Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in SA colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos
FLYING Glenelg wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera ran out for just his second SANFL League game on Saturday, popping up with some nice moments and a clutch goal in the Bays’ memorable comeback victory over Norwood. The 18-year-old hails from elite footballing pedigree as the nephew of 1993 Brownlow Medalist Gavin Wanganeen, and son of former St Kilda player, Terry Milera.
Having impressed during an 11-game senior initiation at Reserves level, Wanganeen-Milera finally broke through to the top flight in Round 13 and has now backed up a solid debut. He also proved a standout in South Australia’s Under 19 trial game last month with his class in horrendous conditions, and was a late call-up to the AFL Academy for April’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.
We put his Round 16 SANFL League performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down what was a promising outing quarter-by-quarter.
2021 SANFL League Round 16 | Glenelg 11.9 (75) def. Norwood 8.17 (65)#33 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)Stats: 12 disposals (9 kicks, 3 handballs), 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
Rotating onto the ground and into his usual wing position, Wanganeen-Milera’s contributions in the opening term were short and sweet. Spreading well both ways, he reacted well to the movement of the ball and when Glenelg won it, looked to break quickly into space.
He received his first touch that way, using his pace to get free on the wing where he marked without breaking stride, before dishing off a forward handball to keep the transition moving. The play led to Glenelg’s first goal of the game.
He was mostly stationed on the outer and continued similar running patterns, but only managed another two touches for the quarter. One saw him mop up cleanly at a defensive 50 stoppage, while the other was a slightly aired kick at half-back which was very nearly cut off.
It was a steady start overall, with Wanganeen-Milera looking relatively assured in possession but met with some heavy physical pressure if he took too long on the ball. He notched up one kick, two handballs, two marks and a rebound 50 for the term.
Starting on the ground this time, the 18-year-old enjoyed arguably his most productive period of play for the day. He got to show his tricks in the way of agility, baulking opponents on two occasions – once on the wing when breaking forward, and next around the man on the mark when lining up for a long set shot.
Wanganeen-Milera earned that set shot opportunity through a well taken intercept mark just inside attacking 50, using his length and rising to snatch the ball out of the air. He also showcased his clean handling skills at ground level, being rewarded with a high free kick for taking the ball with a couple of opponents right on his hammer. The resultant shot missed, but was struck cleanly from just inside the arc.
The raw and loping prospect continued to run both ways, sticking to his role well and being accountable in terms of defensive positioning without the ball. Four kicks, one handball, one mark, one rebound 50, and a behind made up his term two statline.
The third was arguably Wanganeen-Milera’s quietest quarter, with just a kick and tackle to show for his efforts. Again stationed on the wing as he had been during the first half, the 18-year-old worked casually into both arcs but could not quite impact the hotly contested footy.
His lone kick for the term came at defensive wing, where he assessed his options before sending the ball long down the line. He also applied a big lock-up tackle inside Glenelg’s forward 50 which the crowd wanted ‘ball’ for, but there was nothing doing for the Bays.
Wanganeen-Milera finished the game strongly as Glenelg turned the screw and snuck ahead, with the man of the moment producing a clutch play to give his side the lead.
Parked on the outer as the ball spilled inside 50, the youngster got the handball he was waiting for and quickly booted the ball towards goal, watching it sail through the big sticks to send the home crowd into raptures. To make the moment even sweeter, it was his maiden League goal.
In what was a largely contested game, he continually provided an outlet by hand and was pretty cool in a crises in terms of his poise. With the slick kind of ball use we’re used to from Wanganeen-Milera, he ran out the day well with another four touches and that all important first senior goal.
In a game which saw plenty of hard contested footy played, Wanganeen-Milera’s role was clear. As a permanent fixture on the wing, he followed the play both ways and was able to provide an outlet on the outside with clean hands and usually sound decision making. While he slightly overcooked a couple of kicks, the 18-year-old fared relatively well under a high pressure gauge and in a couple of instances, utilised his pace in transition. He may look a little casual at times without the ball but that’s just Wanganeen-Milera’s style, and you could hardly fault him in a positional sense during this outing. There’s plenty of upside to work with here, and certainly some eye-catching traits.
Featured Image: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (right) in SA colours | Credit: AFL Photos
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