Early preview of future AFL stars

By Andrew Johnston

FOR those making their way to Victoria Park tomorrow for the NAB League under 18 football match between Bendigo Pioneers and the Sandringham Dragons, they should be aware they could be watching the future stars of the AFL.

In Wednesday’s Riv we discussed our local players involved in the match. Today we take a look at some of the other key Pioneers to watch.

James Schischka (number 20) — 18-year-old from Strathfieldsaye FNC in the Bendigo FNL

A member of the Vic Country squad ahead of the U18 National Championships, Pioneers captain Schischka has appeared 22 times for the Pioneers including in six matches this season and has been named in the bests on three occasions in 2019.

Best showing so far has been off the half-back line, but is a complete player who can perform anywhere on the ground, including as a goal kicker.

Riley Ironside (31) — 18-year-old from Kyabram FNC in the GVL

Played in 11 games last year, has also made six appearances this season.

In the bests on a couple of occasions, has also hit the scoreboard on a number of occasions.

A fantastic ball winner for the side, Ironside has one of the best left foot kicks you will see.

A strong inside midfielder, watch for Ironside to play a role on the wing on Saturday as he develops his outside game.

Will Shaw (25) — 18-year-old from Deniliquin Rams FNC in the Murray FNL

A first year Pioneer, Shaw gains most of his attention through his U18 performances.

Shaw is a member of the Allies U18 national championship squad through their trial matches and will likely remain in the squad when the championships begins.

As a player, Shaw is strong off half-back and on the wing, possessing a big tank for his running.

To go with his running, he is athletic and loves to lay a tackle.

Jake Dick-O’Flaherty (30) — 18-year-old from Koondrook/Barham FNC in the Central Murray FNL

Dick-O’Flaherty has been has had injury issues which have hindered him at different stages in 2019, but remains a member of the Allies U18 squad as the national championships approach.

He is most renowned for being a burst player, with the Pioneers seeing him as most dangerous in the forward line.

Logan Fitzgerald (17) — 18-year-old from Balranald FNC in the Central Murray FNL

The biggest upside for Fitzgerald, according to the Pioneers, is his work ethic.

Fitzgerald gained attention during the off-season for working to gain extra fitness, with his form catching the teams attention.

Fitzgerald is mainly a backline player, but is likely to get some time in the midfield as the season goes on and bottom age players come into the side.

He’s highly rated for his marking and kicking.

Josh Treacy (22) — 17-year-old from Cohuna FNC in the Central Murray FNL

After spending a year of playing senior footy at Cohuna, Treacy is prepared better than most for this season at Pioneers level.

A strong key forward, he is highly rated for his contested marking ability.

What is most impressive about him is, despite having the size of a key big, he is also able to go into the middle at stages a bigger bodied player.

Sam Conforti (1) — 17-year-old from Sandhurst FNC in the Bendigo FNL

The co-captain of the Vic Country under 16s side in 2018, Conforti has the experience as a leader at a young age.

He started the Pios season out as a small defender, but is starting to see time as a midfielder and making progress in this area.

Another player with a beautiful left foot kick.