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Giants unearth another top academy prospect

Promising youngster Charlie Spargo is tied to the Giants' academy
He was a leader and dominator out there on the field in both his games
AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan

GREATER Western Sydney's first access to top talent from the Riverina looks set to continue, with the leading player in the division two under-16 championships attached to the Giants academy.

Charlie Spargo, the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane Bears player Paul, claimed the Alan McLean Medal as the best player for the division two carnival after an exciting week for NSW-ACT.

The Albury midfielder played just two of the Rams' three games last week but had a huge impact, collecting 36 disposals, laying 10 tackles and kicking three goals in the opening match against Tasmania.

The 171cm prospect backed it up with 22 touches and two goals in his team's round two win over the Northern Territory, before sitting out the final round against Queensland with a quad injury.

"He was just such a busy player around every stoppage, was full of life around the ball and had that burst of speed away," said national talent manager Kevin Sheehan.

"He was a leader and dominator out there on the field in both his games and read it so well. Size just won't beat him, because he won the ball virtually in every situation from the start."

The Giants' wide academy zone has come under sharp scrutiny this year, with rivals telling the club's region is too large and includes too many football-rich parts of NSW near the Victorian border.

The success of the state's talent program and the Giants' involvement in their region has seen a group of prospects develop for the next few NAB AFL Drafts.

This year GWS is set to acquire possible top-five pick Jacob Hopper via their academy, and the Giants should also have enough points under the new bidding system to select likely first-rounder Matthew Kennedy.  

A number of 2016 draft prospects tied to the Giants have already shown their ability as members of the NSW-ACT under-18 team, including Harrison Macreadie, Will Setterfield, Zac Sproule and Kobe Mutch.

Spargo, who doesn't turn 16 until late November, and Jarrod Brander are the early standouts as Giants academy prospects for 2017, with Brander a 193cm forward from Wentworth, a small town on the border of South Australia.  

Brander is juggling a promising cricket career with his football and is on a scholarship to Geelong Grammar, while basketballer Nathan Richards is another possible Giant who impressed during the under-16s carnival.

Paul Spargo said his son, a keen Kangaroos supporter, had moved to Melbourne Grammar this year but had benefited from the Giants' presence in the region.

"The Giants academy has been great for our area, there's no doubt about that. It's come a long way, New South Wales footy," Spargo said.

"I think the academy's a good thing, just for the development of the whole region. For a fair while ... they didn't spend the time and the effort [in this region] but now they are."

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans saidin April the League's player movement group would look at realigning the Giants' zone, saying "boundaries are always up for discussion".

The League is also considering lowering the number of games required for father-son eligibility, which could open the door for the Kangaroos down the track if Spargo's progress continues.

Paul Spargo played 81 games for North between 1985-92 before playing nine games for the Bears in 1993.