Tasmania enters NAB League fold for Round 2

THE Tasmania Devils are set to make their first NAB League Boys appearance for 2022, having enjoyed a slightly longer break than other mainstay regions on the back of a Round 1 bye. Trips to the mainland are often on the cards for these Apple Isle natives, but a somewhat different one awaits as they prepare to take on the Sydney Swans Academy in Blacktown on Sunday.

Fronted by co-captains Lachlan Cowan and Sam Banks-Smith, quite a new-look Devils outfit will lay claim to 15 debutants. Banks-Smith was skipper in the state’s Under 17 campaign last year, while Cowan has established himself as the program’s top draft prospect. Watch for the AFL Academy member to star off half-back before rotating into midfield this season – much like Tasmania’s lone 2021 draftee, Sam Banks.

Among the features of the Tasmanian Round 2 team is its mix of impactful talls and exciting smalls. 204cm ruck-forward Cameron Owen brings great presence through sheer size and aerial dominance, while 19th-year talent Will Splann promises to spearhead the attack after a strong back-end to his 2021 campaign. It means the versatile Tom McCallum will likely shift to defence, where he can also showcase his array of athletic traits.

At the feet of Owen and Splann, newcomer Brandon Leary is one to watch. Another 19th-year player, the North Launceston product popped onto the Devils’ radar during a terrific TSL season around goal, and looms as a real difference maker. Leadership group members Liam Jones and Seth Campbell are among others Tasmania will turn to as the pair rotates through midfield.

The Devils’ weekend adversary, the Swans Academy, is coming off a brutal 69-point loss at the hands of a strong Northern Knights outfit. The outlook isn’t all bad for Swans players, staff and fans alike, given the promising performances of a short few. Among them, Sydney father-son candidate Indhi Kirk showed his tricks, and over-ager Luke Giacometti found plenty of the ball in midfield.

Around the grounds this week, one of the best battles will be fought out between the Oakleigh Chargers and aforementioned Knights – a clash affectionately known by some as the Leigh Clarke Cup. In one of just two clashes where both sides are coming off wins, there looks to be plenty of draftable talent afield not just for this year, but beyond.

Chargers pair George Wardlaw and Elijah Tsatas rightly garnered early attention after their outstanding showings in last week’s win over Sandringham, as they battle it out for pick one contendership. They’ll come up against some honest Knights midfielders this week, with over-ager Patrick Dozzi and Jonathan Tomasiello a couple who could make life hard for them.

The Gippsland Power take on Western Jets in another clash between Round 1 winners, with the Power particularly impressive en route to knocking off Murray Bushrangers last week. The Bushies kick off Round 2 against the GIANTS Academy in Lavington on Friday night, after the two sides went head-to-head in multiple preseason digs. It should set a strong tone for the remaining fixtures, in another eight-game weekend of NAB League footy.

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