Top-rated 2023 AFL Draft prospect Zane Duursma is getting his first taste of top-flight football ahead of a highly anticipated year for the teenager, joining Melbourne's pre-season training program this week.
The Gippsland Power forward will take part in the Demons' training sessions alongside Dandenong Stingrays talent Cooper Simpson as part of the AFL Academy's experience program, which will see a number of this year's leading draft hopefuls partake in drills with AFL clubs.
Potential No.1 pick Harley Reid turned heads at Tullamarine last week, while fellow draft stars Ashton Moir (Adelaide), Kane McAuliffe (Adelaide), Koltyn Tholstrup (West Coast) and Dan Curtin (Fremantle) have also joined clubs to gain experience through the AFL Academy.
Duursma, the younger brother of Port Adelaide pair Xavier and Yasmin, joins the likes of Reid, Simpson, Moir and Curtin in being considered the leading names for this year's draft class.
The 188cm forward-midfield hybrid didn't look out of place alongside the likes of Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Brodie Grundy throughout Wednesday morning's session at Gosch's Paddock, impressing with his ball movement, agility and set-shot routine under the eye of senior coach Simon Goodwin.
Duursma led Gippsland's goalkicking tally for 2022 to help steer his side to the NAB League minor premiership. The Foster native would prove to be among the top line of Power players last year, adding to a group that saw five players drafted to the AFL.
The mercurial forward threat booted 31 goals from his 14 games in the NAB League last year, impressing as a bottom-age talent with his composure and confidence.
Across several drills with the Demons, Duursma managed to flex his size and power as a developing forward, working closely with Petracca and Melbourne tall Ben Brown.
Goodwin's crew for Wednesday's session saw several key players train away from the main group, while skipper Max Gawn was nowhere to be seen as he nurses a hamstring injury.
Brown and fellow forward Charlie Spargo were involved in skills training before stepping aside for contact drills, with the former left to run laps as Brown worked on his set shot routine, building his fitness levels following an interrupted pre-season due to a knee complaint.
Brown's likely replacement comes in the form of sophomore swingman Jacob van Rooyen, who continues to impress ahead of his second season with the Demons.
The 19-year-old firms as a strong chance to earn a debut when Melbourne goes head-to-head with the Western Bulldogs for its Round 1 season opener at the MCG.
The Claremont product booted 36 goals from 18 games in the VFL last season as a key cog in Casey's run to the premiership.