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New format unveiled for national under-18 titles

Vic Country's Patrick McCartin is a highly-rated key position prospect - ${keywords}
Vic Country's Patrick McCartin is a highly-rated key position prospect
RIVALS Vic Country and Vic Metro will open the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships in this year's revamped carnival format.  
 
The 2014 championships will see the four division one teams – both Victorian sides, South Australia and Western Australia – feature in a six-round home-and-away fixture.
 
It is a switch from the structure of previous seasons, which has been a five-round series with cross-division games.
 

The new program will give players more opportunities to impress, with the Victorian sides kicking off proceedings at Visy Park on May 18.
 
The format will also allow more players to represent their state, with AFL rules forcing division one teams to play a minimum of 32 players from their squads with a minimum of two games each.
 
Last year's division one winners South Australia will start its title defence at home against Western Australia at AAMI Stadium, but will not close its campaign at Etihad Stadium like recent years.
 
SA will finish by playing Vic Metro at Simonds Stadium on July 3, with division two sides Queensland and NSW/ACT to meet at Etihad on July 2 before Vic Country and Western Australia.
 
Although the division two sides will play fewer games than recent seasons and won't play against the division one teams, their fixture is balanced against the fact they will play more TAC Cup games this year.
 
A 'rising stars' squad of the best prospects from division two will also be picked to play against the 2014/2015 AFL National Academy team in a game during Grand Final week.
 
This year's crop is considered to have more depth than last year, with a number of key position players seen as likely early picks.  
 
Many will feature in the AIS-AFL Academy's match against Collingwood's VFL side on Friday, April 4, at the MCG as a curtain raiser to the Hawthorn/Fremantle Grand Final re-match.
 
The Academy will then travel to Europe the following day for a two-week tour and training camp, splitting time in London and Milan. 
  
DIVISION ONE FIXURE
 
Round 1
Vic Country vs Vic Metro                                   Visy Park                      May 18, 11am
South Australia vs Western Australia             AAMI Stadium             May 24, 12pm
 
Round 2
Western Australia vs Vic Metro                        Medibank Stadium      May 31, 11am
South Australia vs Vic Country                        AAMI Stadium             June 1, 11.30am
 
Round 3
Western Australia vs South Australia             Medibank Stadium     June 7, 11am
Vic Metro vs Vic Country                                   Visy Park                      June 8, 11am
 
Round 4
South Australia vs Vic Metro                            AAMI Stadium             June 14, 11am
Western Australia vs Vic Country                    Fremantle Oval           June 15, 11am
 
Round 5
Vic Metro vs Western Australia                        Simonds Stadium        June 27, 12.35pm
Vic Country vs South Australia                        Simonds Stadium        June 27, 2.35pm
 
Round 6
Vic Country vs Western Australia                    Etihad Stadium            July 2, 5.35pm
Vic Metro vs South Australia                            Simonds Stadium        July 3, 1.15pm
 
DIVISION TWO FIXTURE

Round 1
Tasmania vs Queensland                                Blacktown                    June 21, 10.30am
NSW/ACT vs Northern Territory                      Blacktown                    June 21, 12.50pm
 
Round 2
Northern Territory vs Queensland                   Visy Park                     June 28, 12pm
NSW/ACT vs Tasmania                                     Visy Park                     June 28, 2.15pm
 
Round 3
Queensland vs NSW/ACT                                Etihad Stadum              July 2, 3.35pm
Northern Territory vs Tasmania                       Simonds Stadium        July 3, 11am