Preview | AFL U18 National Championships – South Australia vs. Allies

THE 2022 AFL Under 18 National Championships get underway on Sunday afternoon, as South Australia hosts the Allies at Thebarton Oval. It means representative season is in full swing, with the Under 16 carnival having kicked off just last week.

>> EXTENDED SQUADS: South Australia U18s | Allies U18s

While both regions are yet to name their starting squads for the clash, there is notable talent which will have some sense of familiarity to each other. Just a fortnight ago, NSW-ACT downed the SA Under 18s, and many players from that game are set to feature on Sunday.

Final trials last week saw the Croweaters defeat a collection of SA’s Under 20 talent, while the Allies split into North and South for their last ditch audition. Comprised of talent from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the traveling side now comes together as one final unit.

We preview the big clash, covering some of the players to watch, potential matchups, and avenues to victory for either team.


A combined 12 AFL Academy members are among the extended squads for this clash, split six apiece with every prospect a very good chance of taking the field.

Twin West Adelaide talls Harry Lemmey and Tom Scully could combine in South Australia’s forward line, though the latter was not selected for last week’s trial and looks likely to play college football instead. At the other end of the ground, Adelaide Crows father-son candidate Max Michalanney will prop up the backline.

The Norwood product took out SA’s Under 17 MVP last year, and turned out with the state’s Under 19 team. He’ll be joined back there by bottom-ager Will Patton, another Westies product who has quite a cool head for his age.

Rounding out the nationally recognised South Australians are midfielder Adam D’Aloia and bottom-aged forward Jack Delean. The former is a lock and will captain the Croweaters, while the latter may add a bit of x-factor up forward.

There is great variety among the Allies lot, fronted by top-agers who fill out each line. There is a candidate from each state and territory too, with Lachlan Cowan (Tasmania), Jaspa Fletcher (Queensland), Jason Gillbee (NSW), and Anthony Munkara (Northern Territory) all included.

Cowan offers great drive and a booming kick off half-back, Fletcher can play on both sides of midfield with enormous class, Gillbee boasts enormous aerobic capacity and versatility, while Munkara is a forward with incredible skill capable of taking big marks. The latter is also currently boarding in South Australia.

Bottom-agers Ryley Sanders and Jed Walter are also strong chances to feature. The former is a Tasmanian currently boarding at Melbourne Grammar School in Victoria and turning out for the Sandringham Dragons, while the latter is a key forward out of the Gold Coast Suns Academy who presents strongly on the lead.

Anthony Munkara is one to watch for the Allies | Image Credit: AFL Photos


While the AFL Academy members often attract the eyes and ears of casual viewers, there are plenty more prospects set to take the representative stage by storm.

Arguably the most in-form South Australian at the moment in Mattaes Phillipou, a midfielder-forward out of Woodville-West Torrens. With terrific athletic traits and the ability to rack up damaging possessions, he is well within the top 15 frame.

Elsewhere, Glenelg’s Jakob Ryan is an attacking and versatile half-back, while Tyson Walls has enjoyed his stint as a small defender and will look to generate some dash in transition. Vice-captains Kobe Ryan and Nick Sadler would offer value on either side of midfield, but are likely to miss due to Covid protocols.

For the Allies, Angus Curry has played plenty of high-level football in his time over in Victoria, while fellow GWS Giants Academy member Ethan Grace was recently in contention to be picked up via the midseason draft. Both will likely spend time forward, with Curry also able to rotate on-ball.

Among the talented Queenslanders, Gold Coast Suns Academy utility Jared Eckersley is an intriguing prospect at over 190cm, while Tasmanian speedsters Colby McKercher and Seth Campbell have potential to set the game alight.

Colby McKercher has a bit about him | Image Credit: Phillip Biggs/The Examiner


Given the heavy Northern Academy influence, there is obviously a heap of club-tied talent for fans to note down. Of the father-son variety, Fletcher is eligible to be selected by Brisbane, while Michalanney has ties to Adelaide.

Munkara is an Essendon Next Generation Academy member, though will unlikely end up there, while tall forward Isaac Keeler is another talent tied to the Crows. Sydney father-son candidate Indhi Kirk is also among the extended Allies squad, hoping to get a run.

Isaac Keeler is tied to Adelaide’s NGA | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


The depth of either side is interesting to look at. The Allies went very over-age heavy in their extended squad, with 18 2003-born players selected. Their top-end is terrific, but arguably falls away a little quicker than in South Australia’s lineup.

With a chance of showers in Adelaide on Sunday, the tall talent on either side may not get a full opportunity to shine. The hosts boast a whopping 17 players over 190cm, and the Allies have strong over-age key position players who will compete hard.

In the ruck division, Toby Murray will be hard to beat, as will top-ager Nicholas Madden for their sheer combined size. Their influence may be compounded, given primary South Australian ruck Harry Barnett is another who may not get up for Sunday (Covid).

Expect the key forwards to do plenty of work too, with some good smalls at their feet. Lemmey and Keeler will give many defences headaches, but they should have good scoring support from SA’s midfielders who can find the goals.

Given the context of it being a championship opener, whichever side can settle and adjust best will put itself in a good position to win. The team chemistry factor is also important, given how tight-knit SA seems to be, and the nature of the Allies coming together in a relatively short amount of time.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments