New talent pleases NSW coach
THERE was no wet weather for the young AFL players to contend with on the final night of the Joss State Zone Trials at BCU International Stadium and that pleased the coach of the NSW/ACT under-18 team Jason Saddington.
"The standard has been pretty good considering it's been a tough time with conditions, a few wet games," Saddington said.
"It's nice to get a dry one tonight so we can see a bit of a different style of footy.
"I think the boys have been very competitive and they've played it pretty smart considering the conditions."
Saddington and his fellow selectors have been watching the seven teamsfrom around NSW with the young players all trying to make the state team to play in the national championships which will have every AFL talent scout watching.
He said that the three-day carnival helped selectors no end in making a picture of a squad of players to work with.
"It does make it clearer," he said.
"We're probably in the good position this time that the Swans Academy and the Giants Academy are picking squads so we'll get further opportunities to see some of these boys."
Saddington added that there were some players who made him sit up and take notice by surprising him with how well they played.
"There's always a few who surprise who've really developed in the past six months since you last saw them," the former Sydney and Carlton player said.
"That's always nice to see."
After three nights of competition, ACT/South Coast proved the number one team with five wins from its six matches.
The next two positions were filled by Sydney South and Western Sydney who both won four of their matches.
The usual AFL powerhouses in the state, Murray and Riverina finished fourth and fifth. A result that surprised Saddington but one that he found pleasing.
"It's been a lot more even competition than it has been in the past," he said.
"Generally kids from Murray and Riverina dominate a lot more but there's been a real even spread this year.
"Western Sydney players have really thrown their name up and even Sydney North beating Murray tonight. It's been quite an even competition."
The Northern Coast team which covers the area from the Hunter up to the Queensland border managed only one draw for the carnival.
Local players Patrick Gillingham (Sawtell/Toormina) and Nathan Harris (North Coffs) fared well and certainly put their names in front of selectors to be chosen in the Swans Academy squad.
The state coach who was been with the NSW/ACT program for a while now admits that every year the standard of play improves.
"I think every year with the batch coming through there's more players that you get excited about and it's generally through the development program," he said.
"They've been in that program for five or six years now so they're coming out at the top end as better players.
"There's some great little midfielders and there's some key position players and you think about whether it's this year that is their draftable year or the year after.
"There's even some who you think maybe not AFL footy but he's going to be a NEAFL footballer or the like."
DAY THREE RESULTS
Sydney North 3.3 (21) def Murray 2.3 (15)
ACT/South Coast 4.9 (33) def Riverina 2.3 (15)
Murray 6.7 (43) def Western Sydney 2.1 (13)
Sydney South 6.1 (37) def Riverina 2.3 (15)
ACT/South Coast 6.5 (41) def Northern Coast 2.1 (13)
Sydney South 4.5 (29) def Sydney North 1.1 (7)
Western Sydney 8.5 (53) def Northern Coast 1.2 (8)
DAY TWO RESULTS
ACT/South Coast 3.4 (22) def Sydney South 2.2 (14)
Western Sydney 2.4 (16) def Sydney North 1.2 (8)
Sydney South 6.6 (42) def Northern Coast 1.2 (8)
Riverina 4.2 (26) def Murray 2.3 (15)
ACT/South Coast 2.6 (18) def Western Sydney 1.1 (7)
Murray 7.9 (51) def Northern Coast 0.0 (0)
Riverina 1.5 (11) def Sydney North 0.3 (3)
DAY ONE RESULTS
Riverina 4.4 (28) def Northern Coast 2.3 (15)
ACT/South Coast 5.4 (34) def Sydney North 2.3 (15)
Sydney South 4.5 (29) def Murray 3.3 (21)
Western Sydney 7.4 (46) def Riverina 3.2 (20)
Northern Coast 1.3 (9) drew with Sydney North 1.3 (9)
Murray 5.3 (33) def ACT/South Coast 2.1 (13)
Western Sydney 4.6 (30) def Sydney South 4.4 (28)