Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League – Round 7
ROUND 7 of the NAB League hosted just three fixtures, with plenty of fresh and familiar faces thriving in the midst of greater opportunities across the six regions in action. There were a number of notable performers, and multiple age groups covered among them, of which we highlight in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
By: Max Hughes
#2 Nate Caddy
Caddy played a slightly different role for the Knights on the weekend, transitioning on-ball during the second half. Usually a centre-half forward who crashes packs with his 190cm frame, Caddy was a strong presence in the midfield. He cleared a path and tackled hard, finishing with 18 disposals in a solid display. Despite it not being his best game, it showcased his versatility as a prospect, and his overall mobility. It will be interesting to see whether the Knights persist with the positional change in weeks to come, as there was certainly plenty to like about Caddy’s performance.
Seiter was arguably the Knights’ best in a midfield-forward role, finishing with 18 disposals and a goal. His explosive speed stood out on multiple occasions, as did his willingness to run hard and be an option for his under-siege teammates. He is clean when he attacks, swooping through packs and extracting the ball nicely. Seiter often provided as the link in the chain, pushing to receive follow up handballs and generally propelling the Knights forward with his run. Despite only standing at 172cm, he has a strong physical presence and looks unfazed by the contest. A strong game to open his season account, and one he will look to build on.
#27 Jason McCormick
McCormick, like Seiter, worked tirelessly all day to be a part of the Knights’ ball movement, and his effort was often rewarded. The small forward played more of a midfield role, racking up 22 disposals and a goal. He took the game on at every opportunity, a mindset which got him into trouble a handful of times. Despite being caught on the odd occasion, his courage and aggression to drive through the lines was admirable, and his dash energised an otherwise stagnant Knight’s midfield. If he can clean up some of his disposal and decision making, he has potential be a damaging footballer at this level, and hopefully with more midfield time, this growth becomes evident.
#23 Anthony Caminiti
Caminiti had a superb second half, and despite the Knights’ inability to consistently threaten Calder, his performance was critical in their improved play. At 196cm, Caminiti is an enticing prospect and he showed great athleticism and marking prowess. He finished with 2.2, a figure that will frustrate him given the quality of shots he was generating. Perhaps most pleasing was Caminiti’s ground level work, as he was always mobile and willing in his attack on the ball. His follow up efforts after big marking contests were a standout. It was an exciting display for another Knight playing his first game of the season, and recruiters would hope this is just the beginning for the talented forward.
#38 Matthew Ryan
Ryan was one of the most eye-catching players afield, and he backed up his highlights with 20 disposals and two scintillating last quarter goals. His explosiveness broke down the Calder defence on numerous occasions, as he would burst through packs with electric speed and power. His second goal was a remarkable contested ball win followed by a (perhaps accidental) torpedo from 45m, a kick that sailed through to give the Knights some hope. In a generally dour display from his side, Ryan was a point of difference who excited whenever he was near the ball.
Foley’s game was a tale of two halves. He started out at half-back, where his run and carry drove the Cannons’ offence. There were a couple of times when he blasted the ball aimlessly, but generally, Foley’s kicking displayed excellent touch and precision. Despite his influence to half time, Calder moved him to a half-forward role, where he struggled to exert himself. With less impact, he finished with 10 disposals – nine of them being kicks. He looks to be a natural half-back, and hopefully he gets more opportunity to show his wares there as the season progresses.
#7 Reuben Rode
Rode had his best game of the season, picking up 17 touches roaming off half-back. He drove Calder’s rebound alongside Foley throughout the first half, picking creative options to fast track their attack. Rode is blessed with both excellent foot skills and pace, a combination that lends itself well to his position. A goal in the third quarter rounded out a fantastic performance, a lovely set shot from 45m. If Calder can find a way to get the ball in his hands more consistently from week to week, Rode shapes as a huge weapon, as someone who can really carve up opposition defences.
#21 Luke Said
Said was more noticeable in the second half, when he used his strength and size to good effect. He played predominantly as a forward, but also spent some time on the ball, accumulating 19 disposals and a goal. He looked dangerous in the third quarter, with a hand in a few of Calder’s goals and a major for himself. He is well built at 188cm, and the only question mark would surround his mobility and fitness, as he has the strength to play a permanent midfielder. However, it was a solid outing, and Said overpowered many of his opponents throughout the contest.
#24 Declan Willmore
Willmore would have been best afield, had it not been for his wayward kicking. The 189cm utility was dominant in the air, launching for marks all over the ground and splitting packs. Willmore played well above his height, and when he pushed forward in the second half, he found himself with a handful of shots on goal. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t seem to convert his chances, missing several very gettable shots before scraping through a snap from a contest for his first and only major. Whilst Willmore may rue what could have been, his presence was unmistakable, and a reminder of why he is one of the most highly touted Cannons in this year’s class. There were a couple of telegraphed inboard kicks that he would also like to have again, but overall, it was a dominant display from a supremely talented footballer.
#27 Paul Pascu
Pascu was strong in the contest yet again for the Cannons, registering 20 disposals in a well-rounded display. His hands in-tight were particularly noticeable, and he was clean and compact throughout. His kicking could have been a little sharper, as he was often just missing targets by a matter of metres. His technique is sound, so it is likely just about taking a little more care and time in disposing of the ball. There are clear parallels to Sydney’s Josh Kennedy in the way Pascu plays, and he is always a consistent and reliable performer in Calder’s engine room.
By: Michael Alvaro
While he was relatively quiet in the first half and later copped a little rev-up for his defensive running, Clarke came to life at times as one of the key players who looked to drag Sandringham over the line. That didn’t eventuate, but the hardened top-ager showed great intent with his forward carry from midfield. His ability to step opponents at full speed was impressive, and allowed him to gain extra meterage before pumping the ball inside 50. That finishing touch lacked a touch for Clarke, though he looked like the Dragon with most potential to be damaging.
Fresh off a successful VFL venture, Benton racked up season-high NAB League numbers with 22 disposals and five inside 50s. He was consistently able to accumulate possessions at the contest, and strung a few together with chains coming to the outer. It was clear Benton wanted the ball in his hands and that saw him do too much at times, and he uncharacteristically missed a relatively straightforward snap in the third term. Otherwise, he looked to be productive out of the engine room.
One of the most talked about mid-season draft candidates, Hall-Kahan took the opportunity to showcase his versatility on Sunday. Able to translate his traits to just about any position, the over-ager rolled through both sides of midfield – starting on the wing – and also spent time in his typical forward post. Finishing with 20 touches and eight marks, Hall-Kahan covered good ground and was super clean in most of his work. His skills dancing feet were impressive for a 188cm talent, and served him well when shifting the ball forward. Bucking that trend, he scuppered a set shot in the fourth quarter, and had Nick Watson snap his usually cool demeanour after inflicting a big tackle.
#10 Angus McLennan
Another Sandringham over-ager, McLennan has endured his fair share of injuries over the last couple of seasons but put that behind him upon returning to the NAB League on Sunday. He spent most of his time deep inside attacking 50 and produced a couple of positive moments, having a direct hand in the Dragons’ two opening term goals. The first saw him weight a lovely inboard kick to assist Tarkyn O’Leary’s major, before getting on the board himself via a downfield free kick. At 187cm, he got good separation on the lead and snagged a second goal that way in term three, making for a promising first game back.
#15 Ben Hempel
The top-age winger has some clear appeal in his position, able to take clean overhead marks at 190cm and weaponise his long kicking going forward. He hit the scoreboard in term two with a sweet left-foot strike from 50 metres, and looked to unleash another long bomb moments later but saw his effort touched over the line. It could well have been three, if that chance, and another in the fourth quarter were hit with more conviction, but Hempel’s flashes certainly caught the eye.
#29 Max Ramsden
The second of Sandringham’s high-end mid-season draft contenders, Ramsden also looked to display a few different strings in his bow as he started off in the forwardline. Still, he arguably had a greater say once shifted into the ruck, with his ability to work from contest to contest seeing him run out a solid game. The left-footer got decent distance on his kicks and even managed a couple of shots on goal; putting a set shot, then a snap wide in the second half. He ended up with 17 touches and five inside 50s to go with 18 hitouts, showing he can do plenty outside of his ruck craft.
#1 Kai Windsor
Spending most of his time up forward, the classy Windsor made his 17 disposals (14 kicks) count with two goals, an assist, and useful link-up play inside 50. He timed his runs well to receive handballs or get to the fall of contests, afforded way too much space at times and making Sandringham pay. He snagged both majors after half time, with his second a well-steadied sealer which saw off Eastern’s impressive win.
#5 Nick Watson
With Caulfield Grammer having the bye this week, Watson took the chance to get back to NAB League action this week. While his numbers (12 disposals, two goals) hardly jump off the page, the future star’s creativity and dynamism inside attacking 50 were on full show. He constantly looked to make things happen, showing off his hops on the lead, and evasive skills at ground level to craft chances on goal. He snared a major from nothing in the first quarter after Lachlan Reidy’s set shot fell short, before sinking one of his own in the third term and really getting under Sandringham’s skin. His cheek and confidence as a 169cm bottom-ager is outrageous, but he backs it up with pure talent and results.
#15 Zac Greeves
It was an ‘almost’ kind of day for Greeves, who got busy in attack but couldn’t quite finish his work – ending up with three behinds. At 186cm, he offers strong marking power and clunked nine grabs from his 16 disposals on Sunday, rising high and protecting the ball with his solid frame. Becoming a major threat in term three, Greeves looked dangerous with his aerial play without taking full toll on the scoreboard.
#18 Lewis Hayes
Producing massive numbers from defence, Hayes was part of the Ranges’ resolute setup behind the ball and showed great composure under a fair bit of duress. The lean, 197cm top-ager showed he was capable of impacting as an interceptor, but generally had more of a say when shifting the ball out of defensive 50, with nine rebound 50s from his 26 disposals. Hayes’ game was one of accumulation, and he seemed to be Eastern’s key distributor from the last line in a great showcase of his versatility.
#21 Caleb Windsor
One who perhaps plays an unheralded role on the wing from week to week, Windsor (younger brother of Kai) again put in a shift for the Ranges. The bottom-ager works hard both ways and has solid fundamentals, able to take the ball cleanly and continue chains on the outside with reliable kicking. His work rate was most evident during a passage in term two, where Windsor was seen transitioning the ball out of defence with a one-two, before shutting down a forward 50 exit at the other end with a desperate spoil. He even hit the scoreboard in said term, converting his holding the ball free kick from 40 metres.
#42 Brayden La Planche
One of two debutants for the Ranges on Sunday, La Planche only ended up with three marks and a goal from seven touches, but looked promising in doing so. The 188cm bottom-aged forward can certainly jump, and attacked the ball with vigour in the air when allowed a run and jump at it. His goal came in the second quarter, when La Planche crashed a pack and followed up to snap home on his left-foot, running towards the boundary.
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Blake Drury
The hard working small midfielder matched his season-best disposal tally (21) on Sunday, taking advantage of a school football bye to turn out with extra responsibility for Oakleigh. Drury is a metres gained type who can generate run and shots on goal, but with less room to operate in the early stages, he opted to simply clear his lines at the contest. As the game opened up, he was able to use his nippy turn of speed to accelerate into a bit more space, and generate some chains of possession on the attack.
#15 Ingo Dammersmith
In figures indicative of his style, six of Dammersmith’s 11 possessions were earned via marks, and he looked a force aerially when leaping with confidence. He snared his lone goal of the game during term two, marking deep inside 50 before converting the straightforward shot, but missed a potentially crucial chance in the dying stages. Fortunately it mattered little, and the mark Dammersmith reeled in going back with the flight was impressive enough. Needless to say, at 192cm that kind of aerial nous is quite handy up forward.
#17 Braden Andrews
Among Oakleigh’s strong brigade of over-agers, Andrews was one who racked up plenty of the ball (25 disposals, 10 marks), producing moments both good and otherwise. He proved a real accumulator throughout the day, improving his decision making and execution by foot as it wore on. The former AFL Academy member copped a couple of heavy blows in the final term, but lifted his output to end up as one of Oakleigh’s more important midfield figures in the grand finale.
#21 Max Gruzewski
Waxing with the likes of Jed Rule in Oakleigh’s defence, Gruzewski showcased terrific intercept marking ability with six marks among his 13 disposals. The top-ager read the play well and was not afraid to go back with the flight, rising at full stretch to pull down some eye-catching grabs. Late in the first quarter, he even appeared to come off winded after a defensive 50 contest. He backed those efforts up with relatively sound distribution too, opting to go by foot much more often than not and registering a handful of rebound 50s.
#55 Kynan Brown
One for Melbourne fans to watch as a potential father-son candidate, Brown (son of Nathan), produced some exciting moments in his NAB League debut. The hard-at-it midfielder got a run through the engine room and also impacted up forward, snaring two goals from 17 disposals and four inside 50s. Both of Brown’s majors were fair efforts, particularly the second term snap which he seemed pretty pleased with. Still a bottom-ager, there’s some exciting traits to work with.
#13 Seth Campbell
A crafty forward who loves to create with his use by foot, Campbell’s decision making was brought to the fore at times on Sunday. He also has great evasive technique and used it to good effect, keeping his feet in tight spots and screwing kicks around the corner to navigate a way out. He began to gain more green all as the game opened up and he shifted to the wing, but his big lift came during the final quarter as he was sent forward again, claiming an opportunistic goal and uncharacteristically missing the chance for another.
#23 Cameron Owen
The 203cm bigman has strung together a solid few games and used his imposing frame to get involved in Tasmania’s play on Sunday. In his usual ruck-forward role, Owen produced some handy moments with 14 touches, four marks and seven hitouts, but his best came in term four. Shortly after Jerome Lawrence dropped a sitter on the wing for Oakleigh, Owen rose to clunk one cleanly inside 50 before converting the set shot for an important goal in the latter stages.
#27 Colby McKercher
Arguably best afield despite ending up on the losing side, McKercher complied a seriously good 27 disposals and five inside 50s to be one of the players of the week. The speedy bottom-ager has shown terrific balance in his game over the last couple of weeks, opting to go by hand much more often in midfield, but still hurting the opposition with his turn of speed. McKercher’s best running passage came in term two, as he left two Oakleigh players to collide in his wake with a confident foray along the wing. In a game where he did plenty, a snap goal put his name on the scoresheet, having followed up from his own set shot which fell short. He’ll be a great watch for next year’s crop.
#37 Tom McCallum
While he proved a touch quieter without partner-in-crime Lachlan Cowan, McCallum began to get going in the third quarter and showcased what he can do aerially. The raw, 192cm athlete could have done with a bit of polish on his disposal, but was usually clean when flying for marks and setting off clear on rebounding runs. With a touch more consistency and a strong campaign with the Allies, McCallum could really push his name forward.