A tug of war is looming over Perth's 18-year-old excitement machine Clem Smith.

The Demons and State selectors are eager to keep the teenager in the WAFL so that he continues to develop in league ranks and remains eligible to play for WA against the NEAFL - the combination of NSW, Queensland and Northern Territory leagues - next month.

But Smith is a key part of WA's bid to win the State under-18 title and is likely to be declared off-limits for senior football.

Smith could still become the first player since Glen Jakovich in 1990 to play senior and under-age State football in the same season.

The classy midfielder, who has been one of Perth's best players in their opening two wins, will be in Europe for the next two weeks as part of the Australian Institute of Sport program.

He will then join the WA under-18 squad and may not return to Perth until July.

"It is a blow for us and the WAFL competition because we miss out on an excitement machine," Perth chief executive Marty Atkins said.

"Clem is still eligible for colts footy but he has gone miles past colts.

"He should go away with the AIS because it is a good program but why is the State 18s the be-all and end-all of WA football?

"He would be better off coming back and playing at Perth and playing in the State match.

"He was our best player in the two scratch matches and arguably in the top five in both league matches and could be right up there in the Sandover Medal.

"Clem played State 18s last year but I am not convinced it is best for him to stay in junior football when he is clearly capable of performing well at league level."

WA coach Bill Monaghan confirmed that the State selectors had sought clarification on Smith's status.

"We would like to know if he is eligible to play senior State footy," Monaghan said.

The State match against the NEAFL will be played in Sydney on May 24, the same day that the under-18s play their opening fixture in Adelaide.

The under-18s will play another five games over the following six weeks.

WAFL manager Cameron Knapton said Smith was eligible to play senior State football because he had made two league appearances this season.

"That decision is still to be made but recent history would indicate that the State junior talent pathway takes priority in these cases," Knapton said.

"… recent history would indicate that the State junior talent pathway takes priority …" " WAFL manager *Cameron Knapton *

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West