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NEAFL Coach’s Comments: Practice Match v Lions

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 13: Nick Malceski, Development Coach of the Suns looks on during the Gold Coast Suns training session at Metricon Stadium on December 13, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

Despite going down to the Brisbane Lions in a NEAFL practice match on Sunday morning, the SUNS had some important takeaways from the game. 

With the SUNS Academy U18s playing down in Sydney on the same weekend, the 14 AFL-listed players were joined by bottom-age Academy prospects for the match.

Corey Ellis and Jez McLennan were early casualties in the match, and after Aaron Young played his allotted minutes off the back of his ankle injury, the SUNS were under the pump with limited reinforcements.

It saw the final quarter played out with no rotations for the home side, which ultimately allowed the Brisbane Lions to kick away with fresher bodies. 

NEAFL Coach Nick Malceski gave his appraisal on the performance of each listed player below:

Will Brodie:

Played on-ball and impacted the game for us in there. Will’s been working on his two-way running and being clean in the contest and he is improving in those areas. His focus is to be consistent in these areas so he is ready to go when his chance comes at senior level. 

Brayden Crossley:

Played forward and backup ruck for us. Goobs has been working on his contested marking and ruck craft. He competed as he always does for most of the day. We’re looking forward to him being a real presence for us up forward through his aggression and consistency this year.

Jacob Dawson:

Jacob has been playing some good footy down back this year. He’s been working on his defensive positioning and contest work. His ability to come forward to help out others was a feature. He leads by example on the field.

Sam Day:

Sam started forward for us, but due to early injuries we started to move him around a bit and he adapted well to each of the different roles we gave him. Sam’s strengths are his marking and body work. He showed them at times and we’re looking forward to him dominating games to put pressure on the AFL team’s key position players.

Corey Ellis:

Unfortunately for Corey he hurt his ankle in the first quarter and was unable to come back on the ground. He was playing wing at the time and was planned to move down back later in the game. He had a good start to the game, especially when he went back with the flight then sent the ball back inside 50 for a shot on goal.

Caleb Graham:

Caleb played down back alongside Jack Leslie as one of the two key defenders. His focus areas are winning his 1v1’s and having composure with the ball in hand. He’s put on some mass over the summer and I’m excited about what we’ll see from him this year. 

Ben King:

Ben started down back then at quarter time we moved him forward. He competed well both down back and up forward in the air and at ground level. He is growing in confidence with each game he plays.

Jack Leslie:

It was the second game back for Jack after his long stint in rehab. He competed hard down back and has a big voice which he uses to help out others. We’re looking forward to his continual improvement in the weeks to come.

Jez McLennan:

Unfortunately for Jez he had an incident in the first five minutes of the game which sat him on the sideline for the rest of the game. He was playing on the wing at the time but we didn’t get to see too much from him.

Connor Nutting:

Connor started up forward for us then was moved down back after the first quarter due to our injuries and played his role at both ends of the ground. The work he’s putting in before and after training is starting to come together for him on gameday.

Michael Rischitelli:

It was Rischa’s first game for the year and we put him in the midfield to help out our younger mids. His 16 years of experience is invaluable for our development players and I’m sure they will learn a thing or two with him out there. He competed hard all game and I’m sure he’ll be putting pressure on the senior team each week.

Brad Scheer:

Bradley played mid this week and his two-way running and pressure around the ball was a feature throughout the game. He needs to produce this form each game to push himself into the senior team.

Aaron Young:

It was Youngy’s first game back after a few weeks out with his ankle injury. He was on limited game time but impacted the game at times with his stints around the ball in the midfield and his goal sense up forward around stoppages. He is a pro and knows what he needs to do to get into the senior team.