Rising Subiaco star Liam Ryan set to reach new heights in the AFL next year, according to his coaches
September 18, 2016 12:00am
THE bigger the stage, the better the performance.
That’s been the trend of Liam Ryan’s short but stunning career so far, and his past and present coaches agree it can continue at AFL level next year.
The livewire Subiaco small forward has emerged as a draft bolter after bursting onto the WAFL scene midway through the year, booting 39 goals in 15 games and providing a highlight reel of spectacular marks.
And a four-goal effort that turned the game in last weekend’s second semi-final sits as proof of Ryan’s big-game capability amid talk that both West Coast and Fremantle are interested in his services.
“I can’t answer for the AFL clubs, but I think he’s got all the tools to be there,” Subiaco coach Jarrad Schofield said of the 19-year-old.
“He plays the game on instinct, he makes good decisions by foot, left and right, and like good players, he’s able to slow to the game down and make critical decisions.
“He’s a very humble kid and very level-headed. Pressure doesn’t seem to faze him.
“He’s one of those players that will only get better at the next level.”
Ryan’s rise to prominence on the AFL radar has been made all the more remarkable by the fact he was playing for Geraldton club Rovers in the Great Northern Football League as recently as April before his senior WAFL debut at the Lions.
“We knew what we were getting, it was just whether he could adapt to city life and the pressures and demands of WAFL football,” Schofield said.
“That was going to be the telling sign – whether he could stay true to that, and he has.
“Now we’re seeing some quality performances against quality sides in the latter part of the year, where most times you’d probably see players drop off.”
Rovers coach Dave Fiorenza, who had a hand in the junior careers of Harry Taylor and Paddy Ryder, said he was confident Ryan would thrive if chosen for an AFL call-up.
“At the next level up, he plays better,” Fiorenza said.
“I took Liam as a 17-year-old to go down to Country Week to play against men, and he just stepped up.
“He’s always been able to adapt to the next challenge.”
Fiorenza said Ryan had benefitted from a strong football pedigree, taking elements of his game from his father Darren ‘Snotty’ Ryan, who had a brief stint with Claremont, as well as Liam’s uncle Bob.
The coach implored AFL clubs to allow Ryan to show off his strengths if selected, with pure natural instinct as a high-flyer at the top of the list.
“If he does make it, I hope they don’t curtail his natural ability,” Fiorenza said.
“He was telling me about that mark he took against South Fremantle (on top of Adam Guglielmana).
“He said, ‘I thought I was going to jump over him, so I had to hook in with my foot to take the mark’. He was up so high he was worried he was going to completely clear him.”
Watched his game on the 7app over the weekend against south freo. Kicked 4.4 but probably should have nailed some of the easier set shots he missed. Quick, leads well and looks a natural forward. Could easily see his skill set working at afl level. One of the commentators mentioned that one knock on him might be that he needs to chase more and apply more defensive pressure. Some of the tackles he did apply were slipped through pretty easily and he didn't seem to leave the forward half of the ground that much. Also kicked 11 goals from 4 games in the reserves before being promoted which would make 50 goals for the year.
Doesn't get mentioned in most mock drafts so I'm guessing he goes late.