IN a return to our Player Focus piece, we take a look at a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 1 of the competition, our eyes were on Corey Durdin who ran out for the Bulldogs in the opening match of the season against Sturt.
Durdin was the sole South Australian hub member running around in the game between the Bulldogs and Double Blues, and did not disappoint playing off half-forward and spending time in midfield. He might have only had the nine disposals, but his pressure work and highlights he showed throughout the match were eye-catching even against much bigger opponents.
His first touch was a clean scoop off the ground to a teammate that was unrewarded through the live statistics, with his handball looking smooth. He might not have had another touch for the term, but his running work – such as where he offered up a link with Troy Menzel – was constant. He won the ball midway through the term, but was immediately tackled.
He took his first mark 14 minutes into the second term where he stood his ground well at half-forward, and he passed nicely to Ryan Carnelly who was in a better position. It led to a series of passes ending up in the hands of star recruit, Daniel Menzel who slotted Centrals’ first of the contest. His other noticeable moment of the second term was another great mark, earning a goal assist for his kick to Chris Olsson, meaning already the teenager was lively in two scoring passages.
Moving into the second half, Durdin continued his good form from the previous quarter, laying a big bump to set the tone early. He had a really exciting play when he marked 55m out at the eight and a half minute mark of the term, but you could see he was in two minds with the kick. He had a chance to deliver to Menzel at full forward or have a shot at goal, and in the end it went between the two, over the top of Menzel and bounced through for a behind.
Durdin’s positioning at stoppages was really impressive, and he was able to work his way to the front position with his opponent later in the term. It worried his direct opponent who put the arms around him and Durdin received the free kick, then moved it on to Trent Goodrem who was one of Centrals’ best on the day.
Durdin took a strong mark in the first minute of the final term coming out of half-back with his hands outstretched and took it cleanly. He had no options upfield so had to pass back inside defensive 50, but neatly hit a teammate. Moments later he laid a great tackle in the middle of the ground to stop a Sturt opponent charge in his tracks.
Others who impressed from a young guns perspective were former South Australian Under 18s representatives in Jed McEntee and Lachlan Burrows for Sturt. McEntee was strong in midfield, and whilst at times his disposal could be inconsistent, his defensive work and work rate were terrific, laying nine tackles from 10 touches. Burrows had a purple patch in the second term with a few good contested marks and kicked a strong goal from the pocket.
A couple of mature-agers to watch were Sturt’s Ash Johnson and Central’s Nick Lange. Johnson booted three goals from five scoring shots, but was incredibly impressive in the marking contest, both on the lead with speed, and one-on-one with strength. He took seven marks from 12 touches and the 22-year-old shone in his first game at the state’s top level. Lange won 21 touches and took 14 marks running at an absolute elite 90 per cent disposal efficiency with a game-high 124 Dream Team points on his League debut.