They don’t call it the silly season because there’s a whole lot of sensible things going on.
That said, we’ll try our best to wade through some of the crap so you don’t have to, in an attempt to bring you some sane news over the next little while.
WHERE DOES JAMES JORDON FIT AT SYDNEY?
The first deal of free agency saw James Jordon join the Sydney Swans.
It is interesting to place him in the Swans team and see what impact he could have.
I have long thought that Jordon’s best position was on the wing. At Melbourne, he was playing behind Ed Langdon and Lachie Hunter – both guys are top-ten wingmen in the competition, which meant that he was always going to struggle to get a run, and when he did, he would be relieving those guys, whilst filling in elsewhere.
After so much time spent as the sub, I reckon he sees a future on the outside with the Swans.
Through 2023, Sydney played Justin McInerney, Errol Gulden, Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, and late in the season, Braeden Campbell on the wing. With Stephens out the door and Mills on the shelf, suddenly, there seems to be an opening on the wing for the Swans. McInerney is highly capable of playing off a back flank, and Gulden can basically play anywhere he damn well likes, so a reliable, two-way runner on the wing should suit the Swans perfectly.
Is he best-23 right off the bat?
Nah, he’ll likely have to earn his spot and will do that via a big pre-season. I’m backing him to make the Round One side, injuries aside, and to establish himself as a genuine threat on the wing. He was in the process of doing that at Melbourne before the recruitment of Hunter. No shade on the Dees – they just upgraded.
MABIOR CHOL AT THE HAWKS?
It seems that the former Tiger and soon-to-be former Sun is set to land at Hawthorn, with Chol officially requesting a trade in the last 24 hours.
As soon as Damien Hardwick was named as coach of the Suns, you’d think Chol saw the writing on the wall. Had this been following his 2022 season, where he snagged 44 goals, things may have been different and Dimma may have been willing to give him another shot, but with Chol’s best moments coming in the VFL this season, he had one foot out the door as Hardwick firmed as coach.
It makes you wonder what Hardwick dislikes about Chol, and whether the Hawks should be a little more wary of hitching their wagon to him.
The upside of this pending deal is that Hawthorn get someone who is capable of playing backup to Mitch Lewis. If they get the 2022 version of Chol, they’ll be in luck. If the 2023 version wanders into preseason training… well, I reckon the Hawks can’t complain of being blindsided – they know what they’re taking on.
As you may be able to tell, I am not a huge Chol fan. For me, he gets a lot of easy looks at goals by way of not competing in the air, and that isn’t going to help Lewis, who is giving off plenty of Nick Larkey vibes. This could be a breakout season for him but he cannot do it alone.
With key forwards anything but plentiful, the Hawks have taken a risk on Chol. I reckon we’ll know by about Round Eight whether they’ve made a wise bet, or have blown it.
XAVIER DUURSMA HEADED TO BOMBERLAND?
Part of the ‘Big Three’ in the w018 National Draft, Duursma has seen his star fall. since an injury back in 2021 saw him damage his knee and suffer a concussion at the same time.
The old knee/head double whammy injury… happens to the best of us.
Prior to that, his name was right up there with Connor Rozee and Zak Butters. Now, it is a very distant third. We’re talking waaaaaaay back.
A move back to Victoria is not a terrible idea and by adding him at Essendon, it is evident that the Bombers are now looking at a ‘win now scenario. No more building or stockpiling picks – they’re going for it.
Duursma will look to do his work off a wing at Essendon, which will be interesting to see how it impacts the current setup of Nic Martin and Sam Durham playing on the outside.
Martin moved to a half-forward flank later in the 2023 season, but there is little question his hard run is better utilised on the wing, where he can retreat to defence and help.out, as we saw him.do so often.
Durham could make.a very good HFF, but I like what he provides on the wing at this stage, as well. A three-way rotation between them seems to be the ideal, but that will be reliant on Duursma being able to get his game back on track. If the 2023 version shows up, he might find himself as a VFL player
THE NEXT BIG PRIZE
With the footy world caught up in the latest drama around players looking as though they may switch teams, there is another story, still twelve months down the track, that could shape the future of not only the Fremantle Dockers, but perhaps another team.
Following the 2024 season, ruckman Sean Darcy will become a restricted free agent and there will be many suitors vying for his attention if he doesn’t re-sign before the end of the season.
After an injury-interrupted 2023 season, Darcy will be looking to secure one of the biggest deals in the game when he strides out onto the field in 2024, and at 25 years of age, this will be his chance to secure a huge payday.
Fremantle remain optimistic that they will be able to re-sign Darcy, but the lure of playing where it all started may start to call to Darcy, just as it has so many that played their junior footy within the are of Geelong. Kardinia Park calls them back.
It has done so to Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Rohan, Tanner Bruhn, Ollie Henry, Shaun Higgins, and Luke Dahlhaus in recent history. Of their 2023 list, 40% of players at Geelong either played for the Geelong Falcons, or came through the Cats’ VFL team.
They know how to bring them back home at Geelong. I’ll be watching that closely over the next little while. If I were Freo, and Darcy stays healthy (I worry about his legs, carrying that big frame around), I might be inclined to overpay on a shorter deal than sign him for six or so years. Gotta protect yourselves, as well.
THE WORST OF AFL MEDIA
Over the last four days, we have seen a rollercoaster of news surrounding the potential move of Clayton Oliver away from Melbourne. What a disgrace this coverage has been, as anyone who was anyone or wanted to be anyone in the AFL news cycle tried to paint their own picture of events or create a take to get their own name out there in connection with the story/non-story. This, whilst making sure not to divulge enough to make them stand out too much from the pack.
Of course, the entire situation was at the expense of others. But who cares about them, right? The story is the thing that matters, however watered down and half-reported it is.
Melbourne, to their credit, held off making any statement on the matter. Sure, the info certain people were receiving had to come from somewhere, but lets for once assume the club, or at least those highly-placed within it, had some integrity and the wellbeing of those involved at heart, okay?
too much of a stretch?
The Dees opted to remain quiet, at least publicly, as they met with Oliver, who people said was at the club yesterday and things appeared very amicable (did you hear any of that reported? My guess is no).
They made their statement today – when they were ready – Oliver was staying put. However, even they couldn’t make a simple statement without letting everyone know that Oliver has issues to deal with. Far out, boys… don’t feed the beast!
This came as AFL journalists quoted unnamed sources that hinted at behavioural problems and issues between Oliver and the club. If you know the truth, report it. This wink-and-nod setup is demeaning to all involved. It’s gutter/gutless AFL journalism on one hand and stupid messaging from the club on the other. Melbourne like to give this impression they have a strong culture and so on – if that’s the case, keep this stuff in-house and don’t back over the bloke once the media have already thrown him under the bus.
If you’re requesting respect for Oliver’s privacy, start by doing it, yourself. That’s strong culture.
I’m sure it was great for clicks for the media agencies, and one or two of them may have increased their twitter following as a result Of their ambiguous carry on. But what of the player and his family?
Well, they’re just collateral damage, apparently.
I feel for the families of players when some journalists, who have the integrity of shithouse rats, make veiled accusations aimed at players that impact not only on the player, but mothers, fathers, partners, children, and siblings. I know Oliver has no kids, but that is more a broad statement.
Some may say that it is part and parcel of being an AFL player, or a star player. To that I say have some fucking integrity. You are half reporting things that have quickly become common knowledge under the guise of protecting someone. You’re actually making it worse – you’re just in such an echo chamber, you cant hear anything else. Some of the pieces on Oliver have been horrible. They say everything without saying anything. The writer may think its well done – like he’s danced around a subject so he can do the “well, i never said anything” spiel. It’s not well done. It’s underhanded and weak.
And some of the responses on various social media, yapping away without anything close to first-hand knowledge, have not cast AFL fans in the most positive of lights, either.
We must not forget that for every click or like the players generate for media outlets, there is a person and their family on the other end of it. There is a responsibility for that journo to be entirely accurate with their information. Not first – but accurate. Not smarmy and too good for the riff raff reading their shite, but honest and open. Or else, why report on it at all? That’s the important part that is too often lost. You’d think that some, given their own recent experiences, would know better.
I’ll defer to the great Denzel Washington on how the press should operate. He is a wise man. No doubt, they’ll ignore it, wink and nod at each other, and move on to the next one.
WHAT DOES ZAC FISHER ADD TO NORTH MELBOURNE?
Speed… and not the type that leaves you with a strike, either.
He fell out of favour at the Blues in the second half of 2023, but I’ve always rated him highly as long as you’re not relying on him to snag goals – a career average of just 0.5 per game indicates that Fisher may be better utilised up the ground.
That should work for North.
Bailey Scott emerged as a hard-running wingman this year, but on the other side of the ground, the Kangaroos lacked drive. Fisher can provide that. His pace off the mark and good foot skills are two things North have lacked over the past couple of seasons. Hell, the club was playing Curtis Taylor on the wing – he is much better suited to a half-forward role.
With Dylan Stephens also coming on board, I wonder whether he is eyeing off a spot in the middle, which will leave the wing spot open for Fisher?
If the soon-to-be former Blue is able to get a consistent stretch of game time into him early in the season, he could be in the running for recruit of the year.
And if manages to turn around that lack of scoreboard impact, all the better.
Standalone piece on Brodie Grundy coming tomorrow morning. I had it as part of this one, but there is more meat on the bone with his story.
Edit – the messages I’ve received from a couple of family members of AFL players are supportive of the stance I took in the AFL Media section. They experience this first-hand and tell me the media turn on people in an instant. In this case, I am pleased to be on the outer. Cheers to all – HB.
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