Under-16s brace for nationals

THE state under-16 football team starts its 2014 AFL national championships campaign with its first match in Queensland tomorrow.

The state team will take on Queensland at Broadbeach followed by the Northern Territory on Wednesday at Southport and the New South Wales-ACT on Saturday at Metricon Stadium.

State under-16 coach Nick Paine said the final 25-man squad had been training well over the past month in preparation for the championships.

Launceston's Jack Donnellan and Lauderdale's Nat Franklin will be co-captains of the Tasmanian side.

``We have a very good side with some good individual players in it but obviously they have come from far and wide all over the state so to try to get them to gel as a team is a challenge,'' Paine said.

``We think we've done a good job at the moment but time will tell when we get out on the ground.

``We're expecting to go over there and give it a good shake if we can play as a team and there is no reason why we can't.''

Paine said Queensland was largely an unknown proposition.

``Their tallest player is 201 centimetres which is tall for a 15-year-old and they will be taller than us.

``But we think we can run and cover the ground pretty well with a lot of utility types like Ben McGuiness (Lauderdale) and Keegan Wylie (Clarence) who are sort of around the 190cm mark but can really run and play not only on tall players but on smaller types as well.

``So we have quite a lot of flexibility through mid-range players and hopefully we can run them on their big ground but we're looking at it as a massive test first up in their home state and conditions.

``But if we play to our potential there is no reason why we can't come away and start our carnival with a win.''

 Meanwhile, Lauderdale's Josh McGuiness was yesterday selected as the only Tassie Mariner in the AFL's 2014 All-Australian under-18 team.

STATE UNDER-16 SQUAD MEMBERS:

Burnie: Josh Stafford;  Clarence: Keegan Wylie; Zac Buechner; Kyle Palmer-Hughes; Luke Adams; Andrew Jones; Devonport: Will Huxtable; Jordan Andrews; Hamish McLean;  Glenorchy: Will Atkin;  Lauderdale: Nat Franklin; Harrison Pearce; Ben McGuinness; Dylan Johns; Ryan Sweet;  Launceston: Jack Donnellan; North Launceston: Connor Pearton; Wil Lockhart; Jock White; Arion Richter-Salter; Marcus Haley;  Western Storm: Mitch Hodgetts;  Tigers: Josh Roberts; James Bones;  Scotch College (Melbourne): Jhdara Jones.

Northern members of the state under-16 football team, BACK:   Wil Lockhart, Jhdara Jones, Jock White, Arion Richter-Salter. FRONT:   Connor Pearton, Mitch Hodgetts, Jack Donnellan and Marcus Haley. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

Northern members of the state under-16 football team, BACK: Wil Lockhart, Jhdara Jones, Jock White, Arion Richter-Salter. FRONT: Connor Pearton, Mitch Hodgetts, Jack Donnellan and Marcus Haley. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

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