RICHMOND VFL coach Craig McRae has heaped praise on Kyneton youngster Max O'Sullivan following his Tigers debut last Sunday.
O'Sullivan, who was the Bendigo Football Netball League's Rising Star award winner last season, gathered 17 possessions and kicked a goal in the VFL Tigers' 189 point demolition of North Ballarat.
McRae, a triple premiership player at the Brisbane Lions, is in his second season in charge of Richmond's VFL team.
He said O'Sullivan had demonstrated plenty of poise in his first VFL outing.
"We were very happy with Maxy, he's had a terrific pre-season," he said.
"On our list at the moment we have five players that are eligible to play as the 23rd player.
"He's the first of those five to get a run for us after a great pre-season.
"He put a lot of pressure on for us around the footy and he kicked a great goal. He looks like he can play at the level."
Richmond, led by standout performances by midfielder Anthony Miles (36 disposals, 20 contested, two goals), Sam Lloyd (27 disposals, 13 marks five goals) and Ben Lennon (18 disposals, six goals), obliterated the Roosters 33.21 (219) to 4.7 (31).
O'Sullivan was one of nine non-listed Tigers players in the line-up.
McRae said his performance had earned the BFNL youngster another opportunity, though he was not sure when that might come.
"That's the difficult thing at the moment, I even said that to him (on Tuesday night), as well as he played and the team performed extremely well, we are relying week-to-week on our AFL guys," he said.
"It's a bit of a week-to-week thing, but I'm sure he'll play five games for us this year from what I saw on the weekend."
The 23rd player rule is designed to enable clubs to promote young talent and provide them with a taste of VFL football to aid their development.
That player is restricted to 80 per cent game time and no more than five game each season.
McRae expected Strathfieldsaye midfielder and forward Harry Conway, who trained with the Tigers over the summer, to eventually earn his opportunity.
"Harry's probably got a bit more development to go in his game and probably hasn't been as consistent in his performances as Max has," he said.
"But gee he has some upside.
"He's a big lad, a great runner and a terrific ball user. We are really excited with what Harry's got to offer, and not just for this year."
While the enormous margin of the win certainly raised eyebrows in VFL circles, no one was more surprised than McRae.
"We didn't see that coming - we expected a bit more congestion around the football than what we got," he said.
"But you can only play what the opposition is on the day and it was a great performance by us."