By Beth Newman
There were two Niland-Rowes in the Wilston Grange forward line on the weekend, but it was little brother, Lachie, who took the chocolates in their sibling battle.
The Aspley junior kicked two goals on his big brother, Morningside’s Ben, including a spectacular snap from the boundary, earning him the Rd 12 Rising Star nomination.
“I was giving it a bit to him (after that) but we had a good contest,” Niland-Rowe said.
“It was a bit awkward (playing on him), but I just tried to hit up and lead as much as I could.”
It was the first time the 19 year-old played in attack this season and he was a revelation, producing his best performance of the year, and strong praise from Gorillas coach, Matt Trewhella.
“Last week I saw an improvement and a general lift in his game and his output,” he said.
“His ability to hit up, his defensive pressure over the whole game and his ability to work to structures, and willingness to learn and listen (were crucial).”
“I think he’ll play that role for the rest of the year.”
Niland-Rowe admitted it had been a challenging start to the year, struggling to make an impact early on, playing as a half-back flanker, and relished the opportunity to play in attack.
“The last time I played forward was probably in juniors, so it was a refreshing change to go in the forward line and just worry about kicking goals and manning up,” he said.
Niland-Rowe has played all but two games in Wilston Grange’s seniors this season, continuing to show improvement, but the former Lions Academy member is just glad to be out there each week, after an ankle injury saw him miss much of the 2013 season.
“I’m happy I’ve played every game, pretty much,” he said.
It might have taken a little while for Niland-Rowe’s breakout game to come, but he was a standout on the training track from day one, Trewhella said.
“In the pre-season, the guys with the best skills and fitness stand out, and that was him,” he said.
“We wanted to lift to a QAFL standard and lift the standard of training and running and fitness those guys help me out in pre-season
Trewhella said he didn’t need to say much to Niland-Rowe, who has a great understanding of footy.
“He knows a lot of the time (what to improve),”he said.
“The conversations haven’t been surprising he knows where his areas are to improve and he’s gone and done it himself.
“He understands when I talk to him, easy for him to comprehend football.”