BACKS

James Sicily (Hawthorn)

18 touches, 5 marks, 2 free kicks against resulting in goals

Fairly ordinary day at the office for Sicily for three quarters, ordinary in the sense that most people should use the term, in that nothing of any note happened. It was a fairly James Sicily day at the office, floating around off half back, the occasional intercept mark, splendid kicking skills and the like.

Fairly ordinary day at the office for Sicily in the last quarter, costing the Hawks the game, ordinary in the sense that blokes don’t really know how to communicate their feelings verbally well enough and end up using “ordinary” and “average” in the wrong context.

On the flip side, every journalist struggling for a non-Essendon story after a boring weekend of footy, probably owes him a Bertocchi ham, as they raced to pen, paper, laptop, scribe, telegraph, whatever keeps them from the inevitable retrenchment, to tell us all that James Sicily might be on the undisciplined side.

Whichever tall prick Richmond pick up in the mid-season draft to replace Alex Rance (VFL/SANFL/WAFL/Balwyn)

The only guy running around these leagues not already on an AFL list above 193cm that doesn’t have the tag “burly ruckman” in front of their name that can one-grab a footy in winter.

I’m calling it now. They’re going to find some bloke killing it out at Williamstown or Port Melbourne, let’s call him “Sam M” for example purposes. No, wait, that’s too revealing, let’s go with “S McLarty” instead, who will slot into Richmond’s defence seamlessly, and end up genuinely giving the All Australian team a shake, because great teams have great structures, and realistically just about anyone meeting the bare minimum credentials will look great by comparison. Which, come to think about it, might cheapen Alex Rance’s standing in the game just a little.

We’d also like to thank the AFL Communications team who gave us the special dispensation to include this speculative player in place of Alex and his customary spot in every Best 22 team compiled.

Nick Smith (Sydney)

We posed the question last week: Is there a more one-sided rivalry in the AFL than Ben Stratton and Eddie Betts? Then I realized the other answer was Nick Smith and Eddie Betts, and sneakily hid that one away in preparation for this weeks’ game, only to realize at about half time, he wasn’t playing and still injured.

For every bit overrated that Alex Rance may be by the football media, Nick Smith is his mirror opposite. 211 games, premiership player, most games played without ever polling a vote, and over the past decade, had the likes of Eddie Betts, Stevie J and Mark LeCras for breakfast.

In his place, Colin O’Riordan proved to be one of the biggest bombs from Ireland since Brian McFadden recorded that song about date rape (note the sensitivity there in avoiding obvious, but incredibly dated jokes about the IRA and car-bombings. In The Name Of The Father  was a great film, look it up).

Smith will slot back into this side seamlessly. Whilst they’re clearly struggling to make a clear decision on what to do with Heath Grundy, the Nick Smith decision is being made a lot easier for them by virtue of no-one else being close to capable.


HALF BACKS

Jack Watts (Port Adelaide)

19 touches, 5 marks, 1 broken leg, 1 dislocated ankle

For a minute there, we were concerned that Jack Watts was going to see the light, and turn things around, growing up, becoming a man, facing his insecurities and self-doubt, and turning into the sort of player you’d actually want to pick at #1. Last week’s game showed so much promise – the work ethic, the repeat efforts, genuinely looking like he wanted to play to the absolute best of his ability rather than do the Bare Minimum that Melbourne have perfected in instilling in it’s high draft picks over the years, they should be able to offer it as a registered TAFE course.

It was almost reminiscent of the rebirth of WWE legend, Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero was canned by the WWE in 2001 over his numerous drug and alcohol addiction relapses, only to find himself on the independent circuit, and came back, remained sober for the most part and famously captured a WWE title before his untimely death at 38 from his heart literally exploding.

Instead, Jack managed to snap his leg and rotate his ankle in ways not thought possible under the weight of a Daisy Thomas tackle, giving himself a fantastic conversation starter to use as he heads to Europe for the winter to catch the World Cup, the Ashes, and potentially meet up with Nigella Lawson, Faith from In Bed With Faith, and Leigh Darby. We wish him well.

 

Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

15 touches, 4 marks

We spoke about the possibility of an unnamed state league player that may or may not even get on a list being an All-Australian smokey. We’ve also spoken about Nick Smith leaving a huge hole in Sydney’s backline. Probably only fair we also point out that Darcy Moore has one of the key defensive posts in the team locked down at this point, and Sydney could have had him for comparatively next to nothing in the off-season.

Even before Jack Riewoldt’s wrist turned to mush on Thursday night, Darcy Moore cleaned him up good and proper. It’s pretty enjoyable to watch, even before the schadenfreude kicks in.

Whichever Carlton defender doesn’t get Buddy this week

Buddy’s started 2019 at a fairly pedestrian pace. Yep, 50 out on the boundary, left foot, bang, goal, seen it a million times. Not much else. Don’t care if you’ve had next to no pre-season at that age. Show us something else.

For lack of a more applicable descriptor, Buddy has absolutely dicked Carlton in the last few years to the extent you could easily blend the highlights package into some of the more explicit scenes in Game Of Thrones.  That could just be foreplay in comparison to this weekend.

Usually it’s Sam Rowe who cops it. He’s now holding down a post at Sandringham. That’s not to suggest Liam Jones hasn’t worn his fair share of Buddy Love, and the in-form Jacob Weitering hasn’t been shielded from it either. Do the Blues rush Caleb Marchbank back this week for an extra option? It could get nasty on Saturday, and good luck to whichever Blue doesn’t get the luxury of playing the loose man in defence role.

MIDFIELD

Bailey Williams (Western Bulldogs)

Withdrawn from game with general soreness

It’s round 2, you’re 4 years into a senior career, and the club are trying the general soreness excuse on? Intriguing……

Whichever free agent/uncontracted midfielder ends up at Sydney at the end of the year

Whatever Stephen Coniglio’s stats were from the weekend

Been a while since Sydney could be a major player in the trade period. Couldn’t come quick enough. Their midfield has been ordinary the past few weeks. And don’t tell me Josh Kennedy had a great game on Friday night, because he really didn’t. Plenty of stats racked up where he happened to be in the right place, right time by virtue of not being able to get to a contest. Something that you can probably get away with at the SCG, on the bigger grounds, no chance.

I reckon one of the big name midfielders is heading to the SCG at the end of the year. Whichever one West Coast can’t get a deal done for. What better a way to heat up the Sydney crosstown rivalry than poaching Stephen Coniglio?

Having said that, I genuinely yearn for a return to the days of the old Sydney Swans in the early 90s, when the only people at the ground were the old blokes behind the goals (dig them up, I don’t care) watching Sanford Wheeler plying his craft alongside the occasional family who got lost on their way to a North Sydney Bears game. It’s a win-win proposition, and without AFL assistance, it’s a genuine possibility that they may end up there. Lucky though, they’ve got money to spend at the end of the year, thanks to this fella…..

Dan Hannebery (Former member of the St Kilda leadership group)

What an influence this guy has had on the Bad News Bears-esque St Kilda Football Club. In under six months, Dan Hannebery has arrived at Moorabbin, decided his work had already been done in the leadership group a few weeks into the year, had no pre-season, and yet his off-beat brand of Mr. Miyagi-esque wisdom (Gurn on, gurn off?) has paid off, with the Saints sitting at 2-0 to start the season.

Imagine if the Hawthorn medical team took pity on him, and gave him a free consultation, so that there’s hope he might be able to get on the park, and to a standard above Dale Thomas circa 2014?

Without having spoken to Dan Hannebery’s management team about consultation fees, I’m sure he’d be able to lend his leadership talents to sorting out the toxic issues in the Victorian Greens, whilst defending a safe Liberal seat from oncoming annihilation in May, before heading over to the UK with Jack Watts to sort out Brexit.

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HALF FORWARDS

Toby Greene (GWS)

Rough night for the Giants in Perth, and if one thing could be identified is that Toby Greene can continue to kung-fu kick the shit out of whoever he wants, whether that be opposition players not looking, or blokes on the sauce at Zagame’s, he’s still walking into that GWS side as not only, far and away, the best small forward in the Giants line-up, but also the only one of AFL standard on the list. Thilst they rush the development of Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto into the midfield to accommodate some poor list management decisions.

Another one with general soreness. In round 2. Funny that.

Joe Daniher (Essendon)

If you thought the reaction from Essendon supporters to the St Kilda loss was entertaining, wait till you see what happens when Joe Daniher comes back from his calf injury, and is only marginally more effective than Corey McKernan’s brother?

Nonetheless, given the huge amount of difference in pay between the two, is it that much more of a reflection on Joe Daniher that he’s not going to be that much more influential than a bloke probably still on close to a rookie-list deal? The list around them? The forward line structure? What gives? I mean, if you think that’s a disappointment to look forward to, Essendon fans, I’ve got an even better proposition for you….

Irving Mosquito (Essendon)

Drafted that high largely to fuck with Hawthorn in retaliation for their part in trying to land Dylan Shiel from under their noses. I wouldn’t be surprised if the memo has gone out from the Windy Hill powers that be that no matter what this bloke does from now on in, his debut will be reserved for whichever home game is going to have the biggest impact on their turnover for the year.

The game they penciled in early on in the year was going to be a potential top 4 clash with a traditional rival in a great timeslot, that will instead be filled with “playing the kids”, farewelling veterans who haven’t quite chalked up the father/son requirements, or possibly a James Hird comeback if the right nuffies make a successful coup.

I really have no idea if he’s any good or not; I’d be getting paid for this if I did, but surely provides more than McDonald-Tipungwuti currently?

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RUCKS

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Prominent 19th century German philosopher, games/goals record holder at Melbourne, possibly inspired the Nazi movement)

Nietzsche’s most controversial piece of work revolved around the theory that God is dead, that the Enlightenment period caused significant cultural revolution in our societies to no longer require theism as the staple of our cultural identity.  He also absolutely flattened Luke McCabe at the ‘G one day, and it’s an absolute disgrace that it’s not on Youtube.

Nonetheless, I’m sure he’d have said something similar about ruckmen. Enough crap coaches have succeeded without quality ruckmen of late, to make us realize that we no longer need a quality ruckman to build a team around.

On Saturday night, Tom Hickey faced off against Dawson Simpson. In a match for AFL Premiership Points. At a venue that did not allow dogs to be brought in nor make up the staple of the audience base. That’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s like if the Avengers weren’t able to bring in Captain Marvel to deal with Thanos in the pending End Game blockbuster, and instead after consulting the superhero rolodex, called on Sgt Tom Croydon from Blue Heelers to sort shit out.

The ruck is dead. What was once an art-form perfected by connoisseurs of tap-work are now just the third forward trying to get into the game, a midfielder with a decent leap on him taking the piss, or an admission at match selection that you need a big bloke to protect an undersized midfield and not much else.

Tom Scully (Hawthorn)

Ridiculous doesn’t cover it. GWS traded him for next to nothing, his medical results came back worse than Christopher Skase in his heyday. He wasn’t expected to play much, and by all admissions at Hawthorn’s end, it was a bit of a Hail Mary. From all reports, he probably could have ended up on the Australian Paralympic team.

Nup. Played in Round 2, without so much as a hit out prior. And didn’t look too bad at all. What the shit, Hawthorn? I mean, yeah, any team that wasn’t the Gold Coast was probably going to fix Jaeger O’Meara. This is just taking the piss.

We’ve already documented blokes pulling out with “general soreness” in round two, or that it’s going to take Dan Hannebery a very specific period of time to get his body right. Tom Scully just manages to put together his leg with duct tape and away he goes.

Good stuff. Did it cost Hawthorn the game though, given they were three down in the last quarter, and they probably didn’t want him playing that many minutes?

Alex Sexton (Gold Coast)

Last week we spoke of the ridiculous money this bloke is going to get offered. For mine, he’s the best small forward in the AFL, playing in an all-time awful side.

A few days later, he signs with the Suns for four years. I don’t get it.

The lure of a Hooters or Sizzler franchise perhaps too good to ignore? Did the Suns offer him part-ownership of the license? Several undiagnosed concussions leading him to believe that the Suns will be a legitimate contender in that time frame?

If it were the money from rival clubs not meeting expectations – you’d sign for one or two years. Not four. No-one’s offering you big money as a small forward at 29 to come to Melbourne and be the missing piece of a premiership.

Either the media have forgotten that the Suns existed and have downplayed what must be a fantastic contract for Sexton and his manager, or they’re both dumb as a bag of rocks. A lot of money left on the table, and to play for the Suns no less.

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