The 2019 Victorian U18 boys talent competition fixture has been released, with the Tasmania Devils set to take the competition right around the state.
The official naming rights partner for the U18 boys talent competition and the competition name itself will be announced at the end of February, with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) having ended its association with the competition after 27 years as its naming rights partner.
Five other interstate-based teams – Brisbane Lions Academy, Gold Coast Suns Academy, GWS Giants Academy, Northern Territory and Sydney Swans Academy – will also play five games each from Round 2 to Round 6, two against each other and three against the competition’s regular teams.
The Devils will play 10 home matches across five Tasmanian venues, with UTAS Stadium (4), North Hobart Oval (3), Blundstone Arena (1), Dial Park (1) and Kingston’s Twin Ovals (1) all hosting fixtures.
Penguin’s Dial Park will play host to the Devils’ first home game with a round four clash against the Calder Cannons.
“It is important for us to play right across the state, as we are not a Hobart or Launceston team, but one for the entire state to unite behind,” Devils head coach Adrian Fletcher said.
“We want to unite passionate Tasmanians behind the Devils as we look to compete and give our players the best chance at reaching the highest level.”
In a big boost the Devils will play four curtain-raisers to AFL fixtures throughout the season, something that will provide players with a unique experience.
“This competition is a great breeding ground for future AFL talent.
“By playing these curtain-raisers it provides our boys with the best chance to capture the public’s support and to perform on a big stage, while also tasting what that AFL environment is all about,” Fletcher said.
The Devils’ entry to the competition has resulted in the introduction of byes for certain clubs in most home-and-away rounds, while there will also be five study/development weekends throughout the season when no games are played.
The 17-round home-and-away season begins on Saturday March 23 and will lead into a Wildcard Round, this year featuring all teams from fourth on the ladder down to 13th playing off for the right to advance to a four-week finals series.
As opposed to the 2018 finals series structure – when four elimination finals preceded two preliminary finals and the Grand Final – the 2019 structure will resemble the traditional AFL finals series, with qualifying and elimination finals in the first week, followed by semi finals, preliminary finals and then the Grand Final.
Rounds 11 and 12 will also be ‘Futures Rounds’, when teams will be required to field a certain number of bottom-age or 16-year-old players while the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships are taking place
Last year, 42 of the 78 total selections in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft (54 per cent) came from Victorian U18 competition clubs, with a further seven players picked in the 2018 AFL Rookie Draft.
TASMANIA DEVILS FIXTURES:
Round 1 – Bye
Round 2 – v SWANS ACADEMY @ Blacktown ISP – Saturday March 30 9:30am
Round 3 – v NORTHERN TERRITORY @ Venue TBC – Sunday April 7 Time TBC
Round 4 – v CALDER CANNONS @ Dial Park, Penguin – Sunday April 14 11:30am
Round 5 – v WESTERN JETS @ UTAS Stadium – Sunday April 28 Time TBC (CURTAIN-RAISER)
Round 6 – v OAKLEIGH CHARGERS @ North Hobart Oval – Saturday May 4 11:30am
Round 7 – v BENDIGO PIONEERS @ Queen Elizabeth Oval – Sunday May 12 11:00am
Round 8 – v DANDENONG STINGRAYS @ Blundstone Arena – Saturday May 18 Time TBC (CURTAIN-RAISER)
Round 9 – v GWV REBELS @ Mars Stadium – Saturday June 1 11:00am
Round 10 – v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS @ UTAS Stadium – Sunday June 9 11:00am
Round 11 – NORTHERN KNIGHTS @ North Hobart Oval – Saturday June 22 11:00am
Round 12 – v EASTERN RANGES @ UTAS Stadium – Saturday July 13 Time TBC (CURTAIN-RAISER)
Round 13 – v BENDIGO PIONEERS @ Kingston Twin Ovals – Sunday July 7 Time TBC
Round 14 – v GIPPSLAND POWER @ Box Hill City Oval – Saturday July 20 11:45am
Round 15 – v SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS @ UTAS Stadium – Saturday July 27 Time TBC (CURTAIN-RAISER)
Round 16 – v GEELONG FALCONS @ North Hobart Oval – Saturday August 3 11:30am
Round 17 – BYE