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Random Thought Wednesday

So I found some time this morning to sit and contemplate the goings-on in the footy world, and it turns out there is so much to cover, and so little time to write individual articles.

So I’m hoping to compose something that amounts to the B-Side of the Abbey Road album, and combine a heap of incomplete column ideas into something that all fits together. Of course, there’s no Lennon or McCartney here to help… so I don’t expect the results to prompt you to rush out and buy my latest album (or join our Patron service, but that’d be nice), but maybe this’ll all work.

As time ticks by, does it make it more likely that Coniglio, Grundy and Tim Kelly will jump ship?

The two most pressing signings would be Coniglio and Kelly – both out of contract after this season, but the position of Grundy is probably the most intriguing. Grundy has another year to run on his current deal, but if the Magpies fear that he is weighing up his options, perhaps they need to strike while the iron is hot, and while Adelaide has a top three pick at its disposal?

Adelaide owns the Blues’ 2019 first rounder after Carlton traded it away for Liam Stocker, and the hope they’d improve to make the pick swap seem like a good move. With a 1-10 record, it doesn’t seem like a good move at all right now.

But Adelaide fans are rubbing their hands together. I still think the Crows are a solid finals team, and hell, I thought they’d give the flag a shake this season (they still can!) but with a very high draft pick to play with next season, and with Sam Jacobs starting to lose the battle against Father Time, the Crows are in a position to secure the services of the best big man in the game.

Rumours fly all the time about every GWS star out there, but they’re particularly prevalent when Coniglio’s name is raised. We’ve heard that Hawthorn is in play, with his good mate Jaeger O’Meara luring him to the brown and gold, and this week we heard Chris Scott talking about how much he’d love him at Geelong (but he did say he’d also like Wayne Carey there, and admittedly, he was put on the spot about it on AFL 360).

Personally, I’d love to see Coniglio thumb his nose at “moving home”, commit to the Giants and form the best midfield in the game over a number of seasons with Josh Kelly, but I reckon a lot of that will depend on the back half of the year, and how GWS goes in the finals.

And then there’s Tim Kelly. The writing was on the wall last season, and with every passing week, it gets bigger. He’s gone, Cats fans, but it’s what you’re able to get back for him that will be interesting.

The problem here is that both Fremantle and West Coast are likely finalists this season, with the Eagles likely to go deep into September. The Cats will want more compensation for losing Kelly that a late first rounder and a player. They’re going to want quality in return for quality.

What do the two west Australian teams have to offer, and with each of them keen to secure the signature of Kelly, would they be willing to pay overs early to trump their rival?

West Coast have Jarrod Brander sitting on their list, while Freo may have to come to terms with losing Andrew Brayshaw or Adam Cerra to get Kelly into their team. Who plays ball the hardest, and who wants him the most?

 

Has Tom Lynch to Richmond been a success?

I had this posed to me yesterday, and my immediate response was yes, but upon answering I had the following thrown back at me.

Lynch is sitting at career low numbers in both disposals (8.18) which is 3.2 lower than his rookie year, and marks (3.73) which is 0.35 lower than his rookie season. That was a little startling, but I think Lynch is in the team to kick goals, and currently he sits at 2.27 per game, which is the third highest average of his career behind 2016/17.

When Richmond recruited Lynch, I remember pondering whether they were going to get the excellent 2016 version of the big forward, or the average 2018 version. It turns out they have a hybrid of those two players thus far.

Lynch looks less mobile than in previous years, but he has been so close to clunking some huge pack grabs, and I can legitimately see him kicking a big bag before the season is over.

For mine, the acquisition of Lynch has worked brilliantly for the Tigers. With Riewoldt hurt, Richmond have had a ready-made replacement at full forward. It’s been a complete luxury, and though he has struggled at times to get big numbers, perhaps that’s not who he is anymore? Maybe ten touches and three goals is what we need to get used to from Lynch?

And maybe, that’s enough.

 

What was the worst off-season move?

We’re more or less at the half way point of the year, so which moves have paid dividends, and which have bombed?

Alex Fasolo to Carlton has bombed. It’s sad, because he was a legit livewire at Collingwood, but when you watch him now, you can almost see the game going past him. He is averaging seven disposals and a goal in his two games this season, and unless he can produce something special in his third outing, I doubt we’ll see him on an AFL list at all after this season.

Dan Hannebery to St Kilda? Well, let’s see how he pulls up in the second half of the year, hey? We’ve gotta give him a chance to actually play, and from all reports, he had a nice hit out in his first VFL game last weekend. If he hasn’t played five games by the time 2019 ends, the Saints will be rueing the length of that contract.

I know he was “the man” in the Brisbane midfield, but in light of his hip injury, and subsequent three months on the sidelines, Dayne Beams hasn’t really been Dayne Beams at Collingwood, has he? He is -4.14 touches per game, and is down on every major stat across the board. Whilst he didn’t have to do as much as he did in Brisbane due to the quality he’s surrounded by at Collingwood, I don’t think there’d be too many Magpie supporters thrilled with his output.

Jesse Hogan to Fremantle? Well, the win-loss count indicates it was a success, but at what cost to Melbourne? Their forward set up has looked completely inept, with Hogan’s replacement, Sam Weideman’s greatest contribution to the season being a missed shot at goal that flushed the Dees’ season further down the gurgler. That said, his four contested marks on the night have been largely forgotten in the wake of one missed shot at goal. Hogan is averaging his career lows in goals per game (1.00) but has started to show signs that he may have a part to play in getting Freo to September.

Mitch McGovern making the trek to Carlton? He’s played nine games after a bit of an interrupted pre-season, has averaged career-lows in disposals (-4.59 on the 12.92 touches he had last year in Adelaide), and his strength - contested marking seems to have deserted him as well. He was recruited to be an aerial presence, but he’s about as effective in the air as a penguin at the moment. Mitch McPenguin.

Steven May to Melbourne? Ding ding ding! We have a winner. Showing up to pre-season woefully out of shape, May was then reported and suspended in the JLT series, and injured as well, May then wandered off to a pub, was snapped downing some beers and disciplined by his new team. Now he just needs to run over Simon Goodwin’s cat and injure Max Gawn’s knee at training to cap off a brilliant first year in red and blue.

 

Ken Hunter into the Hall of Fame.

I avoided listening to any rumours of who was going into the Hall this year, and I’m glad I did. I had a smile a mile wide as Hunter was inducted. I was a kid when he was plying his trade for Carlton, and even though I despised the Blues (success breeds jealousy) at the time, Hunter was always a player I greatly admired.

Even as a kid, you could not help but admire the way he played. He was reckless, insanely courageous, and when there was a ball in the air, he would fly at it from any angle to make it his.

There have been times I have raised my eyebrows at people inducted into the Hall of Fame, but this one was an inspired selection. I loved watching him play, even if was to the detriment of my team at the time. A genuine two-state superstar, he is one of the gutsiest and classy players you’ll ever see, and you know what – he’s as polite and personable a bloke as you’ll ever meet. He’ll even have a chat on Facebook if you’re lucky.

A wonderful addition to the Hall this year. Much deserved.

 

If Melbourne beat Collingwood…

This is pie in the sky stuff, but looking at this coming Monday, I wonder how things start to shape if Melbourne knocks over Collingwood on Queen’s Birthday?

The Gawn v Grundy clash will be a belter, and with the Dees three games outside eighth position, could hope be restored in the season? I heard someone on the radio… I think it was David King stating that the Dees should pull up stumps this year and start preparing for 2020. I was a little taken aback, to be honest, but with Kingy… at least he says what he thinks.

If they can knock over the Pies, they have the Dockers at the ‘G, then the Lions at the Gabba, followed by Carlton and the Western Bulldogs. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could sit 8-8 with six rounds to go.

Or maybe I am being overly optimistic?

Melbourne have been incredibly disappointing, and narrow losses to Adelaide and West Coast have really set them back, but I don’t think throwing the towel in right now is the best option. I’ll know whether or not they’ve taken King’s advice by 5pm on Monday.

 

Which players are under the pump?

Matt Kennedy – I’m actually starting to fear for his career. He was one of the trades I thought was quite astute by Carlton, but injuries have cruelled him. With an average of 16.43 touches per game with the Blues, he’ll need to start providing more than the eight touches he offered last week as the Blues search for answers he may not be able to provide.

Jack Martin – I hate to say this, as I wanted him to stick with the Suns, but watching him against the Giants… he looked like a player that had checked out. He is highly skilled and in demand, but he had a resigned look on his face from early in the piece. For GCS to be better, they need players like Martin giving 100%. Anything less is quickly found out at the top level.

Charlie Spargo – A definite case of second year blues here. Like Ben Ronke in Sydney, Spargo has dropped off from his rookie year dramatically. He’s played five games, can’t get his hands on the ball, and can’t hit the scoreboard. The VFL is calling loudly.

Taylor Walker – Josh Jenkins answered his critics. Now’s it’s Tex’s turn. We covered this in depth on our Patron site, but Walker needs to lead from the front with Rory Sloane out of the team. Tex is averaging his lowest disposals per game since 2011 and a career low goal average. A big game is desperately required.

Patrick Cripps – What? Yes, with two of the lowest disposal returns of his career in the last three weeks, he looked like a player tired of carrying his team. Whilst I don’t think he’s really under the pump, he strikes me as a bloke with a lot of pride in his own performance. Do you think he’d be contest with totals of 11 and 12 touches? That’s where he’s landed over the past three weeks.

Eric Hipwood – Has gone marginally backwards since last season, but is probably the difference between Brisbane being a top four team and making up the finals numbers. Needs to start marking and converting. Has taken 10+ marks in a game just once in his career (this season in round three) and the Lions can’t wait forever. While the rest of the team is banging down the door, Hipwood is standing on the porch, waiting for an invitation..

Jack Viney – You know what? I’m tired of commentators talking about how hard he is and how he never shirks the contest and so on. While all that’s true, he has also gone backwards this season. He’s -4.1 disposals per game at a time when Melbourne have needed their leads to step up, not step aside. His contested disposals per game have gone from a career high 13.5 per game in 2018 to a career-low 8.40 in 2019. If he’s hurt, rest him because having the commentators pump up his tyres while he is way below the level he was at last year is a bordering on patronising.

Team Bucks, or Team Mick?

The old wounds reopened after the Hall of Fame Ceremony. So, where do you sit?

I had a bit of a feeling that the resurgence from the Magpies last year was, in part, due to the team finally becoming Nathan Buckley’s to coach without the spectre of Malthouse hanging over him. Remember Malthouse calling them “his boys”? I don;t think that was just rhetoric. I think he genuinely invested in those players, and they in him.

To see him ousted from the coaching role and then to have Bucks move on in… maybe it didn’t sit well? And maybe it didn’t sit well for a long time?

We’ve seen players filter out and new faces emerge, and over time the ones who were there with Malthouse have moved on. Not many remain from that 2011 team. This team is now Buckley’s completely.

But does a Grand Final appearance make the “succession plan” a success? Or should it be called the “ion plan”?

I feel for both men - it was not an ideal position for either. Coming off the grand final loss, Mick wasn’t ready to move on, and it was unfair to make Bucks wait any longer. Malthouse knew the end was coming, accepted terms and then bolted once they became a reality. It struck me as a situation where Malthouse was hoping/thinking Collingwood may change their minds.

They didn’t.

I sit right in the middle on this. I loved what Malthouse achieved at Collingwood, but I really like what Bucks is doing right now, and listening to him talk football is a delight.

Team Mick or Team Bucks? I’m probably a little Team Mick, as I like that after eight years, he’s still salty - shows how much he cared.

 

Tigers’ biggest test

Make no mistake about it, this week is Richmond’s biggest test this season. If they pass it, then they can legitimately start looking at a top four finish. If they fail, who knows what they produce this season.

The Tigers have beaten teams currently ranked 18th, 7th, 15th, 16th, 11th,9th, and 10th. This week they get the number one team in the game by a fair way, and we’ll soon see if they’re up to it. With Cotchin back, Martin running into a rich vein of form, and with Daniel Rioli a possible recall after a week in the twos, the time to strike is now.

Can Lynch break down one of the best defences in the game? If Astbury or Garthwaite goes to Hawkins, will we see Grimes go and stand next to Ablett? I sure hope so. Danger and Dusty head to head? Yes please.

So many possibilities in this one, and the one that’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons, or the tiger amongst the cats, would be a Richmond win.  Great pick for Friday night footy.

 

And that’ll about do for the first, and possibly only ever edition of Random Thought Wednesday. Got any other stories you want to see play out over the weekend? Got a preferred coach for Carlton? Hit us up in the comments below or get us on the socials. you know the ones.

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