The AFL has today announced the U18 Allies squad, with an impressive 11 Gold Coast SUNS Academy players selected.
The team is poised to compete in the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships which will commence next month.
The Allies side is comprised of top tier talent across Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, ACT and Tasmania.
Of the selected SUNS Academy players there are nine Queenslanders and two Northern Territory locals, while Academy Midfield Coach Dale Eames has also been named as an Assistant Coach.
SUNS Academy Captain Jared Ekersley tops the selections alongside Northern Rivers recruit Marlin Corbett as under 18 talent.
Four U19 players have also been deemed eligible for the side, after two COVID disrupted seasons in their U17 and U18 seasons - Brinn Little and Will Bella who were named in the 2021 squad, as well as Jed Foggo and Lawsen Ford.
Bella and Ford are both North Queensland products who have turned heads since relocating to the Gold Coast to concentrate on their football.
The quality of SUNS Academy emerging talent has also been highlighted with three underage recruits making the cut, Jed Walter, Ethan Read and Jake Rogers.
Ned Stevens and Riley Stone represent the elite Northern Territory talent coming through the ranks.
Academy Manager Katheen Newman said the 11 selections is the most in SUNS Academy history, demonstrating the depth of talent currently within the program.
“It’s exciting to see such a strong contingent of Academy players given this additional development opportunity as part of the Allies team,” Newman said.
“Jared and Marlin have worked hard throughout the season and the chance to compete in the National Championships is reward for effort.
“As an Academy, we’ve felt it equally important to continue to invest in the development of our under 19 athletes and to see four of them given this opportunity bodes well for their future in the sport.
“It’s also pleasing to see three bottom-age players in the squad and it shows the future of the Academy and the club in general is in good hands.”
Newman also praised the selection of Eames as Assistant Coach of the Allies side.
“The Academy's role is to develop coaches as well as players,” she said.
“As coach, Dale has progressed through our younger age groups and had a real impact as midfield coach for the SUNS Academy in 2022.
“It’s great to see the SUNS Academy continue to provide a pathway for coaches and his selection is well deserved.”
Gold Coast SUNS Academy U18 Allies Team Members:
Will Bella (Palm Beach)
Marlin Corbett (Surfers Paradise)
Jared Ekersley (Broadbeach)
Jed Foggo (Palm Beach)
Lawsen Ford (Thuringowa Bulldogs/Broadbeach)
Brinn Little (Palm Beach)
Ethan Read (Palm Beach)
Jake Rogers (Broadbeach)
Ned Stevens (Labrador)
Riley Stone (Surfers Paradise)
Jed Walter (Palm Beach)