HOW would it feel if you’re Tom Hawkins?

Both Curnow brothers head to the tribunal and get a great result, with Steven May allowed to board the plane to China as well. All after poor Tom copped a week for his indiscretion only one week prior.

It is all a bit random at the moment these sanctions, but for mine, given the sudden increase in umpire contact, the resolution isn’t about consistency with the tribunal outcomes, but if the umpires can stop being so touchable, dial back the flirting.

Haven’t had umpire contact for years and now four in two weeks. Perhaps the Lynx Africa umpires sponsorship is working too well.

Onto more pressing and interesting matters..

1.  Monday night, Chris Judd had an idea to increase the spectacle of the game by replacing percentage on the ladder with simply points scored, encourage teams to score more. That works well for Etihad Stadium tenants always under a roof on a fast track, but for anyone else, particularly those who play in Queensland monsoons every now and then, not so good. Thanks Chris.

2.  Essendon – something else going on? The Mark Neeld thing is bizarre. Don’t believe ‘public media releases’. It’s amiss. Especially when the coach uses “they” in press conferences talking about his own players. Heppell is a star looking anything but, Goddard is not good for that team at this minute and don’t ask on Stringer. This is a very well-run organisation, particularly post-drugs saga, and it’s a very talented list. Worsfold was good at West Coast and awesome in his first year at Tullamarine. So yep, something away from the cameras, away from game day, is properly wrong.

3.  Devon Smith a bright spot for Essendon though, in a side looking light on for want, desire, effort, he is averaging 8 tackles a game, second in the comp.

4.  Buddy Franklin, bruised heel, didn’t get up last week and already ruled out for this week. Strange. Wouldn’t be another Dayne Beams-style injury-layoff, would it?

5.  Ben Ronke, seven goals, fantastic, taken as a rookie, pick 17. The pick before in that same rookie draft was Jack Henry, last week’s rising star nominee for Geelong. The pick before that, Tendai Mzungu, the ex-Docker, taken by GWS. They can’t get much right the Giants.

6.  As for the GWS, now sitting out of the eight. If they don’t beat North down in Hobart they’re in big trouble to get back in the eight. As it stands you’d be happy to lock in the top two on the ladder for September, and pencil in those three through seven. You could argue Port, in eighth, with the next four or five clubs are playing for perhaps one spot. The  Giants are supposed to be a team almost ‘designed’ to be top four at worst. Early crow, but they can’t afford to head past midnight on the premiership clock, they are getting no crowds and need a flag within their first 5-10 years of existence. Need.

7.  Good to see Port turn up but you just don’t trust them. They’ll win this week and go 6-3 before their post-China bye, however, if they were anyone else you’d be locking them in for the eight, but with Alberton we still have way too many trust issues.

8.  North have got a good thing going, not a super list but this column must give credit to Brad Scott. They play a different style to Richmond but are performing in a similar vein, Scott is extracting success from the specific parts he has available, akin to Hardwick last year. Other than the Crows who took the Tigers apart in in Round Two, are North the best opposition the reigning premier has faced to date?

9.  Jack Macrae having some sort of year! Will be second in the Brownlow count to this point; remembering unless the leader gets injured or suspended he has his second medal. Listen to this column, put your life savings on, and be grateful later.

10. Speaking of Nat Fyfe, he is in unreal form and so to is Patty Cripps. Both similar styles on the inside, huge beasts almost impossible to stop. Both those boys crumbing to Nic Naitanui in an Origin game, something utterly magical we’re likely never going to see. Shame.

11. Melbourne are the sleeper, got themselves to 5-3 and are getting the most inside 50s of anyone in the comp, genuine initial entries but also re-entries due to pressure. Second in the comp for clearances too and fifth in tackles. Have the game to go well and deep. A ‘Buy’.

12. Shout out to Angus Brayshaw, looked at one point to be the next Jack Trengove, incredibly talented junior, more than their fair share of injuries, becoming an unfortunate but inevitably wasted pick. But no no, he is now integral to their midfield mix. Brings the tackle pressure, over five a game, averaging 23 touches as well. He is amongst the league leaders for inside 50s too, a clean user, is tough – a fantastic foil to some of their real jets. Like I said, get on the Dees.

13. Let’s get a couple on the Pies out of the way – firstly Mason Cox, top five in the comp for contested marks. Not many strings to his bow, but on the back of his vast improvement catching the thing, worth persisting with for now. A ‘Hold’.

14. Tom Mitchell and Jack Macrae having great years, not only amongst the league leaders in contested ball, but ranking really highly in uncontested ball too;  working hard inside and on the spread alike. Only one other is doing something similar, Adam Treloar, top 20 in both categories, having as good a year so far as his 2016 where he polled 21 Charlie votes.

15. No-one has handballed more than the Pies this year, not even close. The Tigers are going about 1.26 kicks to handball, around average, the Eagles are kicking the highest, 1.78 kicks to handball, yet the Pies, 1.11 kicks to handball. Looks to be working visually, impressive against two 2017 preliminary finalists (Adelaide and GWS), and for a half against a third (Richmond). But three of their four wins though are against 15th, 17th and 18th. However, if they were to win every coming game against someone currently below them on the ladder they will finish with 12 wins, so the draw is their oyster.

16. Darcy Moore stays at Collingwood a million percent, unless Ned Guy is as confident in securing Tom Lynch as Sydney was all 2013 in securing Lance Franklin – it’s already been done, it’s just a secret until it’s permissible to go public with it. With Ben Reid the wrong side of 30 next season, and always injured, no way the Pies go into 2019 without one of Moore or Lynch. Having both is more likely than having neither.

17. Reckon Olli Wines goes. Victorian boy out of contract, the Power had a tonne of space last year but whilst they didn’t spend all of it, they did commit plenty of new money beyond 2018, so the space wasn’t just used up for one year, it’s considerably used up going forward. Plenty of Melbourne clubs with space they’ve been trying to burn for a while, so North, St Kilda, these clubs, unless the kid’s dead loyal or sees real premiership potential soon (maybe?), the money and term will be better back this side of Horsham.

18. Top 3 in the Coleman? Ben Brown on 26, on 70-goal pace, utter megastar the Taswegian. But second and third, Luke Breust and Jack Darling.  Will Tom Lynch’s price be going down with every passing round? Why would the Tigers want him? Breust has 23 majors, Roughead for comparison, four inches taller yet nine less goals, who is more important? Breust top 5 in the league for assists too, unbelievable first third of the season for the Riverina product.

19. This column loves that this game has so many unique aspects, most notably the father son in the draft. It’s awesome – no-one else has it. But its gone too far now with academies. Not only do the expansion clubs have priority access to kids in their area, but also the northern clubs get the same entitlement with anyone remotely geographically close too (Heeney and Mills with Sydney for example). But now all clubs have pseudo academies, which aren’t academies at all, they are basically the re-emergence of zones.

Take Tarryn Thomas. He is an indigenous gun from Tasmania, a serious jet who I’m really looking forward to see in the big time, who in this new world comes under the Roos’ ‘Next Generation Academy’. Nothing to do with North really and Tassie has produced VFL/AFL footballers for as long as a typical season of MKR. But recently they were given the area to which Thomas is from for who knows why. So they will now get priority access to him in November’s draft, but then take the case of former North and Fitzroy wingman John Blakey’s son, Nick. Could go father son to North, could go father son to Brisbane too, but because John has worked for Sydney as a coach and lived there long enough, Nick is eligible to go via academy to the Swans as well. And guess what, the kid doesn’t want to move interstate so has nominated Sydney as his club of choice. This draft, combined with all the malarkey with points accrual and what not, has lost its essence. Go back to something simpler or just ditch the draft and revert to zones proper like it always was and be done with it.

20. Lastly, to Rugby League. Last Saturday night there was over 30,000 to a double header at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Nothing else in the round came close to half that, most crowds in Sydney barely broke five figures. How is that competition, a comp dying out for an in increase in crowds, still without a second team in Brisbane? Imagine the AFL not having the Power or Dockers, it’s a real head scratcher. How a broadcaster hasn’t demanded it either is also staggering. Especially when it seems the Broncos aren’t just a universal love up there either, which surprises this column. You want the next bitcoin – shares in the second NRL team in Brisbane. A HUGE ‘Buy’….. when it happens. If, sorry, if it happens. Clowns.


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