Tag: marcus bontempelli

Versatile Parish thrives on physicality

WHEN asked of the key traits she wanted to present at the AFL Women’s Under 19 National Championships, the answer was pretty straightforward and ominous for Jamie Parish.

“Definitely my physicality,” Parish said. “I love bumping, hitting, shepherding.”

The versatile Woodville-West Torrens talent has enjoyed a swift journey into the South Australian talent pathway, crossing from other codes and being thrust into the SANFL Women’s system.

“I started off as a basketballer and a netballer,” she said. “I ended up having to fill in for a local club, I played one game and they were like ‘why don’t you give SANFL a try?’… so then I basically hopped straight into the SANFL, played a couple of years and ended up playing state.”

Parish described her 2021 state league form as “up and down”, but is enjoying the “learnings” of being tested in a variety of roles. Having cut her teeth as a key defender, the 171cm prospect was also thrust into the middle at the National Championships and can even swing forward or provide a handy ruck fold.

“(My coaches) are playing me in a lot of new positions and not just keeping me down back, so that’s been really good.” she said. “I am a key defender but I have been swapping through the midfield recently. “Hopefully I get a run in the midfield but it really just comes down to game day, because sometimes they’ll chuck me up forward as well, so who knows.”

While the 17-year-old was a mainstay throughout the Eagles’ SANFLW campaign, she was restricted to two of a possible three state representative games. Parish took on Western Australia in game one and was “pretty happy” with her performance, before returning for game three against the Allies down in Victoria, after being isolated due to COVID-19 precautions as her side battled Vic Country.

Parish looks up to the likes of Adelaide women’s captain Chelsea Randall and Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli, who she said are “hard at it and great players (she) always looks up to”. Boasting a similar competitive edge and the ability to play on multiple lines, Parish is also clean by hand in tough situations like her two idols. On the flip side, she says she is “motivated” to keep improving her fitness.

In true impartial fashion, the South Australian supports both Adelaide and Port Adelaide in the men’s AFL competition, while backing “all of them” in the women’s league. With expansion continuing at the top flight, there will be greater opportunities for developing prospects like Parish to crack the elite level and potentially run out alongside those she cheers on.

Outside of football, the current Year 12 student says she is one who “enjoys the sunshine”.

“Other than that, I’m just a casual sleep in until 12 o’clock and think about doing something sort,” she said.

Strahan takes inspiration from ‘The Bont’

A TALENTED state representative in basketball, Bendigo Pioneers’ Annabel Strahan has a goal of following in the footsteps of the footballer she loves to watch the most – Marcus Bontempelli. Despite being a Blues’ fan, Strahan said she can draw similarities in their journeys and hopes that she can emulate his efforts in the AFL Women’s.

“He also played a bit of basketball when he was younger and I think I see that through similarities in the way that he plays the way that I’ve transitioned too,” Strahan said. “I love how he’s one of the best users of the ball on both sides and I think that makes him really unpredictable and really versatile wherever he plays. “I hope to do that as I get more into my footy journey.”

“In terms of the girls, I think as a local person to use would be Kerryn Harrington who played for Spirit when I played (basketball) at Bendigo,” she said. “I think being able to watch her transition from basketball to footy and how she’s just been so good in both of those has been a good inspiration and good idol to use to see that you can transition and play both sports.”

As Strahan eluded to, she has had quite the journey, beginning in basketball until a couple of years ago where she took the chance on playing footy with the Pioneers.

“I moved to Bendigo two years ago which is when my footy journey started,” Strahan said. “I had been playing basketball. “Did that through the Vic Country program, played up for Bendigo. “Then I wasn’t kind of enjoying things so I wanted to try out footy and see if I would enjoy it and I absolutely loved it. “Loved it from the moment I played local footy. “Then I got invited to Pios the year after and just kind of kept going I guess.”

The attraction to football came from the increased team environment, with 18 players on the field compared to five on the basketball court. Similarly, Strahan said football was good at gradually bringing you into the system and getting the fundamentals right without demanding too much once you got to the elite junior level.

“I think the thing with basketball and the whole program where it was really intense really early on,” she said. “I felt like it was really professional from a young age and it kind of felt like I had nothing left to give for it and wasn’t really enjoying how it wasn’t really a team sport anymore and more focused on sole players. “But footy I found is much more focused on that team mentality and you’ve got to use everyone on the team, there’s not just one star team. “I like how it’s more valuing for each player on the team.”

Predominantly a midfielder in her short career, Strahan had a role change at the start of this year, moving to half-back where she thrived and said she would love to have a go at more positions around the field.

“I really enjoyed that and I think that I’d love to enjoy playing in more positions and obviously haven’t played enough to play most positions, but I think coming off the backline I really enjoyed that and I think being able to shift through multiple positions is really a good aspect for the game and for my versatility,” she said. “I think for the moment I’d say I’m enjoying the backline a lot but I’m open to being switched about wherever.”

Strahan said her clean hands and groundballs were among her best attributes on the footy field, crediting basketball with her skill. She also said she was looking to gain greater strength, adding 10kg since last season in a bid to become more of a “tackling threat”.

“I think I’ve transitioned really well and stands out in my game,” Strahan said. “With that I think my footwork which you spend so much time working on around packs, I’m really good at getting out of that. “I think the biggest attributes that I’m proud of are my decision making and my composure around the footy with the ball which I think comes from playing point guard and those decision making roles with basketball.

“I think that’s (strength) definitely something I want to improve on is just be stronger around the ball and a bit more of a tackling threat,” she said. “Also with my height, being more intercept marking, I’m more of a threat in the air by taking some good marks.”

While the Pioneers midfielder might have grown up playing basketball, her love to football has always been there, as a member of a “rabid” footy following family.

“Yeah my dad and my brother and that side of my family has grown up with rabid followers of footy, all Carlton supporters through and through,” Strahan said. “I used to go to the footy all the time when I was younger, and I still love it now. I think it was always something that I followed, but obviously since I’ve started playing I’ve got a bit more into following it. “It’s definitely been a big part of me growing up.”

Strahan’s favourite memory was winning a flag on her birthday last year with Golden Square which was all the more memorable having lost to their opponents the year before. In terms of her NAB League career, her debut game against Murray Bushrangers was one of her favourites and personal best games she played.

Unfortunately for the top-ager, her season came to an abrupt end just as she was hoping to get going, which made it tough for her to believe the AFL Women’s was still a possibility. She said the announcement the season had been postponed and eventually called off was not a shock, but still a disappointment.

“I think at that stage we were all kind of expecting it I guess,” she said. “Everything was being cancelled but it was still up in the air and we were like ‘hopefully we’ll be able to come back and play’ so that was still in the back of our minds, we’ve just got to keep going on and training. “As it got further and further along it was kind of inevitable that it was going to get cancelled but I think the main thing was just being upset because I hadn’t played much footy so I thought ‘god no, it’s only three games not enough for me to get through with that’ but I guess footy just shows that people are always watching and so I think the biggest thing is just staying focused on that.”

“There’s lots of things to distract you from it but the easiest thing for me was just talking to my other teammates and just focusing on that if it does come back how we will get ready for that.”

Strahan said during the off-season she had tried to continue bulking up on her strength and conditioning by bringing some gym equipment home from her local gym to help with her goals. As for her skills, she said her mum would often head down to the local oval with her, but conceded that it was probably not the standard of teammate she was used to.

“In terms of footy, things were a bit more difficult,” Strahan said. “I had to go down to the local oval with my mum who doesn’t know how to play footy very well so I was getting kicks that were going everywhere but it really worked on my conditioning in a way that I hadn’t done before so that was quite an experience for me. “It’s just been like going down with my family and doing running on your own which is a bit harder than with the team. Just trying to stay focused and driven.”

Strahan thanked all those who had helped her along the way from her coach at Golden Square to her strength and conditioning coach and all her friends and family who had been so supportive of her journey.

“I think looking at those people you realise how important they are along the journey and how you couldn’t have got there without them,” Strahan said. “I think that footy’s just great in giving you all those people to rely on, but also to help you and push you to be the best player you can be.”

Now Strahan is edging towards achieving her goal after receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation earlier in the month, something that she was a little surprised about considering her lack of on-field time.

“Yeah I think, not to sound like I’m not confident in myself, but only having not even finished my full season last season and I didn’t get to do the nationals, I just thought that I didn’t have enough of a resume for footy so to get that call-up was pretty crazy for me,” Strahan said. “I didn’t really think it was in my options but it just happened and things kept on happening which was pretty wicked.”

Now she knows exactly how far she wants to take her football with that chance of making the elite level in her sights.

“I think the whole thing for me is how much I’ve enjoyed footy and just looking ahead, you want to get drafted because you want to keep playing the sport that you absolutely love and that goes into you want to progress as a player and if I get to go into the AFLW, you get to play with the best players and you get to progress your footy that way and get to play with the best players there,” Strahan said. “So I think it would just be that building myself into the best player I can be and learning from all those star players who are in the AFLW.”

As for what it would mean to get drafted, Strahan said it would be “absolutely crazy”.

“I feel like every week in the past month has just been crazy and exploding for me,” Strahan said. “But I think it would just be very rewarding coming from basketball where things weren’t amazing, but footy I’ve just found has been so enjoyable and everyone has been so supportive, it’s just such a good environment.

“I think it would be really rewarding and also really exciting in terms of getting something to look forward to and really work hard on because the opportunity would just be amazing.”

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights

OUR next All-Star Team battle makes for another intriguing quarter final clash, set to play out between Victorian regions, in the Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were current Collingwood star, Steele Sidebottom (Murray) and the AFL’s games record holder, Brent Harvey (Northern).

These clubs are seeded fourth (Murray) and fifth (Northern) respectively, as the gap closes to its narrowest margin yet in our overall draw. The proposed Bushrangers squad outvoted Sturt and the Oakleigh Chargers, while Northern’s path to this stage came through Norwood and Swan Districts. The winner will qualify for the semi finals, set to face either East Fremantle or the Sandringham Dragons.

>> SCROLL TO VIEW THE FULL TEAMS

TALKING POINTS

THE REBOUNDERS:

Both defences are stacked, as one would come to expect at this stage of the draw, with rebounding quality a clear strength across either back six. The Stingrays are well stocked in the running department, as flankers Jack Crisp and Jarrod Harbrow are supported by Joel Smith and Zac Williams on the last line. While Harbrow and Williams possess pure pace to break the lines, Smith and Crisp are reliable users by foot who can create in transition. Add the endurance of Sidebottom and power of Brett Deledio up on either wing, and there threatens to be some serious force behind Murray’s attacking play.

But the Knights are also well stocked, with the Shaw brothers – Rhyce and Heath – both sure to generate some forward momentum out of defensive 50. Fellow former Magpie Ben Johnson has a weaponous left peg, while Chris Johnson provides a good balance to the back six alongside Dylan Grimes, and Nick Vlaustin off the bench. Further afield, the likes of Leigh Montagna, David Zaharakis, and Brent Stanton will run all day between the arcs, with Paul Licuria another who accumulates with ease.

Ultimately, it’s clear both sides have serious run in their legs, particularly in defence. But given Northern’s elite runners further afield allow for a greater balance in the defensive setup, we give the Knights a big tick in that third of the ground.

THE KEY POSITION STOCKS:

Northern’s spine has an ominous look about it, propped up by four formidable key position starters. Collingwood fans would get a good hit of nostalgia seeing Simon Prestigiacomo and Anthony Rocca line up at opposite ends, accompanied by Michael Hurley and Lance Whitnall respectively. In terms of starting stocks, particularly in defence, the Knights arguably have Murray covered. Jarrad Waite and Barry Hall stack up well inside forward 50, with Ben Reid and Alipate Carlile up the other end for the Bushrangers.

However, the country region seems to gain an edge in terms of depth, laying claim to some high level bench depth. Ben McEvoy and Justin Koschitzke, who can both rotate through the ruck or at either end of the ground, make for sound back-up, along with Fraser Gehrig hidden in the forward pocket. The ruck duel between Murray’s Steven King and Northern’s Matthew Kreuzer is difficult to split, so it seems Murray has the greater weight of options in the tall department.

THE DEEP MIDFIELDS:

As is the case with almost every side seeded in the top 10, the midfields run deep. Northern’s centre bounce starters jump off the page, with Adam Simpson at the core alongside Trent Cotchin and Marcus Bontempelli. Murray’s selection of David Mundy, Clayton Oliver, and Tom Rockliff is solid in its own right, but doesn’t quite compare to what the Knights have to offer. On the outer, Sidebottom and Deledio ensure Northern’s Montagna and Licuria will be in for a tough day at the office, while the options of Jack Ziebell and Steve Johnson linger up forward. Northern also has options, with Harvey and Josh Caddy among those able to add a spark when required. This is a tough one given Murray’s range of options once again, compared to the weight of elite talent on Northern’s side.

SUMMARY:

As the rankings would suggest, there is hardly anything to split these two sides. Northern was a prolific talent region throughout the 90s and early-2000s, hence why so many of their All-Stars are already household names. Murray has long been a hotbed of talent as far as regional areas go, and it clearly shows in its well-balanced, well-stocked side. In a flip of the coin, and given the areas touched on above, I am taking Northern.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
Murray Bushrangers
Northern Knights
Created with QuizMaker

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Northern Knights vs. Swan Districts

OUR next All-Star Team battle is the final one of the Round of 16 between a Victorian club and a West Australian club, in the Northern Knights and Swan Districts. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were AFL games record holder, Brent Harvey (Northern Knights) and Richmond full-back, Alex Rance (Swan Districts).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded fifth (Northern Knights) and 12th (Swan Districts) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the Murray Bushrangers/Oakleigh Chargers.

STRENGTHS:

The Knights have a really underrated squad when it comes to this series simply because there are not too many weaknesses. The Knights’ spine is A-grade quality from the key defenders in Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley, to the key forwards in Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall. Though that is not to take anything away from the midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, Trent Cotchin and Adam Simpson a really well balanced core with different strengths.

For the Swans, they have an elite starting midfield. Nic Naitanui in the ruck, with Stephen Coniglio, Michael Walters and Andrew Embley at the stoppages, you would back them in to win the midfield battle. Up forward, the likes of Charlie Cameron and Jeff Garlett would create havoc at the feet of their key forwards, while Lewis Jetta‘s elite kicking and Rance’s intercepting ability means they have some strong players across the field.

WEAKNESSES:

There are not really any weaknesses with the Knights. If you had to be picky you could argue the lack of wingers, given Leigh Montagna and Paul Licuria are more inside ball winners, and while both Blake Caracella and David Zaharakis could play on the wing, it leaves the forward line a little short. Overall though, the depth is pretty sound.

For the Swans, it is that depth and little pockets in different parts of the field where they just fall short. They could match it with the Knights in the midfield, but outside of that, they would be stretched in different areas of the field.

SUMMARY:

The Knights would be favoured in this one for a bit more balance across the ground. Swan Districts has an elite midfield, and some star talent around the ground, but the depth of the Knights would be a bit too much.

Who would you pick?
Northern Knights
Swan Districts
Created with Quiz Maker

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Northern Knights vs. Norwood Redlegs

OUR next All-Star Team battle is one between a Victorian club and a South Australian club, in the Northern Knights and Norwood. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Brent Harvey (Northern Knights) and Tom Harley (Norwood).

TEAMS:

These two sides have some of the best key defender stocks in the All-Star Team series, with the fifth seed Northern Knights expected to win the vote against the 28th seed Norwood outfit. Though in saying that, there are still some quality players running around for the Redlegs.

STRENGTHS:

The Knights have a really underrated squad when it comes to this series simply because there are not too many weaknesses. The Knights’ spine is A-grade quality from the key defenders in Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley, to the key forwards in Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall. Though that is not to take anything away from the midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, Trent Cotchin and Adam Simpson a really well balanced core with different strengths.

Norwood just has a team of really strong players, and they would make it difficult for you to beat them. Most of the full squad will make opposition sides earn every touch, and with Scott Burns, Tony Francis, Roger James, Trent Dumont and Adam Heuskus through the middle. Matthew Primus rucking will be a strength, while the key defensive combo of Tom Harley and Heath Grundy, along with Tom Jonas and Nathan Bassett makes for a really strong back six.

WEAKNESSES:

There are not really any weaknesses with the Knights. If you had to be picky you could argue the lack of wingers, given Leigh Montagna and Paul Licuria are more inside ball winners, and while both Blake Caracella and David Zaharakis could play on the wing, it leaves the forward line a little short. Overall though, the depth is pretty sound.

For the Redlegs it is definitely the lack of a quality key forward, with Ryan Schoenmakers and Matthew Robran not the strongest of combinations in this series. The depth trails off a little at the end, but is overall pretty solid, though they might just have a few too may defensively-minded players more so than offensively-minded ones.

SUMMARY

It is anticipated that Northern Knights would win the clash given the overall strength of the side, but one can imagine Norwood might make life difficult for them, and make them earn every touch on the field.

Which All-Star Team would you pick?
Northern Knights
Norwood
Created with QuizMaker

Classic Contests: Bushrangers scrape into the eight with narrow win over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the sides locked horns in the final round of the home-and-away season.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 17
Saturday August 24, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 5.0 | 5.4 | 7.8 | 9.10 (64)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.5 | 5.7 | 6.10 | 8.13 (61)

GOALS:

Murray: J. Schache 4, M. King, D. McDonald, J. Impey, N. Holman, K. Turner
Northern: H. Curnow 2, L. Hunt, M. Haynes, S. Peet, C. McCabe, W. Murphy, B. Lennon

BEST:

Murray: K. Turner, D. Howe, M. Gibbons, J. Schache, N. Holman, J. Impey
Northern: B. Lennon, L. Hunt, H. Curnow, J. Short, M. Bontempelli, J. Potter

Draftees in action:

Murray: Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, Jarman Impey, Max King, Daniel Howe, Kayne Turner, Josh Schache
Northern: Marcus Bontempelli, Ben Lennon, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Kyle Langford

The scenario was simple for Murray heading into the final TAC Cup round in 2013; beat the fifth-placed Northern Knights, and you make finals. Sandringham was lurking just two points adrift, and would have the chance to capitalise on any slip-up from the Bushrangers in the weekend’s final fixture. With the fate of their season in their hands, the country region delivered at the death.

Looking at the form guide, one could hardly be blamed for counting Murray out, as it would have to halt a three-game losing skid against a higher-ranked opponent just to guarantee a post-season spot. Northern had produced the goods towards the back-end of the season too, coming in with wins in six of its last seven outings. Both teams were at relative full-strength, with a total of 12 future AFL draftees taking the field – split seven to five in Murray’s favour.

Out to prove their credentials, the Bushrangers slammed home five-straight goals in the opening term to signal their intentions. Northern remained in the hunt, but could only manage 2.5 from its superior weight of scoring shots. That factor would take toll in the second period, as the Knights booted three unanswered majors to take a three-point advantage into the main break.

The less-than one goal swing was reclaimed by Murray heading into the final turn, leaving everything to play for across the remaining 25 minutes. Knowing full well of the finals ramifications, Northern made it tough for the hosts and even outscored them, but was unable to get back on top as Murray held on to win by three points. Both sides booted two goals each in the final term, making for a grandstand finish.

An incredible four goals from 16-year-old talent Josh Schache proved massive for Murray in the steady-scoring affair, but it was Kayne Turner who was adjudged the victors’ most valuable player. All six of the Bushies’ best players went on to make the AFL grade, as Daniel Howe, Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, and Jarman Impey joined the aforementioned pair. Top-age gun Ben Lennon was recognised as Northern’s best player, with Jayden Short and Marcus Bontempelli also among the action.

Despite the result, Northern would go on to have the better post-season run of the two sides; beating Gippsland in a week one elimination final, but going down to eventual premier, Eastern in the semis. Murray would immediately bow out of finals despite boasting a stacked squad, losing to Western by nine points in their knockout dig.

Draft Central All-Star Team: Northern Knights

NORTHERN KNIGHTS have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain and VFL/AFL games record holder Brent Harvey.

THE TEAM:

The Knights have a well balanced side with some quality talls, an elite midfield and plenty of hardened players who could roost the football and impact on the big stage.

DEFENCE:

The balance of offensive and negating defenders is healthy within the Knights defence, led by key talls, Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley. The pair could not be more different with ‘Presti’ being one of the best negating defenders of the modern era, though he also rarely reached double-figure disposals. Hurley on the other hand could be an offensive weapon racking up plenty of disposals and rebounds for the Bombers, having made the All-Australian team twice.

A third tall included in the back six is Richmond premiership defender Dylan Grimes, an All-Australian in his own right. Surrounding the talls are some quality smalls with Brisbane legend and two-time All-Australian Chris Johnson, and Collingwood premiership player, Ben Johnson, as well as Sydney premiership player and now North Melbourne coach, Rhyce Shaw. With the exception of Grimes, the other five players are 200-plus game players. On the bench, Nick Vlastuin could easily slot in as a rebounding defender.

MIDFIELD:

The midfield has a relative mix of current and past players. Its onball brigade of Marcus Bontempelli and Trent Cotchin shows a couple of the elite players in the AFL, as the pair have a Brownlow, three All-Australians, six best and fairests and three flags between them. Leading the ruck division is the incredibly talented Matthew Kreuzer who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, but still played almost 200 games.

Through the centre line, North Melbourne 300-gamer Adam Simpson stands out, having won an All-Australian and best and fairest to go with his two flags in the 90s. He is flanked on either wing by another couple of talented midfielders in 287-gamer Leigh Montagna (two All-Australians) and two-time best and fairest Magpie, Paul Licuria. The core five would be a difficult midfield to stop, with a hardened attack on the ball and one that could use tagging to effect.

On the bench, the midfield runs deep with Nick Stevens, Brent Stanton, John Barker and Daniel Harford all capable of running through the middle.

FORWARD:

Up forward, there is a nice balance between the talls and smalls, with strong marking key forwards, Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall providing some big marking targets. Rocca booted 415 goals in 242 games, renowned as one of the ‘super boots’ of the competition, often launching goals from 70 metres out. Whitnall managed 348 goals in 216 games, but also earned an All-Australian place and a best and fairest in his time with the Navy Blues.

Jarrod Molloy was best known for his work with the Lions before critically being traded in a huge deal for Mal Michael. As history would have it, Molloy missed out on a flag as Michael established himself in the three-peat Lions outfit. Still, Molloy booted 200 goals in 169 games as a really strong forward. The biggest name inside 50 is VFL/AFL games record holder, Harvey with the small forward booting 581 majors in 432 games, winning five best and fairests and four All-Australians in his time. Blake Caracella (187 games, 218 goals) and David Zaharakis (207 games, 125 goals) round out the front six.

Josh Caddy and Harford are among those on the pine who could come on and have an impact in the team if given the opportunity.

DEPTH:

Whilst the 24-player team itself is pretty strong, Northern Knights have a number of players just outside that core group who could understandably make it. Of the 100-game club not in the side, Angelo Lekkas (180), Jack Newnes (155) and Daniel Wheatley (135) are the next three highest in terms of games played, whilst Shane Clayton (117), Ricky Dyson (114), Anthony Franchina (105) and Jack Grimes (100) all reached the triple-figure milestone.

High-flyer Gary Moorcroft (98 games) went close to squeezing in despite falling just short of the ton, whilst Kane Lambert (95) – though drafted out of the VFL as a mature-ager – Aidan Corr, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham and Darcy MacPherson are among other modern day players who could squeeze into the All-Star side in the coming years.

Northern Knights Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

NORTHERN KNIGHTS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The North Adelaide Roosters All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Wayne Carey announced as the winner and captain of the Roosters’ All-Star side.

The Northern Knights have a lot of elite talents running around the park with the VFL/AFL games record holder in Brent Harvey leading a number of modern star champions in Trent Cotchin, Heath Shaw and Marcus Bontempelli as seeds.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Thursday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is Norwood Redlegs starting on Monday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

Classic Contests: Stacked Knights pip Falcons at home

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013 to relive the closest match between the sides in a decade.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 14
Saturday July 27, 2:00pm
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 4.3 | 5.4 | 12.7 | 13.10 (88)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.4 | 4.10 | 8.12 | 11.15 (81)

Goals:

Northern: J. Castagna 2, J. Short 2, M. Bontempelli 2, B. Lennon, K. Malone, S. Switkowski, K. Langford, L. Hunt, J. Turner, G. McDonagh
Geelong: B. Beardsell 2, J. Tsitas 2, K. Spokes, M. Buchanan, M. Boag, N. Bourke, M. Thompson, A. Moloney, A. Hickey

Best:

Northern: J. Turner, B. Lennon, J. Kalanj, M. Bontempelli, G. McDonagh, J. Iacobaccio
Geelong: J. Tsitas, B. Beardsell, J. Maishman, F. Fort, J. Nelson, J. Sharp

Draftees in action:

Northern: Ben Lennon, Marcus Bontempelli, Jayden Short*, Jason Castagna*, Sam Switkowski*, Kyle Langford*
Geelong: Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke, Darcy Gardiner, Sam Russell, Jackson Nelson*, Zaine Cordy*, Teia Miles*

* – denotes bottom-aged

Back in 2013, TAC Cup outings became somewhat of a foregone conclusion for the Geelong Falcons. They sat atop the ladder at 12-1 after 13 rounds, six games clear of the eighth-place Northern Knights who they would meet next. The previous clash between the two sides that year was a one-sided one which saw Geelong salute to the tune of 96 points at Kardinia Park, only consolidating its status as the team to beat at that point.

But things would turn out a little differently in the pair’s next outing, with Northern able to match the Falcons for draftable talent on the day and sneak home by seven points. The Knights boasted their two top-aged draftees for the year in Marcus Bontempelli, while also fielding a bottom-aged group which included premiership Tigers Jayden Short and Jason Castagna. Lewis Taylor was Geelong’s leading top-age prospect as one of seven eventual draftees over the next two years to grace the Falcons’ lineup.

After a first term assault which saw the home side boot four goals to one, the Falcons stormed back hard to level the ledger at the main break. They could have fared much better though, with an effort of 4.10 in front of goal laying bare Northern’s superior handling of the conditions. It was game on and effectively a clean slate heading into the second half with the result hanging in the balance.

While the Falcons would sure up in their forward half with 4.2, Northern showed off some attacking flair with 7.3 as the game began to open up. Taking full advantage of the scoring end, the Knights set up what turned out to be an unassailable three-goal cushion at the final break. It was just enough to hold off the Falcons’ fourth quarter charge, shutting up shop quickly and strongly enough to ensure the four points remained in Preston.

Joshua Turner was named best afield for the winners with 29 disposals, 10 marks and a goal, with Lennon (24, 11, one) and Bontempelli (21, seven, two) not far behind. Bottom-aged Parade College pair Garrett McDonagh and Josh Iacobaccio were also named among the best half-dozen. Richmond duo Short and Castagna each booted two goals, while Fremantle mature-ager Sam Switkowski and Essendon draftee Kyle Langford managed hit the scoreboard, too.

For Geelong, NTFL premiership player James Tsitas was recognised as best for his mammoth 42-disposal and two-goal effort, while Billy Beardsell booted 2.5 and West Coast’s Jackson Nelson (18 disposals, five marks, five tackles) was the sole draftee among the best six. Taylor somehow missed out despite having 38 disposals and eight marks, while the remainder of the Falcons’ draftees were kept relatively quiet.

After claiming the minor premiership with a 14-3 record, the Falcons would only make it as far as the preliminary finals. They were eliminated by eventual premier, Eastern, a fate which Northern suffered at the semi-final stage after accumulating a 9-7-1 record good enough for sixth spot.

Get to know: Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we are taking a look at some of the up-and-coming draft prospects for the 2020 draft. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Carter Michael. As we delve into the Queensland-based talent, you’ll get to know everything you need to know about the brightest academy talents.

Michael, a midfielder who for the most part has displayed his talent on the outside, is looking to base his game around Western Bulldogs star, Marcus Bontempelli as he bulks up for more permanent time at centre circle. The 188cm prospect has a similarly damaging left foot kick, and likes to break free from stoppage congestion with his acceleration and agility.

Having a brother also within the Lions’ Academy ranks has helped with the improvised training workload, with the pair building an at-home gym and using the local football oval to keep up to scratch. Michael has already graduated from high school, and is using 2020 to focus on his football while also saving money earned from his part-time job as a Dominos delivery boy.

The Maroochydore junior also has a wide-range of mentors both on and off the field to look up to, with a bunch of Lions Academy products setting an example for those to come, the coaching staff guiding him along the way, and his Dad coaching him from Under 10s to Under 16s.

Carter already boasts a decent footballing resume too, having run out for the Lions in the NAB League, represented Queensland in last year’s Under 17 Futures series, and been selected to play on Grand Final day in the Under 17 All Stars showcase. The man himself gives us an update on his training, mindset, and goals amid lockdown.

Q&A

Carter, how’d you go during pre-season, any niggles or did you have a clean slate?

“I started off well, was fit and healthy. With training, I didn’t miss a session with the boys and then the day before testing, I got called up to play NEAFL Lions against the SUNS and I got turf toe.

“That’s my only main injury so I was out for a couple of weeks but had to have it strapped ever since. That’s the only niggle so far, apart from that I’ve been pretty healthy through the pre-season which is good.”

 

Did you test at the pre-season day?

“No I didn’t because they told me to rest after I played the game the day before. “So I only did the standing reach, nothing else.”

 

What was the feeling like then when you got news about the season being delayed?

“I was shattered. “We had a meeting with all the boys in Brisbane, so we all travelled to Brissie. “We were talking about it and it was pretty flat to be honest. “Everyone was shattered, not being able to train with each other.”

“So it’s been hard but I’m lucky enough, I’ve got a brother who’s also in the Lions Academy. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to train with him every day so that’s one bonus, having a brother.”

 

Is he younger than you?

“Younger, a year younger. “Yeah he’s taller though, taller than me already.”

 

So a different kind of player?

“Yeah, he plays more in the forward line, like key forward. “He’s still developing though, still light like me but I play more midfield so it’s a good combination.”

 

How have you been improvising your training at home?

“We’ve built our own little gym in the backyard. “Built our own chin-up bar, a few weights which is good. “Most mornings we’ve been doing our gym session and then in the afternoons, because we live close to the Maroochydore footy fields, we go down there and either do our running with the footy or just have a kick around.”

 

Have you still been in contact with the Lions Academy and the Allies Hub, have they kept in touch?

“More with the Lions Academy. “Every Monday our mids have a Zoom meeting and we just talk about little things like this week we have a project about finding a player who you want to base your game around. “It’s good, it gives us something to do. “But not as much with the Allies… we do have a group chat but that’s about it.”

 

Who’s the player you look to base your game on, who’ve you chosen?

“I chose the Bont (Marcus Bontempelli). I love the way he plays. “He’s kind of the same build as me, just a little bit taller. “I was reading about his draft year and about the way he plays and I can kind of see the similarities (between) his strengths and my strengths. “We’re both left-footers, like to carry the footy so I thought he was a good player to base my game around.”

 

In terms of your mind-set, did it change at all given you might not get on the park as much as you would have liked?

“I’ve thought about how it’s a really good chance to work on my weaknesses especially and things I want to grow. “Putting on weight, I’ve been eating way more than I usually have with training so I’ve been trying to put on size.

“And also to improve my running, so I’ve put it into a positive at the same time,  just building on my weaknesses to get a bit better. “That’s what you’ve got to do I guess, you’ve got to look at the positives in this.”

 

What are some of the on-field things you’re looking to develop as well?

“One big one is my leadership with the Lions Academy. “Being there for three years now I’m kind of one of the more experienced ones.

“So when I get back on the park hopefully, even just bringing leadership to some of the younger boys and being a good role model around them which is one key thing that the coaches talk to me about.”

 

Have you been changing position at all, are you looking to play more inside mid as well now?

“Yeah, I’m looking to develop that bigger body because I’m 188cm so if I can put a bit of size on and get used to the technical ways on the inside, it’s good having both – to be able to win your own footy as well like the Bont does. I’ve been trying to work on the inside game.”

 

What do you see as your key strengths?

“One would probably be my kicking, I’ve got a pretty good left foot kick, I kick long as well. “I like to base my game around my kicking. “And my decision making when I’ve got the footy I think is another good one I’ve got.

“Also my speed, I’m pretty for a bloke my height, I think under three (seconds over 20m), so just trying to get that footy and accelerate out of the contest.”

 

Tracking back a bit to your footy journey, have you always played juniors for the Maroochydore Roos?

“Yeah, I started there in Under 10s. “My Dad coached me all the way up to Under 16s which has been great, he’s been like my role model and he’s taught me pretty much everything about footy today which is great. “He’s just always been there for me, it’s good.”

 

Did your Dad used to play as well?

“He didn’t play at the elite level but injury kind of ruined his career. “I think he’s done about four knee reconstructions which doesn’t help but he says he was a handy footballer back in the day, which I believe.”

 

And then coming into the Lions Academy, what was that like?

“I got put in the Lions Academy when I was about 12, it’s been great for me. “Luke Curran and Josh Hunt have been great for me. “I got put in the Under 18s Lions Academy as a 16-year-old so that was a bit nerve-wracking I’ve got to say in those first few training sessions, seeing those older boys. “But eventually I got used to them and it was great for me for the next two years after that.”

 

Have you had any good mentors there? There’s been some decent talent coming out of the Lions Academy.

“One guy who’s from Noosa as well, he’s the Lions Academy mids coach at the moment, James Gellie. “He’s been great for me, he’s just there always supporting me and telling me how good I can be. “He’s pretty much been there since day one so it’s been great having him there.”

 

Representing Queensland must have been a pretty good honour for you?

“Yeah. “I represented them a few times, I love it. “I love the Queensland boys, it’s great. “Last year I didn’t get to play the first two (Under 17 Futures) games though because I had a broken finger, so I didn’t get to play against New South Wales at Southport, I ran water for them.

“But then I eventually got on the park in Victoria and played alright so it was great to be back out there with the boys.”

 

Who are some of the Brisbane and Queensland boys you enjoy playing alongside?

“There’s a couple of boys, Saxon (Crozier) and Blake (Coleman), I’m good mates with them and Tahj (Abberley). We all gel pretty well, we’ve been close for ages because Sax and I and Tahj have played since Under 12s so we’ve known each other for a fair while now. We’ve got a good bond going there.”

 

They’re all in the Allies hub with you, it must be good to have those familiar faces around the camps too?

“Yeah it is. The camp we went on the Gold Coast was great, I loved it. All the boys were so nice, I met so many new blokes and I’m good mates with them now, we keep in touch – asking them how their training’s been going. It’s a good bond, a close team even though we’ve only had one camp together.”

 

You’ve met a few boys from other states you’re looking forward to playing with?

“A few boys from the Northern Territory like Brodie Lake and Joel Jeffrey, “I’m pretty close with them. Big Jacko (Jackson Callow), I’m close with him as well so I can’t wait if we get the chance to play alongside them.”

 

In terms of your goals for the year, have they adjusted at all?

“Pretty much, if we get back to playing with the Allies just being able to be fit and healthy and play every game to put my best foot forward. “Then hopefully like everyone to get to the draft combine, and hopefully the big picture is getting on a senior list.”

 

Are you set on ending up at Brisbane or are you keeping your options open?

“I’m just keeping my options open, I wouldn’t be fussed wherever I go. “It’s just been a dream of mine so it doesn’t really matter where.”

 

You support Brisbane I assume?

“Yeah, I’ve supported Brisbane my whole life. “We went through a rough patch there early but it’s been good seeing the boys develop and get a few wins on the board.”

 

Did you get to train with the senior boys as well during pre-season?

“We got to have two weeks with them luckily enough, that was great. “I loved that experience, just the way they’re so close and the way they connect with each other even outside of training. “It was really good to be a part of that.”

 

You would’ve played in the NAB League this season too, how was it last year?

“That was great, I got to play against and alongside some great players like Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn, who were lucky enough to get drafted. “I learned heaps off them, their professionalism, especially Will’s professionalism went a long way. “And I was lucky enough to play in the midfield with a few of those boys which I loved.”

 

Noah Cumberland was a Maroochydore boy as well, did you play with him in juniors?

“Yeah I’m pretty close with him. “He was in my first-ever (Australian rules) team so we’ve just grown up every year being in my Dad’s team. It was so cool to see him get drafted, my Dad had a few tears in his eyes saying ‘That was me’, it was pretty funny, it was good.”

 

Was there a step-up in competition against the Victorian boys, some of the high-end draftees?

“We played against Sandringham Dragons at Sandringham one game and they touched us up by about 100 points. “But I was lucky enough to play on Ryan Byrnes, I think he got drafted to St Kilda.

“So I learned heaps from him, just his inside game, the way he positions his body – you just learn so much off those great players which then you can take and bring into your own game.”

 

Growing up, did you play any other sports?

“I actually played cricket. My Dad was a mad cricket player as well so I played cricket from about Under 14s to about Under 16s, I played three years there. “I loved it but I had to just put it aside for now just to focus on footy. It’s a bit tough doing those two sports at this time.”

 

Are you doing Year 12 at the moment as well?

No, I graduated last year. “I’m just having a year off, trying to save up money. “I’ve got a part-time job at Dominos as a delivery boy, it’s good.”

 

So you’re still doing that, they’re still open at the moment?

“Yeah, I’m doing four to five shifts a week just trying to save up.”

 

Outside of footy, is there anything else you’re working on?

“I’ve been looking at TAFE courses because I like architecture and draft design. “I did graphics when I was at school and it’s an interest of mine.”