LIZ Ellis was ok last Sunday. Let’s get that out of the way.
And so was the footy.
The Swans lost again at home, the Tigers looked as good as they have all year, Saturday wasn’t anything special but Sunday delivered.
The Eagles fought hard to avoid a four-game losing streak, and the Pies showed something tangible in that fourth against a Bombers team who really should be in the finals race, but ain’t.
And yeah, there’s Carlton. Let’s call for the scalpel and provide some reality on Princes Park.
1. Carlton – don’t need a priority pick, their two best players were pick 12 and 13 in their respective drafts, its not how many picks they’ve had or should get, its that they can’t pick a winner. 22 ‘high’ selections since 2003, 6 wins, 11 misses, 5 too soon. The six wins are Walker, Murphy, Gibbs, Kreuzer, Cripps and Curnow. Walker’s retired, Murphy is on the decline, Gibbs is at Adelaide, Kreuzer’s almost done, leaving only Cripps and Curnow . Of the 5 too-soon, Weitering, Petrevski-Seton and Dow should make it as ticks, McKay and O’Brien the others we’re not sure of yet. The list of misses is why they are doing so badly, and why it’s not about draft concessions: Jordan Russell, Josh Kennedy (a miss because they traded him out) Paul Bower, Shaun Hampson, Shaun Grigg, Chris Yarran, Kane Lucas, Matthew Watson, Josh Bootsma, Troy Menzel and Blaine Bokehorst. If half of those make it and/or stick with the club, they’d be ok. Only Cripps and Curnow, Kreuzer at a pinch, still on the list with any value. The trading too has been barely a pass, Doherty an example of a win, but many GWS trades still with the jury out.
2. Not a time to trade for mature aged players though as Wayne Carey has suggested, they’ve done that from the GWS for years and to no avail. Don’t do that. See Michael Voss’ demise as coach of Brisbane. Made the finals, went mature-aged, then failed like Brian Lake on a Japanese holiday.
3. The Crows are desperate for Jack Lukosius, number one pick-elect, a Nick Riewoldt clone from Woodville-West Torrens. Carlton adding him to Curnow is far from a bad thing, but, with Adelaide happy to pay the price to secure the no.1 overall pick such is their interest, who also already have two first round picks this year (theirs plus Melbourne’s from the Jake Lever trade). To trade no.1 to Adelaide for a package of high picks, two or three gun kids in a deep draft, a deep draft where pick 10 this year is a top 3 pick any other year, might be worth it. Especially because the Crows are desperate, and in a transaction, if one party is desperate, the cost of that transaction can skew immensely, in this case very much into Carlton’s favour.
4. But lets be serious, Richmond improved from 13th to premiers for a number of key reasons. One was the impact Blake Caracella had in complimenting Damien Hardwick, first year in Caracella changed the way they moved the ball, it worked a treat. But also, the impact of Butler, Costagna, Rioli up forward, the pressure they applied was huge, repeat entries, more chances to score. Now those three weren’t priority picks, Butler was a fourth round selection in 2014, Costagna was a second rounder in the 2015 rookie draft, Rioli sure, was a first round pick in 2015, no. 15, but it goes to show, you don’t need three first round picks to fill out a forward line, it’s the right scouts taking the right chances, and then the right development coaches with a game plan to suit. Nothing ‘concessionary’ or ‘extra’ about any of that.
5. And the it’s the exact same tale for the Dogs 12 months earlier. That forward line, the smalls, Clay Smith was a first rounder but Toby McLean was a second rounder and then you have Tory Dickson in the third round, Zaine Cordy kicked a goal in the Grand Final, he was taken in the fourth round, Luke Dahlhaus was pick 22 in a rookie draft. It’s not all about early picks.
6. Important they see what Harry McKay can offer the next couple months. They drafted the big tall two picks ahead of Curnow, who is clearly the future of their forwardline. If McKay is as talented as the pick he was taken at, it certainly makes the Blues think twice about Lukosius. Need some answers on McKay pretty quick.
7. Been said all week, but “we want to be known as a pressure side” and against the second-last placed Lions the Blues made witches hats look like Ninjas drinking red cordial on a full moon. Take away the fancy tricks and spectacular, the Lions were the Harlem Globetrotters and Carlton were the Washington Generals. Deplorable. That’s effort, want, not anything to do with lists, priority picks, injuries, who cares. And it’s the same thing they offered up in the first half to Fremantle. Once bitten, twice shy.
8. Off the Blues. So, bear with, the Gold Coast Suns should have never been, they should have been Southport. The Sharks have at least 50,000 members, sure, vast majority have no interest in their NEAFL senior team, but it’s a well-run business, an existing brand on the Gold Coast, even if more so for hospitality than its on field performance, but it works. The Suns as a brand stand for nothing, the Sharks at least have tenure and a presence in the area. And so much so when you watch a Suns game (why would you, but still), the Shars even promote themselves at the ground. I believe left of screen, opposite pocket, the Sharks have branding of a corporate lounge. Missed opportunity.
9. As for the GWS, every year, they cannot play their first home game at Spotless until after Easter, this year that was Round Six. Their first two or so home games each year will always be in Canberra, because the Easter Show takes the Giants ground, not just for the period the show is on but in the leadup. So you’re relying on fans in the rugby league heartland to notice the start of the season, maintain interest until almost a third of the way in before they can get to a game, get hooked for the year and be engaged long-term? How are you supposed to drive interest and membership when you can’t sign new Sydney-based members on match day until the start of May?
10. Collingwood games lost to injury, 156 overall, equal with Carlton and just ahead of Adelaide, Bulldogs, GWS, etc., or 122 of best 22, similar story. Richmond has the best, Port’s been good too, as have North. Remarkable effort. The sport science still needs work, but gee, what could have been perhaps?
11. Also, the Pies have only played one top four team, for a loss, the only team they’ve beaten in the top eight is Melbourne. They are at 20% against teams in the top 10. Richmond has won seven of eight, West Coast five of seven, Geelong six of ten. Melbourne though, one of six, the Roos way back when, and the Giants are two of seven. The Pies play as many top ten teams in the next month or so than they have all season, so their season starts now.
12. Onto the Cats, Chris Scott and Patrick Dangerfield defend Gaz, of course they do. Yes, he looked a little off against Sydney, but that serious lack of defensive running against the Dogs, when the result ended up being the barest of margins, that four points lost could be crucial in a top eight so tight.
13. Why is Gary Ablett spending time in the midfield and pushing Dangerfield forward so much? Sure, Danger is indeed dangerous down forward, but this man won a Brownlow dominating the midfield. If you’ve got a 34 year old whose no longer in his prime, despite being a Hall of Fame walk up start, surely you switch that up. Danger to take control of the game in the guts winning 30+, Ablett, returns to the part of the ground his family is synonymous and scares the bejesus out of defences. I think Scotty’s stabbing his food with his knife and trying to cut with his fork. Switch it around Scotty!
14. Bill Shorten, $25m for a team in Tassie, yeah good on you, not sure when the title of Opposition Leader and God were one and the same. Gil thanks you for your efforts but requests you play back in the sand pit until nap time please Bill.
15. Mind you, on Tassie, a proper Tasweigian, Jack Riewoldt, has said the whole ‘oh, team won’t work, the state’s divided north-south, so the state won’t come together to get behind a unified team’ was a “mainland myth” this week, so, surely, if the Gold Coast can get a team with a population around half a million, Tassie could do too with about the same?
16. Port Adelaide, a real go at top four, and have two things going for them, number one ranked team for tackles and clearances. Not the be all and end all recipe for success but if you’re able to stop the opposition and then win it from a stoppage, that’s damn important.
17. Sloane stays, got that wrong, five years, big commitment. Half a thought he was out the door, but the Crows overpaid with term and he swung back the other way and signed.
18. Dayne Beams has to be an All-Australian lock. Sure, 27 touches and a goal a game playing for Brisbane, doesn’t seem elite, but as the column has said, he is a top ten midfielder in the game, in such rough year away from the game, he might not have the numbers of Tom Mitchell but for influence we’d take Beams any day of the week.
19. He’ll play for a Victorian team again. He wouldn’t be in their next premiership team so the Lions wouldn’t be shattered if he didn’t finish up there, and Beams went on the record last weekend saying he still considered Melbourne home, and couldn’t definitively say he’ll be a Lion until retirement, other than saying it was the plan “at this stage”. Not that the Pies need another midfielder but gee, he is definitely available and still very close to a lot of his old teammates, we don’t believe he was tight with Bucks though but what’s the adage about time, wounds, etc.?
20. Andrew Gaff will stay is the prediction, once again North, St Kilda, might go a summer again without reeling in a big fish. Getting a bit tiresome that.