Pratt vows to give all a run in under-18s
Michael Pratt

WA coach Michael Pratt has taken the unprecedented step of promising all 38 players in this year's State Academy will be selected during the under-18 national championships.

Pratt, who took over from former Fremantle and Western Bulldogs defender Brad Wira, has decided the only way to discover whether a player can handle the pressure of State football is to give them the chance to play.

It means all 38 youngsters in the WAFL Academy will feature in at least one game.

"If it's truly about development, and that's what we're saying, then we should be trying to develop these boys and give them an opportunity," Pratt said.

"We want to make sure we're giving guys an opportunity to play a game for WA and not just train with the squad. I think it's a pretty hollow feeling if you go to training for three months and never get a game."

The 2012 squad is significantly taller than in previous years with almost one third of the academy already 190cm or bigger. Most are forwards.

South Fremantle's Mason Shaw is one of the most exciting key forwards in the country, while East Fremantle duo Alex Howson and Marco Paparone have already had more than 20 scoring shots each from four colts matches in 2012.

Claremont's Jesse Hogan, who isn't eligible to be drafted until next year but can be chosen under the GWS trading rules which saw Jaeger O'Meara join the Gold Coast last year, is another imposing forward at 193cm and 97kg.

Pratt said he would ask some of his talented forwards to play in the back line so AFL clubs could see different elements in their game.

"I'll challenge them in a few different ways," Pratt said.

"Jesse Hogan for example is a terrific centre half-forward who is playing really well in the colts competition. Jesse might play a couple of games forward and a game back during the carnival.

"He's GWS eligible, so that may give a club an opportunity to say wow, look at Jesse. He can not only take great marks, he can read the play and cover an opponent."

The State under-16s academy was also announced yesterday. It included former West Coast premiership defender Chris Waterman's son Alec. The midfielder isn't eligible to get drafted until 2014 but will be available to the Eagles under the father-son rule if he is considered good enough to play in the AFL.

The West Australian

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