Richmond tall utility Noah Balta is determined to make his mark in 2019 as he enters his second year as a Tiger. 

Balta, who was Richmond’s third pick (No. 25 overall) in the 2017 AFL national draft, shone in the VFL in 2018 with his elite contested marking and line-breaking speed.

With one year at Tigerland under his belt, and the resulting growth in his maturity and football nous, the versatile 19-year-old enters 2019 with a senior berth set firmly in his sights.

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“It’d be great to get a game in the AFL,” Balta said. 

“Everyone’s stepping up every year, people like Jack Higgins are getting so many games, and other people my age that are playing really well, Liam Baker, Patrick Naish.

“I just want to keep progressing and getting better with them.”

Balta proved himself in both the backline and forward line in 2018, and is currently undertaking pre-season work with Richmond’s forward group. 

His tall athletic nature also lends itself to the ruck, a challenge which Balta, who played in the ruck as a junior, would welcome.

“If somebody goes down, I’m more than happy to step up [into the ruck], and I know the coaches think that I’m able to and also capable, so if they need me I’m there,” Balta said.

Balta considers himself fortunate to have ruck coach and former Tiger Ivan Maric in his corner, alongside star forward Jack Riewoldt and key defender Alex Rance, who he has previously been likened to.

“When I’m playing back, Alex Rance takes care of me and tells me all the little things I need to do,” he said.

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And as Balta naturally progresses through the ranks, he hopes to do the same for Richmond’s fresh faces.

“Being in second year now…I know a lot of technical stuff. I’m a lot smarter and know how to play the Richmond way,” he said

I just need to make sure that I can guide the first-year boys through what I went through, and help them out.”