Tag: wafl player focus

WAFL League Player Focus: Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

SOUTH FREMANTLE young small forward Jesse Motlop, the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne player Daniel, has had an impressive 2021 season across the WAFL Colts and PSA competitions. His form and undeniable potential earned him a WAFL League debut with South Fremantle, against fellow finals contenders Swan Districts.

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy prospect ended up being an important part of the side’s six-goal victory, chiming in with two goals of his own in the third quarter whilst setting up a few more throughout the entirety of the game.


Jesse Motlop
South Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: 23/11/2003
Height/Weight: 176cm/74kg
Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense

2021 Averages:
WAFL Colts
(4 games)

15.3 disposals | 2.5 marks | 3.0 tackles | 4.0 inside 50s | 1.5 goals (6 total)

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

2021 WAFL League, Round 15 | Swan Districts 9.5 (59) def. by South Fremantle 15.5 (95)

#49 Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

Stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks, 3 handballs), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 goals


It was a low-key opening term for Motlop in his debut senior outing. Starting the game on the bench, he wasn’t sighted until about eight minutes in as he took his position in the goal square as the deepest forward for his first centre bounce.

His first involvement in general play came deep inside 50 where he hit the front and centre of a marking contest, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground and in a position to run into an open goal, but was brought down as soon as he picked it up for a stoppage.

He held the ball to an opponent not long after to get a stoppage in front of goal, though it didn’t result in anything. The only disposal Motlop would record for the first term came as he pushed up the ground to be a switch option from the corridor to the boundary, taking the ball on his chest uncontested before running it up a few steps and then lacing it out to a teammate on the wing, who was able to move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 for a goal.

Despite not racking up numbers on the stats sheet, Motlop was involved in the South Fremantle forward half, pressuring opponents to cause a few turnovers and stoppages, giving his side opportunities to score and making his one kick count.


Once again taking the role as a deep forward, Motlop wasn’t given many opportunities to use the footy, with the talls of South Fremantle being the targets and Swan Districts doing well to intercept balls as they flew in. He did continue to show the pressure work he did the previous quarter, laying two tackles around the forward 50 where his second efforts saw him get back at the opposition with the ball. He showed a lot of courage at times as well, getting involved in a marking contest where neither player held the ball, but he got straight back up to follow up.

Motlop moved up the ground to get involved when it was a bit of an arm wrestle, where he won the ball off the hands of a marking contest and followed his momentum by running back towards his defensive 50 through traffic, able to maintain possession whilst running through a pack of five Swan Districts players. He side-stepped to avoid being grabbed and hit a handball to a runner from the backline. He made it obvious the front and centres were a speciality area a few times, demonstrating why he was being paired under a tall forward down deep with his clean pick-ups below his knees.

Motlop worked into the game well in the second quarter, making the most of his opportunities to show his potential for eye-catching plays, but really impressing with his pressure work, second efforts and reading of the ball off hands more than anything, playing his small forward role particularly well despite not hitting the scoreboard.


The third quarter saw Motlop taking a bit more freedom and pushing up the ground, getting free around the back end of the centre square to be used a couple of times by his teammates. In those instances, he was able to lose opponents with his acceleration or repeated lead efforts. He followed up with generally good ball use, spotting out leading teammates up the field to put them in a good spot to move the ball forward.

One kick into the middle of the ground initially looked poor, but bounced well for his teammates to win the contest and get it long forward for an easy South Fremantle goal. Motlop’s high work rate was again on display, as he made gut runs to impact opponents, even if they moved the ball on before he got there he’d follow up and try and impact the next contest.

He got himself on the scoreboard with two goals in the third quarter, with both being a good example of his forward craft and ability to get free in dangerous spots. The first was more through his high work rate and repeat leading efforts, as he lost his opponent inside forward 50 and was spotted up by a teammate, taking a mark over his head about 40 out right in front of goal, where he went back and slotted it straight through from afar. The second goal came through his footy smarts, peeling off from where a pack was going to form, standing free right in front of goal about 25 out, then being used by his teammate coming out of the pack taking it on the chest and slotting his second.

Motlop continued to do the things he had been doing well in the third, whilst adding two goals for some additional impact and reward for all his hard work over the game. When given the freedom to push further up the ground, he finds the ball and can get into good spots to be a marking option, with generally strong ball use forward and a great ability to kick start scoring opportunities with his disposal choice.


As both teams reverted to a safer way of moving and carrying the ball the opportunities for a front and centre specialist dried up very quickly, meaning Motlop wasn’t as lively around the goals but still won a bait of ball around the boundary line inside 50. There were a couple of times he found himself stuck with a close option, but opted to kick to the square or go for goal, but the Swan Districts defenders would intercept and move the ball on. Moved up the ground and got a mark in the defensive 50 as South brought it in from a behind and kicked well to a teammate.

He essentially handed a goal to one of his taller teammates in the final quarter, as he collected a ground ball off one bounce about three meters out from the goal square, standing his ground in a tackle as he spun to face the goals, handballing it off to ensure it was a goal.

Closing thoughts:

It was an impressive debut at League level for Motlop after impressing at Colts and PSA levels through the year. He looked comfortable amongst bigger bodies and didn’t noticeably struggle with the physicality, looking courageous as he ran head first into packs and impacted contests in the forward half of the ground.

He had quite a few flashy moments with his agility and ability to find the right options with his disposal, setting up scoring plays, but his fundamentals of the game and work rate are what ultimately sets him up to be the smart and damaging player he is, forcing turnovers or backwards disposals from the opposition by pressuring them with his closing speed. This game showed a good base for Motlop and suggests plenty of potential to impact at the next level.

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

WAFL Player Focus: Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts)

IN continuing our extended weekly Player Focus series, we take a look at a West Australian Football League (WAFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 3 of the competition, our eyes were on Swan Districts key defender Denver Grainger-Barras, who was one of his side’s best players in a tough 39-point loss to reigning premier, Subiaco.


Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002
Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key Position Defender

Round 3 vs. Subiaco

8 kicks
2 handballs
10 disposals
4 marks
4 tackles
1 inside 50


With fellow draft hopeful Logan McDonald having the bye this week, it was time for Grainger-Barras to put his name in lights. He certainly did that, being named best on ground in Swan Districts’ loss to powerhouse club, Subiaco. It was an impressive aerial display, showing why he is so highly credentialed already.

On top of his League debut coming last year, Grainger-Barras was also awarded the AFL Life Members Scholarship which has been won by some of the greats of the game including Luke Hodge, Joel Selwood, and last years Rising Star winner Sam Walsh. It’s an award that’s been given to eight number one picks and numerous top 10 picks on top of that, including highly rated Docker Hayden Young. With Fremantle holding a top five pick currently, he might be right in the mix there.

Grainger-Barras started each quarter on the bench but whenever he came on he made an impact, and his first few touches of the game weren’t wasteful. He first received a switch kick and next darted a nice low pass down the line, later receiving a handball and quickly switching the kick long to show good, quick thinking.

His next few highlights though may have been his best of the day; with the first deep in the goalsquare where he attacked the loose ball at speed. showing incredible confidence, speed, and agility to also get separation from the opposition and then kick long out of the defensive 50. The next highlight just showed off his pure talent and leap, where he came over the top of two players to take a screamer. Arms outstretched, the footy stuck in is hands, but he would also quickly play on as if the mark was all in a day’s work.

There weren’t as many pure highlights in the second quarter but Grainger-Barras showed despite his light frame, that he could compete well at ground level with plenty of efforts and tackles deep in defence. He did some nice work up the ground as well, winning a free kick in the middle of the ground and naturally playing on as quickly as possible to kick long inside 50, albeit with a fraction too much on the kick for his leading teammate.

One of the better bits of play came when the ball hit ground level on the wing, where he attacked the line of the ball while also kicking over an oncoming opponent and still keeping his feet to gather the loose ball cleanly. He then gave off the quick little handball and in the same motion, laid a nice bump to protect the ball carrier. It was perhaps the best showcase of what coaches will love about him at AFL level as despite his light frame, he was able to compete with senior bodies while making it look effortless and just doing everything you could ask for – from his ability to keep possession and also block for his teammate, to embracing body contact which many young players try to avoid.

The third quarter was where Grainger-Barras really got to show off his elite intercepting ability and it was highlighted in two bits of play very close to each other. He was able to intercept a handball with a one-handed pluck easy as you like, and then banged the ball long out of defence. The kick came back in just as quickly but again, easy as you like, Grainger-Barras was able to take a nice intercept mark in the exact same spot where he intercepted the handball.

His smarts to intercept both times was certainly eye-catching, but instead of again getting sucked into kicking down the line again – which obviously didn’t work the first time – he made a point to think firstly on hitting that switch kick. It showed his smarts and ability to adapt to a situation and learn.

As the game wore on it would seem he had developed a knack of being in the right spot at the right time to foil Subiaco’s attempts at goal, and he would again get in the way with a fantastic intercept mark sitting in front of the only one-on-one contest inside 50. With eyes only on the ball, he was able to take the outstretched mark in the hole. As he had done all day long, Grainger-Barras quickly played on with a kick inboard, understanding the stakes of the game. It would lead to Swan Districts moving the ball end-to-end for a goal.

Unfortunately, he gave away a free kick just on the three quarter time siren which luckily only resulted in a behind, but there was a bit of a scuffle with himself and the opposition and he certainly wasn’t afraid to get involved and get lippy with his older and stronger opponents. Already he has shown he isn’t afraid of a bit of physicality despite his size, and with his ability to intercept at crucial stages, it only adds to his ability to get under the skin of the opposition.

His last quarter was his quietest as he failed to register a disposal. He had a bad moment at around the 16-minute mark where he gave away a push in the back free kick which lead to a goal, which was perhaps his only blemish in the game.

However, he wouldn’t let that get him down as later in the quarter he would spoil a marking contest, showing his impressive leap. Once the ball hit the ground he was quick to compete with multiple tackles and efforts and after that bit of play, it wasn’t hard to see why the coaches named him best on ground as he drove defensive standards all game which is impressive from such a young player.

A lot of attention out of Western Australia has gone to fellow young gun, McDonald but Grainger-Barras reminded everyone that he is very much a top five caliber talent, showing all of the traits that make him such a sought after prospect. The elite intercepting, competitiveness, clean hands and skills, athleticism, and especially the footy smarts were all on show. A game like this can only help him grow in confidence and although his disposal numbers are low, his impact is just so high and we may be looking at a future All-Australian centre half-back in the AFL.

Pic: AFL Media