Six SUNS Male Academy players represented the Allies in the 2019 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, with the team coming away with one win from the four matches.
Hewago Paul-Oea, Connor Budarick, Ashton Crossley, Matt Conroy, Josh Gore and Dirk Koenen pulled on the Allies strip, while bottom-age Academy prospects Alex Davies and Jack Johnston were included in the squad.
Academy captain Budarick played all four games with the squad which consisted of players from Queensland, New South Wales/ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
“I think it was a test for us boys because we’re a group that comes from all different regions,” Budarick told SUNS Media.
“Us Allies boys, it sometimes takes a while for us to all gel so I think that sort of showed in our first game when we got beaten by Vic Country.
“I think the main thing for us over the whole championships was our improvement as a group.”
Budarick earnt All Australian honours for his outstanding tournament where he was ranked the number one pressure player in the competition.
“I’ve always prided myself on my pressure and my tackling around the footy,” he said.
“It was very special, it was pretty surprising too (being named All Australian).
“It’s one of those things that is a pretty big tick next to your name so I’m very privileged to be put in to that.”
Fellow Academy prospect Josh Gore played alongside Budarick for three of the four games, including the win over Vic Metro where he kicked the winning goal late in the piece.
“It was a good experience playing against some high-level players and playing on some big names that we know are supposed to go high in the draft,” Gore said.
“(It) was really exciting and a good challenge.
“I was a bit nervous those last 10 minutes (against Vic Metro) because it was going back and forth but I was lucky to get it through the big ones.”
With their national commitments done for the year, both Budarick and Gore have set their sights on playing more NEAFL football to finish the season as they prepare for the draft in November.