AFL Academy guns set to take on Port Adelaide

THE AFL ACADEMY will take on Port Adelaide’s SANFL side tomorrow in the annual Under 18 showcase game. Many of the country’s top draft hopefuls will take the field in a rare game on the same team, amid the hype of Gather Round in Adelaide.

>> SCROLL for the full squads

Acting as a curtain-closer to the Round 5 AFL clash between Brisbane and North Melbourne, the national academy plays off against the Power at Summit Sports and Recreation Park in Mount Barker, starting at 4:00pm local time.

Announced in November last year, the academy intake features 30 top-age (2005-born) players from all states and territories – all of whom will be available on Saturday. The game will be streamed live via

This fixture marks the centrepiece of the academy’s second training camp, with the third set to take place in Melbourne from May 11-14. The girls academy will have its second camp in Melbourne from April 17-19, and then in June.

Before the big game gets underway, check out the squads for either side below. The Rookie Me Central team has also put together a possible starting team for the AFL Academy, which is sure to excite on the big stage.


#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#2 Jack Callinan (Tasmania Devils)
#3 Caiden Cleary (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
#4 Jack Delean (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#5 Riley Hardeman (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#6 Colby McKercher (Tasmania Devils)
#7 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#8 Archie Roberts (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#9 Jake Rogers (Suns Academy/Queensland)
#10 Riley Sanders (Sandringham Dragons/Tasmania)
#11 Orlando Turner (Norwood/Northern Territory)
#12 Darcy Wilson (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
#17 Lachlan Cabor (Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
#18 Nate Caddy (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#19 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#20 Will Lorenz (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#21 Kane McAuliffe (North Adelaide/South Australia)
#22 Ashton Moir (Glenelg/South Australia)
#23 Connor O’Sullivan (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
#24 Will Patton (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#25 Nathan Philactides (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#26 Cooper Simpson (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
#27 George Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#28 Koltyn Tholstrup (Subiaco/Western Australia)
#29 Daniel Curtin (Claremont/Western Australia)
#30 Mitchell Edwards (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
#31 Will Green (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#32 Ethan Read (Suns Academy/Queensland)
#33 Archer Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#34 Jed Walter (Suns Academy/Queensland)

Nick Watson at AFL Academy training this week | Image Credit: Keryn Stevens


B: W. Patton – D. Curtin – G. Stevens
HB: R. Hardeman – C. O’Sullivan – A. Roberts
C: K. Tholstrup – H. Reid – D. Wilson
HF: A. Moir – A. Read – Z. Duursma
F: N. Watson – J. Walter – J. Delean
FOL: M. Edwards – C. McKercher – K. McAuliffe

INT: L. Cabor, N. Caddy, J. Callinan, C. Cleary, W. Green, W. Lorenz, N. Philactides, E. Read, J. Rogers, R. Sanders, C. Simpson, O. Turner

The magnets fall into place quite easily in some regards, but with 30 players to choose from, there will be an inevitable selection squeeze for coach Tarkyn Lockyer. All academy members will be available, but only 18 can start and many will be rotated in a variety of roles. This is an indication of how things may pan out.

Starting from the back, key position pillars Daniel Curtin and Connor O’Sullivan can both swing up either end, but look like the best tall defensive options. Should one be utilised elsewhere, the likes of Will Patton and George Stevens are both aerially apt. On the flanks are a couple of high accumulators in Riley Hardeman and Archie Roberts. The former made his WAFL League debut last week.

There’s some serious excitement at the other end of the ground. From the dual-sided kicking of Ashton Moir, to the smarts of Nick Watson and Jack Delean, and the smooth movement of Zane Duursma – all forwards afield are sure to catch the eye. The mobile Archer Reid and bullocking Jed Walter look like taking up the key position posts, though others can certainly rotate through there.

Pick one fancy Harley Reid essentially picks himself in midfield, offering power alongside the speed of Colby McKercher and contested nous of Kane McAuliffe. Rucking to them in our lineup is Mitchell Edwards, who copped a corkie last week but will be ready to go. The Peel Thunder tall could also roll forward with fellow 200-plus rucks William Green and Ethan Read available.

On the outside are a couple of players who can swing through the middle or shift forward in Koltyn Tholstrup and Darcy Wilson. Hardeman could be another option for the wing, and other midfielder-forwards like Cooper Simpson and Jake Rogers might also be squeezed out there.

There’s plenty of firepower left on the pine. Nate Caddy is a high-marking 192cm option, while smalls Jack Callinan and Orlando Turner promise to add a touch of flair. Midfielders Ryley Sanders and Caiden Cleary should both be physically up for the contest, and Will Lorenz looms as a versatile asset who could realistically be used on any of the three lines.

Elsewhere, Swans Academy midfielder Lachlan Cabor looks like being shifted back in this side, while Nathan Philactides is a nailed-on half-back who can break the lines with a bit of dash. It’s a dynamic team with some good grunt in midfield, but watch for the forward line to be most impressive with enough supply.


#3 Harper Montgomery
#8 Josh Sinn
#10 Will Francou
#16 Jake Weidemann
#24 Jake Pasini
#25 Sam Hayes
#27 Brynn Teakle
#30 Ollie Lord
#31 Francis Evans
#32 Tom Scully
#34 Lachlan Jones
#36 Jase Burgoyne
#37 Tom McCallum
#38 Dante Visentini
#39 Hugh Jackson
#45 Nathan Barkla
#46 Jed Hagan
#49 Oliver Cheesman
#50 Hugh Ferrari
#53 Jackson Lee
#54 Will Ferrari
#61 Charlie McCarthur

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