Richmond football boss Neil Balme likened dashing young defender Oleg Markov’s possible career trajectory to that of Sydney key defender Aliir Aliir.
Markov, whose father Dimitri was a champion pole vaulter, was one of the few bright spots last season for the Tigers, with his athleticism and dash off half back exciting downtrodden fans.
After a strong summer on the training track and in the gym, he was one of the eye-catchers in the club’s intra-club hit-out this week and looms as a player to watch across the JLT Community Series.
Balme told SEN that the South Australian has great scope for improvement and what he has shown thus far is potentially the tip of the iceberg.
“He’s got a lot of potential. He’s a really good athlete,” Balme said.
“He’s only a young boy in reality, he’s got a fair bit of improvement in him still, but he’s a good kid – really committed, trains hard, runs really well.
“For a while he didn’t get the ball much, probably because he was figuring it all out.
“It’s a little bit like that boy Aliir Aliir, who plays up in Sydney. For a while you’d see him and he’d do a few things and you’d think, ‘oh he just doesn’t get the game yet’, (but) all of a sudden he got the game and he’s in the right place taking marks.
“I think Oleg is not dissimilar. He’s played a little bit more than Aliir Aliir possibly, but he’s got a lot of physical talent and a good head on him – loves playing, good kid.
“He’s quite exciting.”
Richmond kicks off its pre-season campaign against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Friday, February 24.