Young Guns look to stake claim for AFL Draft

THIRTY-EIGHT TAC Cup players are among those striving to stake a claim in front of AFL recruiters in the AFL Young Guns game on Saturday. The game includes players from clubs that are no longer in premiership contention or have chosen to nominate for the game, VFL clubs, school football and local leagues.

The 50 players selected have been divided up into two teams that will face off at Fortburn Stadium, Port Melbourne at 11.30am with some TAC Cup teammates facing off against each other. Among those included are Gippsland Power’s starting midfield of Matthew McGannon, Callum Porter, Nick Hogan and Julian Patterson, GWV Rebels hopefuls Dale Cox, Callan Wellings, Aaron Shepherd, Flynn Appleby and highly regarded Calder Cannons’ players Brad Bernacki, Aidan Tilley, Jean-Luc Velissaris and Jake Riccardi.

The game also gives mature agers a chance to shine with a number playing including former Oakleigh Charger premiership player and grand final best on ground Kade Answerth – who will suit up alongside brother Noah – and Dandenong Stingrays turned Northern Blues livewire forward Sam Fowler. The oldest player taking the field will be 24 year-old Essendon VFL player Matt Darby.

Tom Mills, an 18 year-old from Ararat Football Club has also been plucked out to play in the match, while Hawthorn fans might be keen to cast an eye of Sandringham Dragons’ player Devlin Brereton – eligible under the father-son rule for the Hawks.

The AFL Young Guns game has previously helped recruiters catch a glimpse of players outside their TAC Cup and VFL club match day environments and helped in the recruitment of players such as Adam Saad (Gold Coast) and Tom Papley (Sydney).

It is the perfect chance for late bloomers such as Xavier College key forward Ed Delaney (who joined the Rebels’ program late), Louis Pinnuck – a former Murray Bushranger who was unlucky not to go last year – and North Ballarat’s Jacob Wheelahan who had an unlucky run with injuries in his TAC Cup days.

A number of talls who will be trying to stake their claims in front of recruiters include Western Jets’ Tristan Xerri, Northern Knights’ Joel Naylor and Murray Bushrangers’ Tom Boyd who have all showed signs throughout the season. Former Knights’ leaders Mason Blakey and Luke Bunker will again join forces after playing out the VFL season in different colours, while 19 year-old Bendigo Pioneer Derek Smith will also play after impressing for Richmond VFL this season.

2017 AFL Young Guns game team lists:

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