AFL Europe Championships Team Preview – GB Bulldogs
Every three years the AFL Europe Championships take place for teams to assert their dominance and claim bragging rights against their European counterparts, as well as gain valuable 18-a-side match practice in the lead up to the International Cup the following year.
In the lead up to this year’s AFL Europe Championships in London we’ll be focusing on each team and previewing their chances of taking out the top prize.
Kicking off our team previews is the host country men’s side, the Great Britain Bulldogs.
What’s happened since International Cup 2014?
In the 2014 International Cup the Bulldogs were drawn into Pool A alongside Ireland, Naura, Fiji, France and Indonesia. They claimed victories over France and Fiji and overall finished 9th.
In the current world rankings Great Britain are ranked 11th.
Following the International Cup in 2014, Head Coach Mark Pitura, departed from the top position. With no time pressure the GB management team took their time with the new coaching selection. In early 2016 it was announced that reigning AFL CNE premiership coach, Dean Thomas, would step up as GB Head Coach. He will be assisted by long-serving player, Will Worthington, as well as Jason Hill and Rhys Long as Team Manager’s.
The past 12 months have been very positive for the GB side with England finishing 2nd in the Euro Cup in Croatia with many of the current GB squad present.
Who’s in for the AFL Europe Championships
All 30 players have now been announced with a very fresh look to the squad that competed at IC14.Only Will Worthington, Owain Ryland, James Talbot and Andy Smith (unfortunately now injured) remain from the squad that flew to Australia 2 years ago. The squad comprises players from across the country with representatives from the Wimbledon Hawks, the North London Lions, the Manchester Mozzies, the Wolverhampton Wolverines and the Wandsworth Demons leading the way. Players from the Huddersfield Rams, the West London Wildcats, Southampton Titans and the London Swans making up the remainder of the 30. This just goes to show the strength and development across the country. Many of the squad will be Bulldogs debutants despite having International experience with their home nations team in tournaments like the Euro Cup.
AFL Europe Championships focus
Head Coach Dean Thomas has spent the first half of the year instilling team ethos, plans and support structure in place within the training squad while nailing down his squad from the Bulldogs performance squad. Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge and success with the Manchester Mozzies and has been working on translating this success into the International arena.
Who has the X-Factor?
With a very young looking Bulldog’s squad, many of who are making their international debut, it’ll be very hard to pick who would potentially provide the difference in this tournament.
The University of Birmingham keep producing high quality players and their link up with the North London Lions continues to be fruitful. Ross Denton, Jack Coughlan, Jonny Harvey, Andy Walkden, Chris Britton, George Dibble and Michael Sharp have all come through the pipeline and will be worth a watch at EC16.
The London league is seeing impressive performances from the Wimbledon newbies in Myles Hudson, David Hastie, Marc Cashman and Jason Hill. While Alex Watson and David Jordan at the Wandsworth Demons are putting in highly rated performances along with West London Wildcats defender, Lewis Brackstone.
The AFL CNE league continues to churn out new and young talent in Craig Degville, Andrew Cochran and Harry Duffield.
More experienced players such as Owain Ryland, Andy Smith, Will Worthington and Luke Booth will be key to bringing success, through their big tournament experience and years of service to the Bulldogs.
All in all, X-Factor performances have the ability to come from the whole GB squad and we’re as excited as anyone to see who’ll shine at the AFL Europe Champs in August.
Coach, Dean Thomas’ thoughts and aims for the AFL Europe Championships
“The tournament itself is a fantastic opportunity for locally produced players to showcase their capabilities and test themselves at a higher level than they have previously competed in. It’s also an opportunity for the sporting public, in the UK, to get along and see for themselves, the entertaining nature of the sport we participate in. The players themselves can’t rely on experienced Australians to guide them in this tournament. It is therefore their opportunity to claim the limelight.
Our end goal, like every other nation attending, is to win the tournament. There has been a major overhaul of the squad, with a view to sustainable long term improvement, but in the short term we are quietly optimistic that the players we are assembling will be primed in August to deliver a very competitive performance in every game we participate in”.
Great Britain Bulldogs Squad:
- Lewis Brackstone (West London Wildcats)
- Chris Britton (Manchester Mozzies)
- Luke Booth (Huddersfield Rams)
- Marc Cashman (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Jack Coughlan (North London Lions)
- Craig Degville (Wolverhampton Wolverines)
- Ross Denton (North London Lions)
- George Dibble (Wolverhampton Wolverines)
- David Hastie (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Jonny Harvey (North London Lions)
- Jason Hill (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Myles Hudson (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Owain Ryland (London Swans)
- Michael Sharp (North London Lions)
- Andy Walkden (Manchester Mozzies)
- Alex Watson (Wandsworth Demons)
- Jack Wood (West London Wildcats)
- Will Worthington (London Swans)
- Andrew Cochran (Manchester Mozzies)
- Harry Duffield (Wolverhampton Wolverines)
- David Jordan (Wandsworth Demons)
- Andy Smith (Wandsworth Demons)
- Spike Kilheeney (Manchester Mozzies)
- Cameron Cope (Wolverhampton Wolverines)
- Alex Overton (Huddersfield Rams)
- Ryan Spivey (Susses Swans)
- James Talbot (North London Lions)
- Matt Warwick (West London Wildcats)
- Martyn Hinchey (Southampton Titans)
- Matthew Goodman (The Wandsworth Demons)