THE NAB AFL Under-16 Championships is considered the first major stepping stone towards a long AFL career and the level of talent on display in this year's carnival did not disappoint.
Western Australia caused a major upset in the decider against Vic Metro at the Gabba to claim its first national title since 2012.
Coached by Tony Micale, Western Australia had a combined winning margin of eight points across its three games and celebrated with vigour at the final siren in its contest against Vic Metro.
Queensland won the Division Two title after going through the tournament undefeated.
AFL national and international talent manager Kevin Sheehan said there were a number of standout performances across the Championships, with the 2019 draft pool already looking promising.
"It's great to see kids learn and experience different aspects of the game," Sheehan said.
"We saw a wonderful standard of football and we were rapt with the quality across the Championships."
The Championships form the basis for the level one NAB AFL Academy, which will be named later in the year.
Here is a look at 10 of the top performers in the 2017 NAB AFL Under-16 Championships.
A small midfielder who thrived in contested situations and showed he could push forward and make an impact there. Rowell's clean hands under pressure and his vision to locate teammates in traffic shone through. Was outstanding with 31 disposals and four goals in the round two match against South Australia. Averaged 23.7 disposals with an efficiency rating of 83 per cent in the Championships.
The prototype of the modern day AFL key forward. Jeka is mobile, has a good pair of hands and is an accurate and long kick. Had 20 disposals, seven marks and kicked three goals in the decider against Western Australia. His ability to bring his teammates into the game with deft handballs was a feature. Considered one of the best tall forwards in his year's draft intake.
Racked up 28 disposals in the decider against WA, capping off a terrific Championships. A prolific ball-winner who can work inside and outside the contest. A very consistent Championships saw Anderson named the Kevin Sheehan medallist as the best and fairest player in Division One, as well as his side's MVP. Hawthorn will narrowly miss out on having priority access to Anderson, the son of premiership player Dean. Dean Anderson played 83 games for the Hawks – short of the 100 required to be an eligible father-son pick.
The nephew of former North Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Melbourne enforcer Byron was electric in South Australia's forward line. Pickett exhibited a keen goal sense, instinctive attributes in attack and an aggressive streak against much bigger opponents. His most impressive trait was his ability to keep the ball trapped inside forward 50, averaging six tackles per game.
Quick to read the fall of the ball and impact in the air as the general in Vic Country's defence. Young possesses great game awareness, uses the footy well off his left foot from half-back and demonstrated an ability to intercept opposition kicks. Won Vic Country's MVP award. Averaged 20 disposals and five marks.
The 15-year-old ruckman has made a recent switch from basketball and his athletic prowess and ruck craft throughout the Championships was special. Jackson's competitiveness – his desire to fight for loose balls at ground level and then follow up to the next contest, with second and third efforts, was impressive.
Strong overhead for his height and was remarkably consistent across WA's three games. Won the footy on the inside and then displayed his talent by using the ball with efficiency out in space. Won WA's MVP award, averaging 23 disposals (13.3 contested) and five marks.
Dangerous up forward across the Championships with his strong marking in pack situations and on the lead a feature. A player with plenty of upside, he kicked multiple goals in games and displayed a powerful left leg. Won the McLean Medal as the best and fairest player in Division Two. Part of Greater Western Sydney's academy.
A medium-sized forward with some of the surest pairs of hands of any player in the Championships. As a focal point in the forward line, Barling presents well at the footy and reads the flight of the ball coming in with smarts. The son of Tim Barling, who played 14 games for Richmond between 1984-85, and 13 for Sydney between 1989 and 1990.
Strong marking, athletic tall forward who consistently presented to the ball carrier. Tozer averaged 16 disposals, six marks and three goals per game in the Championships. Stamped himself as his team's focal point in Queensland's final match with a 20-touch, nine-mark and five-goal game against Northern Territory. Part of the Brisbane Lions academy.