TASSIE Mariners coach Lance Spaulding says his under-18 charges are well prepared to tackle South Australia in Adelaide on Saturday.
The match is outside of the academy series and is the squad’s final hitout before the Allies program starts next month for which six Tasmanians – Chayce Jones, Tarryn Thomas, Hugh Dixon, Thomas Mundy, Jake Hinds and Nicholas Hutchinson – were selected to compete.
It is a vast improvement on last season when the state failed to have one player picked for the combine team for the division 1 national championships.
Spaulding said the representative match at AAMI Stadium would be another opportunity for those not chosen to perform in front of AFL club recruiters.
"It is a pretty important part of the program, it is an opportunity for our blokes to come up against one of the top-level junior sides in the country,” Spaulding said.
"We'll be very competitive. We've got the six guys in the Allies side but this game is an opportunity for the rest of them to play at that level – there is plenty of incentive there."
Both Jones and Mundy have been ruled out of the showdown with foot injuries, while Launceston’s Casey Brown and Devonport’s Giacomo Millucci make way for Thomas, Lauderdale’s Mitchel Anderton, Tigers’ Lachlan Gadomski and Brady Rees.
Spaulding said South Australia would provided some tough challenges for his talented line up.
"They are two (Jones and Mundy) big outs but it just provides opportunities for different people to come up and pick up the slack. We've just got to step up,” Spaulding said.
"We are on show and we need to represent the state really well and I'm sure the boys will. We are coming up against red hot opposition.
"We've had a look at them, they are very tall they have 195-centimetre wingers and I think in the forward line they have three 194-centimetre guys and a couple of 190-centimetres.
"Plenty of size about them but it is more about us, we have got to out work them, if we can follow up what we did against Sydney inside and outside of the contest – I think we will hold ourselves in good stead.”
Spaulding said the Mariners have had a successful season with a 2-3 academy series record.
Their victories came against Northern Territory and Brisbane with losses to Greater Western Sydney, Gold Coast and Sydney academies.
"All the ups and downs we have had have had nothing to do with ability,” he said.
“It is a long season and we went from the hunter to the hunted and we found it difficult getting two wins in a row but I think the boys have learned a lot."
First bounce on Saturday is at 10.30am.