At 197cm and 98 kgs, Agape Patolo’s presence on the field is undeniable, but the Dandenong Stingrays ruck still feels he has a way to go before he is content with his on-field performance. Having been sidelined for around a month due to a torn calf muscle, Patolo returned to the Stingrays side on Sunday as they went down narrowly to Eastern Ranges 9.13. 67 to 8.9. 57.
Struggling to keep up with the pace of the game after recovering from his injury, the Noble Park ruckman said it was “probably the worst game I’ve played.” Despite feeling disappointed with his efforts, Patolo tallied 21 hitouts against Eastern Ranges Abraham Nyok, who managed 19 on Sunday. The only other player in the league with more average hitouts than Patolo is Nyok’s teammate Dion De Pace who didn’t play in the match. Both Nyok and Patolo battled it out in the centre on Sunday, with Patolo competing well despite Nyok’s impressive natural leap.
Upon being made aware that he is second only to De Pace in average hitouts in the league, Patolo’s first question was; ‘who’s first?’, highlighting his eagerness to excel in his preferred position. Patolo claims that his strength is in his ruck work, but still feels that there is room for improvement.
There are several aspects of his game the towering number 38 wishes to perfect as the season continues, the most important of which he mentions is getting his head right. As the Stingrays locked horns with Eastern Ranges, Patolo felt that his “‘head wasn’t in it… just not a great game.”
Viewing his seasons so far as ‘up and down’ and ‘good in patches’, Agape Patolo feels he can make progress with his strength and fitness as the season develops. With the hopes of getting noticed by recruiters, marking and work around the ground are also on his mind. Hoping to play out the last seven weeks unscathed, Patolo wants to work on developing some consistency in his game to restore his injury-plagued season. According to Patolo, his form has dropped off a bit, which is a cause for concern for the rest of the year.
With no contact from AFL representatives or clubs thus far, what the rest of the TAC cup season holds for Agape Patolo is unclear; but there is no doubt he knows where his weaknesses lie and is willing to work hard to succeed in improving them. Patolo will travel to Preston next Saturday June 29th with the Stingrays to take on the Northern Knights, where he will try to implement these improvements to his game style.
TAC Cup statistics:
DT Ave: 58.29