Peel Thunder coach Geoff Valentine praises top-10 picks Neil Erasmus, Jye Amiss after loss to West Perth

Headshot of Jordan McArdle
Jordan McArdleThe West Australian
Neil Erasmus dominated in his Peel debut.
Camera IconNeil Erasmus dominated in his Peel debut. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Peel Thunder coach Geoff Valentine is grateful for every game he gets out of Neil Erasmus, knowing all too well the Fremantle young gun is “going to play a lot of AFL footy”.

Valentine described the 18-year-old’s WAFL debut as one of the best he’s ever seen in the Thunder’s narrow loss to West Perth at Mandurah’s Lane Group Stadium on Sunday, but he wasn’t surprised after witnessing his work ethic over the pre-season.

Erasmus was a one-man show at times in the midfield, especially early, and filled the stats sheet with a game-high 34 possessions including 17 contested, 11 score involvements, 11 marks, nine clearances, nine inside 50s and seven tackles before a head knock in the dying minutes.

“It would certainly be right up there for a kid who’s effectively just graduated out of the colts,” Valentine said.

“But anyone who’s had anything to do with Neil over the pre-season will tell you that’s just what you get with him.

“His training habits are elite, whether he’s in the gym or running or on the training track. it doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he’s working his arse off and you just know that it’s going to transfer into really strong performances.

“Like JL (Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir) has said, there’s plenty of things that he’s had to adjust with his game as he’s come out of PSA and colts footy.

“But he shows a real want to learn and immerse himself in what needs to be done and the Peel Thunder Football Club are really grateful for the games that we get him because he’s going to play a lot of AFL footy.”

Erasmus, fresh off a two-game AFL stint, wasn’t the only top-10 draft pick to shine for the Dockers’ WAFL affiliate with key forward Jye Amiss booting five majors and combining with second-year tall Josh Treacy for a deadly-accurate 9.0.

“He had a really good game last week as well, he didn’t hit the scoreboard but I think he had it 16 or 17 times,” Valentine said.

“The forward stocks are pretty health with him and JT (Josh Treacy). He converts well.

“Jye is going to be another beauty but it won’t all be smooth sailing, just because he got five this week doesn’t mean it will happen every week.

“He’s got a really good attitude towards the game and really wants to learn.”

Both sides were missing key personnel because of COVID and injury with West Perth without co-captain Aaron Black, midfield bull Luke Meadows and dual Bernie Naylor medallist Tyler Keitel due to health-and-safety protocols.

The Thunder were hit hard by injury with captain Ben Hancock (hamstring) and reigning fairest-and-best winner Tyrone Thorne (wrist) to miss several weeks, while AFL-listed quartet Connor Blakely, Liam Henry (COVID protocols), Joel Western (hamstring) and Joel Hamling (knee) also didn’t play after featuring in the opening-round win over East Fremantle in Mandurah on Good Friday.

“We’re a good, honest footy team but we’re really young,” Valentine said.

“A lot of people talk about the alignment but the reality is our starting midfield, Mitch Crowden aside, had three WAFL games of experience between them.”

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