SANFL U18s Player Focus: Charlie Nicholls (Central District)

CENTRAL District tall forward Charlie Nicholls was in fine form as his side picked up a third straight SANFL Under 18s win on Saturday. The Bulldogs conceded the first five goals of the match to West Adelaide, but hit back to take the lead and run out 13.9 (87) to 7.7 (49) victors.

Nicholls was front and centre in the 38-point victory, booting three goals and impressing with his marking prowess throughout the day. Fresh off selection in South Australia’s Under 18 squad, we put the 17-year-old’s performance under the Player Focus microscope in Round 4.

>> FULL SQUAD: 2024 South Australia Under 18s

Charlie Nicholls

Height: 197cm

Weight: -

DOB: 08-06-2006


2024 SANFL Under 18s: Round 4
West Adelaide 7.7 (49) def. Central District 13.9 (87)

#37 Charlie Nicholls (Central District)
Stats: 22 disposals, 13 marks (6 contested), 4 hitouts, 4 inside 50s, 3 goals


West Adelaide piled on the first five goals of the game, but Nicholls helped the Bulldogs pull back the margin late with the first of his three majors. He extended for a strong pack mark at the top of the goalsquare before putting away Centrals’ opening six-pointer.

Aside from his scoreboard impact, Nicholls was a presence up the ground as his side’s main connection piece between the arcs. He worked over his opponent and covered plenty of ground to provide a target down the line, but also got loose over the back on quick transitions from turnover.

Nicholls had an earlier attempt on goal but put his set shot wide, and otherwise looked most dangerous when allowed a fluent run and jump at the ball. With Tallan Rosenzweig and Enrique Mazzeo the marking targets inside 50, Centrals’ forward structure was dangerous.


Nicholls really began to get going in the second quarter and that was reflected in the Bulldogs’ scoreboard turnaround, taking the lead at half time. He just about did as he pleased on the lead, helping himself to a series of uncontested marks as Centrals moved the ball from end-to-end.

Among his best moments was a terrific mark leaping third-up from the back on forward wing, but he also used his height to reel in a two-grab mark inside 50 before levelling the scores with his second goal. Overall, a prolific first half in a role which was central to the Bulldogs’ ball movement.


It was more of the same for Nicholls after half-time, as he continued to present on the lead and rack up possessions. Most of his final stat line was completed by three-quarter time, with the 197cm bigman booting his third major after proving too strong for his opponent one-on-one.

Though that instance showed a good account of Nicholls’ bodywork, he had a clear size advantage throughout the day. In that respect, he could have been a little more imposing physically and looked to crash packs. Instead, his size and reach were the main factors in his 12 overall marks (six contested).

Outside of the aerial realm, Nicholls displayed good dexterity to get involved in open play. His field kicking is terrific for a tall and he was clean enough to fire off quick handballs without fuss. Mobility was not an issue in such passages either, as Nicholls made his mark across all phases of the game.


With only one disposal and mark to his name in the final quarter, it was a steady finish to the game for Nicholls as Rosenzweig and Mazzeo took centre stage. His one touch came from a super leap to mark against his direct opponent at the top of attacking 50, but the resultant shot failed to score.


Nicholls has some considerable upside as a key forward, particularly in an athletic sense. He tested extremely well across the board in preseason testing and that has translated on the field, where he covers ground nicely, is nimble, and affluent in the air.

As far as centre half-forwards go, few play the role as well as Nicholls with respects to presenting up the ground and connecting play between the arcs. He could be a little more imposing in pack situations, but is difficult to stop when allowed a clean run and jump at the ball.

He also gets a tick in the skills department, boasting a solid field kick and neat skills by hand. The test will come once he is matched up by taller and more robust key defenders at the National Championships, but Nicholls is clearly one of the top talls at SANFL Under 18s level.

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