Internationals Chip Away In NAB Challenge
Monday, February 29 2016 @ 01:58 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Some of the international rookies or players of international origin on AFL team lists took to the field again over the weekend as the NAB Challenge matches continued. Once again there was a mixture of early excitement, breakout games and missed opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest mover was Collingwood’s Mason Cox who played his best game for the Magpies in their clash with Geelong. In what might yet be a breakout performance for the American recruit, Cox amassed seven quality possessions which yielded two goals as well as four marks, most of which were solid contested grabs. The performance has many people suggesting that Cox could well line up in Round One for the ‘Pies.
The Carlton/Essendon game saw a show of Irish talent across both teams. Zach Tuohy was amongst Carlton’s best, picking up a cool 18 possessions off half back and driving his team inside the forward 50 on many occasions. His Irish teammate, Ciaran Byrne, was also heavily involved across his limited game time with a handy nine possessions, but possibly more valuable was his constant defensive pressure whenever near the ball.
Essendon’s Irish rookie, Conor McKenna, had little game time but still managed seven useful disposals as well as impacting in a couple of heavy bumps, showing he isn’t afraid of the physical side of footy.
Richmond rookie, Mabior Chol, followed up his eye catching debut last weekend with a quieter performance against the Hawks. His four possessions and seven hitouts meant he had s small influence in the game, but of greater value was the additional game time he received in readiness for the season start. Oleg Markov had limited game time for a quiet return of two possessions.
Hawthorn opted not to play New Zealander Shem Kalvin-Tatupu for the second successive week. Along with New Zealand teammate, Kurt Heatherley, their last chance for a pre-season hitout will be the Hawks’ final NAB Challenge match against North Melbourne on 12th March.