Scouting Notes: 2023 Coates Talent League – Round 1

THE 2023 Coates Talent League season got underway on the weekend, with a whopping eight-game fixture for fans and recruiters alike to feast upon. With some of the nation’s top prospects taking the field, there were plenty of eye-catching performances. We highlight some of the top talents in our Round 1 Scouting Notes.

  • Team
  • Northern Knights
  • GIANTS Academy

By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Jesse Dattoli

Dattoli caused headaches for the Giants’ defence and coaching staff alike, with the bottom-aged small forward running riot in Northern’s forward 50. He often looked his side’s most likely goalkicker, getting loose on numerous occasions or finding just enough space to prize a shot on goal. For all his snap attempts in open play, ironically it was a drop punt which yielded Dattoli’s lone major in the second term.

#10 Will Green

As had been the case throughout his bottom-age campaign, Green’s numbers weren’t huge on Saturday but there are positive signs for the 204cm ruck. Skippering the Knights, he started forward as Flynn Riley took the opening centre bounce, but eventually rotated on-ball to lead the hitout stakes with 20. His ruck craft was typically excellent and Green used his body well at stoppages, but a big mark and goal while stationed up forward eluded him.

#11 Lucas McInerney

Another bottom-ager from the Knights and another whose numbers don’t tell the full story, McInerney reprised his usual running role off half-back. The smooth mover swept up well from behind the ball and created handy overlap run to generate positive momentum on the rebound. He was well supported in that regard but was one who certainly passed the eye test in his movement.

#19 Charlie Naish

Naish is the brother of former Richmond and West Coast player Patrick, and thus another father-son candidate for the Tigers. He started off his top-age campaign on a positive note, despite an indifferent kind of outing. Stationed at half-forward, the 187cm prospect was a viable marking target inside 50 and got loose enough times to register four scoring shots. While his radar was off for most of the game, he clunked a strong grab and converted the game-winning goal in term four after being shifted into midfield.

#26 Zak Johnson

The third Knights bottom-ager to warrant a mention, Johnson was one of his side’s most polished handlers on the day as he ran mostly through midfield. His clean hands and distributive skills were impressive, as was his ability to shrug tacklers and keep the play alive. He snared an important goal in the final term as the Giants fumbled inside defensive 50, finishing level with Kristian Ferronato as Northern’s most prolific midfielder (22 disposals).


#4 Harvey Thomas

Thomas was outstanding both offensively and defensively in his midfield-forward rotation throughout the day, putting up a ridiculous statline of 30 disposals and 17 tackles. There isn’t much of the 175cm prospect, but he wasn’t afraid to have a crack and complimented his hard work on the inside with classy touches on the outer. His evasive skills and decision making were typically terrific, leading to composed kicks which found the target more often than not. One to watch.

#14 Bailee Gilbert

Somewhat of a surprise packet on the day, Gilbert had his work cut out in the Giants’ defence but stood tall with five marks and five rebound 50s among his 19 disposals. The 181cm top-ager often popped up on the last line and did all of his best work inside defensive 50, where the ball entered 49 times. Under plenty of pressure, he didn’t lower his colours.

#20 Luke Lawrence

Returning as an over-ager for one final crack at the draft, Lawrence took on the altered role he promised in preseason – across half-back. Taking some of the kick-ins and often jetting past for overlap handballs, Lawrence’s running capacity and usually clean skills came to the fore in a tidy 21-disposal showing. He copped a whack across the chops for his troubles, but was hardly fazed by the speed of the game.

#24 Daniel Gauci

Along with Thomas, Gauci was nothing short of prolific throughout four quarters and came away with ridiculous numbers, yielding 32 disposals and 14 tackles. At 177cm, the top-ager did plenty of tough stuff on the inside and accumulated his game-high haul in a blue collar style, even having some strong moments as he worked back in the second half.

  • Team
  • Sandringham Dragons
  • Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams


#3 Levi Ashcroft

After his brother Will dominated at The Gabba, the younger Ashcroft put on a show at RSEA Park by kicking a couple of goals and being one of the best afield for the Dragons. Though he has the same high impact as his older brother, the younger Ashcroft has the added mongrel to his game, and is not afraid to ruffle some feathers in the process. His clearance work was solid, but his forward craft was even better, reading the play inside 50 to know when to run, and where. He kicked a ripping goal from the boundary line in the final term and brought the crowd into it, almost kicking another major shortly after that was just dropped on the line by a teammate. Earned a couple of high free kicks as well to the frustration of the Eastern opponents, with Ashcroft loving the argy bargy.

#4 Will Brown

The Sandringham skipper looked more than comfortable playing as that tall midfielder with a bigger body on the inside, winning a truckload of the ball at the coalface. Though he was able to utilise his strengths there, Brown worked hard around the ground to provide an option, and he finished off with 24 disposals and 10 inside 50s, a lot of those coming from extracting out of a contest. Having played as a forward last season, Brown has the flexibility to impact in multiple places on the field.

#9 Archie Roberts

Playing out of defence, Roberts did what he needed to do. He has a nice kicking action and is a strong aerial player who can win the ball at ground level as well. Roberts is very vocal in the back 50, and he guided his less experienced teammates in where to stand or run, and though he might have only had the 18 touches, he pushed up the ground to have five inside 50s and rotated further afield. At times his long kicking would be intercepted, but his technique was very penetrating.

#15 Ryley Sanders

The Tasmanian prospect was our Player Focus for the week with his full performance detailed in that article. To sum up his performance, Sanders had 28 disposals – including 23 handballs – and did his best work on the inside. The inside midfielder did have a huge highlight in the second term, winning the ball on the wing, taking a bounce and running to 45m where he slotted a goal on the run.

>> Round 1 Player Focus: Ryley Sanders


A dangerous player inside 50, Harrop kicked a couple of goals in the second term to really fire up his side. He provided run by hand when pushing up the ground and even set up a goal to a teammate with a piercing kick inside 50. Along with his vision and skill, Harrop also boasted some impressive athletic traits, and looks one to watch throughout the year. He could have capped off the performance with a third goal, but missed a set shot just before the final siren.

#26 Miles Enders

Enders could have had a massive day out if he had been able to convert all his chances, finishing the day with 2.3. His first score was a snap around his body from a set shot that said home, but then missed three consecutive chance – including two set shots – after that. He nailed arguably the most difficult of his chances with a good lead and mark, followed by a set shot close to the boundary from 50m, prompting celebration from his teammates.

#35 Justin Krok

Another Dragon who had less touches than some other teammates, but was noticeable for his impact inside 50. He earned a set shot early in the game with a great tackle to win a free kick, but missed the chance to convert, and would end the game with a couple of behinds. He did kick an eye-catching goal however, pouncing on a loose ball, sidestepping two players then straightening up to put it straight through the big sticks.

#58 Murphy Reid

There was no shortage of Dragons players providing run down the ground, and Reid was no exception. He won the ball both through the middle and on the wing, and was a key creator in getting it forward of centre. Though only credited with the seven kicks and one inside 50, Reid was often winning the ball under pressure and then flicking out a handpass, or drawing an opponent and handballing to a teammate to keep the pill moving.


#1 Caleb Windsor

A lively and dangerous player on the day, Windsor is very good at finding multiple possessions in a chain and working to the outside of a stoppage. He had a nice run down the wing early in the match, and though his bounce was a little iffy, recovered well. Windsor has plenty of potential with his kicking, nailing a bullet pass inside 50 under pressure and while there were others who won more of the ball, Windsor had some important plays throughout the day.

#5 Nick Watson

The star AFL Academy member just looked dangerous and kicked a couple of goals with one early miss. Incredibly despite his reputation, no one manned him on the line during the first term and he marked uncontested when opponents expected a set shot to sail home but instead fell short. He kicked that goal, then snuck home another one with a set shot from 30m in the fourth term. He had another flying shot from outside 50 not long after, but it was touched on the line. Though likely to be a small forward at the next level, Watson did spent time in the midfield, and even had an elite one-handed pickup on the wing, gathered it and kicked to advantage, then won it again at half-forward and offered himself as another option deeper sneaking in behind opponents.

#8 Cam Nyko

Stationed in defence, Nyko had a high production friendly game, often tasked with the kickouts, or the second possession options from the kickouts. Boasting a booming kick, he was able to clear the danger zone more often than not, and did work hard to provide run, then utilise his penetrative boot to get it as far as the wing. Generally he used composure, and though there were a lot that ended up going to contests, he continued to drive the ball up the ground and ensure the Dragons could not get any easy touches off his rebound 50s.

#13 Riley Weatherill

The third term specialist kicked three goals in a dominant quarter where he really came to play. After a couple of chances went begging in the first half including a poster that really should have been a goal and a flying shot that missed, Weatherill stepped up at a crucial time. His first two majors both came from marks and set shots, then his third was after receiving the ball, showing enough athleticism to sidestep an opponent, then straighten up and nail it. He almost had a fourth goal, but could not convert on this occasion, finishing with 10 disposals and 3.2 for the match.

#23 Tyson Sruk

The 180cm top-ager played in defence and found plenty of the pill there, providing support for Nyko and sharing the duties of kicking from from defence. Though he was able to usually run with the ball in transition, Sruk did take a number of strong marks – including intercept ones – to be a thorn in the Dragons’ side. He might not be tall, but he is clever and was able to piece together a high production game.

#26 Josh Smillie

Vic Metro’s MVP at last year’s Under 16s carnival wasted no time stepping up into the midfield for the Ranges and being one of the stars of the show. He has the strong body to win the ball in close, but can then go forward and beat his opponent in the air. With a slick sidestep, he evaded an opponent and slammed home a goal to start the second term, and though he copped a few knocks, continued battling on throughout the match. Smillie missed an opportunity early in the match from a set shot, but finished with 26 disposals, four marks five inside 50s and a goal to be a clear standout for Eastern in the loss.

#59 Cooper Trembath

Solid as a rock in defence, Trembath was the standout from the new faces for the Ranges and looms as one to watch from the key defensive standpoint. He showed good body positioning and intercept marking, but not just a typical tall, Trembath also ran out of defence and provided burst speed after a mark, which gave him a point of difference against most of his taller opponents. His kicking at times could be hit and miss, but as a whole he was one of the standouts, and recorded 18 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s in an impressive performance.

  • Team
  • Western Jets
  • Swans Academy

By: Michael Alvaro


#2 Daniel Snell

The crafty medium forward was put forward by Western coaches as one to watch, and though his eight disposals make for modest reading, there were certainly moments of promise. Snell often swooped at the fall of the ball and maintained momentum, before making good decisions. He even reeled in a strong overhead mark and duly converted his set shot in the first quarter.

#3 Lucca Grego

Another bottom-ager and perhaps Western’s most highly touted player in said age group, Grego was his side’s most prolific midfielder with 21 disposals and six inside 50s. What stands out most are his clean hands at the contest – both off the deck and in dispute – but driving his legs to find greater stoppage exits will be the next step. Still, a strong game to build on.

#5 Jake Smith

Smith is Western’s big body in midfield and he took charge as his side’s most penetrative on-baller going forward. With the ability to win inside ball and break to the outer, Smith also leant on his booming boot but only unleashed five kicks among his 17 touches. He often locked horns with Caiden Cleary amid what was a tough battle in the engine room.

#8 Diesel Moloney

Western’s skipper lead from the back on Saturday, racking up more possessions than any Jet with 25 – including five rebound 50s. He looked to set up play via the kick-ins and was generally composed in possession as Sydney entered its attacking 50 a whopping 58 times.

#24 Logan Morris

The spearhead forward is clearly Western’s most talented prospect, and essentially kept his side in the contest as far as the scoreboard was concerned. He booted back-to-back goals in the third term as the Jets broke to a lead at the last break, finishing with four overall. His marking ability and sharp conversion forced the Swans coaches into a matchup change, with the strongly built unit also getting off the chain with his work rate up the ground.


#3 Mitchell Woods

It was a relatively quiet outing for Woods, one of Sydney’s most promising bottom-agers, but he showed his class to snare two goals rotating between the midfield and forward line. He had a bizarre chip and chase moment running into goal early on, but made much better decisions with the remainder of his eight touches and looked dangerous when carrying the ball close to goal.

#7 Lachlan Cabor

Cabor can be relatively happy with his 21 disposals, six marks and six tackles through midfield, but the National Academy member looked a touch off the pace on Saturday. He was eventually dragged from the middle, though still managed to showcase some of his explosive athleticism and burst play. He seemed bereft of confidence when kicking after missing a few early, but has traits to work with and plenty more opportunities to hit his best form.

#11 Indhi Kirk

The Swans father-son candidate took out Player of the Week honours for his Round 1 effort, looking much improved as an over-ager. Having cut his teeth on the wing and at half-forward, Kirk was thrust onto the inside and the move worked wonders. Maintaining his patented toughness and clean skills, Kirk slipped to the outer and make great decisions with ball in hand. His kicking was short and sharp, though he could perhaps work on his penetration after multiple 45-metre set shots fell short. He eventually got his goal though, capping off what was a super performance.

#23 Tye Gander

Two of Gander’s three goals came in the final term as Sydney ran away with the result, and it’s true that he was somewhat of a matchwinner. The tall forward is quite dynamic at ground level but looks best when he can launch at the ball aerially, which he did en route to reeling in five marks. His craft looks to be building as an over-ager, and he could be another Academy prospect to watch.

#27 Caiden Cleary

Sydney’s second National Academy member, Cleary was a relative mainstay through midfield and did plenty of tough stuff among his 28 disposals and seven tackles. He could have benefitted from driving his legs more and finding exits at stoppage, but played the distributor role well on the inside – which showed in his 18 handballs. There is polish to add, much like Cabor, and also plenty of positives to work with athletically.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Bendigo Pioneers

By: Michael Alvaro


#6 Luamon Lual

Stationed in his usual role off half-back, Lual worked into typically shrewd spots in both attacking and defensive phases. The top-ager, who is linked to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA, was clean at ground level and used his athleticism going both ways – hunting for tackles and consistently getting to the fall of the ball. He ended up with 19 disposals and four tackles in a composed outing.

#7 Joel Freijah

The tall wingman was super impressive on the outside, using his 191cm frame to prove near untouchable when scooping up the ball. He fared well at ground level and evaded opponents with a combination of agile steps and shrewd shrugs. The top-ager has traits galore and could well be one who uses them across a range of roles this season, but he certainly looks at home on the wing.

#23 George Stevens

This weekend marked a successful return to action for Stevens, who missed his entire bottom-age season after an ACL tear. The solidly built defender shaped up as a man against boys and impacted in his usual defensive slot. He took the kick-ins and kept things relatively simple on the rebound, often sending flat long kicks down the line. Stevens also directed traffic and often got into good positions to intercept, finishing the day with 14 touches and five rebound 50s.


#1 Oliver Poole

Poole is a player who Bendigo staff were impressed with over preseason, and he contributed a few nice moments on the outside. He started out on the wing and spent most of the game there, running hard into either arc and even showing off a nice side-step. His agility shone through in one particular moment, where Poole jetted into goal and sent an opponent to the deck before slotting his major.

#3 Tobie Travaglia

A bottom-ager who the Pioneers will be pleased with development-wise, Travaglia proved his wares behind the ball in Round 1. The 187cm talent is still relatively light but makes up for it with bravery, proving capable overhead and gutsy enough to go when his name is called. He did so against the Rebels and took five marks among his 13 disposals.

#5 Harley Reid

It is no secret that Reid was the main event on Saturday, and in the face of physical opposition, he stood up to showcase his class. Starting out in midfield, it took only two minutes for him to deliver his first fend-off for the season, and he looked at his best when able to break clear and weave his way through the corridor. His passages of running bounces often led to scores, and Reid found the goals himself with two majors at one end of the ground – the second drew Bendigo back to within single digits with around 10 minutes left to play. He took on the big moments and with 22 touches and two goals, has a strong base to build off this year.

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Dandenong Stingrays

By: Michael Alvaro


#10 Patrick Hughes

Hughes has slotted in right where Jhye Clark left off last year, becoming a leader in midfield with his toughness and ball winning prowess. The top-ager shares another trait with his former skipper, kicking well off both feet and even slotting a handy goal on his left side in the first quarter. He shrugged opponents off his back all day and often found a way forward, providing great presence with his 28 disposals and nine inside 50s.

#19 Angus Hastie

One of Geelong’s effective rebound defenders, Hastie racked up 25 touches and eight rebound 50s from behind the ball. At 189cm, he’s still quite lean but runs well with the ball, backing himself to set off and generate a bit of momentum on the rebound. Though he ran himself into trouble at times, his ball use was generally neat when biting off high percentage options.

#25 Michael Rudd

The Falcons co-captain led from the front on Sunday, spearheading his side with three goals from six scoring shots. Also among his haul were six marks, with Rudd proving a key target for his side at 192cm. He booted Geelong’s first score of the day with a checkside that missed, but soon found his radar on that favoured left side with a few well struck set shot conversions. His clean hands overhead and ability to cut in on that left foot made him a constant threat in attack.


#8 Sam Frangalas

Frangalas is all power and used every bit of his explosiveness to catch the eye on several occasions. The midfielder-forward started in attack but looked most potent when bursting away from centre bounces, sharking the taps well and proving just about untouchable as he waltzed through the front of the stoppage. He still has some polish to add when going at full tilt, but looked good for his 20 touches, five inside 50s and one goal.

#14 Kobe Shipp

Often a hot starter, Shipp was absolutely everywhere in the opening stages on Sunday having been primarily employed on the wing. He went on to accumulate an equal game-high 28 disposals, clunking seven marks with his usual class on the intercept and also dropping back to notch six rebound 50s. His ability to take hold of games in strong patches is terrific, and he has the flexibility to play in a couple of key roles for the Stingrays this season.

#16 Harry De Mattia

The lone leader of the group in the absence of Cooper Simpson, De Mattia starred in a range of roles. He started in midfield and was shifted forward, but also played out on the wing and managed to get involved no matter what was asked of him. In particular, his closing speed and tackling pressure stood out, but De Mattia also hit the scoreboard with three goals in a losing effort. He finished well on each occasion and that defensive pressure often went hand in hand with said scores.

  • Team
  • Oakleigh Chargers
  • Lions Academy

By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Nathan Philactides

One of two Oakleigh top-agers in the National Academy, Philactides reprised his usual role off half-back and looked to generate plenty of run there. He never hesitated to use his speed and take the game on, weaving through waves of opponents several times – albeit if he ran himself into trouble plenty. Given he does much of his work at speed, he can improve on being a touch more composed in those moments, but should continue to let those physical strengths shine.

#5 Finn O’Sullivan

Last year’s Under 16 MVP, O’Sullivan picked up right where he left off with a classy outing through midfield. The bottom-ager had little trouble finding the ball on Sunday and racked up 24 touches, including eight marks and as many inside 50s. His ability to win it at the coalface, but also chain to the outside and penetrate by foot made him a damaging player, and one with a wealth of all-round traits. He kicks well over long distances and is capable overhead, providing a handy inside-outside balance.

#7 Jagga Smith

Smith is a prospect who inevitably catches the eye with his scintillating speed agility, which was no different on Sunday. The star bottom-ager was his side’s most prolific midfielder with 28 disposals, mixing his work between sharp skills on the inside and line breaking runs on the outer. He looked most potent when unleashed on the run, showcasing his accelerating in Oakleigh’s deadly attacking transitions. He also ended up with a goal in the final term, putting the cherry atop a complete outing.

#9 Tom Gross

The third of Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade to light up the midfield-forward rotation, Gross’ talent cannot be forgotten in the wake of O’Sullivan and Smith’s class. He notched 27 disposals of his own and had a real impact both around the ball and on the attack. Though a goal evaded him, he set up the Chargers’ first major and fed his teammates time after time at stoppages, proving super productive across a strong four quarters.

#11 Will Lorenz

It was a somewhat indifferent day for Lorenz, who comes into the year highly touted as a National Academy member. He started off at half-back but was soon switched into midfield, and while it was the bottom-agers’ turn to shine, he also got a go up forward. He looked most natural in the latter rotation, where he ended up getting involved in scoring chains. Lorenz is not particularly quick, but showcased his composure and smarts in possession to pick off terrific passes on his favoured left foot.

#12 Billy Hicks

Hicks may not be the most heralded name amongst Oakleigh’s squad, but the top-ager returned a massive shift on Sunday to put himself in the spotlight. There was plenty of supply for the Chargers’ forwards and Hicks eventually found his radar to take full toll. He was super busy inside 50 and booted 2.3 from 26 touches, getting off the chain inside 50 and also making his presence felt with time in the middle.

#77 Kobe Askew

Should Oakleigh continue to play a similar style to what was delivered on Sunday, Askew is going to be an exciting player to watch. The bottom-aged small forward is only light, but is incredibly clever in the attacking half and used his combination of speed and smarts to cause headaches for Brisbane’s defenders. He roved well, finished sharply with two goals, and always looked lively.


#6 Jake Fazldeen

Another creative small forward with plenty of smarts, Fazldeen snagged a deserved goal from three scoring shots among his 14 disposals. His major came in the third term when he made the right decision to stay down at the back of a contest, before roving and slotting the major. He looked most likely in those situations close to goal and is the type of bottom-ager who has real raw talent to enhance over the next year. A natural goalkicker.

#19 Joshua Cooper

Cooper had plenty to do in Brisbane’s defensive half and got stuck in across what was a tough four quarter for the Lions. The over-ager brought great physicality to the contest with a particular tackling effort, but stood out most with his 13 marks as somewhat of a cool head in the defensive 50 crisis. Of his 29 disposals, 26 were kicks and Cooper racked up six rebound 50s in what was a strong display.

#34 Patrick Snell

One of a couple of Lions talls to have had his moments, the top-aged Snell was a real presence when hitting up in attack. He led hard and looked imposing in doing so, hitting up at the kicker with intent and taking his grabs cleanly, leaving a clear path both in his wake and in front of him. Snell ended up with a lone goal in the second quarter, but the left-footed tall couple well have snared a couple more.

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams


#1 Jasper Alger

Utilised on the wing, the bottom-age talent looked very comfortable on debut and was one of a number of prime movers in transition. Born in mid-December, the 16-year-old is just two weeks away from being a double bottom-ager, but is already showing promising traits. Alger had that presence around the ball that whenever he won it he could impact the play, and even showed off some nice moves by dancing around opponents to get the ball forward.

#2 Cooper Brown

One of the more consistent Power players all game, the top-age Brown is small in stature, but provides run and carry. Often offering himself as a handball release option out of the back 50, or mopping up when required, Brown totalled up 22 disposals and eight rebound 50s, and held his own under pressure.

#9 Zane Duursma

The potential Top 10 AFL Draft prospect did his chances no harm in Round 1 with a solid all-round game. He started in the midfield then immediately pushed forward, and while he missed a couple of chances, did finally hit the scoreboard in the last term with a clever dribble goal and a celebration with the crowd to match. Even though he was a bigger body at the stoppages, Duursma found himself opposed to the key position height of Connor O’Sullivan, and the Power talent had a great battle in there as he rallied his way to a team-high 24 disposals and 1.2, playing an aggressive style of game to win the ball from the stoppage and thump it long inside 50.

#13 Max Stobie

A bottom-ager on debut, Stobie showed a few nice traits coming from the back half of the ground and rolling through the midfield. Though most of his plays did begin off half-back – including taking a couple of bounces to break the lines in the opening term, he did get as high up as half-forward to take a strong grab and then kick deep inside 50. Has that neat burst and ability to sidestep opponents, and will be one to watch over the next two seasons.

#21 Wil Dawson

The number one ruck for the Power, Dawson had a day out not just at the stoppages, but around the ground as well. He showed off an impressive leap, but it was arguably his work at ground level that caught the eye. He took the four mark around the ground, but Dawson would not be afraid to rove his own tap, or try and clear the ball from the stoppage. His disposals matched his hitouts with 19 by the end of the game, and he also had the five inside 50s. A 200cm top-ager who certainly provided his credentials on debut.

#22 Archer Reid

The key position utility starred in Round 1, when he took up a position inside 50 to begin with, but also rolled through the ruck and even helped out behind the ball when required. His athleticism and contested marking has never been an issue, and even with opponents often right with him, Reid pulled down nine marks and kicked three goals. His first was a great goal over his shoulder, then kicked his second from a set shot in the third term. His third came in the last quarter when he split the big sticks with ease, but he deliberately did not celebrate the goal despite it clearly going through, after celebrating one in the previous quarter that was deemed to have hit the post. Overall a terrific game.

#38 Ryan Maric

The overage 190cm forward was the prominent goalkicker in the match, snagging four majors from 23 disposals and nine marks in an arguable best on ground performance. Incredibly three of his four goals came from in-play with snaps in quick succession midway through the match, before capping it off with a set shot in the final term. His 50m snap around his body was the best of his four, and while he worked up the ground to present and win the ball himself, he did the majority of damage on the scoreboard.


#4 Darcy Wilson

The Murray Bushrangers talent had a tough going in the opening half, tightly guarded by his Power opposition both aerially and at ground level. Despite that reduced impact, he applied plenty of defensive pressure, and then worked his way into the game where he was dominant in the last 30 minutes. He kicked three goals in that time and just outran his opponents, clunking marks and sidestepping them with ease. His burst going forward is incredible to watch, and he used the ball well when kicking inside 50. No doubt he will cop attention this season, but the way he was able to create his own space and have an impact was admirable.

#5 Oscar Ryan

Stationed in defence, Ryan was one of a number of Bushrangers who ran hard out of the back half and was often tasked with moving the ball quickly in transition. He was strong in the contest and showed clean hands when rolling up to a stoppage in midfield, but is equally comfortable in marking contests, beating Duursma one-on-one in the defensive 50 by reading the ball perfectly. At times his polish could improve, but cracked in and racked up the second most disposals in the game with 25.

#6 Coby James

Similar to Ryan, James provided plenty of run, but also spent more time through the middle of the ground. He won the ball both at the stoppage and half-back, where he was not afraid to take risks. His kicking was very impressive including a pinpoint kick into the corridor in the opening term, and a weighted kick under pressure to the wing. His composure to go with his kicking variety also caught the eye, and James finished with 24 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#8 Connor O’Sullivan

It is hard to fathom a 198cm player rolling up to a centre stoppage when they are not rucking, but that is exactly what O’Sullivan did, and he used his bigger frame to win the contested ball and thump it clear down the ground. Then he would roll forward and hit the scoreboard as he did kicking the Bushrangers’ first goal from a lead and set shot. O’Sullivan would kick a couple more behinds, and find plenty of the pill, and though that polish at times lacked when under pressure, he could clear the danger zone off half-back when he worked into defence and help get it into open space.

#13 Phoenix Gothard

Less touches than the others on this list, but was a high-impact player with few errors in his play. Notching up the 14 disposals, Gothard kicked a couple of goals including one in the final minute of the match, and an earlier effort off a one-two play inside 50. He hit up a teammate on a lead in the early stages of the match, and when he worked up to half-back took a couple of bounces to charge down the ground, evading would-be tacklers. Each time he won the ball, it looked like something special was going to happen.

#17 Rory Parnell

Yet another Bushrangers defender who found plenty of the ball in defence and cleared it time and time again with seven rebound 50s to go with 23 disposals and eight marks. Parnell played a little safer than the others, but was just neat across the board. He would look for that short chip pass or the one to a teammate over the top to keep the ball in Bushranger hands. His decision making was sound and he limited his mistakes by playing in the fashion, with clean kicking and effective disposals.

  • Team
  • Calder Cannons
  • SUNS Academy

By: Michael Alvaro


#2 Isaac Kako

Kako was relatively quiet in a production sense, but still managed to hit the scoreboard with two goals. He’s the type of small forward who causes headaches for opposition defenders, constantly harassing with his pressure and hitting the ball at pace at ground level. He provided a nice aerial highlight too this time out, leaping for a big mark in the goalsquare before converting one of his two majors.

#11 Ryan Eyre

A great story of persistence in the pathway, Eyre essentially ran out for his first full game in around three years having undergone a wretched run with injury. Though he scuppered a couple of early kicks, the Essendon NGA talent soon found his range and made that trait one of his weapons, showing nice range by foot with 18 of his game-high 25 disposals delivered that way. He also rose four eight marks in an impressive first up performance. One to monitor.

#13 Amin Naim

Naim has some clear excitement inside 50 and at 187cm, is capable of playing taller than what he measures up at. He marks really well overhead and did so at full stretch on Sunday, with one of his four grabs leading directly to a goal. He could have had a couple more with better conversion, which is something he can clearly work on as the season goes on.

#16 Mahmoud Taha

Another exciting top-ager out of the Cannons’ program, Taha fared relatively well with a move to midfield on Sunday. He notched up 20 disposals and laid nine tackles in an outing where his work rate came to the fore. Taha could have shown a touch more intent in possession, but registered a handful of inside 50s and now has a good platform to work off going forward.

#24 Declan Willmore

Returning to the Cannons’ side for his over-age season, Willmore had some impressive moments early in the contest. The 190cm prospect was strong at the contest and made use of his shift to the inside, even showcasing his terrific marking ability through the corridor. He could have made better use of a few kicks on the attack, but is overall a player with really nice traits who could progress steeply in time.


#4 Zeke Uwland

A double bottom-ager in the mix this weekend, Uwland is rightly a familiar name at the Suns as the younger brother of recent AFL debutant, Bodhi. The lightly built defender hardly wasted a possession on Sunday, racking up 22 touches and leaning on his weaponous kicking with 20. He looks a real player of the future with those kinds of strengths, and is already seems quite accomplished at the level.

#8 Leo Lombard

The Suns’ Under 16 MVP last year, Lombard put up strong numbers in his first outing for 2023, notching a team-high 25 disposals and nine marks. The bottom-ager rotated between forward and midfield and contributed going both ways, sighted providing handy pressure acts and also carrying the ball forward in typical fashion. He snared an excellent goal from the pocket in term three to highlight a promising outing.

#12 Jake Rogers

Gold Coast’s fundamentals were a touch off on Sunday, and that showed when even Rogers began to fumble a touch. The usually slick and super clean small midfielder/forward still provided moments of class in his rotation en route to collecting 21 touches and laying nine tackles. He often looked to use his turn of speed to find crafty stoppage exits and generally made good decisions with ball in hand.

#17 Harry Sullivan

Utilised in the forward line for Gold Coast, Sullivan’s work rate often got him the ball as he managed a total of 21 disposals, seven marks and six inside 50s. The top-ager, who is also tied to the Sandringham Dragons in Victoria, worked hard up the ground off half-forward and used his body well in one-on-one contests. He even snared a goal in the first quarter to kick off what was a solid game.

#21 Will Graham

Graham was absolutely outstanding in midfield for the Suns, acting as their big body on the inside. He won 23 disposals and looked terrific when distributing to his side’s classy runners, but he also got stuck in with a whopping 11 tackles in a tone-setting effort at the source. A great rundown tackle in term two signalled his intent, and Graham complimented the class of Gold Coast’s smaller midfielders nicely.

#30 Jed Walter

Though there were limited opportunities for Gold Coast’s forwards throughout the day, Walter never stopped trying and as a key forward, was effectively the Suns’ best pressure player. He chased hard and constantly harassed the opposition, throwing his big frame around and always imposing himself on the contest. His two goals proved reward for effort, and Walter was even thrown into the ruck late on in an attempt to combat Calder’s two well-built rucks.

#33 Ethan Read

A mobile ruck, Read’s stats from Sunday land on the page nicely, with the National Academy member registering 20 disposals, four marks and 13 hitouts. Though he had little trouble finding the ball, Read was met with some difficulty in the ruck against two physically stronger opponents, but he had the edge athletically. Around the ground, the top-ager followed up nicely and got involved in general play – the next step will be about growing, both in size and in confidence with ball in hand.

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