Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League – Round 7
THE COATES Talent League returned with a bumper seven-game round stretched from Friday to Sunday, rounding out the Northern Academies’ stint in the competition. With a mixed bag of results, there are a few surprise packets highlighted in our Round 7 Scouting Notes.
By: Peter Williams
#1 Ziggy Toledo
The Mid-Season Draft hopeful became the match-winner in the final term by kicking the go-ahead goal with two minutes to spare. It came as a mid-air kick in the goalsquare, and was his second major of the game after slotting a set shot from 50m in the third term. He looked lively inside 50 and presented well, while also having a number of other early chances that did not go his way. By competing in an aerial contest close to goal midway through the final term, it allowed the ball to fall to Simpson for a major.
Found plenty of the ball across the four quarters and tracked it well up and down the ground. He was able to generate a number of one-two handballs and even a two-three play running from defence to attack later in the first term. A few times he went for overzealous no-look handballs that did not always pay off, though one did in the centre square which led to a goal. Stepping up in the final term, Simpson kicked a vital major in the goalsquare using his smarts, then had a couple of chances a few minutes later but missed both running shots, with one hitting the post.
#5 Riak Andrew
Coming in for his debut game, he started the game really well winning a number of touches and looking slick at ground level. He was pushed off it a little too easy as he is a lightly framed body, but showed some promising upside. Not quite possessing the height of his older brother Mac, it is easy to see what the fuss could be about given he has some neat tricks. Was quieter in the second half, but the talent is there.
#10 Kade De La Rue
The top-ager provided some nice run and carry across the ground ducking and weaving between opponents and finding the ball in each third of the oval. In wet conditions, he was generally clean and though there were a couple of rushed opportunities, overall set the team up. He slotted a set shot goal from 30m out after finding space all alone inside 50, and also set up some goalscoring opportunities going inside 50.
#11 Billy Wilson
Starting in defence and progressing to a wing, Wilson was lively throughout the game and tried to create run and carry from the defensive half of the ground into attack. He worked hard to receive the ball back after kicking out and when in congestion used that explosiveness to clear the zone. Though when in defence he can rack up the ball with some easy touches, his running capacity allows him to produce follow-up efforts and impact games by taking on the opposition defensive zones.
#16 Harry De Mattia
Battling away in midfield, De Mattia had a lower production game compared to others but did have some nice moments in the process. A low bullet into Doughton during the second term was important in a scoring chain, then in defence did well with a tackle to not give away a free kick when the opponent lowered his height. Aside from a couple of mistakes such as a shank kick and being caught holding the ball when breaking away, he did extract it from the stoppage with a slick sidestep on a number of occasions.
The most impressive of the Stingrays’ debutants, the bottom-age Doughton looks a likely type. He kicked Dandenong’s first goal from a clever snap off his left in the pocket, then was able to set up a goal to De La Rue who was all alone in space. Outmarking his direct opponent after a dangerous inboard kick from the Chargers’ defence helped Doughton nail his second, and then he was able to spot up a teammate on the opposite flank while on the move and nail that tricky 45-degree kick in the wing. Only the one game, but the signs were there.
#40 Cooper Hynes
After a modest start to the game where Hynes would have a few errors such as a missed kick on the wing, a turnover inside 50 and a free kick in a one-on-one, he would become the hero in the final term slotting three goals and being the key reason why the Stingrays turned the game around. He snapped his first goal at the top of the goalsquare and two minutes later added a second to get the home crowd up and about. In the 18th minute, Hynes got over the back of the back and snagged a third major in what was a memorable final term.
Battled hard all night in defence and found his fair share of the ball deep int he back 50, often tasked with the kickouts or first possession from the kickouts. His decision making early was a little iffy, but got better as the game went on, instead opting for one-twos and kicking long to create the overlap. Though the defence was overwhelmed in the last term, he at least tried to go long down the middle to give his team a chance of winning in the dying moments of the match.
#3 Kynan Brown
Accumulated the ball with ease, particularly in close, though many were quick-fire handballs and release passes to try and win it back and move the ball in transition. His work rate was very good and he certainly got into the right positions, with his repeat efforts and determination to give-and-go evident throughout the four quarters.
#12 Billy Hicks
Looked dangerous in the first half of the game with the easiest of goals running in transition, then taking a couple of good marks in space for set shots. Unfortunately he could not quite convert and finished the game with 1.2 from 14 disposals, but continued to lead and looked to be a target inside 50. A game of ‘almosts’ for Hicks.
#77 Kobe Askew
Similar to Hicks, Askew had a number of chances, but did take them by converting three goals from four scoring shots. He had his first from a brilliant set shot up against the fence on the boundary, then nailed two more in the third and fourth quarter respectively, the latter of which was Oakleigh’s last of the match. Only 174cm, but the bottom-ager beat his previous best of two goals which happened back in Round 1.
By: Michael Alvaro
Windsor put up monster numbers from the wing on Saturday, racking up 31 disposals and 16 marks through sheer work rate. The Eastern speedster dropped back to mop up many a defensive 50 ball, but was also used by teammates in attacking phases as he jetted into space. He was encouraged to take ground in front of him with ball in hand and capped off his massive day by slotting a set shot goal just before the final siren.
Returning to the fold after copping a heavy knock in Round 3, Moraes looked sharper than ever as he led all comers with 34 disposals from midfield. The bottom-ager is also a capable basketballer and proved as much with his clean handling of the ball overhead. Moraes’ energy at ground level was also noticeable and he crumbed the ball off hands beautifully, even displaying strong stoppage craft with his ability to prize free kicks.
#12 Jordan Hider
Another talented Ranges bottom-ager, Hider produced arguably his best game to date with 17 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal. The 171cm forward showcased super forward craft, getting to great spots under Eastern’s talls when his side entered attacking 50. From there, he crumbed cleanly off the deck and looked lively on the move, even snapping a goal in the first quarter.
#15 Joshua Tovey
Tovey was one of a few Eastern defenders who dined out on Brisbane’s poor forward 50 entries, clunking 10 marks among his 21 possessions. The top-ager has consistently provided that level of output throughout the season and looked assured behind the ball, reading the play well and holding firm one-on-one to snap up some terrific intercepts. He’s a great size for that role at 193cm.
Stationed mostly inside attacking 50, LaPlanche was well fed by Eastern’s prolific ball winners and ended up with a game-high three goals. He took the ball cleanly overhead and proved difficult to beat when one-out on quick entries, taking five marks for the day. Two of his majors were clean 40m strikes over the mark, and his third was a snap to cap off the top-ager’s second three-goal haul for the season.
#26 Josh Smillie
Perhaps the most highly touted bottom-ager afield, Smillie did largely as he pleased on Saturday with 33 disposals. At 194cm, he cuts a figure similar to Carlton captain Patrick Cripps and plays in a similar vein, racking up plenty of contested possessions and navigating congestion with his sheer size. He hardly looked fazed with ball in hand and generally used it neatly – albeit safely – by hand and foot, but was a touch complacent at stoppage in a defensive sense.
#28 Clay Tucker
Tucker compiled one of his best performances for the year on Saturday, showing glimpses of his mid-season draft potential in both the ruck and up forward. He leapt a touch early at times but rose nicely for a game-high 24 hitouts, and proved he could pluck marks around the ground. While rucking, he drifted back to intercept and presented at the ball well once stationed inside 50, getting on the end of a couple of entries to boot two goals.
#59 Cooper Trembath
Ruling the airways with 16 marks, Trembath was a brick wall in Eastern’s defensive 50. The Lions kicked to him time after time and he graciously accepted each opportunity to intercept, leaping at the ball with confidence and taking it cleanly. Though he plays tall, Trembath measures up at 192cm and could well develop as that third-up intercept defender.
Considering his age (2007-born), Annable has put together a mighty four-game stint for the Lions Academy, dropping below 20 disposals only once. He notched an equal season-high 22 touches on Saturday, keeping busy through midfield and getting his hands dirty with repeat ball winning efforts. He’s also eligible to play for the Lions at this year’s Under 16 National Championships.
#18 Jack Manly
A real goer who looked to generate forward momentum from stoppage, Manly took on plenty of responsibility as one of just two Brisbane over-agers. He plied his trade in midfield and picked up 17 disposals, proving persistent at the fall of the ball and constantly looking to bustle his way to the outside before kicking on his favoured left foot.
#34 Patrick Snell
A player with real presence in Brisbane’s back line, Snell saved arguably his best performance until last with 18 disposals, eight marks and 10 rebound 50s. The 194cm top-ager fared well aerially but also intercepted at ground level and looked comfortable with ball in hand, using his size to advantage when looking to clear his lines.
By: Declan Reeve
#9 Zane Duursma
The AFL Academy member had his best disposal and goal returns for the season so far, with 25 and three respectively. Duursma took some time to work into the contest, copping extra attention around stoppages early and not using the ball as well as he typically does. Although, once he adapted he looked near unstoppable with ball in hand. As he has done with each outing to date, Duursma looked improved with his work in the contest, winning more of it on the inside and returning his season-high tackle count, with his chase from stoppages of particular note. When he was rested forward, he just made things happen, with his aerial skill and work at ground level a difficult combination for any one opponent to stop.
#19 Liam Serong
The youngest of the Serong tribe, over-ager Liam was brought in for his first game of the season and didn’t disappoint. Finishing the game with 2.3, the tall forward presented well on the lead all game, pushing up the ground to act as a link up option when the ball was moving from the Power’s defensive half. Although there is certainly some polish to be added to Serong’s ball handling, his consistent effort and athleticism are certainly worth tracking as the season goes on.
#21 Wil Dawson
One of the prospects who raised their stocks in the recent Country trial games, Dawson returned to his relieving ruck role for the Power, winning 11 hitouts with some excellent tap placement. However, it was Dawson’s work around the ground which caught the eye most, with his positioning behind the play and his follow up from the ruck contest at really high levels. Whilst he didn’t hit the scoreboard, Dawson did plenty of work to set up others inside 50, with some one-grab pickups that were ridiculous for a 200cm player.
#3 Lucca Grego
The Jets bottom-ager has quickly cemented himself as one of the more crucial players in his side, with his defensive application a particular strong point. His chase and pressure from stoppages, when he hadn’t won it himself, was a constant concern for Gippsland early in the piece. Grego’s ability to use the ball well via hand allowed his outside runners ample opportunity to move the ball quickly all game.
#5 Jake Smith
The Western ball winner was his typical self against the Power, with his two way running and ability to impact on the inside causing Gippsland headaches in all phases of the game. Smith was particularly difficult to contain around stoppages early on in the piece, with his physicality hard for any direct opponent to contend with.
#27 Hussein Kadour
Leading with a game-high 11 marks, Kadour was a key reason the Jets were able to maintain their lead in the first half. Kadour controlled the airways early on, happy to push off his opponent to take the ball in front of a contest, or beat his opponent one-on-one. Whilst he wasn’t particularly flashy with his follow up ball use, he did make the right choices and played it safe when deeper in the defensive 50, and got to show off some toe when running the ball out.
By: Michael Alvaro
#4 Darcy Wilson
While not nearly as prolific as in other games this season, Wilson still showcased his high-end talent in small moments of class. He made typically good decisions with ball in hand but stood out most with his athletic traits, burning opponents with pure speed and getting involved through his running capacity. He started forward before being moved up to a wing and eventually into the centre bounces, working into each third of the ground and notching 16 disposals for his troubles.
#6 Coby James
In a game typical of what James has produced this season, the 176cm midfielder collected 20 disposals and laid six tackles as one of the busier Bushies afield. He started in ideal fashion, booting the game’s first goal off a free kick and 50m penalty within 45 seconds. Thereafter, he worked hard to rack up the ball and drive his legs on the attack, showing a nice balance in his disposal by hand and foot.
It’s not often that a 198cm key defender leads the disposal count, but that’s exactly what O’Sullivan did with his 25 touches and seven marks. As usual, the top-ager’s dynamism came to the fore as he nipped many of Sandringham’s attacks in the bud, working his way to as many contests as possible and impacting aerially. He leapt at the ball nicely and even if marking wasn’t an option, he helped turn the ball over with handy follow-up efforts.
#13 Phoenix Gothard
An exciting small forward with serious pace and agility, Gothard leant on all of the above to produce some of the game’s best plays. He weaved his way through traffic and backed himself to lose opponents with baulks or pure pace, providing Murray with a quick link inside 50. He snared two goals – in the first and final quarters – to cap off a promising game which he often injected a bit of life into.
#4 Will Brown
Without his usual high-end brigade of midfield maestros in tow, plenty of ball winning responsibility fell on Brown’s shoulders. The Sandringham skipper ended up with a team-high 19 disposals and did all he could to impact at stoppage, using his size to prize clearances and provide strong presence at the source.
#29 Harvey Johnston
Perhaps benefitting from Sandringham’s much different-looking lineup, Johnston got an extended run in midfield and trailed Brown closely for his 18 disposals. The top-age bolter also laid seven tackles and was a crafty operator at stoppage, looking to manufacture ways out of tight spots. In wider expanses, he consistently backed himself to take opponents on and run the ball inside 50.
#70 Archer May
Along with Levi Young, May provided competitive tall cover for the Dragons, plying his trade mostly as a lead-up forward. The 197cm over-ager looked a real force in the air, working high up the ground and attacking the ball with vigour. He was particularly prominent in the second quarter where he booted his lone goal off a short lead and 35m set shot, before struggling to clunk the ball as cleanly at full stretch as he had after half time.
By: Michael Alvaro
#23 Tye Gander
Gander’s spring-heeled feats were what again helped him stand out on Saturday evening, though the over-ager only ended up with three grabs. He was robbed of one of the marks of the year on Sydney’s goal line in the first quarter but worried Tasmania at times with his aerial ability up forward, booting 2.2 before being shifted up to the wing. It could have been a better outing if not for some wayward snaps at the big sticks.
#27 Caiden Cleary
In a typical kind of Cleary performance, the National Academy member topped his side’s disposal tally with 27 to go with five tackles. He opted to go mostly by hand and displayed his usual intensity from the off with two-way efforts at stoppage. A 40m set shot goal in the first term and a burst of explosive speed in the last were among his highlights outside of the contest.
#36 Caleb May
With two 199cm rucks to contend against, the 205cm May won a monstrous 38 hitouts in an impressive outing which also yielded 17 disposals, five marks and a fourth quarter goal. The top-ager owned his space and was an imposing aerial force, also making a mark on the game with his work around the ground. He kept things simple with ball in hand too, displaying neat skills.
After a relatively quiet first half, Callinan eventually put his stamp on proceedings with two goals after half time, finishing with typical aplomb close to the big sticks. The National Academy member started in his usual forward post before being rotated through midfield, proving elusive at the fall of the ball and clever under decent pressure.
Payne has strung together some impressive games down back for Tasmania, and Saturday provided another opportunity to do so. The top-ager took on kick-in duties and played his role on the last line, but also pressed high and looked to drive the Devils forward on the rebound. His intercept marking was also fantastic, rising for six grabs with a springy leap and clean hands.
#8 James Leake
Leake is another surprise packet in the Devils side who quickly found his groove this season, putting up a promising 17 disposals and four rebound 50s against the Swans. He started in defence but got a run on both sides of midfield and produced one of his best moments in the third quarter, bursting away from the centre bounce with a serious turn of speed.
#19 Jack Dolliver
Doing all the damage inside 50 with six goals, Dolliver took his season tally to 15 in five games. The 184cm over-ager plays much taller than his size would suggest, catching opponents unawares with his ability to rise for overhead marks. He thrived off quick entries and juggled five grabs, converting nicely over the mark but also finishing well with a couple of late snaps in open play.
#27 Colby McKercher
McKercher took out Player of the Week honours in Round 7, compiling a game-high 32 disposals, nine tackles and nine inside 50s from midfield. He was near-impossible to catch with his sharp turn of speed away from the contest, offering a direct brand of football which the Devils forwards would have loved. He also made an impact inside 50 with two goals in the third quarter, only elevating his status as a genuine top five prospect. He’s a star – remarkably consistent with a few tricks to boot.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Oliver Poole
With a few shuffles of the magnets, Poole transitioned from an outside midfielder to the inside on Sunday. Though he looked a little frustrated at times in the first half, the top-ager crashed and bashed when he could and also worked hard to pop up in handy spots up forward. He snapped a nice goal in the second term after missing a gimme, slipping his way out of a tight spot as usual.
#36 Archer Day-Wicks
A bottom-ager who plays with confidence and assuredness defiant of his age, Day-Wicks again showed glimpses of the player he could become next year. Stationed up forward, he worked beyond the attacking arc and really hustled for his marks, launching into a few diving efforts. He made excellent decisions with ball in hand and used it well on his favoured left foot. On top of two later assists, Day-Wicks also prized Bendigo’s first goal of the day with a composed dribble finish.
#45 Hugh Byrne
Able to play above his size at 191cm, Byrne showed on Sunday he can also move well and get busy with ball in hand. He started out in defence and was comfortable in possession, before being swung forward where he has arguably had the most success this season. The top-ager could only manage a couple of points in the third quarter but made good on a nice clunk from the back in term four, playing on for his lone goal in the final minute.
#2 Tobyn Murray
Plying his trade through the middle of the ground, Murray constantly looked to put speed on the ball and proved a slippery customer. He looked best when released on the outside, able to use his pace and evasion to run rings around the opposition before darting passes inside 50. He ended up with 24 disposals in a busy outing.
#19 Angus Hastie
Collecting nine more disposals than the next-best Falcon, Hastie led all comers with 33 touches and 10 rebound 50s. He padded those stats a touch through the kick-ins but also worked hard to hold a high line in general play, positioning well to intercept and launch from dangerous positions. His repeat running and ability to chain possessions in transition got him a season-best haul, in a promising showing on the eve of the National Championships.
#27 Archie Sinnott
Fresh off his outings for the Young Guns, Sinnott could not have started the game any better on Sunday. He launched the opening goal from the centre square, wheeling around on his weaponous left side to clear players in the goalsquare. The over-ager went on to collect 18 disposals, starting in the guts before being moved out to the wing in perhaps an effort to get the ball in his hands under less pressure.
#29 Joe Pike
With a decent enough size advantage in the ruck, Pike won an equal game-high 18 hitouts and rose nicely at the centre bounces, but arguably impressed more with his efforts in attack. The 203cm top-ager booted goals in the second and third quarters, finishing beautifully over the mark on both occasions and seeming to carry confidence from both attempts.
#55 Zac McInnes
The Falcons’ spearhead tall forward at 196cm, McInnes proved difficult to stop on the lead and snared a game-high three goals. He was particularly prominent in the second quarter, kicking all three of his majors on the back of strong leading patterns and ample service from his teammates. The bottom-ager has kicked goals in all four of his Talent League games to date, including another haul of three last time out.
By: Michael Alvaro
#6 Luamon Lual
Plying his trade off half-back as usual, Lual notched a team-high 26 disposals and five rebound 50s in a game he built into nicely. He recovered the ball cleanly and looked to shift gears in possession, showing his opponents a clean set of heels on the counter. When GWV attacked, he pressed high up the ground and shifted the ball into good spots, never fazed under pressure and always assured with his ball use.
#7 Joel Freijah
Though he was quiet at times, Freijah posted strong numbers of 21 disposals and five rebound 50s through sheer work rate – and a few kick-ins late in the piece. He started on the wing and got his usual run through midfield and up forward, unable to find much space to operate but getting to the right spots to impact at ground level.
#21 Oliver Hannaford
With a shift into midfield from defence after half time, Hannaford booted consecutive goals in the third quarter to keep GWV knocking on the door. He laid 10 tackles to go with 19 disposals and those two scores, getting busy behind the ball and being rewarded for his consistent application. His run and energy put him amongst the Rebels’ best on Sunday.
#23 George Stevens
Fresh off captaining the National Academy and making his VFL debut during the community break, Stevens took on a slightly different role for the Rebels on Sunday. He was used exclusively though midfield, working best as a distributor to outside runners with his clean hands and strong frame over the ball. Though he lacked the explosive speed to have his own impact on the outside, Stevens played to his strengths en route to collecting 24 touches.
#8 Leo Lombard
It was a powerful display from Lombard on Sunday, with the bottom-ager collecting 25 disposals and eight inside 50s to top both categories for the Suns this season. His explosive first five steps got him onto the outside in a flash, providing plenty of drive through midfield and promise for the Suns’ future crop.
#12 Jake Rogers
Rogers’ recent form is known to all, and he simply went about building upon that on Sunday. He was the Suns’ most prolific midfielder with 26 touches, showcasing the same electric acceleration and a slick skills which put him in the first round conversation. He was sharp by hand and difficult to catch, though sometimes came undone with his kicking under pressure and a few slips.
#30 Jed Walter
Capping off his Talent League campaign with six goals, Walter made it 14 in two outings and a total of 18 across his four-game stint with the Suns Academy. The hulking key forward leapt at the ball with his usual confidence and kicked goals at crucial times to ensure Gold Coast kept the ascendancy. Playing with clear confidence, his dedicated set shot routine served him well and only further cemented his status as a top 10 talent.
#33 Ethan Read
Read put in a remarkable shift for the Suns, posting game-high numbers for disposals (27), marks (10), and hitouts (24). The 202cm prospect covered ground phenomenally well, dropping back to clunk intercept marks and following up at ground level like a fourth midfielder. He was clean with ball in hand and showed rare dexterity for a player his size, as he too firms within the top 10 rankings.
#34 Nick Williams
Only Williams matched Read for marks on Sunday, with the 191cm defender clunking 10 in a breakout performance from defence. The over-ager has played two VFL games but has his most prolific outing for the year among his peers, displaying outstanding aerial ability with his leap and clean hands. Cutting the ball off aggressively, Williams kept his balance and also looked to set off on the rebound with a bit of toe.