Scouting Notes: 2023 Coates Talent League – Round 14

THE Coates Talent League returned over the weekend with a series of one-sided results, decided between margins of 34 and 79 points. We noted some of the top draft prospects from all five fixtures, taking a narrow focus on representative squad members, bottom-agers, and club-tied talent.

>> Coates Talent League Round 14: Snapshot | POTW | TOTW

  • Team
  • Calder Cannons
  • Dandenong Stingrays

By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Kayne Rutley

A player among Calder’s promising group of bottom-agers, Rutley showed his wares on the wing before finding more success up forward. Arguably a more natural attacker, he snared three second half goals and finished each chance with aplomb, with two of his majors helping the Cannons build a decisive lead late in the third quarter. Elsewhere, Rutley was generally a polished ball user but did the most damage inside 50.

#2 Isaac Kako

Not only did Kako mix up his role with a midfield rotation on Saturday, but he also made a jumper swap from number two to six. He started up forward and snared an early goal before getting a run at the centre bounces, proving most effective away from the contest with his turn of speed and excellent decision making. He consistently looked to break away from congestion and create with his disposals, pulling out a range of tricks en route to 22 touches and four inside 50s.

#3 Jayden Nguyen

After a trio of relatively quiet games, Nguyen broke through for a game-high 35 disposals in Round 14. The wingman changed things up with a run at half-back, using his speed and attacking intent to spark several Calder counters. He was the designated kick-in taker and overlap runner, seen driving his legs and linking with teammates by hand before finding the right kick. Nguyen distributed the ball nicely and advanced high up the field as he would when roaming the wing.

#10 Damon Hollow

With a couple of big names missing from Calder’s engine room, Hollow stepped up on Saturday to notch 34 disposals and nine inside 50s. The speedy midfielder generated plenty of drive from the contest, backing his pace when exiting forward of stoppage and entering attack in a flash. His kicking was scrappy at times, especially at full tilt, but Hollow burrowed in hard and allowed others to gain reward for his effort.

#41 Jordan Croft

It was by no means a massive day for Croft, who registered nine disposals and two goals, but his effort never waned. The 200cm forward was neutralised in the air, so had to bring the heat at ground level and did so with aggressive pressure. He was credited with four tackles and would have made a few Dandenong players sweat with his closing speed. Croft’s goals were the first of the opening and third quarters, taking his season tally to 17 with just one goalless game from seven.


#3 Cooper Simpson

Injury scuppered Simpson’s national carnival, leaving the Dandenong co-captain to make his Talent League return on Saturday in just his fifth game for the season. He was stationed on the wing and joined in at the contest as somewhat of a fourth midfielder, often times opting against holding width and mopping up ground balls like an inside player. His hands were quick and clean, though Simpson was less tidy by foot and perhaps not as expansive as he could be. Still, a positive comeback.

#10 Kade De La Rue

Enjoying an extended run in midfield, the versatile De La Rue had little trouble finding the footy with 26 disposals, five marks, and six inside 50s. The lightly-framed top-ager was winded early in the piece but rebounded to hold his own at the contest, standing up in tackles and flicking out handballs to runners. He also showed a good knack for hitting targets by foot going inside 50, ending up with a couple of goal assists for his efforts.

#11 Billy Wilson

Usually a mainstay off half-back, Wilson traded his stints on the wing for a whole half at the centre bounces. He started out in defence and provided much of the same aggressive overlap run he has become known for, before shifting on-ball and ending up with a team-high 27 touches. He grew into the role with chains of handballs through the middle and began to use his pace to good effect. Perhaps the experiment will continue in Dandenong’s final two games.

#14 Kobe Shipp

Shipp showcased a steady balance of composure and agility in defence, gathering 26 disposals, six marks, and seven rebound 50s. The Vic Country representative backed himself to work out of tight spots, hardly looking flustered in the face of frontal pressure and making sound decisions with ball in hand. Of his eight games this season, Shipp has had exactly 26 touches in three of them.

#17 Harvey Langford

He may have been overlooked for a Vic Country call-up, but Langford certainly seems up to that kind of quality with his form in recent weeks. The bottom-ager made an impact in both realms of his usual rotation, notching 26 disposals and three goals. Langford’s work in traffic was superb and he looked silky when shifting the ball on his favoured left foot, or shooting on goal. Each of his finishes were of high class, including a couple of quick shots on the run and a conversion over the mark.

#23 Noah Mraz

Mraz has taken on some mighty roles of late and that was no different on Saturday as he matched up on Calder key forward, Jordan Croft. He did so with aplomb, effectively nullifying the athletic goal kicker’s aerial game and restricting him to just two majors. Mraz also looked comfortable with ball in hand and hardly wasted any of his 10 touches – good signs for a 197cm bottom-ager.

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Northern Knights

By: Michael Alvaro


#3 Xavier Lindsay

Lindsay has come into his own of late and was again productive with an equal game-high 29 disposals in midfield. The bottom-ager was a productive outside runner, often wheeling away from congestion and looking to unload the ball on his favoured left foot. He also accumulated strongly between the arcs and combined well with teammates, moving the ball fluently in a game which only really opened up in the final quarter.

#9 Zane Duursma

Fresh off a match-winning performance for Vic Country, Duursma once again proved his status as a natural forward on Saturday. The athletic, one-touch talent booted two goals from 24 disposals and 12 marks, covering plenty of ground as a high outlet and also getting dangerous inside 50. He nearly always looked to take the game on quickly and that perhaps impacted his end product, but Duursma’s array of aerial tricks were still on show. His best moment was a speccy and goal over the back which helped spark the Power’s fourth quarter run.

#21 Wil Dawson

The numbers – eight disposals and three marks – are perhaps a little unfair given how much promise Dawson again showed in defence. At 200cm, he attacked loose balls with vigour and displayed rare mobility when covering the ground both ways. Two of his marks were big intercepts during the opening quarter, where Dawson reeled the ball with a couple of grabs at it among a sea of players. With a bit more consistency and smarter running, he looms as a genuine prospect.

#22 Archer Reid

Having struggled for confidence and form in the early part of the season, Reid is beginning to hit his straps and brought great vigour to his game on Saturday. The mobile ruck-forward booted four goals from 19 disposals and seven marks, showing an improved ability to get involved in the play and stay involved. It allowed him to then display his agility with ball in hand, and better engagement in contested situations – no less, in the ruck. Reid kicked two of Gippsland’s first three goals of term four, helping pour on decisive scoreboard pressure.

#42 Lachlan Smith

It was an imperious performance from Smith in Round 14, getting to work against two fellow rucks who measure up at over 200cm. The imposing top-ager won the hitout battle with 19, but also outdid his opponents around the ground with 25 disposals and six marks. Often times he would hold off a Knight with one arm and scoop up the ball with the other, looking comfortable in possession for a player his size and marking with authority. He was arguably more effective in the first half, but had his best moment in the second with a lovely goal on the run.


#2 Nate Caddy

Caddy has been afforded progressively more midfield minutes this season and attended plenty of centre bounces on Saturday, but again looked arguably more comfortable up forward. He managed 19 disposals, six marks, and five inside 50s, getting into the game with his ability to compete and hunt at the contest. When things didn’t fall his way, those traits willed him to the ball. Caddy had a few shots on goal for just two behinds and was most effective when presenting up to the forward 50 arc in his forward rotation, having otherwise been nullified in the air.

#10 Will Green

Green has had a couple of timid starts to games this season, and against willing opposition, that was again the case in Round 14. Although, the Knights co-captain eventually found his groove and applied himself better at the contest, getting his ruck craft going and clunking a clean mark in term two. He displayed ample smarts in open play and seemed to build confidence with each moment, ending up with seven touches and 16 hitouts.

#26 Zak Johnson

A bottom-ager from either side topped the disposal charts with 29 on Saturday, and Johnson was one of them. He used the ball typically well and weighed up his options, not afraid to slow the game down to find the right target. Johnson was also evasive and proved as much with his goal in the third term, rotating forward from midfield while also spending time behind the ball after half time.

#32 Christian Mardini

The second of Northern’s co-captains, Mardini was a cool head in defence where he gathered 19 disposals (all kicks), five marks, and nine rebound 50s. He took the kick-ins and was involved in a lot of slow, uncontested play, distributing the ball by foot with efficiency. Mardini was less proficient aerially but took a strong intercept mark in the fourth quarter and split contests on the last line.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • Eastern Ranges

By: Michael Alvaro


#4 Darcy Wilson

It was a tough day for Murray on Saturday but a player who kept turning up from contest to contest was Wilson. The smooth moving midfielder was a mainstay in the engine room, accumulating a team-high 29 touches and seven marks without always showcasing his best traits. His usual flair and elite decision making were blanketed in the heat of the contest, forcing Wilson adjust with quick handballs and clearing kicks. Though, his presence there was important for the team.

#5 Oscar Ryan

Another player who gave it all in a heavy defeat, Ryan prized 21 disposals, seven marks and five tackles down back. He was one of the few Bushrangers who effectively broke the lines, using the ball creatively by foot and generating momentum in transition with his turn of speed. The top-ager’s best moment was a running passage through the corridor in term two, which saw him carry the ball from 50 to 50 in a flash, attempting to set a better tone for his side.

#8 Connor O’Sullivan

Fresh off an All Australian national carnival which saw him named Allies MVP, life was much tougher for O’Sullivan back in Bushrangers colours. The versatile 198cm talent began in his usual defensive post and displayed trademark composure, with only one rare mistake costing his side a goal. He was then swung forward for the remaining three quarters, ending up with 24 disposals, five marks and with clean grabs hard to come by despite his persistent presentation. O’Sullivan also showed a clear set shot routine, but was unfortunate to only muster a return of three behinds.

#13 Phoenix Gothard

Another Allies title-winner, Gothard carried on his strong Talent League form with a return of 21 disposals and seven inside 50s. The small forward was typically busy in attack, proving hard to contain with his lateral movement and tricky turn of speed. He consistently ventured outside 50 and looked to be creative with ball in hand, which helped him complete a one-two en route to slotting his running goal in the third quarter.


#1 Caleb Windsor

Reprising his usual role on the wing, Windsor gathered 21 disposals and six marks in a productive outing. The heavy ground didn’t necessarily suit his speedy style, but the agile mover was slick off the deck and used his pace to shut down opponents defensively. Windsor also hit the scoreboard in Eastern’s big win, slotting a 45m set shot despite missing a few shorter kicks in open play.

#13 Riley Weatherill

Weatherill was largely the beneficiary of Eastern’s quick ball movement and dominance between the arcs, booting four goals from seven scoring shots in a deep forward post. The 195cm target also clunked nine marks and outwitted his opponents on the lead, reading the play nicely to move into dangerous lanes and receive the ball uncontested. With better conversion, the top-ager could have had a bag of six or seven – it was all too easy at times.

#18 Brayden LaPlanche

With partner-in-crime Weatherill kicking a bag closer to goal, LaPlanche played the less heralded role of presenting further afield. He was often among the final links in scoring chains, helping run the ball inside 50 as Eastern transitioned in waves. The 189cm forward also hit the scoreboard, holding his ground for an overhead mark and set shot goal during the second quarter.

#24 Christian Moraes

In a performance which saw him earn Player of the Week honours, Moraes posted a mammoth 43 disposals and 12 inside 50s to once again stamp himself as a premier bottom-aged talent. The midfielder showcased his athleticism on the outside, going unchecked at a few stoppages and breaking free on the spread. He timed his runs nicely, peeling off to receive at the right time and proving hard to catch at full flight. Despite some awkward kicking mechanics, he also hit several targets going inside 50 and lowered his eyes in situations where others would have blazed away. His forward running was rewarded with a goal too, converted on the snap during term two.

  • Team
  • Sandringham Dragons
  • Western Jets

By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Massimo Raso

Coming up against some prime movers in midfield, Raso held his own relatively well for a haul of 19 disposals and seven tackles. The diminutive bottom-ager was typically clever at the fall of the ball and navigated his way to the outside with short and sharp chains of possession. One of Raso’s best moments came early on where he crumbed the ball front-and-centre, before bursting away and hitting a target deep inside 50.

#3 Lucca Grego

Having made a foray to defence during the representative period, Grego returned to arguably a more natural primary role in midfield. He was the Jets’ most prolific on-baller with 20 touches and earned his keep against stiff opposition, proving tough and reliable at the contest. The bottom-ager’s best asset is his clean handling on the inside, which suits his no frills approach, though he can certainly begin to expand and sharpen up his kicking game.

#24 Logan Morris

Morris played somewhat of a lone hand in Western’s forward line, booting three of his side’s four goals for the match. It was a game-high tally, though Morris did more than just camp out deep inside 50. He ventured up the ground, and although clunking the ball was difficult against a stiff breeze and several opponents, the top-ager reeled in a trio of grabs. Morris could well have ended up with four or five goals had he converted a couple more chances over the mark.


#3 Levi Ashcroft

With Brighton Grammar having the bye, Ashcroft made his fifth Talent League appearance for the season, and his first since Round 4. The 2024 Brisbane Lions father-son prospect notched up a personal best 36 disposals and eight inside 50s, building off an All Australian Under 18 national carnival. Though Ashcroft was at times uncharacteristically sloppy by hand, he looked to wax with teammates and slotted two excellent goals on the move.

#4 Will Brown

Another Sandringham standout who has been absent over the representative period, Brown returned as skipper and notched up a respectable 25 disposals. As usual, the 194cm ball winner did much of his work at the contest but also rotated forward and made some nice decisions when afforded time and space. Otherwise, he struggled to produce effective clearing kicks when shut down quickly and couldn’t manufacture any additional room to move.

#69 Luke Trainor

It was an ultra impressive performance from Trainor and perhaps his most polished for the season, posting 25 disposals, eight marks, and seven rebound 50s from defence. The 195cm bottom-ager read the play beautifully and consistently peeled off to intercept, helping lock the ball in Sandringham’s attacking half. His distributive play was also on point, especially considering the conditions, and he showcased great athleticism when moving to the ball.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams


#2 Lachlan Charleson

One third of a dominant Rebels midfield, Charleson was a work horse all day and teamed up with Stevens and Lual in moving the ball in transition. He sometimes threw it on the boot when running at top speed, but he just kept getting to contests and remaining involved throughout the match. He won several clearances either by hand or foot, and had a couple of chances on goal, but both fell short and were spoiled over the line.

#6 Luamon Lual

Starting off half-back and rotating into the middle, Lual provided plenty of run and carry throughout the match. When playing on the inside, he often ended up just being a link in the chain and quickly firing off a handball forward knowing his teammates were already in motion towards the goal. When on the outside, he tended to have multiple possessions within a chain and brought the ball from half-back to half-forward quickly, and though there were some rough disposals among them, he had some nice touches as well. His move on-ball helped him boost his numbers and have plenty of flick handballs to finish as a prominent player.

#7 Joel Freijah

Though it was not his biggest game of the season, Freijah still had his moments. He was generally clean off the deck and mopped up behind the ball, then exploded forward with that pace to leave his rivals behind. At one point he kept the ball moving with a clever handball behind his head to a teammate who had just run by, and often had to dispose of the ball quickly due to being tackled at the contests. In the final term, Freijah had a set shot straight in front of goal and from 20m went for a snap which just snuck in.

#8 Jonty Faull

Provided a great marking target inside 50 and was prolific across the four quarters. His two goals came in the first and third terms respectively, with his first on the run midway through the opening quarter, and his second being a regulation mark, and then set shot from 40m. Faull only kicked the two majors, but legitimately should have had six or more, with some of his set shot misses he will not want to revisit. Still, despite his inaccuracy, Faull showed his strength in the air and was clearly a headache for the opposition defence.

#10 Rhys Unwin

The bottom-ager has some explosive pace that caught the eye, and he finished with a season-high three goals from his 17 touches. After a quieter first term, Unwin kicked his first by running hard inside 50 to cleanly gather the ball off the bounce and slam it home. His other two goals came in each of the next two quarters, both in general play on the move. He looked dangerous with the ball at ground level and was super clean at top speed when attacking it hard, while also able to adjust his direction slightly mid-run to evade a would-be tackler. Funnily enough, though Unwin nailed the three more difficult shots, he somehow missed one from only a few metres out – a shame given how exciting the build-up was.

#23 George Stevens

The AFL Academy member brought his own ball to the game and continued his fantastic 2023 season form with 36 disposals. Racking up 11 more than anyone else on the field, Stevens was a contested beast on the inside, able to win the ball at the coalface and feed it out. It was good to see him involved in transition, and while Charleson and Lual have him comfortably covered for pace, he played to his own strengths and applied blocks or directed traffic. In the third term, he snuck forward, was awarded a free kick and converted the set shot from 40m to get reward for his hard work out of the stoppages.


#25 Michael Rudd

Easily the best Falcon on the ground, Rudd played his heart out even though life was difficult for the Geelong forwards. He had limited chances, but kicked two goals in the first half, both from marks on the lead and subsequent set shots. His defensive pressure was impressive for a taller forward, and he worked up the ground to be a marking option far from goal. He found himself on the wing at times such was his work rate, and though he tended to mark a lot on his chest, he did take a good mark overhead on the wing later in the game. When he did not mark it in one instance in the final term, he applied a good follow-up tackle.

#29 Joe Pike

Pike was the Falcons’ next best after Rudd, and slaughtered the GWV Rebels ruck combinations at stoppages. The 203cm top-ager looked a class above with his ruck work, though it mattered little with his Country teammates in Charleson, Stevens and Lual sharking a fair few of them. He worked hard across the course of the game, had a chance on goal in the third term that ended up being a short pass which missed, then kicked a goal in the final few minutes of the match. That opportunity came after a contested mark at the top of the goalsquare, but despite being 15m out he still opted for the snap, which fortunately for him, came off.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments