PREVIEW | 2024 AFL U18s: Western Australia vs. Vic Metro

FRESH off a barnstorming win last week, Western Australia returns home to take on Vic Metro (1-0) in the Under 18 National Championships on Sunday. The clash serves as a curtain-raiser for the AFL clash between Fremantle and Gold Coast at Optus Stadium. We preview how it may unfold.


Who: Western Australia vs. Vic Metro
When: Sunday June 23, 10:45am AWST
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth
How to watch: via AFL website & app


Western Australia: 1-1 | LW
def. by Allies 7.8 (50) to 10.10 (70)
def. South Australia 17.7 (109) to 6.12 (48)

Vic Metro: 1-0 | W
def. Allies 9.13 (67) to 6.15 (51)



B: #18 C. Dennis – #21 D. Petersen – #30 J. Douglas
HB: #10 A. van der Struyf – #20 C. Curtin – #16 L. Mactaggart
C: #23 C. Burke – #12 B. Allan – #8 C. Banfield
HF: #11 H. Davis – #26 K. Gerreyn – #5 W. Hayes
F: #1 C. Angove – #17 M. Rohr – #3 M. Champion
FOL: #29 A. Riddle – #2 L. Urquhart – #24 F. Rodriguez

INT: #6 B. Kelly, #13 J. Artemis, #19 K. Evans, #27 T. Hiscock, #28 H. Boxshall

EMG: #22 T. Whan, #36 A. Gulluni, #39 H. Pivac

IN: Nil.
OUT: Nil.

An unchanged lineup means Western Australia is confident it has found a winning formula. The well drilled and competitive side shouldn’t yield too many structural changes to the side which thumped South Australia. South Fremantle’s Toby Whan and Hudson Pivac come into the squad though, named as emergencies alongside East Perth’s Andre Gulluni.


B: #16 L. Grego – #27 H. O’Farrell – #32 A. Cole
HB: #7 H. Oliver – #26 L. Trainor – #17 Z. Johnson
C: #11 C. Moraes – #10 L. Ashcroft – #18 P. Retschko
HF: #3 J. Dattoli – #25 G. Stumpf – #19 C. Richardson
F: #1 I. Kako – #22 H. Armstrong – #15 T. Gross
FOL: #37 L. Impey – #9 J. Smith – #24 J. Smillie

INT: #2 J. Nguyen, #4 J. Dolan, #8 M. Reid, #14 N. King, #35 T. Sims

EMG: #5 D. Hollow, #21 L. Hofmann, #33 L. Emmett

IN: H. Armstrong, A. Cole, Z. Johnson, N. King
OUT: L. Hofmann, D. Hollow, B. McKenzie, L. Tovey

“Rotation” is the buzz word for Vic Metro’s selections once again, though Damon Hollow can count himself as one of the unluckiest omissions in recent memory. Calder teammate Nash King comes in as a midfield option along with Zak Johnson, who has been utilised in defence of late.

There could be some shuffling of the magnets with the likes of Christian Moraes and Jayden Nguyen, who can play down back or on the wing, while the forward line measures up quite tall with the 195cm Harry Armstrong coming in for fellow Sandringham Dragon, Bailey McKenzie.

It’s a straight swap of key defenders with Adrian Cole replacing Lucas Tovey. Cole is fresh off locking down Bendigo Pioneers and Allies forward Jobe Shanahan, so will likely take one of WA’s most dangerous talls and free up Luke Trainor and Harry O’Farrell to play more dynamic roles.



Charlie Burke

A quiet accumulator on the outside, Burke posted strong numbers in both games for Western Australia thus far and has the wing role down pat. Like many of his teammates, the Subiaco skipper’s running patterns are excellent. He gets to all the right spots as an outlet in transition and is generally quite tidy with ball in hand, while also being able to sneak forward and hit the scoreboard.

Hamish Davis

An emerging prospect out of Claremont, Davis’ running patterns and versatility have also caught the eye. He filled in through midfield in game one before shifting forward last week, with his height and presentation on the lead proving valuable. At 190cm, he’s a likely type with draftable traits and the ability to kick consistent goals either by sneaking over the back, or clunking strong marks.

Fred Rodriguez

One to watch for next year, Rodriguez is among the handful of bottom-agers getting a consistent run in Western Australia’s side. The midfielder is quite prolific and already solidly built at 184cm. He can carve up the opposition with run coming away from the stoppage, but also works well as a distributor by hand and can kick off both feet. The true test will come against a quality Vic Metro midfield, though.

The Spine

Western Australia’s side is bookened by talls who have played their roles brilliantly to date. Key backs Darcy Petersen and Cody Curtin can shut down dangerous talls in the air, while Max Rohr and Kayle Gerreyn combined for seven goals last week. That’s not to mention the ruck craft of Aiden Riddle and power of captain Bo Allan through midfield. Each piece sits nicely in place for the Black Ducks.

Inclusion Nash King is one to watch for Vic Metro | Image Credit: Rob Lawson/AFL Photos


Zak Johnson

One of four inclusions this week, Johnson’s class with ball in hand promises to catch the eye. He returned with 28 disposals via the Coates Talent League last week after missing game one, plying his trade as a playmaker across half-back. His footy IQ, decision making and kicking are elite, and he ticks the box in terms of versatility having often featured as a midfielder rotating forward.

Nash King

Akin to Johnson, King got back into the swing of things last week with a 30-disposal performance in the Coates Talent League. Many of Vic Metro’s midfielders have been made to find secondary positions and that may be the case for King, who is used to rotating to either end. He is arguably most effective at stoppages and tries to replicate the likes of Jason Horne-Francis and Patrick Dangerfield.

Josh Smillie

Smillie was arguably below his best in tricky conditions last week, but with rain forecast to stay away in Perth, he is primed for a strong response. Much of Vic Metro’s success will hinge on its midfield quality and Smillie is at the forefront of that, likely to lock horns with WA skipper and powerhouse Bo Allan. A huge measure of his pick one credentials will be his ability to perform on the biggest stage.

Luke Trainor

Regarded as the best tall player in the draft, Trainor may have his hands full with Western Australia’s key forwards on Sunday. Vic Metro is better served when he can peel off and play his own game though, offering elite intercept marking and some of the best kick distribution you’re likely to see at the level. With the right support and conditions, he could be in for a massive performance.


As is often the case with Vic Metro squads, finding the right balance is key. The Vics’ wealth of midfielders and secondary role requirements are juxtaposed by Western Australia’s elite structure, running and togetherness. It’s a question of quality talent versus a quality team.

Where Vic Metro will look to get on top is in midfield. With Smillie running through there alongside Jagga Smith, Levi Ashcroft, and Murphy Reid, it will be difficult for WA to get first use of the ball. Where the Black Ducks can counter is in transition, on the back of their ball movement and connection.


Football maths has spit out an equation which favours Vic Metro, who beat the Allies in game one. Western Australia lost to the same side but the game is all about style matchups and structures. WA caught lightning in a bottle last week and will be up for the fight, while Vic Metro has an overwhelming amount of top end talent which should see the Big V through. Metro by 15.


Sun, June 23WA vs Vic MetroOptus Stadium10:45am
Sat, June 29WA vs Vic CountryRevo Fitness Stadium10:30am
Sun, June 30SA vs Vic MetroAlberton Oval10:05am
Sun, July 7Allies vs Vic CountryBrighton Homes Arena10:35am
Sun, July 14Vic Metro vs Vic CountryIKON Park10:35am

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