Standouts setting the standard for Gippsland

A PAIR of highly touted AFL Draft prospects are setting the standard for the Gippsland Power in 2023, as the regional program prepares for another Coates Talent League campaign.

National Academy members Zane Duursma and Archer Reid have not missed a session throughout preseason, and are primed to built off strong bottom-age years according to coach Rhett McLennan.

Both have family ties to the AFL. Duursma is the younger brother of Port Adelaide men’s and women’s players Xavier and Yasmin, while Reid’s elder brother Zach is at Essendon. The 2005-born prospects are paving their own paths though, as Gippsland looks to produce another bumper draft crop.

“It’s very true that our top two guys have not only been well regarded from an AFL Academy point of view, but also in the way they’ve acquitted themselves at training,” McLennan said. “They haven’t missed a session, and the way they’ve driven the group has been excellent.

Zane Duursma is one to watch | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

“Hopefully they have an injury free year and can put their best foot forward. I’m sure if they can do that then they’re going to have fantastic seasons no matter where they’re playing.”

From the strong squad which took out last year’s minor premiership, a good bunch of over-agers are set to return. McLennan says ruck Harvey Howe leads the way from a mid-season draft perspective, though there are plenty of long-term options in tow.

“Traditionally (mid-season) is a talls draft,” McLennan said. “Harvey’s a ruckman who had a really good season last year and we’re going to give him opportunities to play in a secondary role, which will probably be as a key defender.

“We really like the look of Tom Stern, who impressed this time last year but opted out of the season due to wanting to go to school. His preseason’s been excellent, he’s a really nice size at 195cm and about 90kg. He can play in any position so we’re really excited about what he can do.

Liam Serong (the brother of Caleb and Jai) is another 19-year-old who had a full preseason at Fremantle. He was there from November all the way through to the end of January, so he’s very fit… we’ll split his time between us and Box Hill.

Rhett McLennan directs his troops | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

“A lot of our guys in that 19-year-old space haven’t played a lot of Talent League footy, so we’ll give them every opportunity to do that… we’ll stagger them throughout the year to make sure that they’re getting their best opportunities when they’re playing their best footy.”

McLennan earmarked top-ager Will Dawson as another name to jot down given his rate of improvement over the last 18 months. As for how the Power will come together as a squad, be prepared to see plenty of the traits which Gippsland has become synonymous with.

The region “makes no apologies” for their tough, tried and tested brand of footy which above all else, means they’ll be able to compete week in, week out.

“We play a physical brand of football,” McLennan said. “That’s the way we feel like we can compete… we play a certain kind of way and our style is to make sure we’re physical and are making all our opposition players really honest. If we can do that and get the game on our terms then we’ll win a few.”

Gippsland’s first assignment for the 2023 Coates Talent League season is once again against the Murray Bushrangers. The two Country sides will lock horns on Sunday at Morwell Recreation Reserve, and McLennan predicts the Power to have their “work cut out” for them.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments