Reaching for the stars: SANFL U18 guns and their archetypes

REACH for the stars. That’s what South Australia’s best and brightest Under 18 footballers are doing in 2023, at least if their self-selected AFL player comparisons are anything to go by. Prospects converged on Nazareth College this past Sunday, participating in their annual preseason testing event under the eye of Rookie Me.

As part of their media duties, top-age (2005-born) talents who were named in this year’s state talent hub hit media street, with one of the pertinent questions being which AFL stars they mould their game on or possess similar traits to.

>> South Australia’s top draft prospects

Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli proved a popular choice, named thrice as a prototypical players, while South Australian natives Connor Rozee and Jack Lukosius joined Collingwood stalwart Scott Pendlebury and Toby Greene as dual nominees. Lukosius and Pendlebury were singled out as ideal models for their foot skills.

>> SCROLL for the full list of comparisons

Our pick for the best comparison came from Glenelg’s Ashton Moir, who named Isaac Heeney as his archetype. The high-flying, dual-footed forward offers similar spring and match winning ability inside 50, while also proving somewhat of a tease for more midfield minutes.

Fellow AFL Academy member Jack Delean signalled his intention to develop primarily as a forward, and moulds his game on the likes of Greene and Cody Weightman. West Adelaide defender Will Patton chose Hawthorn’s Jack Scrimshaw, while North Adelaide midfielder Kane McAuliffe was ambitious with his three-pronged selection of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell and Patrick Dangerfield.

Jack Delean compares himself to Toby Greene and Cody Weightman

A unique answer among the bunch was that of Hawthorn father-son candidate Will McCabe. Able to play at either end of the ground, the Central District swingman draws inspiration from Jacob Weitering in defence and Jack Gunston up forward.

Of the 32 players surveyed, only two named retirees as models for their own game – McAuliffe, and Northern Territory native Orlando Turner, who singled out Cyril Rioli. Meanwhile, Eli Redman went with Demon duo Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver, leaving Glenelg teammate Bodie Ryan to choose his brother, Mason.

The 2023 SANFL Under 18 season gets underway on Saturday March 25, the same weekend as the recently rebranded Coates Talent League launches in Victoria. Elsewhere, budding draft prospects will also be in action as the new WAFL season bounces down on April 7.


Jed Dignan (North Adelaide) – Marcus Bontempelli
Tom Wheaton (South Adelaide) – Marcus Bontempelli/Patrick Cripps
Luca Slade (Sturt) – Marcus Bontempelli/Scott Pendlebury
Callum Fairall (Woodville-West Torrens) – Scott Pendlebury/Nick Daicos
Jack Delean (South Adelaide) – Toby Greene/Cody Weightman
Will Rowlands (Norwood) – Toby Greene
Loch Rawlinson (Sturt) – Connor Rozee
Max Downs (West Adelaide) – Connor Rozee
Ted Newman (Sturt) – Jack Lukosius/Tom Stewart
Harry Francis (Glenelg) – Jack Lukosius
Liam Fawcett (Central District) – Tom Lynch/Jeremy Cameron
Jayden Matz (Central District) – Max Gawn/Brodie Grundy
Will McCabe (Central District) – Jacob Weitering/Jack Gunston
Trent Tattoli (Central District) – Sam Walsh
Ashton Moir (Glenelg) – Isaac Heeney
Bowen Payne (Glenelg) – Andrew Gaff
Eli Redman (Glenelg) – Clayton Oliver/Christian Petracca
Ben Ridgway (Glenelg) – Jack Steele
Bodie Ryan (Glenelg) – Mason Redman
Luke Harvey (North Adelaide) – Darcy Byrne-Jones
Kane McAuliffe (North Adelaide) – Luke Hodge/Sam Mitchell/Patrick Dangerfield
Logan Evans (Norwood) – Jordan Dawson
Brayden Rachwal (Norwood) – Bailey Fritsch
Orlando Turner (Norwood) – Cyril Rioli
Fraser Greaves (Sturt) – Sam Draper/Toby Nankervis
Alex Holt (Sturt) – Jack Crisp
Chad Reschke (Sturt) – Charlie Dixon
Jack Oates (West Adelaide) – Harris Andrews
Will Patton (West Adelaide) – Jack Scrimshaw
Riley Davey (Woodville-West Torrens) – Xavier Duursma
Oscar Pearce (Woodville-West Torrens) – Tom Doedee
Patrick Weckert (Woodville-West Torrens) – Charlie Curnow

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