PREVIEW | 2024 Coates Talent League: Murray Bushrangers

AFTER producing four first round draftees last year, Murray Bushrangers have five prospects in state talent hubs and plenty of miles under their belt in preseason. We spoke to head coach Mark Brown about the Bushies’ top talents for 2024, ahead of Round 1 of the Coates Talent League.


“The squad looks good. We like the profile of it, there’s some nice height through there. They’ve trained well over the summer. We’ve ramped up training a little bit in terms of our high speed meters and how much high intensity running we’re putting into the squad. They’ve handled that really well, which has been impressive. We’re trying to reflect what we’re seeing at the next level.”


Zac Harding
Ruck | 199cm | 01/01/2006

“He’s at Ivanhoe Grammar and linked in with a VFL club, which is fantastic. He’s big, aggressive. Had his bottom-age year ruined off the back of a knee injury… we’re really proud of him and bullish if he gets super fit, with the way he goes at the contest, that he can have a real impact at Talent League level.”

Joshua Murphy
Forward | 190cm | 28/11/2006

“In terms of an AFL size and shape, Josh is well put together. He’s got great power-speed traits… he’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster and that complements his football. He’s got nice hands, kicks it well. He’s still learning the game. He’s traditionally played that deep forward role, which he’ll do for us too.

“We’ll also give him some opportunities around the midfield… he’s a naturally confident kid and people gravitate towards him. He’s the centre of attention, which we love. He’s got the balance right around that aspect of his game as well. So, we think he’ll play some pretty good footy at certain times as well.”

Oliver Warburton
Midfielder | 185cm | 13/06/2006

“Ollie’s at Caulfield Grammar so we’ve only seen him throughout the summer holidays. I can’t question his professionalism. He ticks a lot of boxes in terms of he’s fast enough, he’s got good enough endurance, he finds the footy, but what I love about him is he’s leaving no stone unturned.

“We’re really confident that Ollie will give himself the best opportunity to play good footy and I’m certain he’ll play some good footy throughout the year. He’s looked good at the Vic Country Hub… we’ll give him opportunities around the ball and I also see a little bit of scope at half-back also.”

Jack Whitlock
Key Forward/Ruck | 200cm | 16/05/2006

“Jack will tip the measuring post at say 200cm or very close to it. He’s a little bit more aerial than Matt (Whitlock) at the moment, he stands under the high ball well. He’s brave. He kicks it well enough, but is improving that area of his game also.

“We just love his leading patterns. We love his work rate. We love the way he’s embraced the training standards and we’re bullish. You’re not going to see either of (the Whitlock twins) as finished products, but from a scope perspective and a ceiling perspective, we think they’ve got a lot of upside.”

Matt Whitlock
Key Defender | 197cm | 16/05/2006

“Matt played predominantly back for us as a bottom-ager. Very underdeveloped, so it was a little bit of a tough initiation for him, but we’re conscious that we see the draftable traits. He had some battles early, but by the end of the season, we thought he started to pick up the pace really well.

“He started to understand what he had to do in the contest. Got involved from a few chains. I like his lateral movement at his height. He’s competent below his knees, his kicking’s improving, and of course at 198cm he gives you an aerial presence as well.

“He’ll play behind the footy early, I think he’s got a little bit of scope in front of the footy also. But look, he’s trained well and we’re bullish around what he can produce this year, he’ll get plenty of opportunity. I like the constant improvement he’s shown and I like the fact he’s training at the standard.”

>> PROFILED: 2024 Vic Country talent hub


“We’ve got a couple of boys who we think might pop throughout the year. I won’t name them because I don’t think they need any extra weight on their shoulders. They’ve embraced the training standard, which we like. They’re a pretty big squad, so we like the profile around them. Let’s see how they go.”


“Our boys will roll through as leaders. We’ve probably got eight boys who’ll get an opportunity to be captain at various stages.”

2024 GOALS

“We’re trying to get the kids to a level where athletically they can play (fast, hard-running footy), and that’s the way we’ll encourage them to play. But most of our focus isn’t style of play or how we structure up. It’s just making sure that athletically, they’re well conditioned to play good fast footy.”


vs. Tasmania Devils @ Highgate Recreation Reserve
Saturday March 23, 12:40pm

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