Northern Territory’s best underage footballers will be hoping to impress on the big stage with the 2012 NAB AFL U18 Championships kicking off. The championships are the recognised pathway into the AFL and young footballers across the country will be hoping to perform in front of the watchful eyes of recruiters. A number of Territory footballers will hope for strong performances during the championships as they await the AFL National Draft in late November.
Ben Rioli has come on in leaps and bounds with his football in recent years and was awarded the Northern Territory Football League’s Rising Star award last year. The 18-year-old played mainly in defence for St Marys and the award capped off a great season. Rioli shows strong character on and off the field and has had to overcome personal tragedy in the loss of his father and Territory football icon Sebastian Rioli.
Jed Anderson is a highly rated talent and will be in a leadership position for the Territory team. There is no doubt his name will already be known by many AFL recruits after he gained All-Australian selection in last year’s championships. He was an integral part of the all-conquering NT Thunder senior side last season and was a member of the NEAFL Northern Conference premiership side. He will hope to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother Joe, who was drafted to Carlton in the 2006 and played 17 games for the Blues.
Damian Williams may well be on the radar of many AFL clubs and he has already been a part of the Greater Western Sydney team. Williams played for GWS during the NEAFL season last year and performed well for the Giants during a NAB Cup match against Sydney Swans early last year. He is a utility player who seems best suited to defence but has also had short stints in the ruck despite standing around the six foot mark. He is an athletic footballer with cat-like reflexes.
Braedon McLean is NTFL Rising Star winner and is noted for his good skills and decision making. McLean was impressive in last year’s championships as a bottom-ager when he averaged 18 disposals to be one of the Territory’s most consistent performers. McLean has good football bloodlines and is the nephew of former AFL star Michael “Magic” McLean.
All of these footballers have been developed through the NT Thunder senior side and will be looking to take their good form into the championships. Each state will play five games over the period of about a month with the final games being played in the first week of July.
Article By – Jackson Clark