Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League – Round 8
WITH representative football and the mid-season draft fast approaching, Round 8 of the Coates Talent League provided one final audition for prospects striving for either honour. We noted some of the top performers across all six of the weekend’s games.
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Nate Caddy
Putting up easily his best numbers for the season, Caddy’s 21 disposals, six marks and four goals included some typically eye-catching moments. He started most quarters at the centre bounces but enjoyed a purple patch up forward in the final term, as Oakleigh briefly moved Luke Teal off him. In that period, his overhead marking prowess came to the fore, though overall he could have been cleaner at ground level. Elsewhere, Caddy showcased his physicality with good intent when working up the ground and looks most dangerous in attack.
#10 William Green
The Preston City Oval crowd seemed to enjoy what was arguably Green’s breakout game of 2023, with the Knights captain notching 37 hitouts to go with 13 disposals and five marks. His ruck craft is unquestionably strong, able to improvise and direct his hits at stoppage, while boasting an obvious reach advantage at 204cm. He used that to have a more profound impact around the ground too, drifting back to clunk intercept marks before using the ball well by hand and foot. This was an outing which showcased his full draftability as a mobile and mechanically sound ruck.
#26 Zak Johnson
Johnson was named Player of the Week for Round 8, dominating with 34 disposals, nine marks and seven tackles from midfield. The bottom-ager was everywhere on Saturday, finding efficient exits at stoppage and displaying a high level of footy IQ in tight spots. He was clean and made great decisions with each possession, racking up the ball at both ends of the ground and riding the bumps all day. Johnson also finished with two behinds, with scoreboard impact in his time resting forward perhaps the only thing he lacked.
As was the case for a few others afield, Philactides produced his standout game for the year with an equal game-high 34 disposals, seven inside 50s and nine rebound 50s from half-back. Some of those numbers were inflated by kick-ins, but the top-ager’s ability to attack from defence was undeniable. He was potent with ball in hand, holding a high line and consistently backing his pace to drive the Chargers forward. The smaller ground may have helped his cause and he was a touch dependant on his left side, though he had a real impact and did everything at 100 per cent.
#8 Luke Teal
Teal had an important role to play in the Chargers’ defence, matching up on Caddy and doing a good job on keeping him relatively quiet before being shifted into midfield. At around the same size, the over-ager competed well one-on-one and was sure not to concede any easy marks. He got to showcase his attacking traits after half time, streaming forward with six inside 50s among his 25 disposals. He used a good balance of his size and handball game on the inside, blended with penetrative kicking and run on the outer.
#12 Billy Hicks
Rotating through midfield from the forward line, Hicks snared half of his side’s goals with a haul of three-straight. Early in the game, he worked high up the ground and looked to hurt Northern on the way back, before eventually hitting the scoreboard with more time deep inside 50. There, he finished nicely from close range and always seemed to find pockets of space to score from.
By: Declan Reeve
The bottom-aged defender has quickly become an important part of Gippsland’s side, acting as the main distributor from defence with his sound skills and decision making. He produced his best return for the season with 28 disposals and an impressive 10 rebound 50s, generally taking the game on with ball in hand at speed and looking for safe kicking options up ahead. Lindsay did however show some clean work by hand when pressure came towards him quickly, following up with a hard run to get the ball back more often than not.
#9 Zane Duursma
It was another week of gradual improvement in Duursma’s midfield craft against the Cannons, once again looking more comfortable with the contested side of the game than he previously has, applying himself well around stoppages and bringing a new level of physicality from prior outings. With the improvement in his midfield performances becoming more consistent, it’s impressive that Duursma has still maintained a high level of impact in the front half, managing another 3.3 performance, which could’ve potentially been better had it not been for some rushed kicks.
#22 Archer Reid
Reid was far more involved in the contest than in his outing the week prior against Western, doubling his disposal tally from eight to 16, and looking generally more comfortable as he began to roam up the ground more often through the contest. Reid’s ball use for a player of his size is simply sublime, always kicking to the advantage of his teammates and opening the game up from congestion with his use by hand. Reid continued to attend his fair share of ruck stoppages, looking improved in his ruck craft and more often impacting with his follow up work at ground level
The consistent bottom-aged wingman put in another quality shift against the Power, registering 22 disposals, with most being damaging. Nyguen has a good understanding on the wing role, able to hold his width better than most and provide an outside option from contest or a switch option from defence, he was often rewarded for his positioning when his teammates found themselves in trouble, taking the ball at speed and delivering well by hand or foot to more central options.
#11 Ryan Eyre
The Essendon NGA prospect had an outstanding game in the defensive half, demonstrating his ability to impact in both the defensive and offensive phases of the game with his aerial presence and speed off the mark. When the game was a tighter affair, Eyre was constantly seen flying for marks in defensive 50, positioning himself well to take it at it’s highest point and quickly get Calder moving forward again with good use by foot. As the game became less of a contest, and the ball was in Calder’s defensive half less, Eyre pushed up the ground to start intercepting higher up, putting immediate pressure on Gippsland defenders as he he sent it back forward just moments after they had sent it out.
#13 Amin Naim
One who has enjoyed a couple of days out in front of the big sticks this season, Naim led the game for goals with four from seven scoring shots, making the most of his opportunities when presented with them in the forward 50. Naim did a lot of his damage when his side was in transition, with his speed and positioning heading back to goal catching the Gippsland side off guard multiple times.
#41 Jordan Croft
The fast rising Western Bulldogs father-son prospect was simply unstoppable on Saturday, seemingly building more confidence with every involvement in the play to keep improving. Croft ended the day with 3.2, with his admirable team orientated approach keeping that total relatively modest, demonstrating good forward craft and ability below his knees when inside 50 to cause headaches for the opposition. But it was Croft’s aerial work that made his game so impressive, registering a monster 10 marks through the game, with multiple ones taken on opponents shoulders or in packs with several opposition players trying to contain him. With the combination of his leap and speed, Croft just doesn’t give opposition defenders a chance to stop him from holding a mark, beating them on the lead when the delivery is right, but just as capable of clunking them in packs if it floats a bit.
By: Michael Alvaro
Returning to the side after missing last week, Charleson got straight back to work with 22 disposals and a goal. He spent the first half in midfield before shifting forward, adding a bit of niggle to the contest and getting busy at stoppage. He looked best when able to manufacture space with his agility, as opposed to dumping the ball forward with quick clearances. His forward craft shone through after half time with shrewd front-and-centre positioning and competitive acts which helped produce scoring opportunities.
#6 Luamon Lual
Lual did not have it all his own way on Sunday, but built into the game to notch 15 disposals and four tackles. The trying conditions saw his usually composed possessions turn a touch sloppy, especially when mopping up at ground level. Nonetheless, he continued to work into ideal spots to intercept and carry his forward momentum into attacking transitions, always looking for the best option under pressure.
#7 Joel Freijah
Notching up a season-high disposal tally of 29, Freijah was another who found it tough to adjust to the conditions at times. He started in his customary wing position before moving to the inside, but couldn’t quite find the space he needed to get off effective kicks. When he didn’t rush, he delivered the ball beautifully. Freijah’s usual work rate and running capacity were also on show as he popped up in all areas of the ground, even if unrewarded. He looked dangerous with his movement to the outside and almost snared a couple of goals that way, instead made to settle for three behinds.
#10 Rhys Unwin
A bottom-ager who has put together some promising games in 2023, Unwin again displayed ample forward craft and hit the scoreboard with 1.3 from 17 disposals and five inside 50s. He was lively at the fall of the ball and had an uncanny knack for slipping tackles, very nearly kicking multiple goals that way. Unwin’s sole major was somewhat of a gift as Tasmania conceded a deliberate rushed behind, but it was only fitting he ended up with one in another crafty outing.
#23 George Stevens
Reprising his role in midfield, Stevens looked to impose himself on the contest early in each term with some strong work at the centre bounces. He thrives there with clean and quick hands, but lost his footing on a few occasions and wasn’t one to drive his legs away from congestion. Perhaps playing to the conditions, Stevens pumped the ball long and even got amongst the goals with a terrific effort to put the Rebels ahead in term two. He finished with 27 touches and six inside 50s.
Taking on some leadership responsibility in the absence of Tasmania’s Allies squad members, Payne was kept busy behind the ball. He tended to play in one very high gear, constantly taking off as soon as he got possession of the ball and unleashing long kicks. The top-ager produced a few nice rebounding plays that way but also invited some unnecessary pressure in taking the game on so much. Payne also got a late run at the centre bounces in a solid game of 17 disposals and six rebound 50s.
#5 Beau Nash
Another top-age mainstay who was made to step up with a few stars out, Nash was solid in midfield for his 16 disposals and four tackles. He brought effort to the on-ball battle, looking to bustle and break his way out of congestion, or get free enough to slam a clearing kick forward. Nash was also unselfish around the 50m arc and looked to find teammates in better scoring positions, like when he handed off to Arie Schoenmaker for his first quarter goal.
#37 Arie Schoenmaker
Having bided his time in returning to the Devils’ side, Schoenmaker entered season 2023 with a bang on Sunday. He was fresh off senior footy with Launceston but took some time to find his radar, before doing so emphatically with a beautiful goal on the run in the opening quarter. Schoenmaker’s numbers jump off the page, racking up 36 disposals and 19 rebound 50s – though many came via kick-ins as GWV posted 17 behinds. Still, he provided strong overlap run and made his booming left foot a weapon, lurking for hand-offs and timing his movement well. He also took a few intercept marks, but at 194cm, could be a more imposing aerial force.
By: Peter Williams
#1 Ziggy Toledo
Ignoring the lower stats, Toledo still had a good influence on the game with his work in defence and was a key reason why the Ranges were not able to score freely in the first half. He was composed with ball in hand and read the ball well in flight, with his forward traits adapting to the back 50. Toledo even rolled through the ruck at times when in defensive stoppages despite being undersized, and had great closing speed on the lead when caught behind his opponent. Overall, he showed enough to suggest he could play as a defender as well as a forward.
Thrived in the wet conditions when everyone else was struggling, he was outstandingly clean at ground level, with quick hands and smart disposal. He had a clever snap in the second term with the outside of the boot after roving it well off hands but it was just rushed across the line after being on target. He was equally as important defensively and provided an option to run and carry.
#11 Billy Wilson
Played his usual run-and-gun style out of the defensive 50, and while it was tougher conditions, still gained plenty of meterage. Often looked to sidestep an opponent or back his leg speed in, Wilson did get run down early in the game, but still kept plugging away. Later in the game, he pushed up high to even pump a couple of balls inside 50, but was quite often the one to intercept in the defensive 50 and begin the transition from defence to offence.
#16 Harry De Mattia
The consistent left-footer was another player who thrived in the conditions and found plenty of the ball in the loss. He was a four-quarter performer through the midfield and has a short, sharp pinpoint pass and clean hands that really stood out in the match. At times his longer kick would be intercepted with the high nature of the kick going inside 50, but he kicked a ripping goal in the third term out of nothing inside 50 to provide a highlight on a dull day. De Mattia also took a crucial intercept mark in the dying moments of the game at half-forward.
#17 Harvey Langford
The bottom-ager was able to hit the scoreboard in the match, with a major in the second term, and then a crucial goal in the fourth quarter. That six-pointer with six minutes to go cut the deficit to two points, and Langford had another chance from outside 50 a few minutes later. That shot unfortunately went out on the full, but he was getting involved in plenty, and particularly started the game strongly winning a number of touches in close and then getting into space. Langford was strong in the stoppage and teamed up well with De Mattia around the coalface.
The hard-running wingman was racking up the ball in the first half and really kept his side in it by his work rate around the ground. Often the loose man around the stoppages, Windsor looked to receive the ball at the back and use his speed to burst away and kick down the ground. He had a quieter second half, but did have a flying shot on goal which unfortunately hit the behind post. A lot of the time, Windsor would present into space and not be honoured, so his work rate was still high later in the game.
#8 Cam Nyko
It was a mixed bag of a day from Nyko, who provided plenty of run out of defence and would look to get forward to pump it inside 50. In a real juxtaposed performance, the Eastern Ranges defender kicked two balls out on the full – including a regulation 15m pass on the wing – but was able to slam home a 55m goal off a couple of steps with ease. It was the story of his day with some brilliance mixed in with some moments he would rather forget, but he got his hands on the ball and certainly provided the run and carry the Ranges were after.
After a relatively quiet first half, Moraes came into the game in a big way in the second half, seemingly having the ball on a string and getting better as the match went on. He kicked a great goal from a running snap out of a forward stoppage in the third term which seemed to give him confidence, and almost had a second major that missed to the left early in the fourth. Moraes was one of Eastern’s best in the final term as the Ranges held on grimly against a late Stingrays assault.
#15 Joshua Tovey
Akin to Nyko, it was a mixed bag for Tovey who won a lot of his touches in the defensive half and around the stoppages. His positioning was good, his hands were incredible and when going for short, sharp passes, they were effective. His longer kicking was not as effective, even though he kicked off both sides, but he kept cracking in and was able to relieve the pressure on a number of occasions with critical marks.
#26 Josh Smillie
A standout player on the day, Smillie collected the ball with ease en route to another 33-disposal performance. He was everywhere and suited in the wet with clean hands and using his strong body to win the hardballs. At times he would overdo it with a no-look handball going straight to a Dandenong player, or launch up from outside 50m with an open teammate inside 50, but he showed at times why he has the licence to do it with other well-weighted passes and release handballs from congestion that set the play up. When able to control play, Smillie was a player who teammates looked to get the ball in the hands of for what he can do with it.
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Tobyn Murray
A busy member of Geelong’s midfield rotation, Murray posted 17 disposals, eight tackles and eight inside 50s in a well-rounded outing. The 179cm top-ager worked hard to find space between the arcs and used his evasiveness to clear the ball from stoppage, showing glimpses of his sharp turn of speed. He also booted an impressive goal in the fourth quarter, marking in the centre square and getting just enough power on his wheeling kick to see it sail over the back.
#19 Angus Hastie
Hastie was in the action relatively quickly, mopping up the first centre clearance and going on to generate genuine drive from defence. He missed a couple of early targets but began to sharpen up as the contest wore on, even bringing his intercept game to the fore. Though not always a one-grab player, he reeled in a couple of impressive marks while holding a high line behind the ball. Hastie also shone going forward and ran hard through the corridor as Geelong transitioned into attack.
#29 Joe Pike
Booting a game-high three goals, Pike put forward another building block on his steadily evolving season. The 203cm ruck-forward won 19 hitouts but arguably did his best work in attack, clunking seven marks and producing five scoring shots. He did well to wear contact and take the ball out in front on the lead, and while three of his six set shots went wide, he still made more contribution to the score than anyone else.
#4 Darcy Wilson
The kind of player you want possessing the ball as much as possible, Wilson again showed his class with 20 disposals and two goals on Sunday. He covered a great amount of ground from his primary post up forward before being thrown into midfield, making excellent decisions and looking more polished than most others afield. He kicked goals in the first and final quarters, summing up both finishes nicely and showing intent when Murray was behind the game.
#5 Oscar Ryan
One of the best and most productive players afield, Ryan made an impact despite finishing with a season-low disposal tally of 19. He constantly looked to take the game on with his speed and step, mopping up across defensive 50 and proving aggressive with his ball use. He also worked into good spots to intercept and wasn’t afraid to contest the ball overhead, doing his bit to regain possession in high pressure situations. The top-ager has quietly compiled a very strong season.
#6 Coby James
Returning to the role he rose to prominence in last year, James slotted in across half-back and racked up 22 disposals for his troubles. He looked most potent when released on the overlap, using his speed to drive the ball forward and proving a natural on the rebound. James was moved into midfield after half time, but arguably did his best work for the game as an attacking defender.
By: Michael Alvaro
Travaglia returned to the fold after missing Bendigo’s Round 7 match, taking little time to adjust en route to an equal season-high 21 disposals and seven tackles. The 187cm top-ager is relatively lightly built but has a happy knack for standing up in tackles, bursting through or stepping out to get a disposal away. Most of his touches came by hand out on the wing and he was typically brave overhead, capping off a solid outing with a goal in the third quarter.
#36 Archer Day-Wicks
Another of Bendigo’s promising bottom-agers, Day-Wicks may well be the best of the lot. He started up forward before getting a run through midfield, playing with a good deal of confidence and competing strongly – particularly in the air. Day-Wicks worked high up the ground and looked to hurt Western on the way back with his slick left-foot kicking, which proved a handy point of difference on the day. He’s the kind of player you want delivering the ball inside 50 and when not kicking goals himself, can set up scoring chances for others.
#45 Hugh Byrne
Byrne was Bendigo’s main scoring threat on Sunday, booting 2.4 from a dynamic 19 disposals and eight marks. At 191cm, he moves well and has the capacity to play tall, proving as much with his work on the lead. Only his finishing over the mark robbed him of an even bigger game. Still, Byrne did well to not only pose a threat close to goal, but also up on the edge of attacking 50 to link his side into scoring positions.
#1 Massimo Raso
Plying his trade through midfield at 171cm, Raso had little trouble getting his hands on the ball with 23 disposals and seven inside 50s. The bottom-ager was relatively clean and did his best work between the arcs, getting busy while looking to chain Western into attack. A neat kind of player, he lowered his eyes well on a couple of occasions to hit targets going inside 50 in the face of frontal pressure.
#5 Jake Smith
Once again Western’s main man in midfield, Smith imposed himself on the contest with an equal game-high 24 disposals. His size and second efforts made for some tough work around the ball, prizing his fair share of clearances and troubling Bendigo’s ball winners with his intent. He produced an ominous start by snapping the game’s first goal and made it two with a 50m set shot in the second term, which showcased his booming left-foot kick.
#20 Michael Cilmi
Proving third time’s a charm, Cilmi popped up to boot a game-high three goals in his third game for the year. The 171cm forward surpassed his total disposals for the season in one outing, producing six scoring shots from his 13 touches. He looked most lively when chasing the ball over the back, snaring two majors that way while also converting a set shot in the third quarter. His efforts helped give Western some ground level representation and maintain the scoreboard ascendancy.