Big Questions Leading into Round 10


What does the loss of Daniher mean to Essendon?

And also, did they botch his injury management? Look, that is a question I won’t be able to answer, but it won’t stop a lot of people asking it.

After missing most of last season, Joe Daniher played in the JLT series this season. Tuck that one away for a moment.

Daniher then missed the first three games of the season with a calf-related injury, before stringing together three games in a row, including a wonderful duel against Darcy Moore on Anzac Day.

He then sat out Round Eight before returning last week, and now his 2019 watch has ended. A recurrence of his problematic groin issue looks set to see him undergo surgery and start looking at 2020.

This has huge implications for Daniher, long term. After losing close to a full season in 2018, he has repeated the dose in 2019. We are on the verge of seeing a player that had the potential to become a legitimate superstar in the league slip away into the realms of “what could’ve been”.

After losing reigning best and fairest, Devon Smith earlier in the week, you could excuse Bomber fans for being a little despondent. Going into one of the biggest home and away clashes of the season – Dreamtime at the ‘G, Essendon need to win one to restore faith in the group, and restore the faith OF the group.

Now, knowing then what you know now, would you have played Daniher in the JLT series?


Is Dusty back?

Does one swallow make a Spring?

Martin had his most prolific disposal-gathering game since his Brownlow year last round, gathering 37 touches and slotting two goals in an undisputed best on ground performance, but are we jumping the gun with re-anointing him?

Three times this season we’ve seen Dusty have 18 touches or less, which is so far below what we expect of him. Am I convinced on the back of one stellar outing?


Gimme two to three weeks of Dusty at, or near his best before we start throwing his name into the top ten performers of the year. Martin’s best is as good as it gets, but it has been too long between drinks in 2018/19 for us to fall at his feet just yet.

 I get the feeling Richmond fans are cautiously optimistic with Dusty at the moment. I am as well, and am taking a very ‘wait and see’ approach with him at the moment.

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Where will Josh Jenkins end up?

The Crows look as though they’ve moved away from the most consistent forward they’ve had for the past few years.

Here’s Jenkins’ last five years – 40 goals in 2014, 46 goals in 2015, 62 goals in 2016, 45 goals in 2017, 46 goals in 2018.

And this season, JJ has four goals to his name in as many games. With Elliott Himmelberg more than earning his keep, and Darcy Fogarty waiting in the wings, the writing is well and truly on the wall for Jenkins. But where will he end up?

Hawthorn would love a replacement for Jarryd Roughead, but at 30 years old, trading for Jenkins is like for like.

North Melbourne are desperate for some hep for Ben Brown, and if they can get a couple of years out of Jenkins it might be worthwhile.

Would Melbourne be willing to take the gamble? Let’s see how Sam Weideman responds to a couple of weeks in the VFL before responding.

The Western Bulldogs? Their time and energy is going into Aaron Naughton, but as a second option… or possible a third, Jenkins could be very sercivable, though he is more likely to be a top-up player than anything more than a 2-3 year prospect.

And then there are the Suns. With Peter Wright looking as though he’s about to be locked up as their long-term forward option, Jenkins in a Suns guernsey could be very handy for a year or two. He has demonstrated great maturity during his troubled start to 2019, and if he can be a mature presence in a young locker room, his presence could be incredibly valuable as the team develops.

So, where do you think Jenkins ends up in 2020?


Do you care about the mid-season draft?

I’m a bit of a footy tragic, but for the life of me, I am finding it near impossible to get excited about a mid-season draft where I find it highly unlikely I’ll a) have heard of most people picked up, and b) see them with any significant role for the remainder of the season.

Yeah, there might be some nice little top-up players in the mix for a long-awaited crack at the big time, but I am already focussing on the big time. I’m not too concerned about list-fillers becoming one of the last players on the list.

If it tickles your fancy, great. It just doesn’t tickle mine.


What reaction do we expect from the Blues?

This is an interesting one. Had I asked “what reaction do you WANT from the Blues?” but let’s stick to realism. Are Carlton capable of responding in a manner you’d like them to?

The Saints are by no means travelling well. After a great start to the year, they’ve fallen back to the pack, and are looking vulnerable. Most clubs would smell a bit of blood in the water if they were playing the Saints, but Carlton are more like a manatee than a shark at the moment, wallowing in a mess of their own making.

What I expect to see is a spirited first ten minutes from the Blues before they come to terms with the fact that, after that initial spurt of energy, they are exactly the same team they were last week. If Jack Steele gets his claws into Patrick Cripps, and Sam Petrevski-Seton refuses to put his body in and earn a kick, I’m afraid it may renew the Saints’ hunger for the contest.

Blues to have a red hot go early, and the Saints to wear them down. Check back with me after the game.

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Can the Ferrari handle the MCG this time?

GWS crashed and burned on the wide expanses of the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Hawthorn, and this time around they will be looking for redemption.

After a glorified training run against Carlton, the Giants will be looking to shed some of the questions over whether they can perform at “the home of football” this weekend. For a while now, the Giants have been labelled premiers in waiting, but failure to produce on the hallowed turf of the ‘G will see them relegated to the role of also-rans on September.

You want to win a flag? You’ve got to perform on this stage.

Melbourne have not been overly impressive… okay, that’s an understatement. They’ve been toilet-water horrible at times this season, and their past month has seen them conjure two wins, including an absolute nail biter against the Suns. They were good against the Eagles until it really mattered late in the game, and with max Gawn returning to form, they could trouble the Giants.

But with the midfield brigade of Kelly, Coniglio, Whitfield and Taranto looking more and more like the midfield that can rival Collingwood for class, the Dees will have to be red hot to put the brakes on Leon Cameron’s machine.

The Giants can make a statement at the expense of the disappointing Dees this weekend… or the Dees can flip the narrative, and it’s the Giants who are suddenly underperforming.


Game of the Round?

Not much talk about the Dogs and the Roos in the media at the moment, but this is my pick of the bunch for what should be a belting game.

You don’t have to go back too far to reminisce about a great North v Bullies game. It was only last year, at the same venue, that they put on a classic. With 20 seconds to go, North were able to go coast-to-coast, culminating with a last second snap by Jack Ziebell to pinch the win. Somewhat forgotten in the context of the year, this was one of the game of the season, and I’m hoping for a repeat performance this weekend.

With Naughton at one end and Brown at the other, midfields boasting names like Bont, Higgins, Cunnington and Liberatore, and with game styles that lean more toward scoring on the run than slow builds, this game could be the highest scoring game of the round under the roof at Docklands.

Of course, now I’ve said that… watch them cock it up.


Does Crows v Eagles define their seasons?

It’s a big call, but these are the games that set up seasons. The Crows are at home, and have made another statement, by dropping Bryce Gibbs.

“I’m making another statement… the same one as last time!”

Truthfully, I thought Gibbs was very good last week, and when the Crows were well and truly down, he was one of the few standing up. No matter, I am sure he’ll get another chance.

The Eagles are gathering steam, but are hardly chugging along. Elliot Yeo had his best game for the season last week, which was heartening, but there are plenty with a bit left in the tank.  Jack Darling has made the first half of 2018 seem like a pleasant, distant memory with his inauspicious start to 2019, and needs a four quarter performance to restore a bit of faith.

The Eagles have relied heavily on their captain, with Shannon Hurn responding the way a true captain should. He has been the premiers’ most outstanding player to date, and looks in control every time he’s near the ball.

For the Crows, they’ve been riding the return to form of Brad Crouch, and have seen some real improvement from Elliott Himmelberg. With Daniel Talia and Alex Keath both performing superbly on the last line, Hugh Greenwood and Cam Ellis-Yolmen providing some legitimate grunt, and both the run of Brodie Smith, and forward pressure of Lachie Murphy, Adelaide are slipping under the guard of a few.

The ruck duel between the surprising O’Brien and the disappointing Vardy will be pivotal. Vardy is a beast when he wants to be, and O’Brien has made quite a point since he was given his chance to shine. Will Vardy pull his finger out this week and have more of a contribution than pushing an injured bloke on the deck, or will O’Brien continue to surprise teams with his effort and capabilities?

If Tex Walker or Eddie Betts can get off the chain at some point, they might set the Crows amongst the Eagles. For mine, whoever wins this contest can set themselves up as a legitimate top four contender.

Whoever loses, whilst it’s not curtains,. It’s probably a good indicator as to where they actually sit in season 2019.


Will Gaz turn it on in his home away from home?

We heard a bit about the “Danger-Show” earlier in the week, but with Dangerfield sitting out this week (I guess he must’ve been a little hurt, huh?) we get to see Gary Ablett take centre stage at the stadium he called home for six years.

If you’re a Suns fan, do you boo Ablett? I’d hope not. Whilst his last two years were nothing to be cheering about, Ablett’s contribution to Gold Coast was enormous early on. Yeah, he wasn’t a great captain, and yeah, a lot of the time it seemed to be about Gaz instead of the Suns, but some of his individual brilliance was worth going to see when he was a Sun.

Whether he plays another year or not, every game Gaz plays at an interstate venue could be his last. It is only right that he has a big one in this game, right?

Not if you’re a Suns fan, it isn’t.

It will be interesting to see who the Suns throw at Ablett. His defensive running has been horrible (we call a spade a spade here), but it hasn’t bothered too many people due to the Cats’ winning percentage. If the Suns can manufacture a Jarrod Harbrow v Gaz matchup in defence, and use Harbrow to run and carry out of defensive 50, it may provide the springboard they need to score fast.

Gaz isn’t going to catch Harbrow. He may not even try running with him. As long as Harbrow has the tank to get back and cover Ablett when the turnover comes, their match up could be the difference between a big Geelong win, and a tight, desperate contest.

Oh, and I reckon Tomahawk may have a bit of a day out here.


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