Rising Richmond star key defender Noah Balta was rewarded for his breakout game against West Coast last Thursday night at Metricon Stadium with nine votes in the prestigious AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year award for Round 14.
Balta, making just his 23rd appearance at senior level with the Tigers, had 16 disposals, including five rebound-50s and a game-high/AFL career-high 11 intercepts, equal game-high/career-high nine marks, a career-high 449 metres gained, and he kicked a towering goal after receiving a handball from teammate Shai Bolton outside the team’s forward-50 arc.
Richmond captain Trent Cotchin, who also received nine votes from respective coaches Damien Hardwick (Richmond) and Adam Simpson (West Coast) for his sterling performance on the night – a team-high 26 disposals, game-high 15 contested possessions, game-high seven clearances, team-high six inside-50s, four rebound-50s, four intercepts, four score involvements and 386 metres gained – heaped praise on Balta in an interview with SEN.
“He’s a pretty amazing athlete. He’s got so many different attributes,” Cotchin said.
“You know those guys that without warming up can kick it 60 (metres) and seem like they are always go, go, go.
“He’s just one of those guys who has got so much energy and never stops. He’s such a big unit. He’s a lot bigger than he seems and add on an amazing leap.
“A couple of times last Thursday night he looked absolutely beaten and just springs up and takes a really good clunk.
“I think he had nine MOPs (intercept marks), so it’s pretty impressive for a young man.”
The full voting details for the Round 14 Richmond v West Coast match are:
9 – Trent Cotchin (Richmond)
9 – Noah Balta (Richmond)
4 – Liam Ryan (West Coast)
3 – Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
2 – Bachar Houli (Richmond)
2 – Jack Graham (Richmond)
1 – Andrew Gaff (West Coast)