Preview | Changes galore as South meets West

WESTERN Australia’s last roll of the dice comes on Sunday, as the Black Ducks continue their search for a win at this year’s Under 18 National Championships. Finally playing in front of a home crowd, it’s South Australia who comes to town as the two sides throw down at Optus Stadium, before the West Coast and St Kilda AFL fixture.

Currently bottom of the standings at 0-3, WA was heavily depleted last week due to Covid protocols. With star defender Jedd Busslinger also ruled out, the hosts will hope to regain the likes of midfielder Darcy Jones, Jed Hagan, Luke Michael, Kane Bevan, and bottom-ager Riley Hardeman, all of whom would significantly boost last week’s relatively green squad which went down valiantly to Vic Country.

SA has swung the changes ahead of their final outing, bringing in five fresh faces among seven total inclusions. Arguably the biggest swap of them all is that of West Adelaide pair Harry Lemmey and Tom Scully. Both were highly touted at the start of the season, but have since struggled to recapture form. This will be Scully’s first game of the carnival.

Elsewhere, South Adelaide bigman Will Verrall replaces Phoenix Foster in the ruck rotation, while bottom-agers Luca Slade and Jack Delean make for exciting additions to the team. Glenelg skipper Ben Ridgway also gets his chance, named to start at half-forward as the Croweaters look to finish their championship campaign at an even 2-2.

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Luca Slade is one of SA’s seven inclusions | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

The SANFL Under 18s and WAFL Colts rage on without some of their representative stars, but top-end talents make their NAB League returns over in Victoria. Headlining a bumper five games on Saturday is the midfield battle between Sandringham and Geelong, which sees respective skippers Will Ashcroft and Jhye Clark go head-to-head.

Arguably the top prospects from Metro and Country, the two will meet in a sighter for their definitive representative clash in September. Flanking Ashcroft will be the likes of Harry Sheezel and Charlie Clarke, while Clark will be supported by ruck Olivier Northam and hard nut Ted Clohesy.

The undefeated Gippsland Power only get stronger too, with no less than seven Vic Country representatives returning to the fold. It means Tasmania, with skipper Lachlan Cowan and his fellow Allies squad members in tow, faces an extremely tough ask at home in what will be Sunday’s lone fixture.

Elsewhere, it is back to the forwardline for Bendigo Pioneers bottom-ager Harley Reid, as his side takes on a Northern Knights outfit bookended by Metro monsters Nate Caddy and Sam Grant. The Eastern and Dandenong defences will be boosted by some big inclusions respectively, while GWV spearhead Aaron Cadman promises to be a good watch against the Western Jets.

Wraps, notes, and analysis on all of the above action can be found right here on Rookie Me Central, so keep your eyes peeled over the next week for all the important takeaways and AFL Draft news from each competition.

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