A HAMILTON Kangaroos footballer striving to make a VFL career is expected to benefit from an assignment against former AFL midfielder Michael Barlow.
Lochie Dawson spent time running with the North Warrnambool Eagles debutant during the Kangaroos' 14.13 (97) to 7.12 (54) defeat at Bushfield Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
Dawson, who is tied to Ballarat but received a permit to play, is trying his luck at Footscray in the state league this season.
The strong-bodied midfielder and fellow teenage prospect Rory Gill were given a close up look at how an elite player plays. Kangaroos coach Matt Dunn said Barlow, who played 141 games for Fremantle and Gold Coast, showed glimpses of his talent.
"I thought it was a great opportunity for us and some of our younger players to test themselves against an AFL footballer," he said.
"He didn't dominate but he did some things where you could see why he'd played AFL footy.
"Lochie and Rory both acquitted themselves well. Lochie is a strong body and there are a few things he'll take out of what Barlow was doing.
"It was probably Rory's best game of the season. He's really good in the contest and is starting to find a bit of the footy."
Eagles coach Adam Dowie said Barlow's appearance was also a chance for his players to learn.
"He enjoyed it and people enjoyed watching him play," he said of the VFL-listed ball winner.
"His handballing was pretty amazing actually, what he can do and he lifts his arms up.
"He picks it up and he's gone. He's really clean."
"I said to the boys 'that's why he's such a good player'. But it's something he's worked on, it's not something he was born with."
The top-placed North Warrnambool Eagles, who now boast seven wins and a draw from eight games, were forced to work hard against Hamilton Kangaroos.
They held a 15-point half-time lead before kicking six goals to two in the second half.
Dowie said the Eagles "looked a better side in the second half but took a while to get going".
He praised their defence for keeping them in the contest early, saying there wasn't much pressure from both sides in the midfield.
Dunn was pleased with the Roos' efforts, conceding "in the end they were a better side".
"There was really nothing between the sides at half-time and they edged away in the third quarter but I felt we were still in the game at three-quarter-time," he said.
"We weren't able to hit the scoreboard enough."
The Kangaroos had one injury concern with veteran Brad Thomas pulling up sore.
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