Exciting Richmond tall Noah Balta has pushed his claims for an AFL call-up with an eye-catching display in defence in a scratch match against Collingwood.
Players from both clubs not selected for Thursday night’s AFL season re-opener took part in a 16-a-side practice game behind closed doors at the MCG on Wednesday night.
Balta, who broke through for 13 senior games last season, was matched up on imposing American Pie Mason Cox and impressed Tigers VFL coach Xavier Clarke.
“He had Cox for 80 or 90 per cent of the game and I thought he did really well,” Clarke told AAP.
“He created a great contest and just played a really good game.
“It will be good for his confidence.
“The big thing about Noah is that he’s got great explosive speed and power, so he was able to stay (with Cox) and also jump into the contest and make the spoil.
“Obviously he’s full of talent, but if he can produce games like that or continue to show glimpses of what he did tonight, then he’ll have a bright future.”
Clarke rated Balta, Ryan Garthwaite, Thomson Dow, Jack Ross and Toby Nankervis amongst his best players in the contest that was played over 25-minute quarters in the first half and 16 minutes in the second with no time-on.
Ivan Soldo got the nod ahead of Nankervis for the lone ruck role against the Pies on Thursday night and Clarke was pleased with the competitive edge the dual-premiership ruckman displayed as he tries to win his spot back.
“Nank trains like he’s got a point to prove, he doesn’t know how to take it down a notch, so he certainly did what he had to,” he said.
“He was up against Max Lynch, who I thought created a great contest.
“They went toe-to-toe and I thought as the game went on Nank got better and better and started to find a bit more of the footy.
“I thought he got through really well and did what he needed to.”