Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Inside Midfielder/Defender
SNAPSHOT: "A strong-bodied inside midfielder capable of providing marking presence at either end of the ground, with sound reading of the play and clean hands."
Tyreece Leiu has long been one of the more well known Eastern-based prospects, forming a promising partnership with regional teammates Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo from Under 16 level, until now. He started season 2021 alongside said pair at the centre bounces, rotating forward as usual before finding an unlikely home in defence, where his intercept ability was unearthed. With all three lines covered across his junior career, the big bodied 18-year-old is a versatile talent who provides strength at the contest and has adjusted well to different roles thus far. Having been part of Vic Metro's undefeated Under 16 side, he was set to done the Big V again this year but missed due to injury.
+ Reading the Play
- Explosive Speed
Versatility is somewhat now a pillar of Leiu's game, having originally featured as a midfield-forward rotation piece before his late venture to the backline. His size and contested ball winning ability on the inside are handy, and the 18-year-old has worked hard on becoming more of a marking player this year. Having earmarked that trait as one to improve during preseason, Leiu arguably turned it into a strength at either end of the ground, which makes sense for a 194cm player.
A couple of games stand out in particular for Leiu, who showed glimpses of his best form during the 2021 NAB League season. He was terrific against the second-ranked GWV Rebels in Round 5, taking seven marks from 17 disposals in a 38-point loss. A month later, he backed that up against the ladder leading Sandringham Dragons, clunking nine marks among his 26 disposals as a brick wall in defence.
Both outings arguably eclipsed Leiu's output over four quarters in his early-season games, which he played through midfield and up forward. His reading of the play and marking ability were sound across defensive 50, having been something he developed when providing a lead-up target in the attacking half. While unable to kick goals or have much of an accumulative impact early in the year, Leiu found the latter factor later on.
In terms of improvement areas, Leiu would arguably have liked to have found more of the ball (average 16.7 disposals) or kicked some goals in his time as a midfielder-forward. Having that consistent production is important for bigger-bodied midfielders like Leiu, who is capable of adding strings to his bow. Speaking of, another handy trait would be a touch of explosive speed to better navigate space and not rely so much on strength, though a player of his 93kg frame is hardly expected to run like The Flash.
Having managed six NAB League games and a VFL debut this year, it was good to see Leiu back on the park. On top of the cancelled season in 2020, the utility also suffered stress fractures in his back and would likely have missed some footy nonetheless. He also missed out on representative duties due to injury this year, so might come in with some queries on his durability on the back of such misfortune. When available though, he's a decent watch in all thirds of the field.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 40+
Coming into the year, Leiu was expected to be a handy point of difference to the likes of Sonsie and Soligo in Eastern's midfield, feeding the classy movers to the outer. Having done some nice things up forward before finding a home in defence, he has gone on to prove his versatility and find new ways to impact games. Which role suits him best in the eye of recruiters may impact his draft range, but he would be a handy pick in the third or fourth rounds.