Category: Feature Articles

SANFL Player Focus: No first round blues for Sturt’s Morgan Ferres

ATHLETIC Sturt youngster Morgan Ferres is a member of the 2021 State Talent Hub, and one of the most highly-rated South Australian forwards in this year’s draft class. His season commenced on Friday at Unley Oval when Sturt came up against Woodville-West Torrens, and he started the year in blistering form. With six goals, ten marks (two contested), 17 disposals and two inside 50s, it was a day out against reasonable opposition. With four behinds and multiple unselfish goal assists during the contest, it is fair to say that he could have kicked nine or ten. Regardless, he leads the SANFL Under 18 goalkicking tally after Round 1 and has set himself up for a strong season.

Ferres started the match by taking a nice mark on the lead, but sprayed his first shot on goal. He quickly redeemed his miss by juggling a mark, playing on and snapping the Double Blues’ second major in the opening six minutes. This was the first of many instances where Ferres read the flight of the ball far better than the Eagles defenders and got himself into ideal positions. Later in the first term, Ferres pushed up to half-forward to create a higher option for teammates streaming off half-back. He showed that he has quick hands when his handball released a teammate into space and led to a goal from Kai Tucker. Ferres should have kicked his second from the next centre bounce, but he missed an open shot from 35 metres out. Soon after, he worked hard to get open, marked and quickly delivered to Henry Read inside 50, who kicked Sturt’s fourth goal of the day. Ferres’ score involvement numbers were very high on Friday, and he regularly attempted to give the ball to teammates who were in better positions to kick at goal. Another example of this occurred late in the first term when, after earning a free for a hold on the 50-metre arc, Ferres looked like he was going to have a shot but instead passed it off. This unselfish play led to a goal by Cormac Dwyer.

Ferres linked up well with wingman Tucker throughout the match, who used his accurate foot skills to find the leading Ferres on numerous occasions. In the second term, after Ferres got on the end of a pass from Tucker, he was tight on the boundary and attempted to pass it off, but the kick fell short of his target. Ferres is naturally unselfish and passing was the right option on this occasion, it was just the execution that missed the mark. Four minutes in, Ferres completed a beautiful fat-side lead to earn an uncontested mark and he drilled his set shot from 35 metres out. His marking appears to have gone to another level this year, as demonstrated when he took a tough contested grab after a long kick down the line from Brad Jefferies. Ferres immediately looked inside and found Jordan Hein in the corridor, thus opening up the other side of the 50 for Sturt forwards to lead into. At the 22-minute mark, as the deepest forward, Ferres outbodied his opponent, marked and strolled into an open goal for his third. Sturt went into half time with a two-point lead, thanks in large part to Ferres’ three majors and numerous score involvements to that point.

The Eagles got well on top at the start of the third, so the ball did not enter the Blues’ forwardline much during that period. With Sturt ten points down, Ferres claimed a mark but was penalised for a push in the back. It was not until the 23-minute mark that Ferres got another opportunity to make an impact, and he did not waste it as he took a chest mark on the lead and booted through his fourth. He had another chance to goal from the next centre bounce after picking up the ball cleanly and turning sharply around his opponent, but his snap went through for a behind. Sturt reclaimed the lead just before three-quarter time and looked to have the momentum at the break.

Early in the last quarter, Ferres led into the pocket to took a strong overhead mark. With his impressive vertical leaping ability and long reach, it is difficult for his opponents to get a spoil in without chopping his arms. These traits will assist him as he rises up the grades, and this is why coaches will encourage him to take more marks overhead or out in front as he continues his development. After his grab, Ferres went back and kicked a beautiful snap around the body for his fifth. Ferres said in his preseason interview that he has been working on his goalkicking during the offseason, and this hard work clearly paid off in this instance. Ferres is very good at letting his man play in front and calling for the kick over the top into space, thus allowing him to take comfortable uncontested marks. He did this again at the 12-minute mark, which led to his sixth and final goal of the day from approximately 35 metres out. Soon after, Ferres crumbed a contest in the forward pocket, sidestepped an Eagles defender and attempted to dribble through a goal, but he just missed to the near side. As the siren sounded, Sturt ran out winners by 40 points. Ferres would have been happy with the result and his performance, as he proved that he is already a class above Under 18 level.

The scoreboard flattered Sturt in the end, as it kicked the final nine goals of the match to come away with the points. Ferres was certainly their most prominent contributor throughout, and the side required his contributions to be able to score consistently. Although Ferres will also be playing school football at St Peter’s College for much of 2021, he could also earn an opportunity to play at SANFL League level depending on how Sturt’s senior side fares. Playing against bigger bodies would be a fascinating challenge for Ferres, and he will also seek to compete and shine at the Under 19 National Championships in September and October. It will be interesting to see how Ferres’ game develops throughout the year as he attempts to impress AFL scouts en route to the 2021 AFL Draft.

Image Credit: Mel Faull/Get Snapt

Q&A: Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide prospect Jason Horne is the current consensus for top pick out of the 2021 draft crop, credit to an outstanding season last year which saw him crack the Panther’s League lineup. Now part of the AFL and South Australia Under 19 academies, Horne is looking to cement such status with another big season. The combative midfielder has very few weaknesses and can also hit the scoreboard, making him a threatening option in the engine room. Fittingly, he is a Fremantle supporter who moulds his game on Nat Fyfe.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Cheesman chatted to Horne at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How did you go at testing?

A: “Not too bad. The yo-yo was a bit disappointing, I think I got pulled out a bit early but I’m alright with that, I thought the day went pretty well.”

 

Can you tell us a bit about your footballing journey?

“I started playing footy in Under 7s for Salisbury North, I played there for a season then moved down here and played for (Christies Beach) since Under 8s I think. Then I played my whole junior career through there and came to South to play 13s, 14s, 15s and now 16s, 18s and seniors. So a pretty easy journey straight through all the development squads, it’s been good.”

 

How’d you find the experience of being promoted to League level in 2020?

“I thought it was a challenging step up but I really enjoyed it, took it onboard and thought it was a really good experience coming into this year.”

 

Did you enjoy competing against the bigger bodies?

“It was a bit difficult but I enjoyed the challenge and found ways to work around it I guess.”

 

What would you say your biggest strengths on the field are?

“I think my competitiveness and my contested footy, that’s the one big one that I think stands out a lot. My kicking and marking are two of my big (strengths) as well.”

 

What are you looking to improve on?

“I think I really need to improve on my leadership. Also, me and Boofa (Jarrad Wright) the League coach talked about my field kicking going inside 50, I just think that could improve a bit from last year. Then also my goalkicking, from my point of view I think it needs a bit of improvement.”

 

Do you anticipate some more midfield minutes this year having spent plenty of time up forward in 2020?

“Yeah, me and Boofa had a talk not long ago and we said we’ll have a bit more flexibility this year with our League team, getting ‘Gibba’ (Bryce Gibbs) and a couple of young fellas from the AFL clubs, so we think hopefully this year I’ll have a bit more midfield time as well as a bit up forward.”

 

Have any senior players in particular taken you under their wing at South Adelaide?

“I think Gibba’s the main one. He’s working with us young fellas and the 18s just to work on our development so he’s been a good mentor for us young boys and especially me, I’ve been spending a bit of time with him.”

 

How would you describe yourself off-field?

“I just think I’m a nice, respectful bloke. Good to have a laugh with and chat with.”

 

How do you go with balancing footy with other commitments?

“I’m working now five days a week so it’s a challenge but it’s helped me improve my time management.”

 

Is there anyone you mould you game on?

“Nat Fyfe. I like Nat Fyfe and I’ve been watching him for a long time so he’s the big one I model myself on.”

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

Q&A: Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide/South Australia)

ADELAIDE fans will again have their eyes on a budding Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect, with North Adelaide talent Blayne O’Loughlin gunning for the big leagues in 2021. The crafty defender enjoyed an exceptional bottom-age South Australia National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s season last year, with his ability to break lines and cleanly deliver by foot impressing many onlookers. He also has terrific family footballing ties, as the nephew of Sydney Swans great, Michael O’Loughlin.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Wyman chatted to O’Loughlin at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How do you think you tested today?

A: “I felt I went pretty well. Yo-yo was probably the biggest one I was focussing on and I ended up beating my score from last year. I was one (level) away from 21 so I’m pretty upset about it but what can you do, hopefully I beat it next time.”

 

Can you tell us a bit about your footy journey so far?

“I started in Under 6’s at Gepps Cross then throughout the grades I moved to Gaza, and Payneham Football Club. Then I was with North Adelaide through the Under 13s and all the way up to the 18s now.”

 

What are some of your goals for the season individually and with North Adelaide?

“The main thing is probably to get into the leadership group, that I was one thing I wanted to work on this year because last year as an under-ager I was starting to get a bit more vocal on the ground, so I’m looking to bring that into this year and hopefully get into the leadership group to see what the coaches think. But I’m always trying to help out my other teammates, especially the younger ones as well.”

 

How would you describe yourself as a player?

“I feel like I’m a crafty backman, so one that likes to use the ball by foot but likes to get teammates involved at the same time and find them space very well.”

 

Are your skills your best attribute?

“Yeah, I feel like my skills are my biggest attribute but I’m working on trying to get fitter so I can use that as another attribute to work well with my skills.”

 

Is there any player in the AFL you would compare yourself to?

“Someone like Zac Williams or Bachar Houli. More Bachar Houli in a one-on-one, but then I like to run-and-carry a bit so that’s why I like to look at Zac Williams, he likes to use the ball by foot and run with it.”

 

How has being tied to the Adelaide Crows academy been for you?

“It’s been pretty good. I’m training with the Crows now so we’ve trained over the last two weeks with them, up with the senior squads doing a bit of weights and touch sessions with them. It’s been good, just looking at the professionalism in what they do, the nutrition they use and how they go about training, the way they encourage the new lads, it’s very welcoming there.”

 

Would you be happy to go there, or anywhere?

“I’m happy to go anywhere. Crows have put a lot of time into me so I’m happy to go there, but I’m also happy to go anywhere just to play footy.”

 

How would you describe yourself as a person, off the field?

“Just a fun and outgoing person. Someone who likes to have a laugh with mates and teammates, I got a lot of mates at different clubs so we like to have a bit of competition with each other but at the same time it’s just fun. I like to go to the beach, take my mind away from footy, that sort of thing.”

 

How did you go about managing school with footy during last year?

“I finished school last year, so it was a bit tough at the start due to Covid. I had to do a lot of stuff online so I had to get into a good rhythm, just to wake up early because some people don’t like that and just doing work from home. I wanted to finish my schooling, that was my main (goal) last year, just to finish Year 12 but then to have a good footy season as well. It worked out pretty well so I’m pretty happy with last year.”

 

What’s the plan for this year?

“I’ve got a foundation course with uni. I didn’t know what I wanted to do last year, that’s why uni offered a foundation course, so it’s like a set-up for how to start uni and all that. I also had an apprenticeship but that was 38 hours a week so I can go back to it.”

Image Credit: Naomi Jellicoe/The Advertiser

Q&A: Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

PORT Adelaide fans will again have their eyes on a budding father-son prospect, with Woodville-West Torrens talent Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter) gunning for the big leagues in 2021. The versatile defender-midfielder enjoyed an exceptional bottom-age SANFL Under 18s season last year; proving a consistent, clean, and creative ball winner. He was included in this year’s AFL Academy intake and while his preseason has been interrupted by injury, Burgoyne is poised to climb the grades once fully fit.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Wyman chatted to Burgoyne at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: You didn’t test today, what kind of niggle are you carrying?

A: “Last year in preseason I tore my meniscus. I trained with it for about two weeks but it was just nagging me and was pretty sore so I told the physios and they sent me in for an MRI. Turns out it was torn so I got surgery on the 23rd (of December) two days before Christmas, then I’ve been doing rehab ever since – just bike and upper body work.”

 

Can you tell us a bit about your footballing journey so far?

“I started off at Port Districts from about Under 8s and played there all the way up until I think Under 15s or 16s, then I moved over to SMOSH West Lakes for a year. In Under 13s I was in the Port Adelaide development squad for a year before they cancelled that stuff and then I went to Eagles from there and have been here ever since.”

 

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

“For my individual goals, I just want to be consistent, build on my draft stock and hopefully go as high as I can in the draft. Also, to play League, that’s my biggest goal so far and obviously to play Ressies too. But my biggest goal is League, I want to play with the big boys and see how I go there.”

 

How would you describe yourself as a player?

“I see myself as an attacking half-backman; rebounding, attacking, I like to set up the play like a playmaker. Just make good ball use off the backline to set play up and then also go into the midfield, get clearances and find the ball.”

 

Are your skills your greatest asset?

“Yeah, I think my ball use is pretty good. Clean hands too.”

 

Is there anyone you can compare yourself to in the AFL?

Lachie Whitfield. He can play off the backline, or the wing, up forward, and maybe a little bit in the midfield. He’s definitely my biggest person I look up to, just with the similarities in body type and gamestyle.”

 

How have your father Peter and brother Trent helped you along your journey?

“Ever since I was pretty young, dad’s always been there with my footy journey. Before every game I’d talk to him on the phone, after every game giving me feedback which can be constructive too – it’s not always good, it’s not always bad. They want to help me get better so before a game, he sits me down and tells me what I need to do to hopefully have a good game, get the team the win and after the game he’s always talking to me about what I did good, what I did bad, and what I can improve on, all that stuff.”

 

Does the link add some pressure in your draft year?

“I guess so, obviously I’ve got the last name Burgoyne and I can’t really help that. But I don’t try and think of that too much, I just go out there and try to do the best I can. I’m happy with how I’m going at the moment, I guess there is pressure there because Trent is also at Port at the moment but I try to just play my best footy.”

 

How do you balance your commitments between school and footy?

“When I do have some spare time on my hands, I just go hang out with my mates and chill a bit. With schoolwork, I just try to stay up to date and make sure that I’m at training on time and don’t fall behind or anything.”

 

How would you describe yourself as a person off the field?

“Pretty chilled and relaxed. I don’t really like to go out, I like to stay home instead – I’m a bit of an introvert but like to make my mates laugh too.”

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Q&A: Morgan Ferres (Sturt/South Australia)

STURT forward Morgan Ferres has already made a name for himself as one of the most damaging junior goalkickers, with his sights set on breaking through for a League berth in 2021. The St Peter’s student will juggle his time between Under 18s football, school football and hopefully League selection, as he looks to cement his status as a bonafide draft prospect. The athletic tall is a force in the air, but also covers the ground well with a strong speed-endurance mix.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Cheesman chatted to Ferres at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How’d you test today?

A: “Not bad actually. It’s pretty fun being out here with all the boys and doing a bit of professional testing. It’s good to get amongst it pretty early on in the year and get a few tests done to see where you sit. But I felt pretty happy with how I went today.”

 

Tell me a bit about your footy journey so far

“I started juniors at Payneham pretty young and then went over to St Peter’s College and I’ve played there since Year 7 – I’m in Year 12 now. I joined Sturt at about Under 15s level so I’ve there played from about Under 15s to Under 18s now.”

 

How’s your offseason been, what kind of things have you been working on?

“I did this testing early last year and I was pretty happy with my fitness numbers. I’ve spent a lot of the offseason working on my kicking, it’s definitely something I want to improve on – field kicking and a little bit of goalkicking as well. I also need to hit the gym a little bit and put on a few kilos.”

 

What are your main strengths on the field?

“I think for a tall, marking ability and agility and speed are things I use to my advantage to run up and get a few kicks up the ground, but also try and beat my opponent back to goal. So, outworking my opponent and aerial marking are my main two strengths I think.”

 

Do you see yourself as a mid-forward?

“I’ve played key (forward) last year but I haven’t done a lot of growing over the summer so I think if I were to play at the higher levels I’d be a hybrid half-forward sort of player.”

 

Is moving up the grades one of your main goals for the year?

“I’ve talked a bit to our Under 18s coach and we’re trying to figure out where is a good spot to play, whether it be the 18s, Reserves or seniors. I think the plan is to start in the 18s, hopefully get comfortable and get a few kicks and marks before moving up to the seniors later in the season if possible. I’ve also got college footy… so I’ll mostly play with St Peter’s with a bit on SANFL Under 18s and League if I can get there.”

 

How do you go about balancing footy with those other commitments?

“Being in Year 12 this year it’s definitely something new with the extra studies. But I’ve shortened my subjects a little bit now, I’m only doing three at school so I did that in preparation for this year to free up a bit more time so by the time I get home at 3:30 I can get straight into my footy without having any homework to worry about. So far it’s working well.”

 

How supportive has St Peter’s been with your footballing commitments?

“They’re very supportive. I’ve told them football is something I want to do and they helped me get through that with my schoolwork so they’re pretty helpful.”

 

How would you compare school footy to SANFL level?

“They’re very different styles of footy. School is obviously really fun playing with your mates and people you work in a classroom with during the day, then you get to go out and have a bit of fun on the footy field with them on the weekend. SANFL I like the high quality and the skill and things like that.”

 

Are there any players you model your game on?

“I’ve watched a bit of Charlie Curnow from Carlton, a pretty exciting forward. Him and a bit of Tom Lynch from the Crows are the two I kind of find myself in the middle of – exciting at times but also pretty strict with the way I lead with patterns. Tom Lynch I watch how he leads a lot, the way he moves around the ground is pretty elite. Charlie Curnow is an exciting forward who’s pretty cool to watch so I’d like to find a balance between those two.”

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Q&A: Matty Roberts (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide’s Matty Roberts is one of his state’s best draft prospects for 2021, and is ready to crack the Panthers’ League lineup having trained with the senior side during preseason. The AFL Academy member has been a key part of South’s Under 18 setup for a couple of years now and is also set to skipper the St Peter’s First XVIII. On-field, Roberts is a midfielder-forward who runs hard and makes good decisions with ball in hand, finds plenty of it, and can also hit the scoreboard.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Wyman chatted to Roberts at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How do you think you tested?

A: “I thought I tested not too bad. Obviously I could do better in some things but I thought it was pretty good.”

 

Tell us a bit about yourself off-field

“I grew up in the town of Strathalbyn. I have a younger brother, Tyson and my parents Brenton and Sally. I grew up on a farm just out of Strathalbyn, went to school in ‘Strath’ up until Year 9 and now I’m boarding at St Peter’s in Adelaide and going into Year 12 this year.”

 

What has your footy journey been like so far?

“I started at Langhorne Creek in the Under 10s when I was about five and then progressed through the Under 10s, 12s, and 15s and then through South Adelaide’s pathway. Now I’m in the 18s program and have started training with the League team this season.”

 

Do you think you have what it takes to match it at League level?

“I think I can, I played in an A-Grade premiership for Langhorne Creek when I was 14, just going on 15. So I have memories from that year to be able to hopefully step up into the League this year.”

 

Is making your League debut one of your goals this year?

“That’s my main goal this year, to be able to play as many League games as I can.”

 

Describe yourself as a player

“I feel like I’m smart with the ball, I’m pretty composed with ball in hand and use it well most of the time. And I can impact the scoreboard when I go forward.”

 

Do you see yourself as more of a midfielder or forward?

“Sort of a mixture between both I think. I have pretty strong scoreboard impact when I go forward but obviously I like to play through the mid.”

 

Are there any players you can compare your game to?

“I like to look at Marcus Bontempelli. He’s a left-footer, a good ball user through the mid and can also go forward and impact there.”

 

How has it been juggling school and SANFL commitments?

“School’s been pretty accommodating with my South Adelaide training this year and I’ve been trying to stay on top of school work. I’m captaining the St Peter’s First XVIII this year so they’ve been really good, just making sure that I’m showing face and then obviously going on with my South Adelaide commitments at the moment. But they’ve been really good, helping me juggle both.

Image Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

Exciting Schirmer strives for consistency in 2021

SOUTH Adelaide high-flyer Gypsy Schirmer is striving to become a more consistent player in 2021, with the exciting prospect now firmly on the draft radar after a breakthrough 2020 campaign. Schirmer’s X-factor and versatility helped her crack South’s senior lineup and her state’s Under 18 All-Star fixture last year, with inclusion in this year’s AFL Women’s Academy a richly deserved honour based on great potential.

The soon-to-be 18-year-old is known for her ability to play just about anywhere, but is looking to nail down a spot up forward while rotating through midfield. With outstanding athletic traits such as a sizeable vertical leap and swift closing speed, it was no surprise to hear Schirmer say she wants to “play more like” a certain iconic Carlton spearhead.

“It’s kind of a generic one but I think what Tayla Harris has, we share similarities,” Schirmer said. “We’re both tall players, but we both work really hard up and down the ground, and we’re quite dangerous wherever we play. “I want to play more like her.”

“I don’t really know (where my best position is), I’ve been thrown around a little bit. “I love the forward line, I really love the craft there and feel like I could really develop as a player but I’m also looking forward to developing my midfield abilities. “I got introduced to the wing last year which was a bit different but I really enjoyed it there too, so probably up forward and in the midfield is my best position.”

Perhaps much like Harris, Schirmer is also looking to more consistently showcase her talent having moved past interruptions and shaken off some injury concerns. Currently known as more of an impact player who takes full toll with each possession, the South Adelaide product also has eyes on a more grand end prize.

“I think (my goal) is just to play some consistent footy,” she said. “I have had some injury interruptions so getting some consistency, playing my role and getting to do what they want me to do at South. “Then progressing into this (AFLW Academy), playing some state footy and travelling if we’re allowed to, kind of progressing from there and if all goes to plan hopefully the draft at the end of the year.”

It has been a steep rise for Schirmer, who has only been playing football for four years. Having started out being coached by her father at Christies Beach Football Club, the youngster quickly made her way into representative squads and is now thriving under South Adelaide’s tutelage – with plenty more to come.

“I started footy four years ago,” she said. “I wasn’t really interested in playing with the boys so I waited until my local club got a women’s team, which was 2017 I think. “I was lucky enough to have my dad as my coach which was really cool as it made it easy to get driven to things.

“I started at Christies Beach Football Club down south and then got into the Under 15 state All Schools League. “I enjoyed that a lot, that was my second year of footy.

“From there started making more sides and play for South Adelaide women’s now, I’m really excited – we’ve got a good squad there. “I’ve had a few injury blows with my ankles that have kind of been screwing me up a bit but I’ve really enjoyed programs like this and hopefully I’m fit for a whole year and see what’s to come.”

With commitment to the game and pathway opportunities now at an all-time high, juggling football with studies amidst a pandemic has been admittedly “challenging” for Schirmer. With the transition to university in her sights, she says regaining a manageable balance will be an interesting prospect.

“I finished Year 12 last year so going in and out of school all the time depending on what the situation was, but also having to balance training and stuff like that, I feel like I did get quite a good training-school balance by the end of it,” she said. “But definitely with uni I’ll be interested to see how it goes.”

If preseason testing is anything to go by, Schirmer is ready to hit even greater heights in 2021 as one of South Australia’s most promising female draft prospects. Her next point of call will be in South’s hoops as they take on North Adelaide at Coopers Stadium, opening the season on February 26 in a grand final rematch.

Image Credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Lishmund looks to the one-percenters

NORWOOD youngster Alana Lishmund hardly looked out of place last year in her debut SANFL Women’s season. In 2021, the exciting midfielder-forward is turning towards the one-percenters and focusing on her strengths as she strives to become one of South Australia’s next AFL Women’s products.

“Personally, (my goal is) to just keep up the one-percenters,” Lishmund said. “Then looking towards the end of the year, it’s just getting drafted.”

The Hope Valley junior has juggled multiple sporting commitments in the past but has now “cut it back”, focusing on the native code through Norwood’s development program.

“I’ve been playing (football) for about five years,” she said. “I started off locally at Hope Valley and then I’ve been at Norwood for a couple of years coming up through their development program.

“Before this year I played two sports and I was juggling that, but this year I kind of cut it back because I used to play soccer.”

Lauded for her ability to play both deep forward and further afield, Lishmund brings plenty of X-factor to the table with punishing tackling pressure and an eye for goal. Her performance rotating through the forwardline in last year’s South Australia Under 18 Girls All-Star fixture was a particular highlight, putting her on the draft radar in 2021.

While Lishmund has found success in those areas of the ground, says she is happy to play “anywhere”, with a couple of key strengths aiding that kind of versatility.

“I usually like to be rover, so in the centre,” she said. “But (I can play) really anywhere, up forward or on the wing too.

“As a left footer, I know not many people have that so that’s kind of a strength of mine. “I’ve got some pace as well, (I’m) pretty fast.”

Off the field, Lishmund describes herself as a “pretty outgoing, friendly, bubbly” character and it shows in her vigour once the white line is crossed. Honest could be another descriptor, especially after her assessment of how preseason fitness testing panned out.

“Going through everything we had to do, I was very happy with it,” she said. “I was a bit ripped off in a couple of runs when it came to the yo-yo, but all good other than that.”

Lishmund and her Redlegs are set to kick off their 2021 SANFL Women’s season against West Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Friday, February 26. The first bounce is at 7:45pm.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Q&A: Ally Morphett & India Lehman (Murray Bushrangers)

THE 2021 NAB League Girls season bounces down on Saturday, and Draft Central‘s coverage of the elite talent pathway is heating up. We chatted to a raft of prospects at the recent NAB League Girls preseason testing day, hosted by Rookie Me, with a running theme between the players their eagerness to get back to competitive action after an 11-month layoff.

Murray Bushrangers products Ally Morphett and India Lehman were among them, two top-agers keen to show their worth in 2021 as draft-eligible talents. Morphett is a ruck/key forward who was named in this year’s AFLW Academy, while Lehman is a roving small who runs through the midfield and forwardline.

Check out what they had to say on the season ahead in a Q&A special, with video content from their Bushies teammates set to hit our YouTube channel in the coming days.

>> 2021 Season Preview: Murray Bushrangers 

Q&A

Q: What has your footballing journey been like so far?

Morphett (AM): “It started in 2018, I got asked by one of my school teachers to come and play school footy. “I’ve been around footy my whole life, my family and parents have always been into it so why not? (I) just jumped into it, had a go. “I suppose my parents and coaches saw potential in me and I got invited to Riverina trials and it just kept going further and further from then, on.”

Lehman (IL): “I started back when I was a young one, my local town had a little Auskick program happening. “There wasn’t very many of us, there were only a couple of little girls running around. “I remember only one of my close mates was with me then, running around the Auskick field. “There was a bit of primary school footy after and mainly school footy got me into where I am now.”

Q: What kind of role or position are you looking to play this season?

AM: “Most people see me more as a ruck but I would like to be a bit more of a versatile player and be more a key forward as well. “(Playing forward) is fun but I do enjoy both roles very much.”

IL: “I’ll look to hopefully play in the midfield, keep in my position there. “I look to be a better player each game, improving my game, learning more skills and applying them.”

Q: What are your best on-field strengths?

AM: “My strengths would probably be strength in the air and in the ruck… and probably just a big kick as well.”

IL: “My strengths I’d see as speed, I’ve definitely got that on me. “I’m good to just pick up the ball, get on the burners and take on the grass, taking on the game.”

Q: What are you still looking to improve on?

AM: “Obviously my marking, there’s always room for improvement in every area but probably my marking most. “I’d like to be a lot more strong.”

IL: “I’m looking to build on just overall endurance to keep running as long as possible, as much as I can. “And I guess you can never have clean enough hands.”

Q: Who have been your biggest inspirations?

AM: “Definitely my parents – my parents work just as hard as me, if not more. “They commit a lot to me playing football, they have to miss out on work all the time and I don’t know how they manage to get time to take me to games and training and everything, so I appreciate their help.”

IL: Definitely Tayla Harris, making an image in the AFLW world for all the young girls. “And in recent events, Tarni Evans, coming from the club that I’m playing for and making it into the big leagues is pretty inspiring.”

Q: What are some of your goals for 2021?

AM: “Just to keep pushing through and trying to get better and better every time because there’s always room for improvement. “And probably just to be a more versatile player.”

IL: “The goal is to just have an injury-free season, get through the season and hopefully get noticed really.”

Q: What has the travel factor been like for you over your journey?

AM: During preseason we did two and a half hours down to Wangaratta just for training, around twice a week. “Then obviously during season we had to travel about five hours up to Melbourne for games and sometimes two and a half for local games at Wangaratta. “Canberra’s around the same.”

Q: How good was it being able to play football during 2020?

AM: “Lucky we live where we do because we travel down to Victoria and since coronavirus happened, luckily enough Canberra kept pushing through with their football so we were lucky enough to put our time into their league and travel down there every week.”

Murray Bushrangers Talent Operations Lead Mick Wilson on…

Morphett: “Ally’s a very talented sportsperson. “She competes really well, is really skilled. “She competes well above her head and has played football for a while now so has the footy nous.”

Lehman: “India Lehman is a smaller player. “She’s a rover/defensive pressure forward. “All these girls are really talented players, we didn’t get to see much of them last year, but we’ve got a really good opportunity to see them this year which is great.”

Matser gaining confidence ahead of season 2021

THE 2021 NAB League Girls season is set to bounce down on Saturday, with players looking forward to their first taste of competitive action for nearly 12 months. Gippsland Power is one of the sides in action on opening day, poised against the Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Power tall, Grace Matser is one prospect looking to impress in her draft year, with the 186cm ruck readying for her first outing in Gippsland colours since April 2019. The high-level basketballer managed six games as a bottom-ager that year but did not feature in the shortened 2020 season, making her layoff even longer than some.

Having committed to football, the developing key position player is adapting to the code and has made some serious strides in preseason. Gippsland coach Rhett McLennan identified her as a “standout” on the track thus far.

“I think (there have been) two real standouts,” McLennan said. “Grace Matser, she’s our ruck from Korumburra, she’s done a power of work over that lockdown period and showed great self-motivation. “To get herself in fantastic condition and still develop has been sensational.”

Matser attended the NAB League Girls preseason testing event hosted by Rookie Me, and told Draft Central of some of the attributes she is looking to bring to the fore across season 2021. Given she ticks the ‘basketball background’ box, Matser says some of those skills have transferred into her football.

“I feel like I can read the ball really well,” she said. “From basketball you’ve got to know how to read the play so I can tell where everything’s going. Also just general craft around the ruck and all that kind of stuff.”

“I (want to) just to be a real presence around the club, be a real voice out there and obviously have that confidence as well. Also hopefully getting drafted to an (AFLW) team would be amazing

On the other hand, Matser is still developing parts of her game which, as a tall player, will inevitably help her make a bigger and more consistent impact on games. In these aspects, the 18-year-old says confidence is key.

“Definitely my confidence around the ball (is an area of improvement),” she said. Especially in packs, being able to be that tall target around the ground.”

Having only begun her footballing journey in 2017, Matser’s rate of development has been steep. The raw and athletic prospect represented Vic Country’s Under 16 side in 2019 and says among her favourite aspects of the game is its “team environment.”

“I started in 2017, just with the local youth girls team down at Korumburra and went to try out for the Gippsland Power that same year,” she said. “I was a bit young to play but I’ve been with them for four years and I’m absolutely loving it.

“I just love the team environment, just how the girls get around each other and how they’re so supportive. Also the physicality of it as well.”

Expect to see Matser feature prominently in the Power’s NAB League Girls campaign this year, with some exciting talent coming out of the Country region once again.

The Draft Central crew also chatted to a number of Matser’s teammates and young guns from around the competition on preseason testing day, all of which can be viewed on our YouTube channel across the coming days in the brand new ‘At the Combine’ series. Don’t forget to subscribe for more!