The excitement machine has surely done enough to bag himself an All-Australian blazer, right?
For the past 5 rounds, Ryan has stood up as one of the stand-out players in the West Coast side, carrying the team through some tough away legs and slotting some important goals for the Eagles.
He is a joy to watch and is just electric when he gets his hands on the ball, with teammate Tim Kelly referring to him as “an excitement machine.” And there’s no doubt that Ryan does deserve the call up after changing up his game to become the complete small forward.
“Liam’s put in a lot of hard work and has definitely taken his game to a whole new level, what he can do in the air and on the ground and his ability to kick goals when we need, yeah, he’s a pivotal player moving forward.” Tim Kelly in his press conference following the win against St Kilda in round 17.
Winning an award for taking the best mark in 2019 against Melbourne, Ryan has continued to thrill us with his aerial acrobatics this season with a showreel of high flying marks, any one of which could bag him the award again this season.
But after taking 29 marks inside his oppositions 50 this year, perhaps the pick of the bunch and contender mark of the year is his grab against Hawthorn in round 12. Check it out here, it’s a bit of a worldie.
His ability to beat players both in the air and on the ground is why we have really enjoyed watching him this year and is a magician when it comes to navigating and getting out of tight spaces.
Take the Saints game last week as an example. St Kilda pressed the Eagles hard and smothered them when the Eagles had possession, but Ryan in his link-up play with Kelly made it look easy, hot stepping around multiple Saints players on multiple occasions to effectively dispose of the ball.
He is creative and is able to bring players into the game using his lightning feet and sharp accuracy, evading North Melbourne’s Luke McDonald this weekend, to put a belter of a dart across to Oscar Allen inside the 50 which resulted in a goal.
Ryan is becoming the complete full-forward and is showing qualities of a potential future leader, coming back after not touching the ball in the first term of the game against North, to add an injection of pace and creativity which ultimately brought the Eagles back into it.
Ex-Brisbane premiership winner Jonathan Brown said, “You know what I love about him, he didn’t touch the ball until quarter time. Not many players can recover from that. Quite often you see players go into their shell, we’ve all been there, it’s tough to recover from that. He came out after that and certainly had the biggest impact on the game.”
Ryan has certainly earnt his plaudits and it was seriously impressive to see him step up after what was an abysmal first quarter for the Eagles.
And as well as Jonathan Brown, Adam Simpson is another plaudit of his, stating in his post-match press conference, “he (Ryan) is All-Australian. His last month in particular. We haven’t had Jamie Cripps for the last four or five weeks…he’s really stood up for us when the game has been on the line.”
Kicking 11 goals in the past 5 games, he has seriously put his hand up for his team, and has certainly lead by example through the Eagles’ tough bout of difficult fixtures. Simpson was quick to acknowledge this stating “he has been one of those leaders who have dragged us over the line the last two weeks.”
But it looks like All-Australian selectors will have a bit of a headache picking who’ll get the small forward position, with St Kilda’s Dan Butler, Charlie Cameron of the Lions, and Giant’s Toby Greene all throwing their names in the hat this season, notching up some impressive stats with Butler drawing level with Ryan on 26 goals.
Despite the competition though, in just his third season of AFL footy, we’re still backing Ryan to go on and grab a spot in this year’s All-Australian side as who wouldn’t want the high flying hot stepper in your team?