He had an injury-interrupted 2021, but Tyler Sonsie could debut early for Richmond after a scintillating performance in its intra-club on Saturday morning.
The aggressive ball-winner was dominant for the ‘weaker’ yellow team in the engine room, taking on a midfield including Dion Prestia, Shai Bolton and Trent Cotchin and providing an enthralling contest.
Sonsie moved through traffic and fed outside runners, and also showed off his burst of acceleration that had recruiters labelling him a top-10 talent at the beginning of 2021.
The Pick 28 is a beautiful ball user on both sides of his body, able to weight the football in front of leading teammates as he did on a few occasions today.
Playing purely in centre bounces, it was a terrific showing for the 181-centimetre midfielder.
He eased his way into training pre-Christmas after ankle and knee injuries curtailed his draft year campaign, but has hit the ground running in the new year and is now ramping up his training loads to the point of Round 1 consideration.
Sonsie’s done his chances no harm with a terrific showing in the clubs’ first hit-out.
Gibcus’ composure turns heads
It was a line-ball decision between Josh Gibcus and Ben Hobbs at Pick 9 for the Tigers, and the club will be delighted with the first showing from their interceptor. Gibcus was a wall time and time again, often taking up assignments on Jack Riewoldt and proving a tricky opponent for the veteran.
On multiple occasions he led Riewoldt to the ball, as he did so often in the NAB League. Gibcus reads the play superbly, and combining that football nous with his acceleration and vertical leap gives him every opportunity to chop off attacking forays.Embed from Getty Images
The biggest positive to come from the performance was his composure with ball in hand. Gibcus didn’t rush his disposal and picked out right decision. He was used as the outlet on switches, and bit off corridor kicks when they were available.
He wasn’t the most prolific defender in his junior years, but he could yet become an attacking weapon out of the back 50.
Noah Balta was trialled up forward and looked impressive which could offer Gibcus an opportunity to feature for the Tigers early in 2022 alongside new recruit Robbie Tarrant and stalwarts Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin.
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Is this the new small forward fleet?
The Tigers have had an embarrassment of riches in the small forward department over their premiership years with Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Jake Aarts.
Now, it looks as though another fleet is coming through for the 2022 season with Rioli looking to cement a spot down back.
Liam Baker, Shai Bolton and Castagna were prolific for their side all day. Bolton will inevitably spend time in the midfield with his creativity and flare a huge bonus for the Tigers’ engine room, but Baker may prove to be a revelation as a forward.Embed from Getty Images
Spending the majority of his career in the backline and even trialled as a centre bounce midfielder, the fiery utility had a day out on Saturday kicking four goals.
He crumbed packs beautifully and made repeat efforts when the opposition had the ball. If nothing else, Baker will be able to keep his spot in the side with his forward pressure and elite tackling ability.
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