The Unsung – Round 9: Matthew Flynn and Josh Rotham

Round 9 provided us with some good quality football with competitive games across the round. It is the first time since 1956 that Melbourne has started a season 9-0 and looking sensational. In this column, I would like to introduce to you Matthew Flynn and Josh Rotham.


Matthew Flynn (Greater Western Sydney)


With Shane Mumford in his last years as a player, GWS will require a ruckman. Matt Flynn is showing potential to fill that role. From Narrandera in southern NSW, Flynn has been a member of the Giants academy since he was twelve years old. Taken with the 41st pick in the 2015 draft, he has been a development project, learning how to play the ruckman and forward positions through the NEAFL. A significant ACL tear in 2019 forced him to miss a season and delayed his debut. Finally, he got his opportunity in this 2021 season and was able to play his first game against St Kilda.


Flynn is a large man at 201cm, very athletic and can cover the ground well. His athletic ability helps his rucking, enabling him to jump very high and get the first touch on the ball. Being such a young ruckman, his ability to find his midfielders and do adequate taps is very solid; with more time to grow, this will improve exponentially. Against Richmond, he gathered 12 disposals while getting 30 hit-outs against a competent ruckman in Toby Nankervis. His ability to take strong contested marks needs to improve, which will help him play forward and put scoreboard pressure. As Flynn progresses through his career and gets experience at the AFL level, this will slowly improve his capability as a ruckman. Ruckmen are notoriously known to take time to grow into their full potential, and with GWS developing for the future, Flynn seems to be the ruckman for the Giants.


Josh Rotham (West Coast Eagles)


If there is one silver lining from this injury-plagued season for the Eagles, it is the development of good young talent, with Josh Rotham showcasing his abilities. Rotham, who played his junior football with Whitfords Warriors in Western Australia, is a defender with good size to play on various opponents. Getting selected with the 37th pick in the 2016 draft, Rotham has patiently waited to get consistent opportunities, as the West Coast were very strong in previous years in the backline. He made his debut in 2019 and won the emerging talents award for West Coast in 2020.


Rotham is a backline player with very silky skills by foot, with a very efficient kick. He has an excellent fundamental understanding of how to defend, not letting his opponent get goalside, or just as simple as forcing the ball out of bounds. These basic skills enhance his ability to use his most significant asset, which is his kicking. He is an elite kick and very composed under pressure, playing to his instincts, making the first decision instantly. Against Adelaide, Rotham gathered 24 disposals at 83% efficiency, taking ten marks looking strong on the outside. He lacks size, limiting his ability to play a contested style, but as he is just 23 years old, he will get bigger and stronger, which will improve. It will also help his ability to lay tackles and consistently put pressure throughout an entire match. West Coast has landed a future strong backline player in Rotham. With consistent game time, he has a big future with the Eagles.


I also wanted to give a shout out to James Rowbottom from Sydney, who against Collingwood had a solid performance, gathering 18 disposals, playing a role in a good win. Also, to Patrick Naish of Richmond, who, in an important game playing midfield without key players, was able to stand up, get 15 disposals and help with their comeback win against the Giants.


This 2021 season has provided us with some spectacular young talent who have had early opportunities to show their skills. Some major strengths of these younger players now are having great composure in a contest or stoppage situation to get efficient disposal away. More frequently, younger players are coming in, making a significant impact for their sides, playing essential roles getting consistent game time. The emergence of strong young talent is great for the AFL landscape, increasing the game’s overall standard and competitiveness, leading to the overall product being fantastic to watch.


More profiles from Chris Mangos Here.


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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