Three of the region's top GWS Giants academy prospects have earned selection in the NSW-ACT Rams under-17s squad for next month's national carnival.
Osborne's Nick Madden, Henty's Nick Newton and Corowa-Rutherglen's Jedd Longmire, who made the transition from the Giants to the Murray Bushrangers' under-17 program this year, are among the 24 players to get a first taste of what it takes to play at the highest level.
Giants academy coach Cam Bernasconi praised the trio and is keen to see them fire at national level.
"Jedd is a quality player and has come through the Giants academy program over the last few years and has joined the Murray Bushrangers," he said.
"He's a talent that can play multiple positions. He's quite athletic and super competitive.
"There was no surprise he's been put forward for Rams selection, I think he will be quite a good player."
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Madden, a 203-centimetre ruckman, has elevated his game to another level in 2021.
"Those kinds of players don't grow on trees. He's got a really bright future and he's had a really good year this year," Bernasconi said.
"He's played for the Giants academy and he's also played for the academy in the NAB League over the past few weeks as a 17-year-old and has looked very capable at the (under-19) level."
Newton injured his wrist early in the season, but Bernasconi said he had shown more than enough to selectors to warrant a place in the squad.
"He's a smooth mover and uses the footy as good as anyone in the program," he said.
"He's a very classy player who can play half back and midfield.
"He's another one that if he wasn't injured would have played some NAB League footy this year."
The national program has been shortened due to COVID, but the squad will come together for a camp and games on the Gold Coast on Friday, July 2, through to Thursday, July 8.
Sydney premiership player Jared Crouch has been appointed coach, with Bernasconi an assistant.
"They'll learn a lot from a guy like Jared and it's just a great opportunity for these boys to see where they fit in the big pond," Bernasconi said.
"Coming from regional NSW, it's always good to get outside their comfort zone and play with the best in the state and against the best in the country.
"It's a diverse group of players that come across a few different programs, but I think that's the beauty of state footy because you get to play with the best of the best and see where you stack up."
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