SANFL Player Focus – Max Michalanney (Norwood)
HIS name is familiar with those who follow and love SANFL footy, but Norwood‘s Max Michalanney is paving his own path. The tall defender, son of 211-game Redleg Jim, is eligible to be taken by Adelaide under father-son rules and has already spent time training with the Crows during preseason.
Last year, Michalanney was named MVP for South Australia’s Under 17 side and also turned out for the 19s, while leading the way for Rostrevor College. The AFL and state academy member is lauded for his reading of the play, proving an astute interceptor at 191cm who can rebound the ball and play on both talls and smalls.
In his latest SANFL outing, he made his fourth appearance in the Reserves amid a heated affair against Norwood at Coopers Stadium. Despite the unideal conditions, Michalanney showed his wares in a positive way as the subject of our Round 8 Player Focus.
SEASON SO FAR
Averages: 4 games | 14.8 disposals (8.8 kicks, 6.0 handballs), 4.5 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2.5 rebound 50s
Michalanney has enjoyed a steady start to his top-age campaign, first turning out at Under 18s level before slotting straight into Norwood’s Reserves side. The tall defender was dominant in his sole junior outing, dishing out 13 rebound 50s among his 24 disposals, and he proved solid in his appearance for the AFL Academy against Collingwood VFL. At Reserves level, the 18-year-old has been consistent with three games of 14 disposals, but is yet to play in a win across all competitions this season.
2022 SANFL Reserves, Round 8
Norwood 8.7 (55) def. by North Adelaide 10.12 (72)
Stats: 14 disposals (7 kicks, 7 handballs), 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
Starting out in a role he quickly came accustomed to as the deepest Norwood defender, Michalanney looked comfortable despite the daunting task of sitting one-out inside defensive 50.
He got his game going with a nice bit of composure, marking out on the wing and turning to play on with a kick to half-forward. His best moment came soon after with a strong holding the ball tackle at half-back, where the youngster brought down a bustling opponent and used his free disposal neatly.
He set the tone for his evening with constant positioning on the back shoulder of his opponents, holding his own in wrestles and splitting one-on-ones on account of his rangy build.
With sound reading of the play, his head on a swivel, and solid defensive accountability, Michalanney’s start was a positive one as Norwood absorbed a fair bit of pressure in the low-scoring scrap.
The second was arguably Michalanney’s best quarter, where he showcased his range and dexterity on the last line of defence. He notched his first disposal within the opening minute off a last touch free kick, but looked most impressive when chasing up the loose balls.
Michalanney’s reading of the play and athleticism combined to great effect on long North Adelaide entries, as he reacted first to get to the fall of the ball, and was able to get there with enough time to gather and steady despite the soggy turf he covered.
He showed great composure on two particular occasions doing all of the above, while also hitting up on a high line to knock contested balls to ground. On the rebound, Michalanney also looked to get his run going, even if not always rewarded.
Things were a touch quieter for Michalanney in the third quarter as Norwood turned the screw with five goals at the other end, but he continued to have a real crack among the Redlegs’ defensive line.
His best bit of play came relatively early on, as the 18-year-old got his hands dirty with a terrific double effort. First, he competed in the air and brought the ball to ground, before laying a tough tackle on the follow-up.
There wasn’t much room for clean disposal throughout the period, and Michalanney positioned well to contribute to the scrap, but proved slick enough when scooping the ball up and out by hand.
Michalanney rounded out his game relatively well by continuing to get his hands on the ball and looking to move it on quickly. With Norwood stuck behind the eight ball, the youngster showed good game awareness to play on at every opportunity, without being too rushed.
He could have done with a touch more polish on his end product at times, but any missed targets may have been a result of his lift in urgency. Michalanney was finally beaten in a one-on-one, though it hardly fazed him as he went on to win one of his own and capped off a handy outing.
Usually a clean intercept marker and efficient mover of the ball, the conditions on Friday evening were perhaps not ideal for Michalanney, but he still managed to showcase his willingness to compete and terrific reading of the play from defensive 50.