpel – Another inside player who has had an indifferent start to the season after a couple of niggling injuries, but the AFL Academy member could be a match winner for Country in the championships. He has the ability to go forward and influence, and will win his fair share of in-and-under hardball in the middle.

Lochie O’Brien – While the other Country midfield stars bring the grunt, O’Brien brings the outside class to the fore. He has not seen a lot of it this season, tagged out of most games at school football, but O’Brien is a dangerous prospect for opposition teams when up and going and will be the player Country looks for to hit-up targets inside 50.

Oscar Clavarino – The star key defender will be the most crucial player to the Country side. He will likely have a different pairing in defence each match, and will be tasked with organising the back six. He does lack some strength for the monster key position forwards, but with few monsters, Clavarino will beat most players one-on-one.

Jordan Johnston – An excitement machine, Johnston provides a different element to the Country forward mix. He is a high flying, accurate goal kicker who is capable on the ground as well. Likened to Jamie Elliott, Johnston has the X-factor about him, and he is just working on the consistency to make him a real danger to opposition defenders.

2018 names to keep an eye on:

Sam Walsh – A smooth mover who does not panic under pressure, has great vision and just thinks about his disposal. Walsh is good around the stoppages and is able to spot up teammates that many others might not and uses his smarts to outwit opponents. Has returned from an injury that kept him out of the last few weeks.

Bailey Williams – A key forward to get excited about next year, Williams also has played in the ruck for Dandenong and looks the goods. The bottom-ager could well play every game, but it might depend on if Jordan Butts plays in defence. Either way, when he does play, he is likely to stand out.

Zane Barzen – Very athletic forward who has an impressive vertical leap. Works hard up the ground and then sprints back forward. Is very clean below his knees and moves well. Should get game time for Vic Country throughout the Under 18 Championships.


Round 1: v ALLIES – June 11th 12.30pm Blacktown
Round 2: BYE
Round 3: v VIC METRO – June 24th 2.30pm Punt Road Oval
Round 4: v WESTERN AUSTRALIA – June 30th 2.10pm Etihad Stadium (FOX FOOTY)
Round 5: v SOUTH AUSTRALIA – July 5th 4.40pm Simonds Stadium (FOX FOOTY)

Possible Round One team:

B: Ben Paton, Josh Jaska, Laitham Vandermeer
HB: Ethan Floyd, Oscar Clavarino, Changkuoth Jiath
C: Cal Wellings, Paddy Dow, Matthew Ling
HF: Ethan McHenry, Jordan Butts, Brent Daniels
F: Gryan Miers, Tom De Koning, David Handley

FOLL: Lloyd Meek, Luke Davies-Uniacke, James Worpel
INT: Cody Henness, Jye Caldwell, Kane Farrell, Zane Barzen, Aidan Quigley


Finishing prediction: 3rd – Vic Country will finish somewhere between 2nd and 4th with Vic Metro the clear favourite and Western Australia behind the other teams. With the strong inside presence, Country would be favourites against the Allies, but the game against South Australia will be 50/50.

MVP prediction: Luke Davies-Uniacke – The top players stand up when the pressure intensifies so the two tips for the MVP are Luke Davies-Uniacke and James Worpel. Given LDU has played more football this year, we shall go with the big-bodied Stingray.


No. Name
HT (cm)
WT (kg)
1 Kane FARRELL 17/03/1999 180 72 Bendigo Pioneers
2 Samuel WALSH 2/07/2000 182 68 Geelong Falcons
3 Jye CALDWELL 28/09/2000 181 78 Bendigo Pioneers
4 Gryan MIERS 30/03/1999 177 73 Geelong Falcons
5 Ben PATON 19/10/1998 185 78 Murray Bushrangers
6 Aidan QUIGLEY 7/05/1999 183 72 Gipplsand Power
7 Harry BENSON 12/06/1999 180 72 Geelong Falcons
8 Lochie O’BRIEN 18/09/1999 184 75 Bendigo Pioneers
9 Luke DAVIES-UNIACKE 8/06/1999 187 85 Dandenong Stingrays
10 Brent DANIELS 9/03/1999 172 70 Bendigo Pioneers
11 Laitham VANDERMEER 3/02/1999 180 73 Murray Bushrangers
12 Edward MCHENRY 13/07/2000 176 67 Geelong Falcons
13 Ethan FLOYD 15/07/1999 179 70 Geelong Falcons
14 Callan WELLINGS 20/02/1998 181 71 GWV Rebels
15 Paddy DOW 16/10/1999 184 78 Bendigo Pioneers
16 David HANDLEY 1/09/1999 181 76 Geelong Falcons
17 Zane BARZEN 25/08/2000 191 76 Murray Bushrangers
18 Bailey HENDERSON 20/10/1999 188 75 Bendigo Pioneers
19 Matthew LING 21/04/1999 182 74 Geelong Falcons
20 Tom DE KONING 16/07/1999 200 92 Dandenong Stingrays
21 Hunter CLARK 26/03/1999 186 79 Dandenong Stingrays
22 Jordon BUTTS 31/12/1999 195 80 Murray Bushrangers
23 Cooper STEPHENS 21/05/1999 180 72 Geelong Falcons
24 Sean MASTERSON 23/08/1998 192 78 Gipplsand Power
25 Oscar CLAVARINO 22/05/1999 195 86 Dandenong Stingrays
26 Angus SCHUMACHER 16/03/1999 189 76 Bendigo Pioneers
27 Harrison JONES 15/03/1999 183 79 Murray Bushrangers
28 James WORPEL 24/01/1999 185 84 Geelong Falcons
29 Bailey WILLIAMS 17/04/2000 198 91 Dandenong Stingrays
30 Jordan JOHNSTON 9/09/1999 184 76 GWV Rebels
31 Sam FLETCHER 27/01/2000 188 77 Dandenong Stingrays
32 Cassidy PARISH 4/05/1999 190 84 Geelong Falcons
33 Changkuoth JIATH 13/06/1999 185 74 Gipplsand Power
34 Thomas BOYD 29/01/1999 191 75 Murray Bushrangers
35 Tom MCCARTIN 30/12/1999 192 86 Geelong Falcons
36 Cody HENNESS 7/02/1999 193 88 Gippsland Power
37 Joshua JASKA 26/02/1998 193 76 Geelong Falcons
38 Lloyd MEEK 22/04/1998 202 104 GWV Rebels
39 Hudson GARONI 14/01/2000 193 92 Murray Bushrangers
40 Julian PATTERSON 14/05/1998 203 81 Gipplsand Power
41 Aaron DARLING 24/01/1999 178 83 Dandenong Stingrays
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5 years ago

Hi matt
Was parish left out of team for round 1 or not selected.
Please exsplain to me why he was left out of it due to form, is his kicking that bad that it undos all he good inside work ?
Most people see him as a lock to be drafted !
Could he be second coming of Jonty scharenberg ?

Matt Balmer
Matt Balmer
Reply to  John
5 years ago

Yep Parish hasn’t been selected, I’ll find out why. Played out the full game on Saturday so should be fine injury wise – but I know they rested a lot of players last week at TAC Cup level who were in the Country squad for Round 1. His kicking yes is that bad and it’ll affect his draft range. Won’t be a lock to be drafted, I’d throw a late pick/rookie at him but Dylan Clarke last year was an example of someone who dropped because of their kicking.