Chuck Steak at Porterhouse Price – Esava Ratugolea’s Potential Trade

Bought a nice piece of steak, lately? I cant say i blame you if you haven’t – they’re not cheap.

I can only think, given the AFL Trade Period is somewhat of a meat market, that Geelong are now hiking up the price on the rare commodity known as key defenders. I am unsure how else pick 24 for Esava Ratugolea is not enough for him to be traded to Port Adelaide.

Until the 2023 season, the Big Sav was a player without a position. Thrown into defence by Chris Scott this year, it was a hit in hope for the Cats. He had a pretty good first half of the year, and by “pretty good” I mean that he made more positive contributions than he did negative.

And whilst there were some great highlight plays as a defender, boy, there were some howlers from him in the mix, as well. Some put it down to a player learning a new position. Others believed that this is just who Ratugolea was, and if you were going to play him in defence, he was always going to make pretty boneheaded mistakes.

Let’s face it – any Geelong supporter who has mote that one eye will tell you – quietly, so as not to be heard by Port supporters, that Esava Ratugolea is a project player, at best. He is not a star, he is not a sure thing, and he is not a high-quality defender ready to slot into another side to alleviate all that ails them.

But shhhhhh…. don’t tell Port Adelaide, okay? They need him, and they have to pay overs to get him, right?

Wrong… very wrong.

When I first heard that Port had offered Pick 24 and that Geelong were looking to knock the offer back, I almost thought that maybe Chris Scott had developed a conscience.

“Nah, guys… look, I cant do this to you. He’s not worth that much. Just give us your third rounder and we’ll call it even….”

No such luck, it seems. Could it be that Geelong coach genuinely believe they have an immensely talented defender on their books (although out of contract) and feel that they are being hard done by?

I find it hard to believe.

In the eyes of Chris Scott and Andrew Mackie, the value of Esava Ratugolea has risen exponentially over the last couple of months. This occurred whilst he wasn’t doing much of anything. Now, the club who happily fleeced Gold Coast this time last year to make off with pick seven in the draft AND Jack Bowes are acting as though they have the second coming of Harris Andrews on their hands with Big Sav and want far more than he’s worth.

Pick 24 was more than he’s worth.

I have no allegiance to Port Adelaide or Geelong, so I have no qualms in stating that Esava Ratugolea needs a very strong defence around him to even begin to move the needle at a new club. Port doesn’t have that. As a matter of fact, he is like a watered-down version of Aliir Aliir, whose best role is that of interceptor with a free run at the footy. That is where Sav excels, as well. I cannot see these two playing well together – one will have to have eyes for their opponent at all times. Both love to intercept. Something would have to give (and that something would probably be Brandon Zerk-Thatcher).

Hell, intercepting is the role every defender excels in, but when Sav has been asked to stand next to a player and defend one-out, he has been exposed as a mid-range defender at best. He gets lost and loses his opponent.

To think that he is worth anything above Pick 24, and to even mention the inclusion of young forward, Ollie Lord is absolutely absurd and Geelong deserve to be treated absurdly, as a result.

Everyone understands the reasoning in attempting to get the best deal possible, but given what Ratugolea has produced over his six seasons at Geelong, Port would have to be completely idiotic, or completely desperate to fork out any more than what they’re currently offering.

Sav ranked 61st in the league in intercepts in 2023. He was 30th in one-percenters.

To put that in context, a bloke like Lewis Young, who struggled to get a game for Carlton at the back end of the season, was ranked 47th in intercepts and ninth in one percenters. Could you see Carlton demanding a first-round pick for him?

They’d be laughed out of Marvel Stadium if they tried. That’s likely what Geelong warrants, as well, if they think Sav is acceptable compensation for anything better than 24.

In his last five outings for Geelong, Ratugolea averaged six disposals, 3.8 one-percenters, and four intercepts.

If that is worth higher than pick 24, then hell, can I suggest players like Ryan Gardiner would also be worth this kind of price? Dumb, huh? Yep, absolutely it is. Gardiner is not worth it. Nor is Sav.

What Geelong are doing at the moment is arrogant. They’re like the bloke full of bravado at the pub with very little to back it up. If Ratugolea ends up walking to the pre-season draft and they get nothing in return for him, it’ll be their own fault. They’ll absolutely deserve it.

Take pick 24, cut the crap, and stop pretending you’re selling a prime cut of porterhouse steak, when you’re actually offloading a battered sav.

This posturing is stupid.


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