Scouting Notes: 2022 AFL U18s – South Australia vs. Vic Country

VIC COUNTRY held firm for a thrilling two-point victory over South Australia on Sunday, opening its 2022 Under 18 National Championships on a winning note. With South Australian stars returning and many Victorians getting their first taste of real representative action for the year, there were plenty of prospects to highlight in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

All notes are the opinion of the author.

>> MATCH REPORT: South Australia 8.12 (60) def. by Vic Country 9.8 (62)

  • Team
  • South Australia
  • Vic Country


By: Tom Wyman

#6 Jakob Ryan (Glenelg)
20/09/2004 | 189cm | 77kg | Defender

The flashy half-back was terrific at Thebarton Oval. Ryan showed plenty of his natural attacking run and carry and creativity by hand and foot, but crucially backed it up by proving strong defensively. Rarely beaten one-on-one, he tackled with force and was strong in the air, taking a number of intercept grabs. He weaved through traffic with composure and assuredness and used the ball with precision on most occasions. Easily one of the Croweaters’ best, Ryan’s ability to repel time and again off half-back was important.

#8 Kobe Ryan (West Adelaide)
17/02/2004 | 183cm | 73kg | Defender/Wing

Tony Bamford‘s men welcomed back on-baller, Ryan after he spent the last week adhering to COVID protocols. Ryan appeared to start behind the ball, where he struggled to have his usual impact on the game, but was swiftly moved to the wing where he was able to get his hands on it more often. As the game wore on, Ryan got better and better, cracking in typically hard and winning plenty of contested ball. He calmly booted a vital set shot to add to his 20-disposal performance.

#11 Jake Walker (Glenelg)
17/07/2004 | 184cm | 85kg | Midfielder

The Glenelg midfielder may be one of the lesser known talents in this SA squad, but his value within the side is high. A genuine workhorse, Walker never stopped running, spreading well from the contest and also working hard defensively. He featured in several centre bounce set-ups, and always looked to be around the ball. Walker’s vision and skill execution by hand was noticeable, often spotting a teammate over the other side of a pack and releasing them into space. Walker booted a goal in what was another strong showing.

#21 Mattaes Phillipou (Woodville-West Torrens)
27/12/2004 | 191cm | 83kg | Midfielder/Forward

Phillipou was once again among the best players on the field as South Australia fell just two points short of snatching victory over Vic Country. Starting on-ball, he was a key member of the rotation. Phillipou’s tall frame and burst of speed proved important against the nimble Victoria midfielders, and his extra height was also useful when thrown forward later in the game. His hands overhead were a sight to behold at times and will certainly have scouts impressed. Phillipou’s skills were sound and he combined them with some powerful extraction work around the ball.

#28 Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)
9/04/2004 | 186cm | 86kg | Midfielder

Croweaters skipper, D’Aloia was typically industrial in the tough loss to the Victorians. Scrappy and rugged in the contest, D’Aloia did all the little things we’ve come to expect from the Woodville-West Torrens prospect. He looked calm in traffic and made smart decisions with ball in hand. His skill execution by hand and foot was sound, so too his stoppage smarts and natural football IQ. D’Aloia was South Australia’s leading ball winner, finishing with 28 possessions, eight tackles, seven clearances and five inside 50s for his troubles.

#38 Isaac Keeler (North Adelaide)
23/04/2004 | 198cm | 88kg | Key Forward

North Adelaide star, Keeler produced another strong performance to solidify his first round hopes. Stationed primarily up forward with Foster and Barnett handling the bulk of the ruck duties, Keeler looked threatening in the air from the get-go. Although he will always have a relaxed style, he looked to play with real intensity against Vic Country – an area of his game which has been critiqued at times with North Adelaide. Clearly enjoying the bigger occasion, Keeler’s second term was vital in SA entering the main change with a slight advantage. He finished with one goal, but should have had as many as three or four if he had converted some gettable set shots.

#45 Harry Barnett (West Adelaide)
22/01/2004 | 202cm | 93kg | Ruck

In a near best-on-ground performance, the returning ruckman was outstanding after missing last week’s encounter with the Allies due to COVID-19 protocols. Starting in the ruck and rotating with Phoenix Foster throughout the game, Barnett wasted no time getting started, showing some dash en route to winning the opening clearance of the game. His clean hands at ground level and willingness to use his running capacity when given time and space was terrific to see. However, Barnett’s overhead marking was the highlight of his game. He took a number of big pack grabs in front of and behind the ball, making use of his athleticism and reach. Recruiters will have enjoyed watching the West Adelaide bigman lead the South Australian ruck division.


By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Mitch Szybkowski (Dandenong Stingrays)
9/01/2004 | 186cm | 84kg | Midfielder

Part of a strong on-ball core for the Victorians, Szybkowski brought his usual inside game but also showcased an enormous running capacity away from the contest. The Dandenong Stingrays standout was typically clean by hand and worked well in combination with his fellow midfielders, giving and getting through the middle of the ground. He worked hard to drive Country forward and did the defensive stuff too, most memorably with a term two tackle on Kobe Ryan, who tried to fend him off.

#5 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 181cm | 77kg | Midfielder

Country’s captain was simply undeniable, and reliable as ever in the engine room. He racked up 24 touches and eight marks, putting his head over the ball when required but also accumulating as per usual around the ground. While a consistent figure, Clark produced a few outstanding moments; including a courageous intercept mark floating in front of the pack inside defensive 50, and a clutch set shot goal in the third term to steady his side. As always, he proved a real tone-setter in midfield.

#8 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 184cm | 71kg | Midfielder

The third of Country’s core midfielders alongside Szybkowski and Clark, Hollands also found his fair share of possession. When the contest was hot, he got his hands on the contested ball and while it was tough to step into space, Hollands worked hard on the spread. His kicking, a noted area of improvement, was sharp when afforded time and space, and part of why he was one of Country’s best in the first half. He later popped up under a high ball inside 50, and slotted a goal in the third quarter.

#10 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | 75kg | Wing

While Country’s inside ball winners worked hard at the contest, Schuback thrived on the outside and provided plenty of drive. Though suited to the expanses of the wing, Schuback was not afraid to compete and split a number of contests, before recovering well to sweep up the ball and set off. Through his dash and slick kicking, the Gippsland Power product helped Country progress into dangerous areas of the ground, and even spent a bit of time in the forward half during term four.

#12 Coby Burgiel (Gippsland Power)
9/09/2004 | 183cm | 76kg | Defender

Along with Szybkowski, Burgiel collected a team-high 25 disposals for the ‘Big V’ and was a constant rebounding force from defence. He had plenty to do down back, particularly in the early stages, proving composed with his ability to win contests and immediately get going to put Country on the front foot. His consistent output was key to keeping the Victorians alive and dangerous in transition, playing a solid role behind the ball.

#13 Finn Emile-Brennan (Dandenong Stingrays)
7/05/2004 | 181cm | 62kg | Defender

The Melbourne Next-Generation Academy member certainly has some eye-catching traits, and showcased all of them in a promising representative outing. Operating in his usual role off half-back, Emile-Brennan was aggressive with his rebound run and kicking, displaying great athleticism to break the lines and surge Country forward. He was shifted up to the wing in term four, with his punchy ball use a feature among 19 touches.

#14 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
17/04/2005 | 185cm | 82kg | Defender

After foreshadowing his shift to defence at NAB League level, Reid showcased his natural footballing nous with 21 disposals and 10 marks in a relatively new role. The usual midfielder-forward got better as the game went on, and produced a clutch pack mark in the dying stages to help Country hold on. His kicking improved over time, and the bottom-ager seemed to grow in stature as the stakes were heightened. There are few better readers of the play at his age, and few more readymade athletes at that – he’s a star already.

#17 Caleb Mitchell (Murray Bushrangers)
10/08/2004 | 187cm | Wing

Perhaps one of the less heralded names among Vic Country’s squad, Mitchell stepped up when his side needed it on Sunday. Making the wing his own, the Murray Bushrangers prospect worked hard to impact both arcs and tried his best to make things happen with ball in hand. While that sometimes meant biting off more than he could chew, Mitchell was clean when he needed to be – in crucial late passages.

#25 Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)
3/03/2004 | 194cm | 88kg | Key Forward

Arguably now the form key forward of this year’s draft crop, Cadman made good of the limited opportunities which came his way. Country was incredibly wasteful going inside 50, but the Greater Western Victoria forward still managed to snare a pair of goals. His high level forward craft was evident, with clean marks on the lead and strong work one-on-one, contributing all of his three scoring shots in the opening half for 2.1.

#33 Henry Hustwaite (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/07/2004 | 194cm | 84kg | Defender/Midfielder

Having recently taken on more midfield minutes with Dandenong, Hustwaite shifted back to defence in Country colours and did so with aplomb. He started wonderfully well, intercepting seemingly everything which came his way in the first term with sound reading of the play and a clean set of hands. The pressure gauge was turned up in term two and Hustwaite was much quieter until his move on-ball in the final quarter, where he again displayed great composure and foot skills.

#34 James Van Es (GWV Rebels)
7/08/2004 | 196cm | 97kg | Key Defender

Acting like the Steven May to Country’s Jake Lever (Hustwaite), Van Es was resolute in defence. He dominated the early stages along with his partner-in-crime, proving too strong in one-on-one duels and putting on a great show of defensive craft. While the going got tougher as the game wore on, Van Es’ solid start was certainly notable.

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