The Unsung – Round 5: Atu Bosenavulagi and James Rowe


With only two undefeated teams left, the AFL season getting into the gritty part as the weather gets colder, the games get tougher. Round 5 provided some memorable moments with some very close and exciting games and some games with incredible margins. In this column, I am excited to introduce to you Atu Bosenavulagi and James Rowe.


Atu Bosenavulagi (North Melbourne)


With North Melbourne having a horrid season to date, even with a valiant effort down at Geelong, one of the bright spots was Atu Bosenavulagi. Bosenavulagi is of Fijian descent, played three games for Collingwood before being involved in the Jayden Stephenson trade, during last year’s trade period. He played his first game for the year with North and looked solid. Picked with the 77th pick in the 2018 draft playing for Boroondara Hawks and Oakleigh Chargers as a junior, Bosenavulagi played in the backline, and anytime Dangerfield went forward, he was the man to mark him up, which is a lot to ask of anybody, especially a fourth game player. A fantastic athlete showing great speed to run down Patrick Dangerfield, who is known for his explosiveness, is a feat which not many players can do. He showed us his quick decision-making ability, by hand or foot, not overcomplicating things; excellent sign in a young player to make the game easier.


Furthermore, Bosenavulagi showed great ability to see the ball coming into the backline and to effectively read and intercept the play. He was a big reason in the early stages of the game, for Geelong’s insufficient entries into the forward 50. Excellent skills to pressure and compete in his one-on-one contests is what helped North Melbourne stay in the game early. Unfortunately, he got medically subbed out with an injury. In summary, Bosenavulagi gathered 16 disposals, with seven intercept possessions and six of those coming early in the match. With North Melbourne going through a complete rebuild, Atu Bosenavulagi seems like a perfect, and he will develop and grow with this young list and become a strong, fast Backman with the ability to defend and rebound.


James Rowe (Adelaide)


With names like Laird, Walker and Sholl, who have led the charge for the Crow’s early success, there has also been a pivotal player showing impressive play of James Rowe. Rowe, who played for Woodville-West Torrens for two seasons, kicking 82 goals in 34 games and winning the Ken Farmer Medal, (which is the most goals in the SANFL season) set him up for getting picked up by a club. He is the son of Adelaide player Stephen Rowe, and Rowe’s impressive play from the SANFL has translated to the AFL game. Seleced with the 38th pick in the 2020 draft as a mature-age recruit, Rowe is a small forward with natural footy instincts to set up a teammate or find the goals himself.


Rowe knows if the goals are not coming his way, to use his explosive speed to put pressure in the forward 50 consistently. His working off-ball is impressive, creating turnovers or setting up a teammate. Rowe may not be blessed with great size, but with whatever size he does not have, he makes up with heart, constantly pushing through the game regardless of the situation. Rowe is the modern small forward with an ability to score, set up teammates and place pressure off the ball. Rowe gathered 12 disposals against Fremantle, kicking two goals and getting two goals to assist also. An upset loss against Fremantle still does not detract from the impressive start Adelaide has made in the 2021 season, with Rowe impressing consistently since he made his debut Round 1. Their forward line has been refreshed with Rowe, and with more consistent play and more chemistry with Walker and the other forwards, the better he is going to be, which is a scary proposition for the rest of the League.


Special mentions go to Sam De Koning for making his debut for Geelong on the weekend. Like Mark Blicavs, he has excellent cardio and speed for such a tall man. De Koning shows greats instincts to a contest and can take strong marks. He did not get his first goal after having a few attempts, but that will come. Finally, Macrae from Collingwood for making his debut in a challenging game in Perth against the West Coast Eagles, showing a strong effort against a strong midfield in the Eagles and playing until the final siren in an undermanned Collingwood side.


With Round 6 looming and some good teams playing it out on the Anzac Day weekend, we can expect to see some surprising results and intense games. With some young kids pushing for selection and the next generation of talent like James Rowe and Atu Bosenavulagi looking promising, I am excited to see who is next to impress.




To read more of The Unsung by Chris Mangos click HERE



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  1. Phil Hill says

    The only problem with that review is Bonar took Dangerfield whenever he went forward, not Atu.

    Atu swapped onto Rohan when Bonar took Dangerfield and absolutely killed him.

    Atu was on Dalhaus for other periods, again, killed him.

    Both Bonar and Atu absolutely killed both of their opponents all game, especially given the amount of I50’s we were absorbing.

    It wasn’t until Hayden went to Rohan that Rohan came into the game.
    Comment on Bigfooty

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