WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also got some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football levels. Note, some prospects missed VFL action this week due to the Under 23 Young Guns showcase.
Geelong kicked off the round in style on Thursday night, with a 45-point win over the Northern Bullants at Marvel Stadium. The Cats unveiled Greater Western Victoria (GWV) midfielder Marcus Herbert on the night, and he fared well in his official debut with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal. The smooth mover also turned out for the Cats against the AFL Academy last month. In the same game, developing ruck-forward Liam Podhajski showed plenty for the Bullants, booting his first state league goal to go with eight touches and 12 hitouts against stiff opposition.
Podhajski, and Collingwood ruck Ned Moyle were due to play in Saturday’s Young Guns showcase before earning VFL selection, with both firming as viable mid-season draft options on June 2. Moyle suited up for his second game in black and white, almost doubling the output from his debut outing. The Oakleigh Chargers product notched 17 disposals, four marks and 19 hitouts, while NAB League teammate and Next Generation Academy prospect Youseph Dib slotted another two goals for the Magpies. Dib’s disposal tally of 12 was also a new personal best across his three VFL performances thus far.
With little to cheer about in the top flight, plenty of North Melbourne fans would have been eager to see how father-son talent Jackson Archer, the son of club great Glenn, fared in his VFL debut. The 18-year-old managed eight touches (seven kicks) and six marks from defence as the Roos went down heavily to Southport, with Archer among four North debutants out of the NAB League. Most of them got among the goals too, with Tasmanian Jye Menzie and Bendigo’s Nathan Kay snaring majors along with second-gamer Oliver Sanders, who also had 16 disposals and four marks. Cooper Smith, another Pioneers product was a standout with 20 touches and nine marks, but could not quite find the big sticks as he registered two behinds.
Elsewhere, the state league debut of top five prospect Tyler Sonsie raised plenty of eyebrows. His class came to the fore despite Box Hill’s loss to Werribee, as the youngster finished with 24 disposals and a couple of very nice goals. Sonsie’s second was the highlight of his game, coming on the run from 50 metres out during the third term as Box Hill mounted a charge. Potential Bulldogs father-son Ewan Macpherson was also a late call-up for Footscray, managing 11 touches and five tackles in his maiden outing – a win against Carlton.
Around the nation, there were a few more debuts and standout performances. Top 10 prospect Matthew Roberts broke through for his first League outing in South Adelaide colours, joining top pick contender Jason Horne in the Panthers side which beat Woodville-West Torrens. Roberts warmed to the occasion nicely with 14 disposals and a goal, while Horne’s consistent start to the 2021 season continued with 17 touches, five clearances and a goal.
Port Adelaide father-son talent Jase Burgoyne was called up for a SANFL League showdown on Saturday, building steadily for 14 touches as the Magpies won out by 14 points. Elsewhere at League level, Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow returned his best outing for Norwood, booting three goals from eight marks (seven contested) in the Redlegs’ win over Central District. Nasiah Wanganeen and Blayne O’Loughlin also turned out for their respective sides at Reserves level, continuing their promising runs of form.
Over in Western Australia, Matthew Johnson managed six disposals and three marks as Subiaco beat Claremont in his second League appearance. Star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen continues to be rested by Claremont having been diagnosed with glandular fever.
Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos