Scouting Notes: 2023 Victorian Under 18 trials

VICTORIA’S best and brightest Under 18 footballers locked horns in a pair of trial games on Saturday, which will go a long way to deciding the Vic Country and Metro representative squads. We highlighted some of the top performers from either clash in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

>> Scouting Notes: 2023 Victorian Under 16 trials

  • Team
  • Vic Country
  • Vic Metro

GAME ONE – Vic Country 12.9 (81) def. Vic Metro 5.16 (46)

Country: D. Wilson 3, W. Dawson 3, J. Grant 2, T. Anastasopoulos, C. Hynes, M. Gordon, O. Poole
Metro: J. Croft 2, J. Dattoli, W. Elliott, M. Enders

Country: D. Wilson, A. Hastie, G. Stevens, W. Dawson, S. Lalor
Metro: J. Dattoli, Z. Johnson, L. Morris, M. Enders, O. Murphy


By: Declan Reeve

#4 Darcy Wilson (Murray Bushrangers)
18/08/2005 | 185cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Forward

Wilson is a player that has shown instant improvement from last season to this one in his first few games, increasing his productivity and showcasing his versatility along the way. Wilson started the trial match on a wing, utilising his evasiveness in close, along with his clean skills with ball in hand. There were times early on where he tried to do too much, but he figured out the pace of the game pretty quickly after that. A real standout attribute of Wilson’s game is how quickly he executes his skills, from ground ball gathers, to handballs out into space, Wilson does everything at such a speed that opponents rarely have time to react. Wilson took the opportunity to run with the footy when it presented itself, going on a couple of impressive forays that included running bounces and beautiful kicks inside 50. Wilson was moved into a more forward 50 focused role in the second half, slotting two goals for his efforts – one from an impressive contested mark.

#5 Tom Anastasopoulos (Geelong Falcons)
31/05/2005 | 176cm | 66kg | Forward/Midfielder

A regular goalkicker in the Coates Talent League, Anastasopoulos did not quite hit the scoreboard to the same degree as he typically does, but he still managed to show off some other desirable traits that will give him a good shot at earning Country representative honours. He showed off his speed and agility, with good burst from congestion being a staple of his play against Metro. Anastasopoulos was clean with the footy, particularly with his use by hand, usually followed up with a gut run in an attempt to get it back.

#10 Cooper Hynes (Dandenong Stingrays)
22/06/2006 | 180cm | 68kg | Forward

Surprisingly well built for a bottom-ager, Hynes used his strong frame to his advantage throughout the contest. Hynes was hard at it all game, throwing himself at the contest and ensuring there was no easy possession for Metro. Hynes worked up from his half-forward position to aid in defensive 50, acting as an option for the rebound. The highlight of Hynes’ game was his solitary goal, winning the ball at the top of the 50, bombing long to the square, then collecting the crumb from his own kick and slotting it through the big sticks.

#14 Sam Lalor (GWV Rebels)
30/08/2006 | 187cm | 88kg | Midfielder

The bottom-ager was thrown straight into the centre square mix, and immediately showed why he was entrusted with the role. Lalor acted as a consistent first possession winner around stoppages, almost encouraging opposition to come in and hit him with a bump, where he’d still find his way out of it. His work below his knees was impressive around the ground, with clean one-handed pickups and well placed handballs constant from him.

#19 Angus Hastie (Geelong Falcons)
19/09/2005 | 189cm | 77kg | Defender

Hastie took majority of the kick-ins through the game, generally playing on from the square and launching a kick to the wing. For the most part, Hastie made the right decisions and was clean with his disposal, there were naturally a few slip ups but his follow up work to make up for his mistakes was impressive, desperately running to lay a tackle or apply pressure on the ball winner. Hastie had some moments of pure magic, such as a play where he won the ball by reading it off the hands of a marking contest, then handballing it over the top of an opponent and running around to get it himself, then exit defensive 50. Hastie took some good intercept marks and positioned aggressively when the ball was in Country’s forward half.

#21 Wil Dawson (Gippsland Power)
20/12/2005 | 200cm | 86kg | Key Forward/Ruck

The 200cm tall from Gippsland announced himself in a big way, slotting three goals to lead the day for Country goalkickers. Not too dissimilar to many young key position prospects, Dawson has some physical growth to go before he can be expected to impact at higher levels, but the foundations of a good AFL level player are obvious to see, with good speed off the mark and a strong leap, as well as clean skills, as well as an already well developed forward game.

#22 Archer Reid (Gippsland Power)
19/09/2005 | 203cm | 93kg | Key Forward/Ruck

Whilst not the most productive day for the AFL Academy tall, Reid still managed to show off his impressive skillset that has recruiters so excited for the 203cm forward. His cleanliness below his knees is his standout trait for his size, with quick execution by hand allowing him to have the impact of a midfielder at times. He moved into the ruck for part of the second half and looked a natural, placing his taps well and following up where applicable.

#23 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 189cm | 84kg | Defender

The AFL Academy member was one the most productive players on field for the game, seemingly always impacting the play. Stevens started the game in the defensive half, acting as a general in defence with his intercepting prowess and quality of disposal, launching long bullets via foot to teammates on the rebound when the options presented. He was equally good with his use by hand through congestion, finding teammates on the outside even with opposition hanging off him. He moved into the midfield in the second half, and whilst a little less productive, he still applied himself well to the contest and created chaos for the opposition when they tried to move it cleanly.

Tom Anastasopoulos looks to break away | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Jesse Dattoli (Northern Knights)
07/08/2006 | 178cm | 75kg | Small Forward/Midfielder

Dattoli was his usual busy self on Saturday, starting forward before rotating through midfield and even shifting out to a wing. The bottom-ager looked most lively in the attacking half, where he played high and got his hands on the ball plenty. He contributed some clean work up in the corridor and also found the goals with a 40-metre set shot in term two, but put a couple of rushed efforts wide in open play. When on-ball, it was Dattoli’s distribution by hand which stood out most.

#10 Zak Johnson (Northern Knights)
24/12/2006 | 185cm | 76kg | Midfielder

Another Northern Knights bottom-ager among Metro’s better players afield, Johnson was a relative mainstay in midfield. He proved just about untouchable at times, driving his legs away from the contest and wheeling around to identify high-percentage targets on the move. Though he tended to run in circles at times, Johnson did well to get to space and was hard to contain as an elusive 185cm ball winner. He would have enjoyed having Talent League teammate Flynn Riley rucking to him, with the Northern pair combining well in the early stages.

#16 Miles Enders (Sandringham Dragons)
20/07/2005 | 188cm | 86kg | Forward

A low-possession, high impact type of forward, Enders caught the eye with his overhead marking prowess. The Sandringham Dragons bolter worked up to the wing and took a series of strong grabs, including a super pack mark in the second quarter. Enders’ hands were sticky and his leap spring-heeled, with his 45-metre goal over the mark in term four proving ample reward for his good work outside the attacking arc.

#18 Logan Morris (Western Jets)
05/10/2005 | 191cm | 90kg | Tall Forward

Metro kicked 16 behinds from 21 scoring shots in game one, and even Morris could not escape the seemed goalkicking curse. His marking was typically strong though, with the Western Jets spearhead proving hard to beat overhead and using his body well in a couple of instances. He missed at least three opportunities to split the big sticks in the first half, before being thrown back in term three where he gave Country’s forward’s trouble on the last line. It was an interesting experiment for the sturdy tall.

#22 Ollie Murphy (Sandringham Dragons)
16/09/2005 | 200cm | 85kg | Key Defender

One of the real finds of the day in a key position sense, Murphy did some super impressive things down back. The 200cm prospect was terrific aerially, flying at the ball with confidence and holding his own to intercept under serious fire. He was particularly prominent during the second and third terms, where he reeled in a pair of strong one-on-two grabs. There are some promising signs to work with for the Sandringham Dragons tall.

#23 Jordan Croft (Calder Cannons)
12/05/2005 | 200cm | 80kg | Key Forward

It was an indifferent kind of day for Croft, who showed some really nice signs but also saw the other side of the coin. The Western Bulldogs father-son candidate nailed goals in the second and third terms, with the latter being a dextrous snap deep inside 50. He wasted a few other opportunities throughout the game, including a kick into the man on the mark, but has the kind of rare athleticism  and potential at 200cm that will get recruiters excited.

  • Team
  • Vic Country
  • Vic Metro

GAME TWO – Vic Country 12.11 (83) def. by Vic Metro 12.15 (87)

Country: L. Charleson 3, R. Maric 3, J. Nannup 2, B. Dowling, A. Day-Wicks, M. Scoullar, F. O’Sullivan
Metro: N. Caddy 4, B. Hicks 2, C. Dear 2, L. Young 2, R. Weatherill, T. Gross

Country: A. Day-Wicks, P. Hughes, L. Charleson, K. De La Rue, J. Freijah
Metro: T. Gross, N. Caddy, N. King, H. Johnston, C. Naish


By: Declan Reeve

#1 Joziah Nannup (Dandenong Stingrays)
01/11/2004 | 182cm | 61kg | Small Forward

The over-aged small forward did not need a whole lot of it to make an impact, displaying his athleticism in every involvement and making evading opponents look all too easy. Whilst there’s definitely some polish to add on his disposal, it worked well enough to see him hit the scoreboard, with a nice soccer goal the more impressive of his two majors. Nannup’s speed made him particularly dangerous in transition, hurting Metro if they weren’t at their best defensively.

#2 Lachlan Charleson (GWV Rebels)
29/01/2005 | 176cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Small Forward

The small forward was a headache inside 50 for the Metro defenders, with his aggression at the ball and ball carrier constant throughout the game. Charleson approached his crumbing work as if he were a midfielder at a stoppage, preemptively running to where the ball was going to end up with 100 per cent intensity, pushing through opponents along the way if he had to. His work at ground level, and with his crumbing, saw him kick three majors.

#6 Luamon Lual (GWV Rebels)
28/03/2005 | 181cm | 71kg | Defender/Wing

The Western Bulldogs NGA prospect had a mixed game; he showed off his incredible athleticism and willingness to take the game on constantly, but some of his ball use left a bit to be desired. Lual loved to run, as soon as he got his hands on the footy he attempted to drive it forward as far as he could. Early on it didn’t have much effect with everyone fresh and the contest still hot, but it started to see better results later into the game. Lual was caught behind opponents a few times, but used his speed extremely well to close the gap and impact the contest. Lual seemed most impactful when he was moved to the wing, where winning it out in space allowed him more freedom to run with the footy, and more time to steady himself prior to disposing of it.

#7 Joel Freijah (GWV Rebels)
14/11/2005 | 191cm | 86kg | Midfielder/Wing

After an eyebrow raising display the week prior, Freijah had quite few eyes on him to see how he would back up the BOG performance. Whilst it was not quite a six-goal game, Freijah was still impactful through the midfield, with his vision through traffic and good ball use particularly impressive features of his game. Freijah balanced his approach to the contest well, going in to win the contested ball when it was his time to do so, but admittedly looking more comfortable when hanging out in space for the receive. Whilst Freijah didn’t run overly hard defensively, he did still apply himself well enough to land a couple of tackles and cause headaches for the Metro opposition. 

#10 Patrick Hughes (Geelong Falcons)
20/03/2005 | 181cm | 84kg | Midfielder

The tough in-and-under midfielder was super consistent through the game, acting as a regular first possession winner from stoppages, using his strong frame to his advantage to win front position on his opponent and be at the rucks feet. His defensive work around the ground was a treat, following up on opposition clearance winners to try and lay tackles or apply pressure. Whilst the bulk of his work was done at the coalface, he still won a bit of ball around the ground, using it pretty well on the outside.

#11 Billy Wilson (Dandenong Stingrays)
16/06/2005 | 182cm | 71kg | Defender

The typically high accumulating half-back did not quite win as much of it as he usually does, but still did some good things with it. There were times where he got caught trying to do too much, but he also had some of his regular moments of brilliance with his long kicking from the defensive 50, clean ground ball picks ups and decision making under pressure.

#13 Kade De La Rue (Dandenong Stingrays)
19/11/2005 | 184cm | 77kg | Midfielder

Playing most of the game through the midfield, De La Rue was really impressive with his work rate around the ground and balance around the contest. De La Rue used his athleticism well to get himself out of congestion, particularly around stoppages, and using it really well when he got out into open space. He worked hard both ways, applying pressure when the opposition won the ball, and quickly spreading and leading into good spots when his side won it.

#16 Archer Day-Wicks (Bendigo Pioneers)
13/05/2006 | 185cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Utility

It’s hard to believe the bottom-ager debuted at Coates Talent League level only two weeks ago given how quickly he has adjusted, and his trial match game might have been his best yet. Day-Wicks started off the game quiet but worked into it well from the start of the second quarter, with more time through the midfield he was able to show off his stoppage craft and ability to win the footy around the ground, using it well by both foot and hand when he had it. When he was stationed behind the ball he was at his best, taking some good intercept marks and using it damagingly heading back forward. He showed off his defensive work rate throughout, with highlight being an intercept mark at the top of the goal square that he had to gut run to get to, stopping a certain goal. He was just as brilliant up the other end as well, kicking a nice goal after winning it on the boundary deep in the pocket and dribbling it on the tightest of angles, with a finger to the sky celebration showing off a nice bit of confidence.

#28 Ryan Maric (Gippsland Power)
06/09/2004 | 193cm | 84kg | Tall Forward

The midseason draft candidate has been one with plenty of eyes on him as we edge closer to the event, and recruiters wouldn’t have been disappointed with what they saw from the over-ager. Maric lead to good spots throughout the contest, managing to lose his opponent on the lead through pure work rate as he kept repeating leads when he wasn’t used. Maric finished the game with three majors, but set up a couple of others which he could have easily slotted himself, choosing to reward his teammates hard efforts where appropriate, and centre the ball rather than go for miracle shots from hard angles.

Ryan Maric (right) leaps at the ball | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Nash King (Calder Cannons)
05/01/2006 | 181cm | 79kg | Midfielder

One of a few bottom-agers to have impressed on Saturday, King played on both sides of midfield and showed off a few handy tricks. The Calder Cannons talent has a wicked step, which he used to accelerate through the corridor and drive away from tacklers. A couple of moments highlighted his agility in the second half; the first as he skirted the boundary inside 50 to lose his opponent before missing a snap, while the second saw him blind turn one opponent and be taken high by another, ultimately missing another shot on goal in the process.

#6 Tom Gross (Oakleigh Chargers)
15/09/2006 | 180cm | 70kg | Midfielder

Potentially the best player afield in game two, Gross staked his claim for a starting berth in Metro’s midfield with plenty of highlights throughout four quarters. The bottom-ager was deadly in attacking transitions, carrying the ball with speed through the corridor and racking up possessions at will. Though impactful on the handball receive, Gross was also good enough to break out of tackles as primary ball winner. He tends to blast away long by foot but lowered his eyes well on a couple of occasions, even hitting the scoreboard amid a forward 50 scramble to join the procession of goals in term four.

#11 Harvey Johnston (Sandringham Dragons)
18/08/2005 | 184cm | 76kg | Forward/Midfielder

Utilised as a forward who rotated on-ball, Johnston displayed the dancing feet which garnered plenty of attention early in the season. His athleticism and evasive technique proved a headache for Country defenders as he worked outside attacking 50, before also getting his hands on the ball in midfield. His twists and turns made for good watching, as did his willingness to take the game on and get creative in the front half.

#12 Hugo Garcia (Calder Cannons)
22/05/2005 | 184cm | 74kg | Forward/Wing

Garcia has played himself into representative consideration with flashes of form for Calder, and did much of the same in game two on Saturday. The classy forward started out on a wing and was even used at the centre bounces, before reverting to an attacking role. He swooped on ground balls nicely and showed good smarts to disrupt Country’s defensive possessions, again proving a player who has promise, but perhaps needs a big four-quarter performance to truly break through.

#14 Charlie Naish (Northern Knights)
04/05/2005 | 187cm | 79kg | Utility

Naish is another prospect who has broken into representative consideration at Talent League levl, and showed a few more signs of his class on Saturday. The Richmond father-son candidate started on a wing and was relatively quiet, but began to get his hands on the ball once shifted to half-back. He took a couple of intercept marks and was typically productive in transition, hitting passes on the move. 

#16 Matt Carroll (Sandringham Dragons)
28/11/2005 | 188cm | 81kg | Wing/Defender

Whether it be off half-back or the wing, Carroll utilised his pace to carve up the play with each possession in game two. The Sandringham Dragons prospect drove his legs at every opportunity and often set off across the corridor, looking to take the game on and leaving opponents in his wake. He’s another player with high potential and traits suitable for the modern game, but perhaps not the consistency just yet.

#17 Nate Caddy (Northern Knights)
14/07/2005 | 192cm | 91kg | Tall Forward

Caddy has a handy knack of hitting up to draw the opening centre clearance, and he did so on Saturday to set the tone for a fine four-goal performance. Though just shy of true key position height, Caddy plays as a genuine tall – akin to Charlie Curnow – and has serious presence when presenting full-chested on the lead. Even when the ball fell short of him, he swooped on it and wheeled into attack, getting involved in plenty of Metro scoring chains. He also straightened up to convert four majors himself, cutting off a couple of Country kicks and taking toll. A confidence player, he looked full of it in game two and remains a first round prospect on pure talent.

Tom Gross has been in serious form | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

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