U18 TAC Cup Squad

Story thanks to Geordie Cowan of the Whittlesea Leader

NICK Coffield, Patrick Naish and Jack Petruccelle will lead the charge for the Northern Knights at this year’s AFL Under-18 National Championships.

The Vic Metro squad is awash with Knights players, with seven named in the squad and a further two emergencies.

Naish, an AIS-AFL Academy member, is an attacking midfielder who will look to use his long and penetrating right foot, while Petruccelle is an “excitement machine” who is certain to catch everyone’s eye with his speed and aerial ability. Knights skipper Coffield is expected to play across the halfback and display his decision-making, poise and speed.

“It’s really exciting for the players and a proud moment for us as a program,” talent manager Rhy Gieschen said.

“Selection for Vic Metro is recognition that a talented player is on the radar for AFL clubs to look at for the draft at the end of the year.

“We are excited for everyone involved. We look forward to see all the boys selected represent themselves and their families really proudly through the carnival.”

Ethan Penrith, Max Dreher, Joel Grace and Matthew Harman were also selected.

Gieschen described 17-year-old Penrith’s main strength as his defensive side, with his tackling “as good as anyone in the TAC Cup”.

“He takes the game on, loves to run and carry, but also spoils, tackles and chases down players,” he said.

“We expect him to play as a small defender but he can go through the midfield or as a small forward.”

Dreher is rated as “probably the best one-on-one player” at the Knights and his elite endurance, highlighted by the fact he returned the best beep test result in the TAC Cup, makes him hard to match-up on in a defensive role or as an inside midfielder.

Grace has been consistent in the ruck all year with controlled aggression, using his body and competitiveness around the ball to help out teammates.

Gieschen said Harman, 19, worked extremely hard in the gym and on his game in pre-season, resulting in “some really good moments”.

“He is quite aggressive in the ruck and marking contests and also kicks the ball quite well for a big man,” he said.

Gieschen said with all the quality players going out of the Knights line-up, they were looking forward to seeing which players would put their hands up and lead the club during the next month.

“Every TAC Cup team has some players emerge at this time of the year,” he said.

Vic Metro’s first match is against Western Australia at Subiaco on Sunday, before taking on Vic Country (June 24), South Australia (June 30) and the Allies (July 5).

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