GEELONG Falcons officials have high expectations for football’s next group of under-18 hopefuls.
Selectors have invited 24 players from the last season’s successful under-16 squad to the Falcons’ 18s training sessions, including Colac district players Darcy Lang, Jack Berry, Kody Spokes and David O’Sullivan.
The players are among 35 Hampden and 55 Geelong-based players in the initial training squad.
Geelong regional manager Michael Turner said he expected the talented group to push the top-age players if they made the final cut in March next year.
“Our under-16 side this year was the best I’ve ever seen, they smashed everybody they played,” Turner said.
“Lang and Spokes and all the boys from down that way are very, very good players, they’ll put pressure on our 18s because those 16s are a strong group,” he said.
2011 Falcons Brody Mahoney, who played 12 games this season, Dylan McCarthy, eight, Daniel Watson, seven, Jakob Ryan, seven, and Jake Cooper, none, will all return.
“Jake had a fair few injuries last season so we expect him to get a bit more of a run,” Turner said.
“And Brody Mahoney – once he was into the side he played every game and was flying towards the end of the year,” he said.
South Colac forward Lincoln Dare, younger brother of former Falcons Levi and Joe, heads a list of new faces invited to train.
Birregurra grand final winner Jack Melican and Tigers under-18 premiership players Alex Broomfield, Brody Finn and Matt Garner are among a host of top-age players that will try their luck for the first time.
“The invitations are based on prior knowledge, like the under-16s guys coming through,” Turner said.
“And then it’s done on new talent as well, boys mature so we want to give the boys a chance who mature late,” he said.
“Gary Rohan for example, he didn’t come to the Falcons until he was 18 and the rest is history.”