SANFL Player Focus – Jakob Ryan (Glenelg)

GLENELG defender Jakob Ryan has been one of the stronger South Australian performers at representative level this year, and earned a SANFL Reserves berth on Saturday after a terrific start to his Under 18s campaign. Lauded for his booming kick and marking prowess, the powerful prospect certainly has desirable traits.

The 17-year-old also debuted in our 2022 Power Rankings this week, coming in at number 24 on the 25-man list. Naturally, he proved an intriguing player to place under the Player Focus microscope having continued his promising form in Bays colours.

Jakob Ryan

Height: 189cm

Weight: 77kg

DOB: 20-09-2004

Aerial ability
Clean hands
Kicking penetration
Overhead marking
Draft range: Pick 25-40


Averages: 5 games (SANFL U18s) | 27.8 disposals (14.2 kicks, 13.6 handballs), 6.2 marks, 3.8 tackles, 2.2 inside 50s, 3.2 rebound 50s

Ryan has been a pillar of consistency at Under 18s level for the Bays, as evidenced by his numbers across five games. He racked up exactly 28 disposals in each of his first three outings, and has not dropped below 25 touches for the season. With that in mind, and strong representative form to boot, Ryan made his Reserves debut on the weekend and again had little trouble finding the ball. Doing so in general play and with clean intercept marks, his impact has been felt.

2022 SANFL Reserves, Round 13
Glenelg 6.8 (44) def. by North Adelaide 11.17 (83)

Stats: 22 disposals (12 kicks, 10 handballs), 8 marks (3 contested), 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 rebound 50s


Ryan’s output throughout the season has been consistent, and that not only applies from game-to-game, but also quarter-to-quarter. He started out solidly against North Adelaide, racking up a handful of touches and acting whenever his number was called.

His first possession came after nearly four minutes, getting on the end of an easy short kick-in before clearing defensive 50 with his own disposal. Able to roam relatively freely across the Bays’ backline, Ryan looked quite comfortable in the heat of the contest.

Two particular plays highlighted his quarter; one was a gather of the bouncing ball and handball while still aerial, and the other saw him chase up a loose ball inside defensive 50, going hard and low with a clean pick-up with contact coming his way.

While normally showcased in a marking sense, Ryan’s strong hands and frame were useful at ground level in the opening period. He trailed his direct opponent a couple of times, but was able to win his own ball and spread to space quickly once Glenelg was in possession.


After a productive first quarter, Ryan was hardly sighted in the opening 10 minutes of term two. He eventually got into the action, again displaying a clean set of hands and cool head to get the ball off in quick time within Glenelg’s back half.

A couple of his better plays came in the form of intercept marks, as Ryan rose to reel in errant clearing kicks in ideal positions behind the ball. He clunked a third by beating his opponent one-on-one, holding firm while being nudged under the flight of the ball.

Ryan’s first instinct in general play was to handball, and he looked a little rushed in that aspect, but he opted to go long with most of his kicks in the first half. While penetrative, he could have lowered his eyes or continued to feed runners as the Bays like to do. Still, he was quite reliable in tight spots.


Much like in term two, Ryan built into the game after around 10 minutes in the third quarter. It was worth the wait too, with his first real contribution a terrific intercept mark at the top of defensive 50, which set him up for another strong 15 minutes or so.

He would take another nice one-on-one grab later in the term, and switched up two of his five kicks to go much shorter than he had previously. Kicking was his primary method at that stage, with Ryan often able to clear his lines once the intercept job was completed.


Ryan continued to make his impact felt with more of the same work in the final quarter. He laid his third and best tackle of the game early on, winning a holding the ball free kick after bringing down an opponent and wrapping him up strongly.

For the most part, he looked to go short with each disposal, including a couple of chip kicks and two handballs in tight spots. Though the intention was good, Ryan overcooked one of his kicks and ran around to the wrong side on a hand-off, making for a couple of rare errors.

Overall though, his tendency to work into positive positions behind the ball and spread hard offensively boded well for a strong game off half-back. Ryan’s intercept marking prowess is clear, as is his ability to break lines by foot. Sharpening up his short-range game could make him more effective, and his composure will likely lift with more experience at high levels.

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