A Hampden league rule is set to deny one of the south-west’s hottest football prospects a place in the under 18 grand final on Saturday.
Terang Mortlake’s Lewis Taylor, touted as a future AFL draftee, is ineligible to play for the Bloods in the under-age decider against Warrnambool.
The Standard yesterday sought clarification on the rules because of intense public interest in Taylor and whether he could play for his home club.
Taylor played 14 matches for TAC Cup club Geelong Falcons this season and no under 18 games for the Bloods.
Hampden league by-laws state registered players must play four under 18 games for their club to be eligible to play finals football.
Taylor said while he was disappointed he couldn’t play, he understood the rules.
“I’ll be there watching for sure and I wish them luck,” he said.
“I would’ve liked to have played. It would have been my fifth grand final in a row if I came back in.
“We lost the under 14s (when I was) bottom age, lost the under 14s as a top age, won the under 16s as bottom age and lost the under 18s last year by a point.”
Hampden league vice-president Peter Manoel said Taylor, an AIS-AFL Academy member, was an eye-catching player who would have delighted the crowd.
“He is a quality player and we all would love to see him play but we all have to abide by the rules,” Manoel said.
Hampden executive officer Mike Farrow said Terang Mortlake, which came from fifth to make the under 18 grand final, was aware of the rule.
“They put in a request last week and we said the rule stands,” Farrow said. “They accepted our response.”
When asked about the situation by The Standard, Terang Mortlake under 18 coach William Bourke said although he was disappointed Taylor wouldn’t play, the club knew players had to play four under 18 games to qualify for finals.
“It hurt South last year and this time it’s our turn, but we knew the rules at the start of the year,” Bourke said.
“We can’t complain, rules are rules.” Bourke said Taylor trained with the Bloods every Tuesday and was a strong clubman.
Fellow Geelong Falcons’ player Xavier Lourey will also miss the grand final after injury derailed his season and he was unable to play the required four junior games for the Bloods to qualify for finals.
“They have been around the club and are part of the group,” Bourke said.
“They would have taken a bloke’s spot but no one would begrudge them a game because they have trained.”