Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League – Round 17
WITH chances to impress running out and ladder position on the line, a bunch of emerging AFL Draft prospects caught the eye in Round 17 of the Coates Talent League. In this edition of Scouting Notes, we took a narrow focus on the recent draft combine invitees and bottom-age talent on show.
By: Michael Alvaro
Fresh off an eight-goal haul, Charleson looked like setting himself up for a decent night with some busy work in the first half. As always, he hustled to chase up loose balls and pressure opposition defenders inside forward 50, while also proving a threat with his smarts and movement around goal. He snared two majors before the main break but was well contained by Lachie McArthur thereafter.
#4 Sam Lalor
In a sensational performance, Lalor had claims for being best afield with 30 disposals, seven tackles and a goal from midfield. The bottom-ager, who draws comparisons to Dustin Martin, showcased burst speed, one-touch handling, clearance nous, work ethic, and creativity on the attack across an impactful outing, where he could well have ended up with more scores. Lalor was most effective by hand and at stoppage, but is a well-rounded prospect who should be quite highly touted heading into next year.
#7 Joel Freijah
Taking up his usual post on the wing, Freijah collected 17 disposals and kicked two classy goals in a solid shift. The 191cm running man produced his best moment with one of those majors in term three, scooping up at a stoppage on the wing and streaming away before splitting the big sticks. While he didn’t break the lines much otherwise, Freijah was clean and strong at the contest, while also working over his opponents going end to end.
#8 Jonty Faull
Faull took out the final Player of the Week award for 2023 after posting 17 disposals, six marks and 4.4 in GWV’s emphatic win. The bottom-aged tall forward competed typically well aerially and owned his space inside 50, pointing to where he wanted the ball and duly plucking it out of the night sky. With his wealth of chances, he slotted some pure set shots and even got creative in open play, proving his dexterity at 194cm.
#23 George Stevens
Leading all comers with a fifth game of over 30 disposals for the season, Stevens’ remarkable run of form continued. In conditions conducive to his style, the big-bodied ball winner was monstrous on the inside, albeit uncharacteristically untidy at times, and looked to power the ball forward with penetrative kicking. Stevens launched 10 inside 50s and notched two behinds, where he could perhaps have benefitted from lowering his eyes going forward.
#1 Massimo Raso
Raso was comfortably Western’s most prolific player on Saturday night, with his 30 disposals giving him a 10-touch gap to the next-best teammate. The bottom-ager had stiff competition for inside ball but held his own, proving clean at the coalface and doing much of his best work by hand. While not as penetrative by foot, the dual-sided kicker looked lively when sharking the ball off taps and driving his legs in short bursts.
#2 Daniel Snell
Another handy bottom-ager in Western’s ranks, Snell showed some promise with 12 touches and six tackles. He started up forward and displayed his craft with a clean front-and-centre crumb, but would later have a greater impact once thrown into the midfield. There, Snell got on the end of a few handball receives and notched up five inside 50s on the fly, often going long on his favoured left foot.
#24 Logan Morris
The Jets’ standout prospect had an indifferent kind of night, tasked with a tough matchup on Oscar Gawith and only registering four behinds from 10 disposals and five marks. Still, Morris wasn’t without his opportunities and competed hard for them as Western’s key target inside 50. He also presented high up the ground as a long outlet on defensive 50 exits, drawing plenty of attention aerially and doing his best to split contests at a minimum.
By: Declan Reeve
As the AFL Academy member has returned from his mid-season injury, he has built back closer to his best with each outing for the Stingrays, registering an equal season-high 28 disposals against the Devils. Simpson’s work rate was evident through the four quarters as he powered from contest to contest, with his work by hand under pressure exceptional throughout. As the game wore on, Simpson looked to gain confidence and effectiveness with his kicking, showing off some nice bits of burst from stoppage in the second half, with a willingness to take the game on.
#10 Kade De La Rue
Before being forced off in the third term with a knee injury, De La Rue’s cleanliness both in the air and at ground level was proving difficult for Tasmania to deal with around the ground. He did most of his work for the game as a high half-forward before moving on-ball, with his smarts and leading patterns giving him opportunities to take uncontested marks and deliver well heading forward, showing impressive composure on the occasion he wasn’t able to take the ball in the air cleanly.
#11 Billy Wilson
Wilson’s transition into the midfield continued against Tasmania, bringing a touch of class between the arcs to ensure Dandenong was always dangerous heading forward. Wilson showed off some clean kicking off both feet, able to steady and deliver to forwards regardless of the angle they were coming from, as he actively looked to move the ball into the corridor when caught out near the boundary. Despite being pretty new to the role at Talent League level, Wilson won his fair share of clearances and looked dangerous from the centre when allowed to run with ball in hand, also impressing with his willingness to work defensively when his side didn’t win possession. Although he was a touch rushed and tended to loop his handballs when in the contest, Wilson continued to show promising development in a centre square role.
#14 Kobe Shipp
Shipp did phenomenally well to control the airways in the Stingrays’ defensive 50 throughout the game, with his game-high nine marks a key feature. Shipp’s positioning was the main reason he was able to intercept with ease, taking up good spots a kick away from the play to pluck rushed Tasmanian entries out of the air, before following up with clean ball use by foot to kick start Dandenong transitional plays on the rebound.
#16 Harry DeMattia
The versatile Stingrays product had an enjoyable day against the Devils, registering a season-high 30 disposals as he, at times, made winning clearances look easy with his acceleration and fearless approach to the contest. DeMattia won the bulk of his footy in the thick of things, often resorting to a long dump kick forward to get the ball moving, but did show some brief moments of composure by hand in looking for receivers on the outside. DeMattia has slowly improved his outside game as the season has gone on, playing more as a receiver from stoppage in the first half, and even netting himself a miracle goal with some link-up work from congestion.
#29 Jacob Grant
Usually doing his best work closer to goal, Grant was given the freedom to roam up the ground and act as a link-up option heading forward, with his strong contested marking and leap giving him a handy advantage in most contests. Grant’s use by foot from marks was a highlight as Dandenong pushed up the line, just placing kicks in front of his teammates to step into and hold with ease.
Playing across every third of the ground for the day, Callinan stood up in each role he had to fill. Starting down back, Callinan defied his size with how competitive he was in the air, evening contests against taller opponents and beating them at ground level to win it, typically using it well on the rebound. When in the midfield Callinan used his smarts to be a threat around stoppage, generally at the fall of the ball or ready to make a run to get hands out. Although Callinan could’ve done with a touch more composure in the thick of things, tending to dump kick out of congestion, his ball use when in space was clean and played a part in quite a few Tasmanian attacks.
Recently added to the State Draft Combine list, Payne looked composed and confident in the defensive 50, positioning well to intercept in the air or at ground level when called upon. A real staple of Payne’s game is his unrelenting competitiveness, on display consistently against the Stingrays as he threw himself into contests in an attempt to win the ball or force a stoppage. Payne was switched on in transition as well, as he regularly ran past teammates to provide an overlapping option, kicking well when given space to do so.
The over-ager proved a difficult match up for Dandenong, as he switched between the forward line and midfield, using his size and strength to his advantage around stoppages and in the contest. Finishing the game with three goals, Ollington’s scoreboard impact came predominantly from footy smarts and work rate, always on the move and looking for a way to get involved.
#8 James Leake
A real bolter in up draft boards as of late, the impactful utility didn’t quite have as much of the ball he usually does, registering a season-low nine disposals, but certainly made them count with six scoring shots and five goals to show for it. Leake’s aerial prowess was on display despite not holding as many as he typically does, often going up with two opponents in a contest as he was often the target for his side heading inside 50.
#37 Arie Schoenmaker
Continuing his strong form at Talent League level, Schoenmaker was his side’s main mover out of the defensive half, as his side looked to take advantage of his ability to launch long bombs from one arc to the other. The 194cm talent was more reliable in the air than he has been in the past, showing off some clean overhead marking and out-bodying opposition for front position in one-on-ones.
By: Michael Alvaro
A natural accumulator, Ashcroft continued on his merry way with a game-high 31 disposals, five inside 50s, and four rebound 50s. Much of his work was done by hand (20 disposals) and at stoppages, where the bottom-ager was both clean and aggressive when prizing possession. With some of next year’s top prospects afield, Ashcroft did his standing no harm.
#15 Ryley Sanders
Resuming his midfield partnership with Ashcroft to again lead Sandringham’s disposal count, Sanders was just as effective in his stoppage work. He proved typically polished and leant on his work rate to run to all the right spots, while also continuing to show his improvements in impacting around the ground. Sanders began to connect more prolifically as the Dragons challenged in term four, ending up with 26 disposals, eight tackles and six inside 50s.
#28 Charlie Edwards
Edwards has been a great improver and steep riser up draft boards of late, carrying on his momentum with another strong outing on Saturday. The 190cm midfielder has a great combination of size and power, which he utilised in an extended run through the Dragons’ midfield. He can impact inside and outside, and also hit the scoreboard with two second half goals.
#29 Harvey Johnston
He may not have been the most prolific player afield with 15 disposals and five inside 50s, but Johnston showed glimpses of his potential. The national combine invitee was particularly lively in the first half, using his pace to burn forward from midfield with chain running. His evasiveness made him tricky to contain, though fewer opportunities arose for him up forward.
#32 Vigo Visentini
After a competitive battle with fellow Vic Metro ruck Will Green, Visentini faced another solid matchup in Boston Dowling, wearing the opposite number 32. The 203cm tall talent won a season-high 19 disposals and 33 hitouts, making his presence felt around the contest and proving strong in his ruck craft. Needless to say, Sandringham’s prolific midfielders were well fed.
#54 Ollie Murphy
It was a day of ebbs and flows for Murphy, whose direct opponent got the better of him at times, but didn’t prevent the defender from producing his own outstanding moments. Despite being beaten to the aerial ball at times, Murphy backed himself mark on the intercept and played his own game. He took some serious grabs for seven overall, but perhaps learned short a lesson in finding a balance between attacking defensive play, and getting body on his opponent when required.
#58 Murphy Reid
With Sandringham’s midfield looking stacked as ever, Reid showed no issues slotting in up forward as required. He gathered 17 disposals at looked to impact centre bounces off the line, utilising his clean hands and poise in possession to flick out deft handballs. That was the main feature of his game, and ironically Reid got to showcase his ability to score once shifted on-ball during term four, as he effortlessly launched a 50m goal.
It was a typical type of performance from Philactides, who notched 20 disposals and five rebound 50s in an aggressive role off half-back. The dashing rebounder was made accountable by the likes of Reid, but still played his own game on the overlap and constantly looked to attack with ball in hand. It resulted in a few untidy disposals, but some productive work nonetheless.
#3 Kynan Brown
Having strung together some phenomenal numbers in his last handful of games, Brown managed 21 touches and seven tackles for the Chargers on Saturday. He sharked the ball cleanly as usual and looked to use his sharp turn of speed to enact attacking phases, while also chaining possessions and bringing teammates into the play.
O’Sullivan is such a great all-rounder and seemed to have little trouble collecting 27 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s against the Dragons. He managed to showcase a few tricks, mostly in the kicking department with a running torpedo punt and a terrific goal from long-range in the first quarter. The bottom-ager’s booming boot was a constant feature, as was his decision making, ability to cover ground, and overhead marking prowess.
#7 Jagga Smith
As he so often does, Smith gathered a team-high disposal tally of 30, though 22 of them came by hand. The bottom-ager was slick as ever at the fall of the ball, scooping it up cleanly off the deck and quickly dishing off before being shut down by quality opposition. He proved fleet of thought in those instances and, like Brown, helped Oakleigh surge forward in transitional chains.
#11 Will Lorenz
Lorenz spent most of the day occupying a wing alongside Archie Roberts, posting 16 disposals and six tackles against his highly touted adversary. The smooth mover ran hard both ways and was able to impact either arc with his disposals. As usual, Lorenz’s best moments came when his shifted his hips to step past opponents or buy a bit more time in possession.
#26 Harvey Thomas
With 21 disposals and four goals, Thomas had claims for being best afield on Saturday. The Giants Academy prospect has adjusted nicely to the multitude of teams and roles he has played this year, most recently as a high half-forward in Oakleigh’s setup. Thomas was also sent back to settle the defence in term four, but made his greatest impact with two slick majors in the third quarter. Though he sometimes worked himself into trouble on his wrong side, Thomas generally found the ball in good launch zones and was clever when disposing of it.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Kayne Rutley
No player afield kicked more goals than Rutley, who bagged three in a tidy display up forward. The bottom-ager’s craft is undeniable, as he consistently led to good spots, crumbed at the fall of the ball, and finished opportunistic chances with aplomb. He scored in the first, third and fourth quarters, looking a natural inside 50 with nine touches and five marks.
#14 Hugo Garcia
One of Calder’s two state combine invitees, Garcia had another solid day among the Cannons’ midfield-forward rotation. He looked most effective in attacking phases, particularly when receiving the ball and driving his legs on the outside, before finishing off with a left-foot kick. Garcia balanced his game nicely though, also proving clean at the contest and snaring a classy goal in term three.
#16 Mahmoud Taha
Taha once again topped Calder’s disposal charts with 33, including 24 handballs in a performance played very much in his own style. The inside ball winner dished the ball out for fun and was prepared to break tackles in doing so. He began to accumulate more uncontested ball between the arcs after half time, but much of the Cannons’ movement started with him at the source.
#17 Nash King
One of Calder’s premier bottom-agers, King was again prominent through midfield with 28 disposals and a goal. His lone major came in the opening term, though King spent time resting forward throughout the match and managed to find pockets of space. When stationed further afield, he sparked a couple of end-to-end plays with his turn of speed and showcased a handy inside-outside balance.
#41 Jordan Croft
Having been his side’s shining light last week, Croft found the going much tougher on Saturday. He assumed his usual role up forward but was challenged by Vic Metro teammate Christian Mardini, who did enough to split plenty of aerial contests. It seemed to impact Croft’s confidence, as he dropped marks he would normally take and only registered one among his five-disposal game. It led to a minor score, though Croft also converted a free kick in the final quarter.
#2 Nate Caddy
Another star prospect who endured a frustrating day, Caddy was restricted to 11 disposals and three marks – both season-low tallies. It wasn’t for a lack of effort though, as the 192cm forward looked to impose himself physically and hunted the opposition with intent. He did his best to compete with poor delivery and found small windows of success when getting on his bike and presenting up past the wing. It ended up being a rare down day, and only Caddy’s second goalless game this season.
#10 Will Green
Green backed up a promising outing last week to be one of his side’s top performers on Saturday, showcasing a high-level array of traits in the ruck. He had all bases covered; rising high to clearly win taps, following up with his own clearances or tackles, and covering serious territory around the ground. His composure and skill with ball in hand were phenomenal for a 204cm player, often picking out the right option with a degree of comfort. Green ended up with 15 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and 30 hitouts to beat his direct opponents on a day where few Knights did.
#11 Lucas McInerney
In a game which was often played at a frantic pace and with decent pressure on the ball, McInerney stood out as a composed and efficient user. The bottom-ager delivered 10 of his 15 disposals by foot, showing a good amount of polish and poise in doing so from his post on the wing. McInerney was the kind of player Northern wanted to chain possessions in attacking phases, and also hit the scoreboard himself with a nice snap at the back of a forward 50 stoppage.
Northern’s lone state combine invitee, Ferronato produced much of the same form which got him there in the first place. The midfielder collected a team-high 30 disposals, six tackles and six inside 50s, all while enjoying a tight battle with Calder’s Taha. He proved a natural and consistent ball winner on the inside, but also worked hard defensively with a couple of punishing rundown efforts to round out his game.
#26 Zak Johnson
Trailing only Ferronato as Northern’s leading ball winner (22 disposals, seven marks), Johnson accumulated possessions with relative ease in each third of the ground. The bottom-aged midfielder also made an impact when rotating forward, kicking a goal from three scoring shots and knowing where the space was. That applied to his possessions up the ground, where Johnson’s spatial awareness came to the fore. He was hardly rushed.
By: Michael Alvaro
It was a relatively quiet day for Anastasopoulos, who spent most of it operating as a high half-forward with tough matchups. The energetic top-ager worked up the ground but struggled to use his pace on the way back to goal, often finding an opponent hot on his hammer. Nonetheless, he got reward for effort with three second half goals, including two in the final term. On each occasion, he steadied and finished with aplomb, even when made to improvise.
#13 Xavier Ivisic
A versatile and polished bottom-aged prospect, Ivisic operated up forward and on the wing in Round 17. He got involved during attacking phases, bringing others into the game with quick and clean touches which kept the play moving. Ivisic also found the goals himself during the third quarter, taking an uncontested mark over the back and displaying a touch of class with the finish.
#19 Angus Hastie
Hastie looked on track for a huge game at quarter time, starting like a house on fire before ending up with 18 disposals, seven marks, and six inside 50s. The Falcons’ lone national combine invitee offered his usual overlap run, but also launched into some strong intercept marks and applied himself defensively. Hastie’s kicking inside 50 was terrific and he continued to do all of the above when shifted from defence up to the wing after half time.
#25 Michael Rudd
The Geelong co-captain wasn’t without his helpers inside 50, and that perhaps freed him up to have a productive day with 2.3 from 15 disposals and six marks. Rudd booted the first goal of the game and showed increased signs of competitiveness, though it was his leading patterns and clean hands overhead which typically stood out. The top-ager was a threat off quick centre breaks, and also showed his aerial range when presenting high up the ground.
#1 Oliver Poole
Poole can hardly ever be faulted for effort and voice, which happened to be a couple of his best assets on Sunday. The agile and versatile top-ager was stationed behind the ball before getting a run in midfield, where he worked hard to finish up with 17 disposals and seven tackles. While many of his own possessions were affected by contact, Poole made sure to apply the same pressure on opposition ball carriers.
Arguably Bendigo’s best player afield, Travaglia seems to have found his groove off half-back and notched a team-high 20 disposals on Sunday. The bottom-ager often matched up on Anastasopoulos and read the play well off a high line. He got the better of many one-on-ones and used his rangy frame to pluck four terrific intercept marks. With ball in hand, he then looked to combine with teammates and surge forward with speed on the play.
#14 Tom Evans
Backing up a strong performance in his Round 16 return game, Evans was again one of Bendigo’s best with 19 disposals, five tackles and a goal. He made his presence felt with some strong defensive application and was just as gutsy when competing for balls in dispute. The bottom-ager blended his tough work with clean handling and a terrific goal late in the second quarter where he pounced on the Geelong defender’s mistake.
By: Michael Alvaro
Lindsay has been in some serious form through Gippsland’s midfield and that continued as the bottom-ager helped himself to a team-high 28 disposals on Sunday. He was typically slick around the contest and won clean possession with relative ease in a hot contest, but certainly got stuck in as the two sides scrapped. Before he was forced into a jumper change, Lindsay snapped a stunning goal in the second quarter which swung back beautifully in the heavy breeze.
#9 Zane Duursma
The superlatives for Duursma are running out, and he returned yet another sublime performance with four goals from 19 disposals and 10 marks in Round 17. Having spent much of the last few weeks camped inside 50, the leading Power prospect rotated through midfield on Sunday and made an instant impact with his usual knack of winning clean clearances. In attack, Duursma’s movement and one-touch marking troubled the Eastern defence, with many of his seven scoring shots coming from effortless grabs floating in from the side of packs.
#15 Tew Jiath
Jiath is another Gippsland gun who has hit a purple patch in the back-end of the season, continuing his run with 21 disposals, five marks and six rebound 50s. The Hawthorn NGA prospect proved a dual threat down back, reading the play to both intercept and set up on the rebound. His athleticism played into all phases of the game, as Jiath turned the ball over before quickly setting off and distributing the ball – mostly by foot.
#22 Archer Reid
While he came away with a second-straight goalless game, Reid’s application for 14 disposals and 18 hitouts was terrific. He learnt quickly that he’d have to get on his bike to outdo Cooper Trembath, who did well to split many aerial duels. Nonetheless, Reid attacked the ball, even without constant reward, and got after it in the ruck. Having lifted his competitiveness, Reid can next look to run out the four quarters with sustained authority.
#38 Willem Duursma
The similarities between Willem and his elder brother Zane are uncanny, albeit with the younger sibling plying his trade down back. He moves just as smoothly and extends at the aerial ball with sublime timing, also with much of the same athletic upside. Duursma looked accomplished beyond his years and saw the play in front of him with 20/20 vision, holding his own in a physical match for 15 disposals, four marks and seven rebound 50s.
A real bolter up draft boards of late, Windsor built into this game nicely and stormed home with a wet sail. He used his speed on the outside to evade opponents and show them a clean set of heels, making such plays look rather effortless. Windsor also rotated forward and snared two impressive goals, the second of which saw him use the breeze on a set shot. His disposal was otherwise a little untidy at times, but that comes with operating at such speed.
#5 Nick Watson
Continuing his rotation forward from the wing, Watson built on last week’s effort with 22 disposals and three marks, but was held goalless for the first time this season. The diminutive prospect tracked back in the early stages and surged Eastern forward with a burst of speed or slick step with most possessions. The speed of the game meant he was made to improvise on a few kicks in tight spots, and even he struggled to combat the heavy breeze.
The intensity of the game may have somewhat smothered his usual class, but Moraes still had little trouble racking up a team-high 32 disposals on Sunday. Prolific as ever, the bottom-ager’s clean hands and quick thinking saw him flick out the ball from many a stoppage, where he would usually look to break the lines and chain up into attack. When given the opportunity, he used the ball typically well going inside 50 but had to deal with a good amount of physical heat.
#59 Cooper Trembath
Trembath was given the Reid matchup and held his own aerially against an opponent with 10cm on him. That is where the top-ager thrives, and he often backed himself to clunk intercept marks when afforded a run and jump at Gippsland’s forward 50 entries. If not, he was able to bring the ball to ground and used his big frame to impact Reid’s entry to the contest. He gathered 21 disposals to go with 10 marks and six rebound 50s, but didn’t look all that comfortable with ball in hand.