HOW DO you harness the natural attributes of Noah Balta?

It's a question Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has grappled with all season.

One of the most athletically gifted players in the competition, Balta – who stands at 194cm and 100kg – is one of the League's most imposing figures. He's also one of its quickest.

He displayed all of those talents – and more – on Sunday. He won 14 disposals and 10 contested possessions on the ground, took three contested marks and six grabs in total in the air, won six hit-outs playing in the ruck and went forward to kick a nice goal.

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Such a breakout performance from the 19-year-old was pivotal in Richmond's comfortable 36-point victory over Hawthorn, exciting both the Tiger faithful and his coach.

"We sort of don't want to harness his attributes," Hardwick said after the match.

"I sit there and I watch him and I get excited on the bench, watching what he can do. He's got a long way to go, but what I love is his ability in the contest to impact.

WATCH Damien Hardwick's full post-match press conference

"God, he's quick. The way he plays the game … the recruiters made a brave call at the draft table two years ago and plucked his name out because they liked what he could offer.

"He's still a long way off being at his absolute best, we understand that, but we're certainly excited about the way he's playing at the moment."

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Another exciting aspect of Balta's development is his incredible versatility. On Sunday afternoon, he started forward, went back and even played as the pinch-hit ruckman.

It's something he displayed in his draft year, where he was recruited with the 25th pick.

So, where does Hardwick ultimately see Balta playing in five years' time?

"Probably under another coach," he laughed.

"But I don't know. Primarily, we see him as a back. But we love what he gives us forward.

"We haven't had a genuine swingman for a long period of time, so that's something we like … his ability to pinch-hit through the ruck and up forward, it's exciting.

"We always talk about settling him down, but he just keeps exciting us every time."

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In just his eighth match, Balta put his name forward for a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

But so did a number of other Tigers. Sydney Stack was again composed down back, winning 17 disposals from seven marks. Liam Baker had 13 disposals, eight marks and kicked a nice goal. Shai Bolton was electric alongside him, even if he floated in and out of the game.

Fortunately for Hardwick, he doesn't have to choose which one is nominated. He's just appreciative of the hard work of his youngsters to cover for a long, experienced injury list.

"I'm not sure how it works," Hardwick said.

"It was stiff that poor old Jackson Ross, who has been in outstanding form, he's out for eight weeks so he probably doesn't get his nomination.

"I think any of our players are capable of getting it. Noah Balta, Shai Bolton, Sydney Stack and Liam Baker have had their opportunities.

"Our development boys have stood up and performed really, really well. They're quality lads, quality players and they're going to improve as well."