By Sam Watson
ZANE Duursma certainly turned some heads last Saturday.
The 15-year-old from Foster made his debut in the Gippsland Power Under 19s, where he kicked three goals and was named in the best players in the side’s loss to the Sydney Swans Academy.
It was only three years ago when his older brother Xavier was captaining that same side, before getting selected by Port Adelaide with pick 18.
After two successful games in April’s Under 17s NAB League carnival, Zane, along with seven Gippsland teammates, was invited to try out for Vic Country the Under 17s national carnival.
Once again, the freakish young talent impressed the selectors and earned his spot on the Vic Country Under 17s squad as a bottom ager.
After the carnival and trial games, Zane returned to Foster where he put on a series of clinics for three weeks straight.
His selection in the senior side meant he could only play one quarter with his mates in the thirds, but he definitely made the most of his time down there.
In round three he kicked four in a quarter against Toora then went on to kick another three in the seniors against Tarwin.
The following week, his one and only quarter saw him kick all five goals against top side Yinnar.
His early heroics gave his side a 15-point lead at quarter time and they went on to lose by 90 points.
Later in the day he helped himself to another three goals against Newborough and the following week he only played seniors where he kicked two crucial goals in
Foster’s three-point win over Yinnar.
So, some might say his Gippsland Power debut was a couple of weeks overdue.
Seeing a Duursma dominate for Gippsland Power is nothing out of the ordinary, but dad Dean said Zane was a very different player to Xavier.
“Xavier’s base is his engine, his incredible running capacity, whereas Zane’s thing is just more natural talent,” Dean said.
“Xavier is very talented of course, but the base that everything comes off is his work rate.
“He gets to contests all the time and he’s a relentless runner.
“Zane’s not that, he’s more naturally gifted and probably a bit more mercurial.”
That mercurial ability was on display last Saturday when he leapt in the air, gåçrabbed the ball with one hand, landed, then snapped it through for a goal from the pocket.
It’s that kind of play that’s seen Zane labelled an “excitement machine” by AFL Draft Central.
But what’s really impressed Dean and his wife Susie is the way Zane’s improving his work ethic in 2021.
“He’s learning to work hard.That’s the area he’s been working on, and it’s come to fruition a bit this year,” Dean said.
“He’s prepared to work really hard to get the footy.”
At about 187cm Zane is already the same height as his older brother and his broad shoulders and thicker legs suggest he’ll be a force to be reckoned with wherever he plays.
Dean, who played reserves for Melbourne, said the family often joke about Zane being a similar build to him and the rest of the kids are like their mum Susie, who was a junior middle-distance runner for Australia.
But Zane rarely worries about any comparisons to his older brother.
“Zane’s a really laid-back character, he doesn’t worry about what anyone says about him to be honest,” Dean said.
But he is certainly motivated to play at the highest level and after his stellar game last Saturday he said one thing to his dad.
“It’s my turn now.”
According to selectors, Zane was the youngest ever player to be selected in the Victorian Under 12s team, so the family is not surprised to see him doing well.
And if the Duursma family had their way, come the 2023 draft, the Foster Secondary student would land with his brother at Alberton Oval.
But Zane often says that he’d love to play against Xavier, and he may or may not be joking.
“They constantly have a bit of banter about who’s better and stuff like that, it’s quite funny,” Dean said.
Xavier, whose knee injury is recovering well, and Zane, aren’t the only ones in the Duursma family impressing on the footy field.
Yasmin, 17, played her first season of footy this year for Gippsland Power in the Under 19s and it didn’t take long for her to make a big impact.
She was equal runner-up in the club’s best and fairest and also made the Vic Country Under 17s team, where she was named in the best players.
And the youngest sibling, Willem, is racking up huge amounts of disposals in the Under 14s for Inverloch-Kongwak.
Dean said the 13-year-old is almost an exact replica of Xavier, and was also selected to the Under 12s Victorian side as a bottom and top ager.
He’s also getting plenty of the footy and kicking some goals for Foster in the thirds.
“So, they’re all going pretty well,” Dean said.
The Duursmas have a cousin who loves to watch their games, count their stats and compare the siblings every week.
Well, he may have a bit of counting to do if they all keep tracking the way they are.