NAB League Player Focus: Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)

THE ‘Z’ in the Duursma family alphabet, Zane Duursma is the latest of the clan making his way through the elite talent pathway. Having cut his teeth across a range of roles in 2021, the Gippsland Power product projects enormous upside with his range of skills and athletic base.

He broke into the Power’s Under 19 squad as a 15-year-old last year and even earned Vic Country Under 17 selection. Now, the bottom-ager is part of the esteemed AFL Academy and produced a breakout game in his latest NAB League outing – a 17-point win over Bendigo Pioneers on Sunday.

We put Duursma’s Round 5 performance under the Player Focus microscope.

Zane Duursma

Height: 188cm

Weight: 73kg

DOB: 28-08-2005

Strengths:
Aerial ability
Athleticism
Clean hands
Goal sense
Upside
Improvements:
Midfield craft
Production

SEASON SO FAR

2022 has been a fruitful season for Duursma in the way of goals. Stationed mostly inside attacking 50, his natural-looking style and keen eye for goal have seen him kick multiple majors in all five outings thus far. While relatively low on overall production with an average of 11 disposals, Duursma has made them count with three hauls of two goals, one of three, and six in his latest effort. His conversion has been sound too, booting 15.7 for an even average of three goals per game, from 3.2 marks. In Round 5, he notched season-high numbers for disposals (15), marks (six), tackles (four), inside 50s (five), and goals (six).

2022 NAB League – Round 5
Gippsland Power 13.16 (94) def. Bendigo Pioneers 12.5 (77)

Stats: 15 disposals (14 kicks, 1 handball), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 6 goals

FIRST QUARTER

Starting off strongly, Duursma found his groove and hit the scoreboard early on. He broke the deadlock a tick over eight minutes in with the first goal of the game, burning an opponent off the mark and finishing on the run from 40 metres out. It never looked in doubt.

Duursma did have one wayward shot, as he again looked to catch Bendigo’s defence unaware with a quick finish. Off a handball receive inside 50, he was squeezed on his preferred side and the skewing checkside kick was never quite online – eventually rushed over for a behind.

Undeterred by his earlier miss, he snared a second major with just over five minutes left in the term, bookending the period nicely. Gippsland forced a turnover inside 50, and Duursma produced a dribbled effort from about 30 metres out, which he knew was going through the moment it left his boot.

SECOND QUARTER

Duursma’s special finishing abilities continued to shine in the second term, as he added another couple of majors to keep his side in the contest. After Bendigo broke away in the first five minutes, the 16-year-old booted consecutive goals to draw back within a kick.

In a half where the Pioneers’ conversion rate was superior, Duursma proved the outlier for Gippsland and put on a show inside 50. His third major for the game was a quick snap on the wrong side for a right-footer, proving his innate goal sense in a real flash of brilliance.

Capping off his scoring for the half, Duursma used yet another avenue to goal. He reeled in a long ball inside 50 to mark on his chest as a couple of contests collided, before taking no time and wheeling around to register his fourth six-pointer, from 40 metres.

THIRD QUARTER

The Duursma show only ramped up in term three, as he helped inspire the Power’s seizure of ascendancy with two more goals within the first six minutes. He did so in the face of opposition captain Jason Gillbee, who swung to defence to match up on his fellow number nine.

Duursma rose to pluck a clean contested mark deep inside 50 for his first major, which made for a relatively straightforward set shot conversion. His next score, three minutes later, saw him benefit from a centre break to clunk another overhead grab before an accurate 40-metre kick over the mark.

With Gippsland essentially swinging the result in the third quarter, Duursma’s early burst certainly proved the catalyst. Along with Vinnie Caia, and the efforts of Bailey Humphrey around the ball, Duursma was among the best afield in an important 25-minute patch.

FOURTH QUARTER

While Gippsland consolidated its win, Duursma’s damage had already been done in the previous three terms. He had worked up the ground a touch more in the second half and showcased his aerial ability with a springy leap and clean hands. His only contribution to the scoreboard was a minor, which he launched into the post from just inside 50.

Capable of finding the goals from a variety of positions and with every type of kick, Duursma has certainly proven his natural class as a pure forward. His goal sense sees him finish off one or two steps, but he also uses his athleticism to turn players or leap for high marks.

The best part is, he still has another 18 months to continue developing his craft. We already know he is capable inside 50, but testing himself up on a wing again, or perhaps even among the on-ball group would provide a touch more insight into how Duursma stacks up in terms of work rate and production value. If one thing’s for certain, he’s an entertaining watch.

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