Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League – Round 11

ANOTHER weekend of Coates Talent League action is in the books, with a host of Victorian and Allied representative stars returning to the fold in Round 11. We highlight some of the top performers and prospects from all six fixtures.

Note: As the season draws on, there will be a much narrower focus on draft eligible players selected in representative sides, those with academy or father-son ties to AFL clubs, and bottom-agers who are performing strongly.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Dandenong Stingrays

By: Michael Alvaro


#2 Lachlan Charleson

Busy as usual in the midfield-forward rotation, Charleson registered 23 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal with strong ground level presence. He tended to step to the side and clear by foot in the early stages, but went on to fend off opponents or drive forward and out of the contest as the game wore on. After copping a knock late in term two, Charleson spent time in attack and converted a springy grab over the mark for his lone goal.

#6 Luamon Lual

With eight rebound 50s from 15 touches, Lual was GWV’s most proficient attacking force out of defence. The Western Bulldogs NGA prospect was constantly in forward motion, playing with tunnel vision as he mopped up the ball behind halfway and quickly put it to boot. He mustered a few good defensive efforts with tackles and spoils in term three, and also rose for a juggled intercept mark in the second quarter.

#7 Joel Freijah

Arguably Freijah’s breakout game this year came against Dandenong and he has been on a tear ever since, including 21 disposals, six inside 50s and two goals on Saturday. The 191cm wingman did his usual work on the outside on the back of a high running capacity, but arguably impressed most with his goal sense. Both of his scores were tidy finishes; one with a classy snap, and the other a bit of quick thinking off the deck. He darted a couple of lovely field kicks to find targets but was inconsistent in that area throughout the game.

#23 George Stevens

Stevens has been in serious form of late and produced easily his best numbers of the year on Saturday, racking up 44 disposals, 10 inside 50s and six rebound 50s. The midfield convert had 19 more touches than anyone else afield and thrived in all the quickly varying Ballarat conditions. Stevens won his own ball and leant on his size to force exits, but also stepped to the outer and made smart decisions when afforded enough time to survey the options by foot. Already remarkably clean and efficient, the next step will be building on the hurt factor his disposals offer.


#10 Kade De La Rue

Though 15 disposals made for De La Rue’s statistically least prolific game for the season, he provided some good moments out on the wing and up forward. The light-framed talent was deceptively strong when tackling, laying eight and absorbing contact well. While sharp with ball in hand, his work without it was sometimes more impactful – like when he forced a spill inside 50 for Joziah Nannup to mop up and convert the opening goal.

#11 Billy Wilson

Taking on his usual role down back before a second half shift to the wing, Wilson’s usually punchy long-range kicking was tested by the Ballarat breeze. He took on the kick-in duties and was made to adjust his disposal on one side of the ground, but still held a high line and looked to attack with many of his 19 disposals. It wasn’t necessarily a day for the more polished types.

#14 Kobe Shipp

Fresh off a strong outing with Vic Country, Shipp reverted to his role off half-back and was among Dandenong’s better players. He gave himself time in possession with deft feints and baulks, before often looking to launch long by foot – especially when advantaged by the wind. With 19 disposals and three marks, Shipp chimed in to intercept and backed himself to take the game on when shifting into the attacking phase.

#16 Harry De Mattia

Playing the lone captaincy hand in Cooper Simpson’s absence, De Mattia notched up 17 disposals and laid seven tackles as a full-time midfielder. He was a bull at the contest and looked to will himself to the outside, refusing to be tackled easily. Having more impact with his speed on the outside could have helped break the game open, but De Mattia struggled to execute clean kicks once he got into space regardless. He’ll look to bounce back strongly in representative colours.

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Sandringham Dragons

By: Declan Reeve


#3 Xavier Lindsay

Traditionally deployed in the defensive 50, the bottom-aged Lindsay enjoyed more centre bounce attendances against the Dragons with steady success. Whilst Lindsay wasn’t an overly impactful stoppage player, the freedom to roam around the ground saw him impact more in the forward half. Lindsay was generally clean with his work by hand in tight, never backing down from a contest regardless of oncoming contact. He could’ve been a tad more clinical going for goal, but didn’t waste too many possessions.

#9 Zane Duursma

Duursma has enjoyed a month of continued improvement through his midfield craft, now playing with more confidence after what can only be described as rapid development. Duursma’s execution speed and quality of disposal made him a dangerous first possession winner, able to cleanly feed the ball out to runners by hand when not bursting away himself. Duursma’s work off the ball was also notable, with many well timed runs on the outside and smart positioning through the corridor seeing him used as a short marking option.

#22 Archer Reid

Playing his best game for the season to date, Reid showed a glimpse at what he could be at the top level if it all clicks for him consistently. Splitting his time between a role deep inside forward 50 and the ruck, Reid was consistently able to impact with his marking and classy ball use around the ground. He was unsurprisingly strong in the air through the game, with his forward craft shining out amongst the crowd, but it was his improved tap work and ruck craft that stood out most, managing to spot out teammates with pinpoint taps a few times throughout the contest. 

#42 Lachlan Smith

The 202cm prospect has been thrown about positionally through the season but may well have locked himself into the ruck spot with his performance. Smith was dominant at stoppages, regularly out-jumping and out-muscling his opposition to take front position and tap to the advantage of his teammates. Smith’s ball use was also clean around the ground, unfazed by pressure and looking to move the ball into the corridor more often than not.


#11 Calsher Dear

The Hawthorn father-son prospect continues to show off an impressive work rate and speed off the mark as a tall forward, flying for everything in his area and pulling down some impressive contested grabs. Whilst there is still some improvement to be done on his finishing on goal, Dear’s gradual improvement through the season will continue to catch the eye.

#16 Luke Lloyd

Finishing with his best return to date, Lloyd was his side’s equal highest goal kicker and game leading marker. Lloyd plays as a link up centre half-forward, pushing high up the ground to provide a marking option out of the defensive half, often sending it long to a teammate’s advantage as quickly as possible. Lloyd is, clearly, equally as comfortable when playing closer to goal, able to regularly out-mark opponents and convert from any opportunity he earns.

#29 Harvey Johnston

Once again a important piece of Sandringham’s forward half play, Johnston’s ability to evade opposition and power his way into space makes him an extremely difficult opponent to shut down, able to find ways out of the tightest of spots. Johnston admittedly looked more impactful through the midfield than when stationed inside forward 50, able to work his magic from stoppages well and follow up with typically sound ball use heading forward. 

#70 Archer May

Continuing his goal kicking ways, May once again proved too strong both physically and aerially for any opponent to contain, out-muscling opponents with ease to reel in contested marks for fun. May’s size advantage was obvious when one-on-one, but his leading patterns also proved difficult to shut down for opposition, reacting quickly to his teammates further afield winning the ball and getting to good spots at speed.

  • Team
  • Eastern Ranges
  • Calder Cannons

By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Caleb Windsor

In a high-pressure, high-tempo game of football, Windsor was one of a few speedsters whose step proved up to the task. He often used his agility to get into space with nice bits of composure, but would then let himself down with the kick that followed. Still, he was busy as usual for 15 disposals and six inside 50s.

#8 Cam Nyko

Stationed in defence, Nyko took on his share of the kick-in duties and looked noticeably more measured in his efforts by foot. He seemed to settle on his kicks and went short more often, proving largely efficient with only a couple of hiccups. Elsewhere, the top-ager was typically active in possession and notched a solid 20 disposals for his troubles.

#9 Christian Moraes

Racking up a game-high 33 disposals, Moraes produced another impressive performance to stamp himself as a bottom-ager to watch. He had little trouble sharking the ball at stoppages and got first hands to seemingly everything in the early stages, before expanding to the outside as the game wore on. He had an accumulative effect and has potential in midfield, but may end up thriving on a wing or flank at representative level in future.

#26 Josh Smillie

Smillie is as accomplished as any bottom-ager in the competition, and proved as much with another fine performance on Saturday. The 194cm midfielder was super clean at the contest and near-impossible to lay a hand on, with his big frame allowing for easy work in dishing off to outside runners. He made good decisions and worried opponents into bad ones, albeit being a touch safe with his 28 disposals.


#2 Isaac Kako

Kako recently played a key hand in Parade College’s ACC title triumph, and was back near his busy best with 20 touches and 1.3 for the Cannons. The bottom-age small forward played high up the ground and did some nice things on the way back to goal, but arguably looked most dangerous when in range of the big sticks. He made good decisions and had the execution to match on Saturday, albeit having missed a few chances and burning a teammate in the final quarter.

#3 Jayden Nguyen

Though his numbers of 12 disposals and two inside 50s are modest, Nguyen was one of the better players afield in the first half. Playing off the wing as usual, he took the game on and showcased his evasiveness with a sharp turn of speed. The bottom-ager also launched an impressive goal from outside 50 in the second term, finishing with aplomb while moving at full tilt.

#10 Damon Hollow

Hollow is another bottom-ager whose numbers (13 disposals, two goals) hardly jump off the page, but he certainly had his moments. He has some good toe when he gets going between the arcs and that suited Calder’s style of play nicely, as he helped quickly transition the ball inside 50. Hollow’s ball use was not always on point, but proved up to the task with his second goal – a well struck set shot from the boundary.

#11 Ryan Eyre

Eyre was overlooked for Vic Metro duties despite some early promise this season, and at least showed his worth to Essendon on Saturday as a potential NGA pick. The top-ager notched up 22 disposals, eight marks and five rebound 50s across half-back, finding some of the form which helped him catch the eye. Eyre intercepted nicely on a few occasions and took the game on with his slick side-step.

#16 Mahmoud Taha

You know what to expect from Taha when he turns out in Calder colours, and his 28 disposals on Saturday were right around the mark. Another Essendon NGA prospect, the midfielder provided his usual nous at the contest and dished off cleanly in quite a selfless role. He arguably impressed more in other facets though; including a smart front-and-centre crumb for his lone goals, and repeat efforts to not be stepped before laying holding-the-ball tackles.

#17 Nash King

Collecting a team-high 31 disposals on Saturday, King is yet another Calder bottom-ager whose talent points towards sustained success for the region. He accumulated possessions at the source and began to work more expansively as the game wore on, finding uncontested ball and making good decisions in space. He looked sharpest when utilised as a receiver at stoppage, rather than the primary ball winner, but can arguably do both and has a deft step to get him out of trouble.

#41 Jordan Croft

One of two Cannons to boot three goals, Croft was arguably the player who most turned the game in Calder’s favour during a decisive third quarter. Though he was often double-teamed, the 200cm key forward proven too much to deal with for both reach and athleticism as he began to clunk marks and set the tone inside 50. He may not have a mountain of possessions, but is aggressive defensively and creates a contest in the air which Calder’s smalls took advantage of.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • Western Jets

By: Michael Alvaro


#4 Darcy Wilson

Enjoying plenty of midfield minutes with Murray, Wilson ticked over 30 disposals for the second game running, this time adding six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s. The smooth mover sliced through, around, and past opponents with ease, bringing fluency and class to his side’s attacking play. He was on fire in the opening term, which Murray dominated thanks largely to Wilson’s form – including a goal and direct assist late in the period. As Western began to wrestle back momentum, his output steadied and there were more quick clearances, rather than composed shifts to space.

#8 Connor O’Sullivan

Along with Wilson, O’Sullivan looked to be in a different class to most others on Saturday and only further staked his claims as a genuine top 10 contender. He seemed to have the license to float free in defensive 50, working from contest to contest and impacting third-up. There were times where he snapped up everything that came his way, outpointing all comers aerially with his reach and athleticism. He was just as dynamic across the ground, moving like a much smaller man and making great decisions with his 23 disposals.

#13 Phoenix Gothard

An electric small forward who has recently proven his quality with the Allies, Gothard was very nearly a genuine match winner for Murray. He snared 2.4, with both goals coming from set shots in the opening quarter, but three of those behinds kicked consecutively in the third. Had he kept his kicking boots on, Murray stood a massive chance of kicking away. Nonetheless, Gothard’s speed and energy inside 50 were terrific to watch, as he looked to create with every possession and gave Western’s defenders a collective headache throughout four quarters.


#1 Massimo Raso

One of a few classy and diminutive bottom-agers in Western’s squad, Raso continued his strong form with 20 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals on Saturday. He was super clean both at and stepping away from the contest, and was among the players who stood up in the second half to help swing the lead in Western’s favour. After converting a set shot in term two, Raso snared a classy snap goal with quick thinking to put his side further in front late on.

#3 Lucca Grego

Arguably Western’s leading bottom-age talent and already a member of Vic Metro’s Under 18 squad, Grego continued his venture to defence on Saturday. He beefed up his stats with the kick-in duties, collecting 18 disposals and seven rebound 50s, but also working higher up the ground. His best attacking moment was a lovely running goal from outside 50 in term two, while defensively it was a crucial one-on-two spoil to force a defensive 50 stoppage.

#24 Logan Morris

Having been utilised as a defender for Vic Metro, Morris returned to the Jets’ forward line and bagged his third haul of four goals for the season. Beating his opponent in one-on-one wrestles close to goal proved Morris’ bread and butter, proving too strong and reading the ball well in flight. He also caught small defender Coby James in possession with a terrific chase for one of his majors, though missed a couple of chances he would normally take to extend his formidable goal tally.

  • Team
  • Bendigo Pioneers
  • Northern Knights

By: Michael Alvaro


#5 Harley Reid

Slowly managing his workload up to a level where he can roll through midfield for Vic Country, Reid was utilised almost exclusively at full forward during a first half where he snared three of his four goals. The top pick candidate took a mile when afforded an inch of space, proving impossible to completely blanket one-on-one. He drew free kicks through sheer presence and was smarter than opponents who either got sucked into the play, or didn’t react fast enough as it unfolded. Reid began to work up the ground as Northern piled on goals in term three, and while his radar was a touch off, he converted an impressive set shot from the forward 50 elbow in term four. It was far from Reid’s best day, but he still kicked half of Bendigo’s goals in a heavy loss.

#17 Jobe Shanahan

Still only a bottom-ager, Sunday would have provided a terrific albeit brutal learning curve for Shanahan. He was tasked with the matchup on Nate Caddy in defence and fared well in the opening stages, equalising aerial contests and even winning a couple. Caddy’s smarts and athleticism began to take toll as the game wore on, but the two went blow-for-blow in an entertaining first half battle. With time left to develop, Shanahan already has a sound intercept marking game and handy athleticism at 192cm.

#36 Archer Day-Wicks

While Reid bagged one half of Bendigo’s goals, Day-Wicks very nearly kicked the other but instead landed on three majors. The classy bottom-ager rotated between the midfield and forward line, pinging the ball sweetly on his left foot – most of the time, anyway. He looked sharp when able to keep his composure and did some impressive things in the way of overhead marking, no less for his third goal in the final quarter. Definitely one to watch for next year.


#2 Nate Caddy

Named Player of the Week for Round 11, Caddy tore this game apart with four goals in the third quarter, amid Northern’s streak of 12. He finished with six overall to go with 25 disposals and nine marks, proving difficult to contain across four quarters with his persistent leads and rare athleticism. He could have made an even bigger splash with better conversion, registering four behinds, but kicked his goals off either foot both in open play and over the mark. Caddy is such a tough matchup at this level, capable of presenting as a marking key forward, but also having too much pace for sturdier types to deal with. He’s incredibly dynamic, and a genuine top 10 prospect.

#10 Will Green

Having produced arguably his best run of form to date, Green’s numbers were a touch more modest on Sunday, though he dominated the ruck battle with 31 hitouts. Northern got on top early in term three thanks largely to the skipper’s tap craft at centre bounces, albeit if the same authority lacked in his work around the ground which had lifted exponentially in recent games. With the depth in this year’s crop weakening, Green has the opportunity to stamp himself as a top talent.

#19 Charlie Naish

Though overlooked for Vic Metro selection, Naish will be of interest to at least one club as the season rolls on – Richmond. The father-son candidate returned for his first Talent League appearance since Round 4, fresh off a VFL debut with the Tigers. He notched 21 disposals and seven marks down back, providing a cool head and plenty of transitional drive.

#26 Zak Johnson

Johnson has put up some big numbers this year and though Sunday wasn’t his absolute best game, he still posted 26 disposals, seven marks and two goals. The bottom-ager knows how to accumulate possessions and even did so with plenty of time up forward, playing high and then having an impact closer to goal. One of his two majors showed his class, dribbling the ball home from the pocket.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Geelong Falcons

By: Michael Alvaro


#3 Jack Callinan

It was a lively, albeit not overly prolific game from Callinan on Sunday, yielding 13 disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s. Most glaringly, it was the small forward’s first goalless game this season. Nonetheless, he hunted the ball at ground level and was clever in possession, often drawing opponents by hand and releasing at the ideal time. His energy translated well around the ball once shifted to midfield, where he looked comfortable on the ball.

#8 James Leake

Leake has been a real find for Tasmania and the Allies this year, and speaking of finds, he may have unearthed a new role. Having started out in defence, the top-ager was swung forward after half time and snared three impressive goals en route to victory. He clunked eight marks with great athleticism and clean hands, before striking the ball sweetly to convert his chances. A rising talent.

#27 Colby McKercher

You would be hard pressed to find a more consistent producer of elite output across this year’s Talent League season than McKercher. Sunday was simply another feather in his cap with yet another 30-plus disposals, though held significance as a personal best of 33. The star midfielder darted out of traffic with typical ease and was so clever in the way he timed his releases – often chaining possessions by hand and only going by foot once in a proper position to launch. The only thing which let McKercher down was his conversion, registering 2.5, with one of the two majors coming on the end of a 100m penalty. Still, he made up for it with a classy snap in the third quarter.

#37 Arie Schoenmaker

A potential inclusion for the Allies this week, Schoenmaker was less prolific than in his previous two outings but still helped set up the game from defence. Taking on his usual kick-in duties, the top-ager launched many an attack from the last line, even hitting the centre circle with a booming ball out of defensive 50. Of his 14 touches, 12 were kicks with eight rebound 50s, which is Schoenmaker’s main trick. The next step will be to impact more in a contested or intercept sense, especially given his 194cm frame.


#10 Patrick Hughes

Having missed out on Vic County honours, Hughes went about his usual business with 21 possessions (15 contested) and seven tackles in midfield. The tough top-ager did his best work at the contest and was typically strong going both ways, but also managed to show a touch of class with his left-foot snap goal from a forward 50 stoppage.

#25 Michael Rudd

The Falcons co-captain came in fresh off a great performance for Vic Country, backing it up with 12 disposals, six marks and a goal. He continued his role as a link player but was forced to work well up the ground at times, before moving the ball on quickly on the attack. Rudd also got his moment closer to the big sticks, marking one-out inside 50 and converting the resultant set shot.

#28 Hamish Pierson

It was tough going for Pierson in his Vic Country dig last week, but the key defender bounced back nicely for 16 disposals and seven marks on Sunday. He brought a no frills style to the contest, proving clean in his handling and efficient by foot, but inevitably catching the eye with a few soaring intercepts. Those with a keen eye would have noticed the over-ager’s number change, from 35 to 28.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments