Peel pair aim to impress

Two young Peel players will hope to join that illustrious group when they pull on the WA Under-18s State jumper later this year.

Rockingham product Brad Walsh and Dylan Winton, from Halls Head, are both in the U18s State squad for the second consecutive year.

The pair were vital cogs in the Under-16s State side that went through the 2012 National Championships undefeated, with Winton among the best in the first game against South Australia, while Walsh’s strong performances saw him awarded the Kevin Sheehan Medal for player of the competition.

Walsh, a 180cm clearance machine who thrives on the contest, said he was hoping to take on a larger leadership role around the squad this year, with an eye on captaincy.

‘I was captain of the Under- 16s squad, which is the group coming through now, and I’m hoping to continue that leadership that I had in the 16s squad with boys that I know pretty well, and see how we go,’ Walsh said.

Walsh made his league debut in Round 21 against Swan Districts as a 16-year-old, and he believes competing against grown men has put him in good stead for the championships in July.

His strengths include his clean hands and inside work, and his game is based on being in close and tight in the contest and being able to feed the ball out to the outside runners.

The AIS/AFL Academy graduate spent time training with Fremantle last summer, and said his time at the academy was instrumental in improving his preparation.

‘They base a lot of their work around re-creating the lifestyle of an AFL footballer, so a lot of meetings, a lot of game-plan meetings, a lot of nutrition and recovery talks, so I think it gives you an idea of what it’s like,’ Walsh said.

‘It’s helped heaps with my professionalism and my knowledge of how to get the best out of myself.’

Winton is a 191cm defender who is strong overhead and a fantastic reader of the play, and is a defensive general in a similar vein to Fremantle’s All-Australian centre-half-back Luke McPharlin.

He can play on talls and medium-sized forwards, has the capacity to be swung forward and is a fantastic athlete.

Winton made his league debut one game after Walsh ” in Round 22 against South Fremantle ” and he said the challenge of playing against experienced players was one he enjoyed.

‘It made me realise how fit and how much bigger you have to be to get to the next level, and how tough the competition is,’ Winton said.

‘Playing seniors you learn so much, because you play on veterans, so you try to learn off some of them, playing on the key forwards.’

Both youngsters are focusing on training hard with the State squad, but they are also pushing hard for selection in Peel’s league side.

Walsh said while it was tough cracking a spot, given the club’s affiliation with Fremantle, it only served to push himself harder.

‘I really want to try and push every week for league selection,’ he said.

While Winton embodies the age-old football clich´┐Ż of taking it ‘one week at a time’, he’s focusing on improving his kicking and agility, in the hope of attracting the eye of AFL scouts.

This year looms as a tough but exciting one for the Peel teenagers, but when it comes to realising the dream of plying their trade in the top flight, the hard work has just begun.