Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League – Round 9
WITH representative season now officially underway, there were plenty of players out to impress in Round 9 of the Coates Talent League. We noted some of the top performers across all six of the weekend’s fixtures.
By: Liam Badkin
#1 Massimo Raso
Although not the tallest in stature, Raso’s presence around the ground was certainly felt. He popped up all over Williamstown Oval, and hurt the opposition with his ability to cover ground and win plenty of the footy in the process. Raso finished the match with 27 touches (the second-most of anyone afield) and five inside 50s, even popping up for a nice goal from long range as Western stormed away to victory.
#5 Jake Smith
Smith was the dominant midfielder on the ground, combining well with whoever was rucking for the Jets around the stoppages. In contested situations, the top-ager was able to cut through the contest and avoid any would-be tacklers with nice agility and excellent bursts of speed. He had three shots on goal for one major as he joined in Western’s goalfest in a big win. Smith finished the match with 28 touches, eight marks and five tackles in an eye-catching display.
#24 Logan Morris
A dominant force up forward for the Jets, Morris was unstoppable during patches as he led his side to an upset win. The key forward pulled down nine marks, and could have clunked a remarkable 10th in exciting fashion as he sat on an opponent’s head and soared above the pack, but he could not hold on. Morris finished the match with four goals, doing all of his damage from set shots in an excellent showing of composure – no less in his first game back from injury.
The wingman worked tirelessly all day despite the result not falling his side’s way. Windsor ran all day and tried to generate some driving force up the field with his outside pace. He finished the match with 17 disposals, with 10 of those being kicks. Although his efficiency by foot was not always on, Windsor was always trying to create something for Eastern, and his gut-running was certainly noticeable.
#8 Cam Nyko
On a day where the ball was in Eastern’s backline a bit more than the team would have liked, Nyko was a shining light for the Ranges. He showed plenty of composure by foot, and was not fazed by the wet conditions, as highlighted by a nice mark below his knees early in the game. Nyko was often tasked with the kick-outs, and looked to drive the ball long and keep the ball out of defensive 50 as much as possible. He finished the match with 23 disposals and provided plenty of run.
Moraes spent plenty of time at half-forward and was a solid link up player for the Ranges whenever they were heading toward goal. He was always spreading ahead of the play and looking to provide an option despite the suffocating defence from Western at times. Moraes fired off a couple of shots on goal over the course of the game, but both just missed which was reflective of Eastern’s performance in front of goal as a whole.
#26 Josh Smillie
Smillie started the game strongly with the first clearance of the game, putting himself in the right position around stoppages. The big-bodied midfielder really got going after half time, physically imposing himself with some big bumps around the contest and looking to take the ball on the run wherever possible. He finished the game with 23 touches and tried to give his side ascendancy at the coalface.
By: Michael Alvaro
Though he started out on the wing, D’Arro was quickly shifted back to defence where he arguably looked most comfortable. The top-ager is accustomed to putting up strong numbers but made them count on Saturday, winning more in contests before providing his usual rebound. D’Arro ended up with a team-high 28 disposals and seven marks in one of his best and most gutsy games to date.
#10 William Green
Green has strung together his best games yet over the last fortnight, and showcased his potential on Saturday to collect a personal best 22 disposals, five marks and 18 hitouts. Perhaps most impressively, he swung forward from the ruck after half time and booted two goals, imposing himself inside 50 having done so on the spread while rucking. The Knights skipper moves well for his size and has clean fundamentals, evidenced best by a massive final term which guided his side home.
#20 Zak Johnson
Fresh off a massive performance which yielded Player of the Week honours, Johnson was a touch less impactful but still managed to display some of his class with 20 disposals. The bottom-ager has great spatial awareness and made typically shrewd decisions with ball in hand, though seemed to bear the brunt of a few hits throughout the game. He spent a good amount of time up forward too, and have to continue to ride the bumps as he takes on more responsibility for the Knights.
#4 Darcy Wilson
Having started forward for much of the season, Wilson got his chance at the opening centre bounce and put on a clinic through the middle of Preston City Oval. His 33 disposals were good enough for Player of the Week honours in a losing side, with Wilson’s breakaway speed at stoppage a real highlight. He worked his opponents over around the ground too, and snapped an important third quarter goal to keep his side in the hunt. Wilson did his best work driving forward from centre clearances, but was often forced to wheel back and across – something he can work on.
#5 Oscar Ryan
Another of Murray’s shining lights this season, only at the other end of the ground, Ryan was the Bushies’ next-best disposal getter with 22. Among his haul were five marks and seven rebound 50s, with the top-ager showing good courage when flying for intercepts, before taking the game on once his feet hit the ground. He attacked the ball hard and looked to bustle his way forward, breaking a few tackles which looked like sticking through sheer will. He should feature for Vic Country at the Under 18 championships.
#24 Matt Whitlock
A raw type of talent still in his bottom-age season, Whitlock showed a glimpse of his potential for next year. The 197cm defender clunked five marks among his 13 disposals, showcasing a promising aerial game. With his high moments came a couple of mistakes, but the lightly-built prospect will be better for the experience as he continues to develop.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Kayne Rutley
Somewhat of a surprise packet in Round 9, Rutley burst onto the scene with five goals from a deep bag of tricks. In just his second outing, the bottom-ager showcased his speed, evasiveness and goal sense inside 50, finishing with aplomb en route to his game-high haul. He’s yet another prospect to prop up Calder’s already talented forward line.
#2 Isaac Kako
Despite missing out on the Vic Metro Under 18 squad, there is plenty to like about Kako and he again showed spurts of quality with 13 disposals and 2.2. His pace caused headaches for Oakleigh’s defence, no less Nathan Philactides who spent much of the day on him. Kako struck a lovely set shot and a typically sharp snap for his goals, but was left wanting in the way of end product on a few occasions. Nonetheless, his creativity and energy make him a great watch.
Nguyen is beginning to hit his stride, and racked up a season-high 30 disposals on Saturday to prove as much. The hard-running wingman was particularly prominent in attacking phases, taking the game on with run-and-carry and driving Calder into attack on the outside. His speed made him hard to catch, and with a bit of size to put on, the bottom-ager will become a more effective ball user when absorbing contact and pressure.
#16 Mahmoud Taha
No stranger to accumulating big hauls of possessions, Taha did so again on Saturday with a game-high 31. He hunted the ball at a typically high intensity and looked notably cleaner by hand in the clinches, both when collecting and distributing. His goal kicking was also on point, with the Essendon NGA product slotting two majors to put the cherry atop his third 30-plus game for the season.
#25 Noah Scott
Another breakout player of sorts, Scott lifted his output massively in his second outing with 29 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal from midfield. The bottom-ager, standing at only 173cm, was deceptively strong and drove his legs to generate some forward momentum for the Cannons. Scott had little trouble bursting his way through congestion and his fourth quarter running goal exemplified much of what Calder did well in a big win.
#41 Jordan Croft
Calder has club-tied players galore and Croft may well be the best of the lot, which bodes well for Western Bulldogs fans. The 200cm father-son gun was down on his recent output but still managed to snare three goals from eight touches, and flew for many a mark. Croft’s athleticism was impressive as ever and his finishing proved sharp, including a 50m set shot in term one.
Fresh off arguably his best performance to date, the going was a little tougher for Philactides on Saturday. The dashing defender flicked straight into attack mode and played in his usually high gear, notching up 19 disposals and five rebound 50s. He was again a touch dependant on his left side and found it difficult to contain lively forward Isaac Kako, but there is little denying his attacking threat in full flight.
#3 Kynan Brown
Brown, a Melbourne father-son candidate, has been one of Oakleigh’s more important mainstays and is currently thriving in the absence of the Chargers’ APS stars. As the number one man in midfield, he ran typically hard to rack up a game-high 29 disposals and lay eight tackles, utilising a sharp turn of speed and ravenous work rate. He was hit or miss by foot but a touch more polished by hand, looking to link forward in what may be a valuable trait as he enters the Vic Metro program – likely off a half-back flank.
#9 Tom Gross
Returning to the fold for his first Talent League game since Round 4, Gross got straight back into his ball winning groove with 26 disposals and five inside 50s. Though, the bottom-ager found it a touch more difficult to use his explosive streak at the contest, instead accumulating more uncontested ball around the ground and looking to chain handball passages together – even if his teammates weren’t quite on the same wavelength.
By: Michael Alvaro
Utilised in his usual mid-forward rotation, Frangalas displayed spurts of raw power and strength. He burst clear at the front of stoppage several times, generating drive from the source and continuing his momentum into the Stingrays’ attacking 50. He tended to dump a few of his kicks and was a touch wayward at full tilt, but made his presence felt with pure physicality. The top-ager ended up with 18 disposals, eight inside 50s, and a third quarter goal.
#11 Billy Wilson
One of many attacking defenders among the wider top-age crop, Wilson reprised his role as the designated kicker in Dandenong’s backline. He pressed high up the field and was aggressive off the line at centre bounces, looking to create overlap run as his side launched into attack. Of his 20 disposals, 15 were kicks with seven being registered as rebound 50s, with only a couple of rare misses thrown in that bunch.
#14 Kobe Shipp
In one of his best performances for the year, Shipp claimed an equal game-high 26 disposals and six marks to serve a timely reminder of his talent. He plied his trade off half-back and impacted most with his aggressive run-and-carry, looking to take the game on at every opportunity. He also rose for some impressive intercepts and sparked several quick transitions with his attacking mindset, working back into the form that had him highly touted as a bottom-ager.
Booting a game-high three majors, Doughton is yet to fail in finding the goals across his three-game Talent League career. The bottom-ager split his time in midfield and up forward, but looked most natural in the latter role where he snared his scores in quick time during the first half. His first was a sweet hit from the 50m arc, and his next was a shrewd snap from much closer to the big sticks. There’s some class about him.
#11 Oskar Smartt
Injecting a good deal of power to the Pioneer’s mid-forward rotation, Smartt has had bigger games this year but showed his promise in patches. The top-ager managed 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal, which he slotted on the run at full tilt. Elsewhere, he contributed tough tackling efforts and a bit of burst with ball in hand, breaking tackles and bringing the game to Dandenong with his speed.
#17 Jobe Shanahan
A marking machine who averages five per game, Shanahan clunked six on Saturday as he continues to compile a promising bottom-age campaign. He plays tall at 192cm and has serious hops, combined with clean hands and composure across the backline. Shanahan read the ball well in flight and even snuck forward for a mark and goal in the final quarter, perhaps hinting at his versatility.
#36 Archer Day-Wicks
Day-Wicks ended up as his side’s leading ball winner for a second week running, collecting 26 disposals in a fine outing. He was exactly the player Bendigo would have wanted delivering the ball inside 50, and while his left-foot field kicking was often sublime, the only thing lacking was similar polish in front of goal. Day-Wicks managed a single major from five scoring shots, finally splitting the big sticks with a snap in term four. He did well to create the opportunities though, proving assured with ball in hand and looking natural in the midfield mix.
#45 Hugh Byrne
The only Pioneer to boot multiple goals on Saturday, Byrne managed two from 14 disposals and seven marks. He presented higher up the ground than in previous weeks, leaning on his mobility to search up on the wing and be an effective leading target. Closer to goal, he converted two set shots and had a happy knack for setting up teammates, often recovering first in contests and firing out useful handballs.
By: Declan Reeve:
Playing what was convincingly his best game of the season, Williams collected a game-high 31 disposals, with an impressive 13 rebound 50s to go along with it. Williams was typically clean with his disposal, looking for safer options around the defensive 50 to reduce the risk of turning it over close to goal.
The Hawthorn father-son prospect had somewhat of a ‘breakout’ game, in the sense that we saw what he could be if he consistently puts it all together. Always one to roam up the ground and aggressively lead for the ball, Dear was once again an aerial presence through the game, taking it upon himself to act as a link up player when the ball was in the defensive half. Dear’s conversion was at it’s best at the level for the season, finishing with three straight goals for his efforts.
#17 Tarkyn O’Leary
One who has enjoyed the additional responsibility with APS talent unavailable for the side, O’Leary registered a season-high 24 disposals against the Devils, impacting well with every single one. O’Leary was typically smart with his ball use, looking for leading targets on the 45 more often than not, by happily trying some more adventurous passes when they would benefit his side most.
#29 Harvey Johnston
The smooth mover was one who built into the game as it went, looking like he enjoyed it more as the margin got closer and the game got hotter. Johnston has become somewhat renowned for his ability to evade opposition and continued to show that off against the Devils, with his tricks particularly damaging when heading inside the forward 50 arc. He sometimes struggled more with his ball use than usual, but kept on attempting the most damaging option throughout.
#70 Archer May
Perhaps taking being overlooked in the mid-season draft personally, May played like a man that had something to prove against the Devils. Simply put, he looked unstoppable in the early stages of the game, with Tasmania unable to contain him on the lead or in the air. His size and speed made him an extremely difficult matchup for any one defender to handle. As the Devils’ defence started working on him more as a unit, his direct impact was naturally lessened, however his forward half teammates enjoyed more opportunities than they otherwise would have.
#5 Beau Nash
An ever consistent presence in the Tasmania engine room, Nash continued on his fine season doing what he does best – winning contested footy and manically pressuring opposition in possession. As has become usual for Nash, he led his side for tackles throughout the contest, tirelessly chasing opposition out of stoppages to ensure they didn’t get easy quality disposal forward.
The over-aged midfielder was close to a big day out on the scoreboard, finishing with two goals and five behinds, but his work around the ground and ability to track back and assist in defence was invaluable to the Devils all game. Generally matched up on a shorter opponent, Ollington was often looked for by his teammates when exiting defensive 50, where he’d generally win the contest and drive the ball forward with long kicks.
#37 Arie Schoenmaker
It hasn’t taken Schoenmaker long in his return to remind people why he was one to watch coming into the season, with the tall defender his side’s main user out of the defensive 50. He was able to pick teammates out of packs with his kicks, and get some impressive distance out of the backline when taking the kick-ins. Schoenmaker positioned well in the backline to stop a couple of otherwise certain Sandringham goals, camping himself in the goal square to reduce the chance of rushed kicks sneaking in out the back.
By: Michael Alvaro
#9 Zane Duursma
Duursma has hit a purple patch in the three games post-break, and produced another top performance on Sunday to boost his averages to 22 disposals, five marks, seven inside 50s and over three goals. The top-ager did a bit of everything; flying at the ball like a tall, providing his usual burst from stoppage, and hitting the scoreboard with four majors. He had a good battle with likely Vic Country teammate Luamon Lual, beating him in a couple of one-on-ones and going on to score from a variety of angles.
#21 Wil Dawson
Dawson may have ended up with the equal-least amount of disposals of any Power player (seven), but was initially utilised in a very different on-ball role. With Gippsland boasting a host of talls, he provided a size match to George Stevens at stoppages, but was much more effective once shifted to a more conventional ruck post. There, his marking came to the fore with a team-high six grabs, plucking the ball cleanly on the end of his long range at 200cm.
#22 Archer Reid
Another developable tall in the Gippsland ranks, Reid started forward but provided fold in the ruck. He moved so well considering his 203cm standing and used his range to reel in four marks among 10 disposals, albeit with a few less convincing moments. He could only manage three behinds in front of goal, failing to convert the chances brought about by his aerial ability.
#42 Lachlan Smith
One of many players to have pulled out season-best games over the last few weeks, Smith did so on Sunday with 17 disposals, five marks, 21 hitouts and three goals. The top-ager has played on each line this year but plied his trade as a ruck-forward in Round 9, imposing himself on the contest with strong work at stoppage and clean follow-up efforts. He rose for some nice marks inside 50 and converted with aplomb, playing with the kind of confidence and authority most 203cm players should.
Charleson was his busy self on Sunday, snaring two goals from 19 disposals as he shifted forward from midfield. The nippy small looked to use his step and while he invited pressure at times, was able to generate some momentum through his clearances. He arguably looks best inside 50 though, where his smarts, ground level game and goal sense shine. As much was evident as he sharked a stoppage for his first goal, before slotting a lovely set shot in term four.
#6 Luamon Lual
Ticking up to 20 disposals for just the second time this season, Lual continued to show his potential as a rebounder. What sets him apart, though, is his value in both the attacking and defensive phases. Lual was dangerous as ever on the overlap and had a happy knack for getting forward of the ball in a flash, helping GWV transition from defence with fluency. On the defensive end, he clunked intercept marks and swept up at the fall of the ball. Zane Duursma gave him a bit of trouble one-on-one, but Lual wasn’t afraid to wear contact and compete.
#7 Joel Freijah
Another prolific outing from Freijah saw him notch 23 disposals and nine marks, this time starting at the centre bounces before switching out to the wing. He did a lot of early work in the clinches, looking to wax with teammates by hand and often releasing them into space. With a few more fend-offs and the ability to drive his legs into space, he perhaps could have had a greater influence with his kicking, too.
#23 George Stevens
Stevens made his presence felt from the get-go, laying a pair of monster tackles in the opening exchanges. He provided a bit of grunt around the ball in the first half before reverting back to a familiar defensive post after half time, accumulating many of his game-high 29 disposals there. He went by foot 22 times, mixing up his passes but most often going long with punchy kicks off a few steps.