THE BRIGHTEST young football talent in Australia will be showcased during Grand Final week, with an under-17 and under-18 All Stars concept to take place across two games.
The NAB AFL All Stars matches will bring together the best talent across the two age groups, with the teams to be named after AFL champions Chris Judd and Michael O'Loughlin.
Judd was on hand alongside top draft picks Tim Taranto and Patrick Kerr at Punt Road on Tuesday to help launch the event.
Judd said the whole draft experience had changed substantially from his time in the system when he wound up as pick No.3 to West Coast in the 2001 draft.
"It's a great experience for them, but a part of me feels a bit sorry for them as well," Judd said.
"When I was playing under-18s, the carnival was three games that went for one week and now it's almost half a season.
"It's certainly a much better process for the clubs to identify talent and I'm sure they (the players) enjoy it as well, but it's a pretty full-on process.
"It would have been great to be part of this game when I was in the under-18s. I could have played on Luke Hodge or Gary Ablett or Jimmy Bartel or Nick Dal Santo… I think it'll make for really good viewing."
NAB AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson will coach the Judd Team, while NSW/ACT and Allies coach Tadgh Kennelly will coach the O'Loughlin team.
Kerr, a powerful forward who earned All Australian honours in the Under-18 Championships for Vic Metro, said he would relish being part of the under-18 game.
"It'll be very exciting, especially on Grand Final eve in front of a packed house here at Punt Road, I couldn't think of a better way to showcase our talent one more time before the draft," he said.
Kerr is also the grandson of Carlton great Laurie and said he would love to end up at the club.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't and I'd love to go to the Blues, but I just want to play AFL football so anywhere would be good for me," Kerr said.
Taranto, who also earned All Australian honours, has shot up the draft order and looms as a possible first-round pick in this year's draft.
The medium-sized midfielder can win the ball in tight but also has a few tricks out in space, and will get a chance to further push his draft claims when he lines up for the Sandringham Dragons in the TAC Cup finals.
"It's coming down to the pointy end of the season but I've been pretty happy with how I've gone so far. I got a full pre-season at the start of the year so I put myself in a good position, but the Dragons have got finals coming up so hopefully I can finish off strong," Taranto said.