AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan looks at Round 3 of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, with a focus on Oakleigh Chargers’ Nick Bryan.
In its solid opening win of the Championships, Vict Metro’s Nick Bryan was an eyecatcher in its 17-point win over South Australia in the second game of the double header at Alberton Oval- the home of Port Adelaide Power.
At 202cm and still growing, Bryan is not 18 until late October this year so still has a massive upside both physically and with the fine tuning of his ruck craft and the requirements to influence the game as a tall. He resembles at this point a young 205cm ruckman from Western Australia who first emerged as an AFL Draft prospect in 2016 and is now showing enormous potential with the Western Bulldogs in Tim English.
Bryan had his best game of the Championships to date winning 15 possessions (10 contested) taking 3 marks and having 22 hit outs, often giving his team first use of the ball from stoppages. He continues to show a willingness to follow up after ruck contests and provide an extra number at ground level for his team – an essential mindset and skill which assist him win contested ball and apply pressure. His ability to spread and work forward to provide a marking target continues to improve and makes him a difficult match-up with his height and athleticism.
Bryan’s weapons include his natural leap at centre bounces, his agility once the ball hits the ground and his effective kicking. He also showed he’s able to compete strongly in the air and provide a marking target with a preparedness to bring it to ground if unable to mark- great assets for a tall.
From the Oakleigh Chargers and Glen Iris Football Club, Bryan attends St Kevin’s College and has emerged out of the pack this year as a potential AFL draftee.
For South Australia, one of its eye catchers on the weekend and on the radar of Port Adelaide, was its hard-edged medium mid fielder/forward in Jackson Mead. Another youngster not yet 18 years of age, Mead had 24 disposals and 9 tackles to among his team’s best players. Son of former Port Adelaide best and fairest winner Darren Mead, Jackson is eligible under the AFL father/son Rules to join the Power after his dad played 122 AFL games with the Power.
Strong overhead for a 184cm player, Mead excels in one on one contests and is clean at ground level with his hands. Last year he was outstanding in the SANFL Under 18 Grand Final winning the Allan Stewart Medal for best on ground as a bottom aged player, announcing his potential. This year he has already progressed to Reserves level at Woodville West Torrens, averaging 21.2 disposals in 6 matches – sound for this progressive type of future AFL midfielder.
Earlier in the day West Australia’s exciting medium forward Elijah Taylor provided a few ”thin slices” of his enormous potential with his 3 goals as the Sandgropers got home by 25 points over a much improved and very determined Allies outfit. Taylor has some real mercurial ability – light on his feet with special agility and speed off the mark he also has that innate goal sense to find sticks on his right or left side often off one step and a quick glance. At 185cm and strong overhead, he has shown he can be a dangerous marking target in the games to date in a one on one situation. An indigenous youngster from Perth and Thornie Football Clubs, he had a fascinating battle with a committed Allies and Swans Academy defender in Nick Brewer who restricted his opponent to 12 possessions in a fascinating duel.
In the much-improved performance from the Allies, it was its captain Tom Green who set the tone for his team’s strong and purposeful start to the game with his hard at the ball style and ferocious attitude permeating across the group.
Green, from Marist College in Canberra, had 21 disposals ( 14 contested), 6 Inside 50s, 7 tackles and 8 clearances making him his sides most effective player on the day. Built in the mould of Port’s Ollie Wines or Swan Josh Kennedy, Green is a stoppage star using his game sense and clean hands to set up his outside runners.
The grandson of former Richmond multiple premiership star Michael Green, Thomas is eligible for the GWS Giants as a Club Academy selection and looks set to be the subject of a bid at the NAB AFL Draft in November.
With the Championships now in the home straight all eyes look to GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Friday. Can the unbeaten Vic Country continue their winning ways and defeat SA? Will Vic Metro make it 2 from 2 and overcome the improved Allies?
Round 4 of the 2019 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships will be available on the AFL Live Official App, thanks to Telstra. Coverage from GMHBA Stadium in Geelong starts from 10.30am AEST.
The final round of matches will again be a double header at Marvel Stadium next Wednesday 3rd July with the climax of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships to be shown live on Fox Footy.