SYDNEY Swans premiership player Tadhg Kennelly has been named coach of the Allies for this year's revamped NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
The Allies will be formed by players from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and will take on the division one teams during the June and July carnival.
Kennelly, NAB AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson and the AFL's talent football manager Michael Ablett will select the Allies squad after the division two championships in May.
The former Swans defender said providing an opportunity for the division two players to face those from the traditional football regions – Vic Metro, Vic Country, Western Australia and South Australia – was a great addition.
"It will give recruiters an opportunity to compare apples with apples, as we'll have the best players from division two playing in the division one championships," Kennelly told AFL.com.au.
"Talking to the kids in New South Wales, they're over the moon about it. They're always talking about playing against Vic Metro, Vic Country and the division one teams, so that month of footy is going to be enormous for their seasons and a real buzz for them."
The addition of the Allies to this year's carnival has seen a change in format, with the division two carnival brought forward and the division one teams playing five games (instead of the six matches of recent years).
On top of an increased presence in Victoria's TAC Cup under-18 competition with their state teams, Kennelly feels the division two prospects now have a greater chance to push their draft hopes than before.
"I think it's the best program put in place for any kid in the country as far as exposure and as far as preparing them for the next level," Kennelly said.
"Some of the kids will play in the TAC Cup, then go into the division two championships, and then if they're good enough, they'll get picked for the Allies.
"I'm excited to be involved and we have a genuine excitement around the states that we'll be playing together for a month."
Queensland and NSW/ACT provided 22 players to the overall draft pool last year (including national and rookie drafts), with five players from those regions selected inside the opening 16 picks.
"He's a quiet kid but his footy smarts are quite incredible. In the under-16s we moved him around a bit but last year we settled him at centre-half back and he was incredible," Kennelly said.
"He's a great decision-maker and his composure is fantastic."