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KFC SuperCoach 2020: All the standout performances and role changes from the recent practice games and intra-club matches

It’s not the real stuff but you can still learn a lot. The Phantom delivers all the SuperCoach intel on the Gold Coast-Brisbane practice game and the intra-club matches at Adelaide, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Fremantle

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February 16, 2020 3:46pm

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Rookie guides: DEF | MID | RUCK | FWDSuperCoach: Solving all the key dilemmas in defenceFace-off: Josh Kelly or Nat Fyfe in the midfield?

They might only be practices matches, most with teammates pitted against each other, but SuperCoaches can still learn a lot at this stage of the pre-season. The Phantom delivers all of the SuperCoach intel on the recent practice and intra-club matches.

BRISBANE 5.9 (39) DEFEATED GOLD COAST 2.12 (24)MATT ROWELL (GC – MID $207,300)

Fox Sports’ Ben Waterworth was at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night and, as he put it, Rowell showed more class and cleanliness, in slippery conditions, than any other player on the ground. In an impressive all-round display, the 18-year-old won plenty of football, playing a big role in a Gold Coast midfield missing David Swallow, Hugh Greenwood and Brayden Fiorini.

Just. Pick. Him.

Gold Coast draftee Noah Anderson. Picture: Jerad WilliamsNOAH ANDERSON (GC – MID $202,800)

As expected, Anderson, taken at No. 2 in last year’s draft, behind best mate Rowell, played more of an outside role for the Suns with his running and foot skills a highlight.

WILL BRODIE (GC – MID $435,800)

In his final six games of the 2019 – all consecutive – before injury prematurely ended his season, Brodie ranked first at the Suns for hardball-gets, second for tackles and handballs, third for disposals, fourth for clearances and fifth for contested possessions.

And Brodie has hit the ground running this year, popping up everywhere against the Lions, including on the outside of the contest, highlighting the continued development of his all-round game.

CONNOR BUDARICK (GC – MID, FWD $106,900)

There’s been plenty of hype around his fellow draftees but don’t forget about the 18-year-old Academy gun, who played eight NEAFL games – and averaged 18 disposals – in his draft year. Budarick, along with WA running machine Jeremey Sharp, were two others to impress on Saturday night.

Grant Birchall at Brisbane training. Picutre: Bradley Kanaris/AFL PhotosGRANT BIRCHALL (BRIS – DEF $292,700)

The former Hawk played across half-back and, most-importantly, got through unscathed. And at this stage of the pre-season, with his injury history, that’s a huge win.

CALLUM AH CHEE (BRIS – MID $311,700)

As he did late in his time at Gold Coast, Ah Chee played in defence for the Lions, alongside Birchall and 20-year-old Brandon Starcevich (DEF, MID $147,700), who is also pushing for a Round 1 spot.

In what might prick the ears of SuperCoaches, especially those who play the Draft format, Ah Chee took a number kick-ins against his former side.

CAM RAYNER (BRIS – FWD $251,800)

Rayner has trimmed down after enjoying a terrific summer and he was a standout in the air and on the ground against the Suns. But, despite plenty of big midfield names missing, Rayner, again, spent most of his time inside 50.

Popular pre-season SuperCoach names Sam Flanders and Deven Robertson didn’t play for their respective sides.

ADELAIDE MATCH SIMChayce Jones has been a standout over summer for the Crows. Picture: Dean Martin/AAPCHAYCE JONES (FWD $271,500)

The 20-year-old has been a standout on the track over summer, winning both of the club’s 2km time trial, and it was a similar story on Saturday.

Jones’ breakaway speed and ball-winning ability at the contest and away from it was on show as he spent most of the match on-ball.

BRODIE SMITH (DEF $481,300)

As he did late last season, the long-kicking right footer featured through the middle of the ground while Wayne Milera (DEF, MID $402,500) and Bryce Gibbs (MID $375,100) were stationed across half-back.

FISCHER MCASEY (DEF $184,800)

Played a role in defence in the stronger of the two sides, suggesting his Round 1 chances are growing stronger by the minute after a super-impressive first pre-season.

TYSON STENGLE (FWD $202,000)

Stengle inherited Eddie Betts’ No. 18 jumper and also looks set to take his forward-50 spot, too, after booting five majors in the practice match.

His scoring might not be as consistent as some in the rookie-price bracket but he could have the job security.

TAYLOR WALKER (FWD $365,600)

All the talk about a potential roaming role for the former skipper came to life on Saturday, with Walker playing further up the ground, even featuring in the ruck in the second-half.

Shane McAdam impressed in Adelaide’s intra-club match on Saturday. Picture SARAH REEDSHANE MCADAM (FWD $123,900)

The 24-year-old, who booted 15 goals in his final seven SANFL matches last year, is also after a berth in Adelaide’s new-look forward-line. And, after finishing with three goals for the stronger side, McAdam, who impressed on the lead, is in the mix.

ELLIOT HIMMELBERG (FWD $277,900)

Himmelberg booted four goals in a forward-ruck role and, while he won’t be SuperCoach relevant in 2020, his performance might mean recruit Billy Frampton (FWD $165,400) won’t be to start the year, either.
 
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HAWTHORN INTRA-CLUBTom Mitchell in action during the Hawks’ Intra-Club Match at Waverly Park. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AFL PhotosTOM MITCHELL (MID $630,900)

Of course he did. In his first competitive hitout since breaking his leg in January last year, the Brownlow Medallist tallied 21 disposals in three quarters of Hawthorn’s intra-club match on Friday.

And, importantly, Mitchell got through unscathed, ticking yet another box on the road to a Round 1 return.

If he can do it again against the Saints on Thursday – the first game of the Marsh Community Series – the SuperCoach midfield selection debate will only intensify.

JON PATTON (FWD, RUCK $337,000)

The other Hawk to get through unscathed was the former Giant, who missed all of 2019 after recovering from a third knee reconstruction. And he didn’t just get through, with the strong-marking forward booting three goals in an impressive display.

James Sicily fires out a handpass at Waverly Park on Friday. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AFL PhotosJAMES SICILY (DEF $509,500)

With Sam Frost and ruckman-turned-defender Ben McEvoy holding down key posts, Sicily set up play from the back-half in the role SuperCoaches want to see consistently in 2020.

CHAD WINGARD (FWD, MID $412,300)

After battling injury for most of his first season at Hawthorn, Wingard played through the midfield in the final month of the 2019 and averaged 26 disposals and 91 points from Round 20 onwards. And on Friday, he was an early standout in a similar role.

READ JAY CLARK’S FULL REPORT HERE

NORTH MELBOURNE INTRA-CLUBJamie Macmillan tackles Aiden Bonar during North Melbourne’s intra-club match at Arden Street Oval. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAPAIDEN BONAR (FWD, MID $202,800)

By all reports, the former Giant was solid, without being spectacular, but he played predominantly in an on-ball role at Arden Street on Friday morning. The big-bodied midfielder, who can also take a mark inside-50, will be a significant SuperCoach cash cow this year if he gets this opportunity when the real stuff starts.

TARRYN THOMAS (FWD $339,900)

Thomas, who was the No. 1 ranked player at the 2018 AFL Academy series, played 20 games in an impressive debut season last year. And, if his performance on Friday is anything to go by, he’s set for a spike in 2020. The 19-year-old’s speed and skill on the outside of the contest was a highlight with defender Jasper Pittard declaring “the sky’s the limit for Tarryn” post-match.

MAJAK DAW (DEF $339,600)

He’s an awkward price in SuperCoach but Daw was impressive, spoiling or marking anything that came his way in defence. A Round 1 return is firming.

Majak Daw was a standout on Friday morning. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAPJACK MAHONY (FWD, MID $117,300)

The 176cm small forward, who averaged 106 points and led the competition for score involvements and assists at the national under-18 carnival, got his name on the scoresheet and showed enough to suggest he’ll get an opportunity in the Marsh Community Series.

BEN CUNNINGTON (MID $554,100)

The 28-year-old starred in the practice match but it wasn’t just through the midfield with Cunnington drifting forward and contributing on the scoreboard. It’s the avenue of scoring he needs to elevate his name in SuperCoach.

PORT ADELAIDE INTRA-CLUBDan Houston in action during Port Adelaide’s intra-club match at Alberton Oval. Picture: Matt Turner/AFL PhotosDAN HOUSTON (DEF, MID $484,800)

The Dan Houston hype went to another level this week after Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley declared the 22-year-old a midfield lock in 2020. And his performance, albeit againt his teammates, might just raise it again.

He started at the opening centre bounce and had 13 disposals and five clearances to his name by the half-way point of the second term.

Houston spent most of the final quarter on a wing, capping his performance off with a goal from the boundary line after drifting forward.

By The Phantom’s count, the smooth-moving right-footer finished with 22 disposals, six clearances and three marks.

“He’s got some real natural midfield movement. His ability to get from one contest to another is a real strength,” senior assistant Michael Voss said of Houston post-match.

“And, of course, we know the polish he’s got with the footy, he’s a class act when he’s got the ball in his hands.”

MITCH GEORGIADES (FWD $130,800)

Port Adelaide swooped on the talented forward at No. 18 in last year’s draft, despite the 19-year-old missing the entire year with a thigh injury. And it’s not hard to see why. Georgiades presented well and flew – often without fear – for the ball, taking a number of strong marks, playing alongside Charlie Dixon on Team Black. And when he didn’t hold them, the 192cm forward brought the ball to ground, bringing the smalls into the game. He finished with one major and now appears to be the leading rookie candidate for a Round 1 debut at the Power.

SEE THE FULL REPORT FROM ALBERTON HERE

ST KILDA INTRA-CLUBMax King and Jake Carlisle compete during St Kilda’s Intra-club match. Picture: Darrian Traynor/AFL PhotosMAX KING (FWD $123,900)

Everyone is excited at St Kilda. Fans, teammates, even former players. And rightly so with the 19-year-old, who booted 11 goals in five VFL games last year, starring in the Saints’ intra-club match at Moorabbin. After battling injury for the past two years, King is fit and ready for a Round 1 debut. Pick him on your bench.

DAN HANNEBERY (MID $417,000)

After an injury-riddle first year at the Saints, which didn’t officially begin until Round 14, Hannebery posted scores of 96, 65, 122, 94 and 103 in his five games. Scoring wasn’t a problem but his body was. So a full, uninterrupted hitout through the midfield on Thursday is a terrific start.

DYLAN ROBERTON (DEF $260,400)

In a great sign, the 28-year-old, who has played just four senior matches since 2017 after battling heart issues, was another to get through the four quarters without a problem across half-back.

Ben Long was a standout at RSEA Park on Thursday. Picture: Darrian Traynor/AFL PhotosBEN LONG (FWD $283,100)

This is the intel SuperCoaches came for. It’s not about the star who had 40 touches against his teammates but the fourth-year player set for a significant role change. After a glimpse in Round 23 last year, Long was a standout across half-back in the practice match with his speed and agility on show.

JADE GRESHAM (FWD, MID $456,400)

Spent most of the morning in the midfield and, like has done for most of his career, got his name on the scoresheet, finishing with two majors. The big spike is coming.

RYAN BYRNES (MID $117,300)

Byrnes, pick No. 52 in last year’s draft, averaged 119 points in the NAB League and had his moments through the midfield in the practice match. He might surprise in 2020, if the opportunity presents.

ROWAN MARSHALL (RUCK $598,600)

Competed against Ryan Abbot in the ruck but, more interestingly, was stationed deep inside-50 in the last quarter. Marshall will start as the Saints No. 1 ruckman but, as expected, might spend a little more time forward this year with the addition of Paddy Ryder, who didn’t play in the trial.

FREMANTLE INTRA-CLUB

It was modified match-simulation with the Fremantle coaching star pausing the game at times to setup different scenarios. The Dockers are set for another internal trial on Friday.

STEPHEN HILL (DEF, FWD $190,600)

The vison of Hill dancing around a teammate in the middle of the ground, before delivering a short, pin-point pass is just about all you need to see. The 29-year-old has played just 16 games in the past two seasons but he’s in great shape heading into the start of the Marsh Community Series.

HAYDEN YOUNG (DEF $180,300)

Playing alongside Hill across half-back, Young wasted little time showing off his powerful – and precise – left-foot in the competitive hitout, hitting skipper Nat Fyfe with a 60 metre pass to start the day. Lock him in.

Michael Walters booted five goals in Fremantle’s match simulation on Friday. Picture: Will Russell/GettyMICHAEL WALTERS (FWD, MID $547,200)

A fit Walters was everywhere, popping up through the midfield and also finishing with a game-high five goals.

ANDREW BRAYSHAW (FWD, MID $382,800)

Started at the first centre bounce, alongside fellow third-year midfielder Adam Cerra, with both having a significant influence.

“All of those boys are growing. Andy (Brayshaw), Cez (Cerra), Darcy Tucker - those boys are really stepping up and they were looking really good out there today,” Stephen Hill told the club’s website following the match.

LACHLAN SCHULTZ (FWD $202,800)

The mature-age recruit played seven games in his debut season but five scores of 37 or less keeps him in the rookie-price bracket for 2020. He was lively across half-forward and took a spectacular one-handed mark over Brett Bewley late in the game.

CONNOR BLAKELY (DEF $411,500)

In a positive sign for astute SuperCoaches, the 23-year-old featured in an on-ball role in Friday’s match. And, as history shows, Blakely’s scoring potential as a permanent midfielder is big.

Originally published as SuperCoach 2020: The intel from every practice match
 
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Gary Buckenara names the best SuperCoach cash cow prospects for 2020
Few people know last season’s draftees like recruiting guru Gary Buckenara. This is how he rates every one of the key contenders for your SuperCoach team from last year’s draft crop, from the mature-age gems to the rookie-listed cheapies.
Gary Buckenara, Herald Sun
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|February 17, 2020 7:00am
Recruiting expert Gary Buckenara knows exactly what it takes for young players to have an immediate impact at AFL level.
Buckenara has tracked the draftees from 2019 and seasons past since their days as under-16s. He knows their games inside and out.
So who does he believe is ready to step up and play at AFL level in 2020 and more importantly, is there a role for them in the team that drafted them?
He reveals his top KFC SuperCoach rookies for 2020 and the players you must keep an eye on for your team.
MARLION PICKETT (Richmond) $123,000 MID
His Grand Final performance showed us what he can do. He’s skilful, he wins the footy and uses it really well, so at $123,000 you simply cannot pass him up because he should be a good point scorer. He’ll get a lot more opportunities this year, providing he doesn’t have any hiccups for the remainder of the pre-season. Should be one of the first picked in your side.
MATT ROWELL (Gold Coast) $207,300 MID
Rowell should have an immediate impact for Gold Coast, but will he score enough points to justify spending over $200,000 on a kid in his first year? I think he will. Rowell has the ability to do what Sam Walsh did last year and rack up 25-30 disposals per game and average around 80-90 points, or even a bit better. He’s got a strong enough body to step straight into the Suns’ midfield and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win a lot of the ball. He uses it very well too, which will ensure he gets maximum points from his disposals. He won’t look out of place and barring injury, should play every game.
IZAK RANKINE (Gold Coast) $123,000 FWD
Rankine was unlucky not to play last year because he was struck down by injury. But that means he’s available much cheaper in SuperCoach this season. I’d be slotting him straight into my forward line as the second picked after GWS star Lachie Whitfield. The beauty of Rankine is he can go into the midfield and win the ball but he’ll probably play predominantly as a forward because he brings genuine excitement – he’s super quick, he chases, he tackles and he can take a big mark. If he stays fit he’ll play every game and earn points. He can easily average 15-20 disposals – he doesn’t waste it – and a goal per game, plus he’ll rack up the tackles and pressure acts that earn points. He’s a must-have, lock him in.
WILL GOULD (Sydney) $117,300 DEF
The Sydney draftee has already played senior footy at SANFL level and performed very well, so taking the next step won’t worry him. I think he’ll get regular games because the Swans are in a ‘blooding’ phase where John Longmire will be giving youngsters senior opportunities. He’ll play off halfback and do some serious damage at the SCG with his beautiful thumping kick – he’s very similar to Shannon Hurn. Lock him into your defence because I think there’s a spot for him in Round 1. I believe Callum Mills will move into the midfield, which opens up a spot across half back that Gould can definitely fill.
NAKIA COCKATOO (Geelong) $148,200 MID/FWD
High risk/high reward. If fit, we know Cockatoo can play and he’s the dynamic type of player the Cats need because he’s explosive and really takes the game on but the issue is his body keeps letting him down. Does that mean he’s due for a change of luck though? Yes, but will that change of luck come in 2020? If he plays Round 1 I’d be taking the risk, especially given he’s a DPP. He’s not the best kick, so that’s also a bit of a worry but while he’s never big a huge possession-winner, I think the Cats will want to get the footy into his hands because he’s got great breakaway speed and loves to take a bounce and kick goals. Live dangerously and take the punt.
MAX KING (St Kilda) $123,900 FWD
King is going to be a very good player for St Kilda for the next 10+ years and while he’ll be very important for the team’s structure and should get plenty of senior opportunities this year, don’t pick him in your SuperCoach team. Key forwards find it tough to score well in SuperCoach and I don’t think King will score enough to deliver the price rise we’re looking for from our rookies.
DARCY CAMERON (Collingwood) $123,900 RUC/FWD
Cameron is the back-up for Brodie Grundy and will only see regular games if Grundy gets injured. While he can take a mark up forward, I can’t see him challenging Mason Cox for the full forward role because we know how dangerous Cox is when he’s up and going and Cameron isn’t mobile enough to play predominantly as a forward. Pass.
 
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HAYDEN YOUNG (Fremantle) $180,300 DEF
2019’s No. 7 draft pick made his name as a gun intercept defender. He should play across half back and be thrown through the midfield every now and then at AFL level. He boasts a strong body and by all reports has been training very well, so could be in the mix for a Round 1 debut. Don’t be surprised if Fremantle blood more youngsters and give them regular senior games under new coach Justin Longmuir. Watch Young through the pre-season series — he uses the ball very well and is a pretty smart footballer.
NED McHENRY (Adelaide) $123,900 MID
McHenry had an injury-interrupted first season with Adelaide but has been training very well so far this pre-season and will push for a Round 1 debut. Originally drafted as a small forward, he’s moved into the midfield and can add some much-needed pace and excitement. The Crows are expected to inject more youth into their side under new coach Matthew Nicks and McHenry should be one of the beneficiaries. Watch his scoring potential during the pre-season matches.
DEVEN ROBERTSON (Brisbane) $117,300 MID
Gone are the days where Brisbane’s early draft picks are seen as walk-up starts in their best 22. Robertson will need to put together a good block of form to earn his way into what is now an established team that played finals in 2019. I think he’ll get some games, maybe 10 or so, but this year won’t be the senior regular we’re looking for.
BRANDON STARCEVICH (Brisbane) $147,700 DEF/MID
Starcevich has been at the Lions for a couple of years now and is on the cusp – is he good enough to break in and become a regular? He’s shown some good signs and got a few opportunities last year and didn’t look out of place. But can he put together good consistent form at AFL level? He’s not a walk-up start, he’ll need to break in. His DPP status makes him an attractive prospect but if he doesn’t play the majority of Brisbane’s pre-season and practice matches then look elsewhere. He’s a hardworking footballer but isn’t the best kick.
SAM FLANDERS (Gold Coast) $162,300 MID/FWD
I’d be staggered if Flanders isn’t a senior regular this year. He’s very talented, can play anywhere on the ground but I think he’ll be used in the midfield and up forward. Flanders has the ability to win 20-30 disposals, which means good things for SuperCoach, but he might be a little bit inconsistent depending on the opposition. Watch his numbers during the pre-season matches and more specifically, where he’s spending most of his time. If he’s used predominantly as a midfielder then consider him for your team. Keep him in mind as a handy DPP.
AIDEN BONAR (North Melbourne) $202,800 MID/FWD
Bonar will be a good recruit for North Melbourne and will play every game if fit. I liked him in his draft year and while he didn’t get many games at GWS, he did perform well when he got his opportunities. He should win a bit of the footy as a strong-bodied midfielder, my only concern is his price tag at over $200,000 and whether he’ll score enough points regularly to make the investment worth it. Slot him into your team for now but watch his scores in the Marsh Series.
JACKSON MEAD (Port Adelaide) $117,300 MID
Mead has suffered a hamstring injury, which means we’re unlikely to see him before Round 1. As a father-son recruit, the Power will take their time in developing him. He might be a downgrade target at some stage because I think he’ll get some games but won’t be a regular, especially early given his injury.
TRENT BIANCO (Collingwood) $117,300 DEF/MID
Bianco will be a very nice player for Collingwood for the future but he’ll be behind Isaac Quaynor and even John Noble for a spot as a small defender to start 2020. This will be a development year for him but should earn his debut at some stage to get a taste of senior footy.
MITCH HIBBERD (Essendon) $114,400 MID
Interesting prospect. Hibberd has a knee injury and is touch and go to be fit for the start of the season but don’t cross him off your list. He’s a mature-age recruit available very cheap and has played as an inside midfielder in the VFL – exactly the type of player Essendon need. He can play both midfield and off halfback and win a lot of the footy, so it’ll be interesting to see where he plays. I think there’s a role in the Bombers’ side for him when he’s fit and after being given a second chance at AFL level, he could grab it with both hands.
CHARLIE COMBEN (North Melbourne) $117,300 RUC/FWD
A project player who will spend the season developing in the VFL. Pass unless you want him as a loophole, which he’s one of the best options for.
NOAH ANDERSON (Gold Coast) $202,800 MID
Should play every game and will win a lot of the footy because he’s an elite runner so will be able to work hard up and down the ground to push deep into defence and go forward. He’s a Bradley Hill-type runner. But I don’t think he’ll win as much footy as Rowell and you probably can’t pick them both given their price. Watch his Marsh Series scores but I’d have Rowell ahead of him in my side at this stage.
JOSH WORRELL (Adelaide) $117,300 FWD/DEF
Worrell is a very good intercept mark but will find it tough to break into Adelaide’s team this year given he’ll be behind Daniel Talia, Kyle Hartigan, Tom Doedee and fellow draftee Fischer McAsey. Pass.
DYLAN STEPHENS (Sydney) $189,300 MID
John Longmire has said Stephens will play through the midfield in 2020 but will that be at AFL or NEAFL level? I think it’ll be in the AFL side. I know the Swans were very happy to get him, so I think they’ll play him. He’s played senior footy for Norwood in the SANFL, so won’t be too intimidated by big bodies and can win the footy, use it well and provide plenty of run, which Sydney is desperate for. Watch his Marsh Series for his scoring potential but I like him a lot. He’s capable of averaging 20+ disposals in his first season.
HARLEY BENNELL (Melbourne) $123,900 MID
Buyer beware. We know he’s got a lot of talent but he just can’t get on the park. Melbourne obviously believe he can get on top of his calf injuries and reignite his career but there’s a lot to play out. Would be one of the great bargain buys we’ve seen in a long time if he can play consistently but the pre-season calf setback weren’t great signs for mine. High-risk choice.
FINN MAGINNESS (Hawthorn) $117,300 MID
It’ll be a development year for Maginness – he’ll spend the majority of the season in the VFL. He’s been training well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clarko give him his debut at some stage, purely to give him a taste of AFL footy. Not on my SuperCoach radar.
LACHLAN ASH (GWS) $193,800 DEF/MID
Ash will have to break into a Grand Final team but he’s a dynamic player and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him do it and do it early. Watch him very closely during the Marsh Series and GWS’s practice matches to see if he gets a game. He has the ability to lock away a spot in the best 22 because he’s a really good ball-winner and he’s got really good pace. He could add another dimension to their midfield with his speed and outside run. One to watch.
MATTHEW LING (Sydney) $123,900 DEF
Ling is entering his third year now so he’s done his apprenticeship. He’s had injury problems, which have restricted him, but when fit he’s exactly the type of player Sydney are desperate for because he’s got really good pace. This is the year to watch him. He’s a good utility type who can play a variety of roles, which bodes well for his AFL chances. I’ve got him on my bench in defence at this stage.
 
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JEZ McLENNAN (Gold Coast) $123,900 DEF
A rebound defender to keep an eye on. McLennan was named as an emergency several times last year without breaking through for his debut but I think he’ll get games this year because the Suns will need to find out if he can play at the level or not. Taken at pick No. 23 in the 2018 draft, McLennan is a rebound defender with a beautiful kick. Keep an eye out for him during the Marsh Series because he could be a good option for your bench.
TOM GREEN (GWS) $166,800 MID
Green will play AFL footy in 2020. GWS has a history of giving regular games to their midfield draftees taken in the top-10 (think Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto) and I expect Green to be next. He’s bigger than Hopper – he’s a very powerful young man, he wins his own footy and uses it quite well. He’s ready to go and I think he’ll play nearly every game this year. He might get more handballs than kicks but he’ll win clearances, rack up big numbers and tackle.
JACK BYTEL (St Kilda) $123,900 DEF
Bytel is a very athletic player whose first year was ruined by injury. He’s got a lot of potential but has to break into a St Kilda team that has brought in a lot of experience over the off-season. He’s a light body but he’s a bit of a jumping jack, can run and be a bit of a highlights reel type of player but he’s not the greatest of kicks. 2020 will likely be a development year for him.
LIAM HENRY (Fremantle) $171,300 FWD/MID
Henry is an excitement machine and the Dockers need his pace so I think he’ll see a lot of footy this year but don’t pick him in SuperCoach. He’ll be one of those inconsistent small forwards who is fantastic one week but quiet the next.
JARROD BRANDER (West Coast) $133,000 DEF/FWD
This will be Brander’s third season and while he’s a talented player I still think there are players ahead of him at the Eagles. He’ll get some games but won’t be a regular best 22 player. Pass.
CODY WEIGHTMAN (Western Bulldogs) $144,300 FWD
Weightman is a dynamic small forward who chases and tackles, two characteristics the Dogs lost when Luke Dahlhaus left, so I think he can come in and have an impact. He’ll bring excitement to the forward group and can actually go into the midfield as well, which is good for SuperCoach. My only concern is whether he’ll win enough of the ball to be worth a spot in our teams. Watch his scores closely during the Marsh Series.
SAM DRAPER (Essendon) $123,900 RUC
Coming back from a knee reconstruction and won’t be rushed given the addition of Andrew Phillips from Carlton to be the back-up for Tom Bellchambers. Not this year.
BEN CAVARRA (Western Bulldogs) $123,900 FWD
Was one of the must-have rookies last year until he was struck down by injury but I’m worried he’s been overtaken now by the likes of Bailey Smith, Bailey Dale and now even Cody Weightman. To me, he’s a better midfielder than small forward and the Dogs’ midfield is stacked already. The Dogs and coach Luke Beveridge do have a history of playing a bit of a bolter early – could Cavarra be the one this year? He’s a professional and has proven he can find the footy at VFL level. Don’t forget about him, but he’s not in my side at this stage.
ELY SMITH (Brisbane) $123,900 MID/FWD
Smith has talent and can play midfield or forward but can he break into that Brisbane side? He really needs to put the flag up and say ‘pick me’ by putting together standout performances on the training track and during the practice matches. He has DPP status so could be good value if he plays – maybe a downgrade option around mid-season because he’ll likely start in the NEAFL.
TOM WILLIAMSON (Carlton) $146,300 DEF
Williamson is a real professional but unfortunately he keeps breaking down with injury. He’s a good VFL player when fit, which is why Carlton fans get excited by him, but I think he’s been overtaken a bit because he just can’t get any continuity with his footy.
KYSAIAH PICKETT (Melbourne) $157,800 FWD
Melbourne desperately need a player like Pickett because he brings excitement and a genuine x-factor but he might get 10-15 possessions and a goal or two one game, then only a handful of touches the next. There are better forward options available and for cheaper, pass.
SAM PHILP (Carlton) $121,800 MID
The Blues will put some time into Philp because they took him a lot earlier in the draft last year than most expected, so they obviously see something in him that they want and/or need in the future. That means he’s likely to get opportunities in 2020 but will it be enough to pick him in SuperCoach? There are better options in the midfield but he could be a downgrade target later in the year.
LUKE VALENTE (Fremantle) $123,900 MID
Valente had an injury-interrupted first season with the Dockers but I think he’ll be a player who gets senior opportunities under Justin Longmuir. He’ll start the season the WAFL most likely but young players always pop up at the Dockers around mid-season, proving very valuable when we start looking to cash in our rookies and Valente could be a nice downgrade option at some stage as a midfielder who can also play across halfback.
LUKE JACKSON (Melbourne) $198,300 RUC
Could come into the mix if Max Gawn doesn’t recover from his knee injury in time for Round 1 given Braydon Preuss has also been struck down by injury but don’t pick him in SuperCoach.
TOM NORTH (Fremantle) $102,400 MID
North was delisted and then redrafted by Fremantle as a rookie at the end of last year. He was a smoky to debut early in 2019 but that never eventuated. He needs to put in a big season to stay at the Dockers and that could mean he gets senior opportunities because the club will need to find out if he can play at the level. Would be great value if he does play because he’s available at a bargain-basement price. Look out for him to see if he plays in the Marsh Series.
CALEB SERONG (Fremantle) $175,800 MID
Serong is a really talented footballer so it wouldn’t surprise me if Fremantle find a spot for him early, whether it’s forward or across halfback with the occasional run in midfield. The Dockers might want to see him develop in the midfield in the WAFL or via a mixture of positions at AFL level. Watch where he plays in the Marsh Series and whether he can rack up good SuperCoach scores before making a decision on him. He’s got good pace and the Dockers need that, so I think he can potentially play a lot of senior footy this year.
 
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FISCHER McASEY (Adelaide) $184,800 DEF
McAsey would be in front of Worrell for a spot in Adelaide’s defence but he won’t score big points in SuperCoach because he’s very much a defender in that he’ll spoil first and while he can win it on the ground, he won’t provide much in terms of rebound. Won’t be like Jake Lever and Tom Doedee in their first years, who were great in SuperCoach.
SHANE McADAM (Adelaide) $123,900 FWD
McAdam has enormous talent and is a clever forward who can push up into the midfield, just the type of player Adelaide needs. The Crows will need to find out if he can play at the level, given he was a mature-age recruit for last year but didn’t play. He’s got good goal sense but is a player who drifts in and out of games and hasn’t been a high disposal winner. There are better forward rookie options.
JEREMY SHARP (Gold Coast) $117,300 MID
A really nice midfielder/halfback who should play regularly this year. He’s capable of finding a lot of the ball and that will translate to some high SuperCoach scores because he uses the ball really well. If he finds enough of the footy he will be a valuable pick. Keep an eye on him – he can play Round 1.
ELIJAH TAYLOR (Sydney) $117,300 MID/FWD
Taylor has real x-factor and I can’t wait to see him play alongside Buddy. He’ll provide plenty of highlights because he’s got serious talent but won’t be a consistent enough scorer for SuperCoach.
MILES BERGMAN (Port Adelaide) $148,800 FWD
Port Adelaide hasn’t been afraid to throw their draftees straight into the senior side and Bergman could be the man this year. He’ll definitely play some senior football in 2020 but whether it’s from Round 1, we’ll have to keep an eye on him during the Marsh Series. Connor Rozee could play more midfield this year, which would open up a spot across half forward. Have him on your watch list. I think they’ll give him every chance because he has no trouble finding the footy, is quite elusive and a good kick.
RYLEY STODDART (Sydney) $123,900 DEF
Stoddart has played four games across his first two seasons with the Swans and probably has quite come on as hoped. He has pace but I think Will Gould, Matthew Ling and Dylan Stephens are ahead of him if they’re fit.
TRENT RIVERS (Melbourne) $117,300 DEF/MID
Rivers is a neat player as a rebound defender with a nice kick but I don’t think he’ll win enough of the footy to justify picking him in SuperCoach if he gets games. He’s a good ball user and reads the play well but he’ll be up against it to break into Melbourne’s back six, which is pretty settled despite a poor year in 2019.
JACOB TOWNSEND (Essendon) $222,900 FWD
How Essendon use Townsend will be fascinating. Will he be a high half forward like he was reinvented as in Richmond’s premiership season in 2017 or will he go back to his original position as an inside midfielder? The Bombers are in need more of an inside midfielder but you can’t ignore the fact Townsend’s best footy at AFL level has been as a forward who can’t help but kick goals. Is he a one year wonder? Essendon must have a role in mind for him so I’ll be keeping a close eye on him during the Marsh Series. On the radar.
JAKE RICCARDI (GWS) $117,300 FWD
Jeremy Finlayson was hit and miss as a tall forward last year, so it was smart recruiting by the Giants to swoop on Riccardi out of the VFL given they lost Jon Patton to Hawthorn during the trade period. Good NEAFL form will see him put pressure on Finlayson to perform and I have no doubt he can come in and play well at AFL level. If he gets a chance he’ll see plenty of ball in the Giants’ forward line but I doubt he’ll be a big SuperCoach scorer.
 
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AFL goal accuracy is at its lowest point this century, with only a single AFL side last year registering an accuracy rating above 50 per cent.
Only West Coast (51.3 per cent) kicked more goals than behinds and total misses last year as goal accuracy dropped to 46.4 per cent, down from 50.1 per cent in 2016.

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The shocking figures, which combine set shot and general shot accuracy, come despite players never having more advantages to nail their routines and on-the-run goals.

The league has cracked down on rushed behinds, players kicking on angles now have a 10m exclusion zone and players have 30 seconds before getting on the “runway” and starting set shot routines.

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Goalkicking accuracy in decline

2002 53.6%
2003 52.9%
2004 52.8%
2005 52.7%
2006 51.9%
2007 51.2%
2008 51.3%
2009 49.8%
2010 48.3%
2011 48.6%
2012 49.0%
2013 49.7%
2014 49.3%
2015 50.0%
2016 50.1%
2017 49.1%
2018 47.0%
2019 46.4%

Source: Champion Data
The league has even changed its rules to allow players to kick round-the-corner snaps after the siren without play on being called.



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Yet St Kilda kicked 233.347 last year plus total misses, its 42.6 per cent total accuracy coming from 49.8 per cent set shot accuracy and 35.8 per cent accuracy in general play.

The figure is the worst since Champion Data started recording total accuracy— including out-of-bounds misses — in 2002.

Clubs defend the volume of shots taken midweek and say forwards now running 15km a game are more fatigued when they take shots.

But 1986 Coleman Medallist Brian Taylor, a noted exponent of set shot kicking, told the Herald Sun despite their protestations players simply were not practising enough.

Brisbane Lions forward Eric Hipwood laments a missed opportunity.
Harry Himmelberg was the AFL’s best kick for goal last season.
“I still don’t think they do enough work on it. We keep getting told they do but I am not so sure how many dedicated sessions there are at each club for that particular skill due to the fact midweek is all about recovery. There is a big emphasis on recovery and not skill.

“I can remember having lots and lots of shots both at designated training sessions before after and during and I would go down into parks with guys teaching me to kick over and above training at the club. I would like to know how many current footballers would go to the trouble of that? I am not sure how many do that?”

Former Australian Masters winner Craig Spence, now teaching at Albert Park driving range, said yesterday golf pros would hit between 200-400 balls on the range in a training phase as well as hours of chipping and putting.

“Most guys don’t have many days off. Other than travel days, tour pros who aren’t gifted freaks would practice nearly every day, they are a bit obsessive,” he said.

Club-by-club accuracy in 2019

1 West Coast 51.3%
2 GWS Giants 49.2%
3 Richmond 49.0%
4 Adelaide 47.8%
5 North Melbourne 47.6%
6 Geelong 47.3%
7 Sydney 47.3%
8 Brisbane 46.7%
9 Hawthorn 46.6%
10 Carlton 45.9%
11 Collingwood 45.4%
12 Essendon 45.4%
13 Western Bulldogs 45.3%
14 Melbourne 44.8%
15 Gold Coast 44.1%
16 Port Adelaide 44.1%
17 Fremantle 44.0%
18 St Kilda 42.6%
Brad Scott said last year Ben Brown took hundreds of set shots a week but the figures show accuracy has never been worse this century.

GWS forward Harry Himmelberg was footy’s most accurate goalkicker last year (24.8 with no total misses), ahead of North Melbourne’s Nick Larkey (25.7 and three total misses), Fremantle’s Michael Walters (30.11, two misses) and Roo Cam Zurhaar (18.4 and five misses).

But Marcus Bontempelli’s 15.27 stood out given his incredible skills, while Carlton’s Harry McKay kicked 26.30, Brisbane’s Cam Rayner 20.25, St Kilda’s Jack Lonie 13.19 and Port Adelaide’s Sam Powell-Pepper 10.18.

St Kilda champion Steven Milne, who kicked 574 goals in his 275 games, is adamant players aren’t practising enough.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has built a reputation as one of the AFL’s best finishers.
He also wonders if they are becoming obsessed with taking up the full 30 seconds for set shots to allow their teammates rest.

“You see the players now looking at the clock and they are worried about the clock and giving guys rest,” he said.

“I used to get in trouble for going back and quickly kicking the goal but more often than not I actually kicked the goal. When I was playing I had 80 to 100 shots during the week but these days they are not allowed to have an extra 100 shots a week because of the load on their bodies.”

“I used to hang out after training and do 50-100 shots then, anywhere from 10 set shots then 20 around the corner, left foot, right foot, throw the ball along the ground and kick it from there.”

AFL's best kicks for goal

Harry Himmelberg (GWS) 38 goals 12 behinds 74.5 per cent
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Essendon) 32 goals 13 behinds 65.3 per cent
Jack Darling (West Coast) 59 goals 18 behinds 62.1 per cent
Tim Membrey (St Kilda) 44 goals 17 behinds 62 per cent
Jamie Cripps (West Coast) 30 goals 13 behinds 61.2 per cent
Taylor Walker (Adelaide) 43 goals 22 behinds 58.1 per cent
Jeremy Finlayson (GWS) 44 goals 25 behinds 57.9 per cent
Luke Breust (Hawthorn) 34 goals 17 behinds 56.7 per cent
Cameron Zurhaar (North Melbourne) 26 goals 12 behinds 56.5 per cent
Michael Walters (Fremantle) 40 goals 17 behinds 74.5 per cent 56.3 per cent
 
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KFC SuperCoach PODS: The midfield guns that no one is picking
There is plenty of scope to get creative in your SuperCoach midfield and a host of topscorers are flying under the radar – including the fourth-highest averaging midfielder from 2019. See who can set you apart.
Dan Batten, Herald Sun
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February 19, 2020 7:00am
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While it is wise to fill your KFC SuperCoach side with reliable midfielders, there are a host of options flying under the radar.
Blues bull Patrick Cripps (51 per cent ownership), dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe (39 per cent) and Bulldog ball-magnet Jack Macrae (31 per cent) are plugged in most SuperCoach sides – as they should be.
But with eight players to choose from on field alone, there is the opportunity to mix things up without doing anything drastic.
And the best way to do that is to select a unique player or two.


These point-of-difference picks – or “PODs” as they are known in SuperCoach world – are generally considered to be players with 10 per cent ownership or less. That means only one in 10 players have taken the punt on that player, making them a rare commodity in SuperCoach.
If these selections come up trumps – like Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli last season – the rewards are sweet, with the potential to catapult your team up the rankings.
However, if your POD doesn’t go to plan it can cost you big time.
While it is a fine line, picking these hidden gems makes SuperCoach a lot more fun.
Check out the leading POD candidates in the midfield who can separate your side from the rest.

JOSH KELLY (GWS) $637,700
2019 average: 117.4 (14 matches)
Ownership: 10 per cent
Overlook Kelly at your peril. Interrupted by injury in previous seasons, the smooth-moving Giant is enjoying his best summer yet – his first full pre-season in the past three years. This can only mean good things for his SuperCoach output. The former No.2 draft pick averaged 117.4 SuperCoach points in 2019 – the fourth-highest of any midfielder. Opposition teams opted to tag Stephen Coniglio over Kelly last year, leaving him off the chain. His efficiency means he is capable of scoring well without racking up massive numbers, and 10 per cent ownership is too low for a player of his quality.
Verdict: If you are looking for a POD to freshen up your midfield, Kelly is your best bet.

Adam Treloar wins a mountain of the footy.
Has Josh Kelly beaten his injury curse? Picture: Phil Hillyard
ADAM TRELOAR (COLLINGWOOD) $615,800
2019 average: 113.4
Ownership: 8 per cent
Treloar is a different kettle of fish to Kelly, but his sheer weight of numbers means he must enter consideration. The ball magnet tallied more disposals than any player last season on his way to a career high average of 113.4. Like Kelly, Treloar rarely cops a tag with teams letting him roam free to gather possessions at will. A notable change in his scoring last season was his enhanced ceiling, posting three scores above 150 – compared to just one from 2017-18.
Verdict: Will be one of the top midfielders at season’s end.
ANDREW GAFF (WEST COAST) $583,200
2019 average: 107.4
Ownership: 2 per cent
Gaff is the main source of West Coast’s attacking drive and with Tim Kelly’s arrival, he should reap the benefits of more footy from the coal face. The consistent Eagle won 27 disposals or more in every game last season despite being in the same side as Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo. It shows that another inside bull shouldn’t impact his scoring potential – it could even enhance it. Gaff finished last season like a house on fire, averaging 115.8 points across his last six games and continues to get ignored despite back-to-back seasons nearing a 110-point average.
Verdict: Has proven he can produce uber-premium numbers – a possible M5 candidate.


TIM TARANTO (GWS) $555,900
2019 average: 102.4
Ownership: 3 per cent
Taranto’s 102.4 point average doesn’t reflect how impressive he was in just his third year of senior football. The tough youngster averaged 108 points in the first 12 rounds of 2019 before he tapered off in the back half of the season. While he will get overlooked by SuperCoaches given he is in same midfield as Kelly and Coniglio, he still managed to score well last season with these two in the side. Expect a more consistent season from the 22-year-old, but will it be enough to break the elusive 110-point barrier?
Verdict: Will become a top-10 SuperCoach midfielder – it’s just a matter of when.

HUGH MCCLUGGAGE (BRISBANE LIONS) $510,700
2019 average: 94
Ownership: 3 per cent
Brisbane’s emerging star added 17 points to his 2018 average last season and he should edge towards the 105-mark by year’s end. His breakout season saw him surge into the All-Australian squad of 40 and he has flagged more time in the Lions’ engine room this season. This and another pre-season under his belt should see McCluggage lift his scoring floor after falling below on 80 on five occasions in 2019. He finished the season with four scores of 112 or more in the last eight rounds, which illustrates what he is capable of in 2020.
Verdict: Outside midfielders are always a risk – assess his time in the guts during the Lions’ pre-season games.
 
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UBER-PODS
TRAVIS BOAK (PORT ADELAIDE) $582,300
2019 average: 107.2
Ownership: 1> per cent
Remember this guy? Boak was an integral part of many successful SuperCoach sides in 2019 but has lost his dual-position status. A move into a full-time midfield role saw the Power star produce his best SuperCoach return in his 13th season, averaging 107.2 points per game. Now, he is in less than 1 per cent of teams. With Ollie Wines set for a delayed start to 2020, Boak will have even greater responsibility in the Power midfield.
Verdict: Is turning 32 this year but remains a very interesting proposition

Travis Boak doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
MATT CROUCH (ADELAIDE) $563,000
2019 average: 103.7
Ownership: 1 per cent
The case for Matt Crouch is a hard sell given many previous owners placed the handball-happy midfielder on their “never again” lists after a supposed one-week injury turned into a month-long stint on the sidelines. If we take out Crouch’s injury affected score of 54 – when he was on track for a ton – his 2019 average increases from 103.7 to 106.4. These are numbers closer to his imposing 2017 campaign when he reached a 110-point average at season’s end.
Verdict: Underpriced and has a SuperCoach-friendly game, but Adelaide is unlikely to be a top-eight team which could impact his scoring.
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DION PRESTIA (RICHMOND) $550,200
2019 average: 101.3
Ownership: 1 per cent
In SuperCoach it is often the players who finish the previous season strongly who emerge as formidable scorers the following year. Enter Dion Prestia. In his first full season since 2014, the 27-year-old accepted greater responsibility in the Tiger midfield, averaging 111.9 points from Round 10 onwards. He has shown he can average above 105, finishing that 2014 season with 106 on the dot – and that was at the Suns. At a club oozing with talent, the “Human Meatball” could be a very satisfying SuperCoach feed.
Verdict: The Tigers like to share the points around but the signs are there for Prestia to go to the next level.
Don’t forget about Richmond dynamo Dion Prestia. Picture: Michael Klein
THE SMOKIE
ED CURNOW (CARLTON) $493,200
2019 average: 90.8
Ownership: 1 per cent
If you are looking for something really outside the box, Ed is your man. The Blues midfielder was played horribly out of position by former coach Brendon Bolton in the first half of last year, when he using the contested midfielder as a forward. Under David Teague he returned to the coal face and thrived, averaging a whopping 113.9 points over the last nine rounds. Scoring like this isn’t foreign to Curnow, who has twice topped a 100-point average across a season. If he can register this sort of return for even the first half of 2020 he will prove to be a valuable asset at that asking price.
Verdict: It sounds crazy but it just might work.
 
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Western Bulldogs set to secure ‘generational talent’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at a huge draft discount

The secret to Origin success?

Jay Clark

Herald Sun

Subscriber only

February 19, 2020 7:56pm

Clubs are in uproar over the generous concessions which will give the Western Bulldogs a 20 per cent discount on the best underage player in the country.

Gun forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is widely considered this year’s top draft prospect and is headed to the kennel as part of the club’s academy system.

A talent spotter on Wednesday said the speedy 195cm goal kicker was “a generational talent” who had “freakish ability to put separation on his opponents in the forward half”.

But, despite an AFL review last year which backed-in the next generation academy system as it stands, there is increasing angst in club land about the discount apportioned to the multicultural and indigenous players being selected through each clubs’ NGA zone.

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Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is one of the top prospects in the draft. Picture: Andy Brownbill

One club official said the Dogs had hit the “draft jackpot” with guaranteed and discounted access to the indigenous Ugle-Hagan in the first round.

“This kid does it all, and when he puts on 20kg in an AFL club environment, look out,” the talent expert said.

“It is clear the system really needs to change because it is so compromised.

“Jamarra has played footy his whole life – that is not what the next generation academies were designed for.”

Clubs contacted by the Herald Sun said it was time the league changed the criteria so either the next generation academy discount didn’t apply to the top youngsters in the elite pathway system, or the guaranteed access was scrapped in the first round altogether.

Ugle-Hagan, for example, is a stand-out for Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup and attends Scotch College. The 17-year-old is originally from Warrnambool which falls into the Dogs’ catchment.

An overwhelming majority of clubs contacted said the AFL should eliminate the discount if the player is an outstanding talent and is taken in the first or second-round of the draft, despite having a multicultural family background.

Clubs can enlist a player into their next generation academy if they have an indigenous or multicultural family background and fall into their zone.

“The criteria, or how a player qualifies for the NGA, is completely flawed,” another official said.

“The whole purpose was to grow the talent pool and invite players into the football system from non-football backgrounds.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in action for Sandringham. Picture: Andy Brownbill

“What is happening is the clubs are cherry-picking the best players who have played footy their whole life, and getting them more cheaply at the draft.

“Just because they have a parent who was born overseas or something.”

Collingwood profited two years ago when it nabbed Isaac Quaynor, a gun half-back from the Oakleigh Chargers, through its next generation academy.

“It is out of control, now” another recruiter said. “They (AFL) have created a monster.”

Under AFL rules, the Western Bulldogs not only have guaranteed access to Ugle-Hagen, they also receive a 20 per cent discount on the draft pick they use on him.

It means if a bid came at pick No. 1 (which is worth 3000 draft value index points), the Dogs would have to hand over the picks equivalent to 2400 points.

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For example, the Dogs would have to fork over pick No. 3 (2234) and pick No. 59 (158), or under another scenario, No. 7 (1644) and No. 25 (756) to claim Ugle-Hagan.

The 600 point discount is equivalent to keeping pick No. 32.

One list manager said there needed to be an overhaul.

‘I’m a big supporter of the NGA program, but really the focus should be on the players who aren’t necessarily going to be taken in the early part of the draft,” he said.

“And if they are taken early, (there should be) no discounts.”
 
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if the roles where reversed "recruiter" would be as happy as the bulldogs are and the bulldogs would be annoyed at the other team

your never going to get a completely 100% fair competition

so im sure "recruiter" would have no problem if it was his team
 
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if the roles where reversed "recruiter" would be as happy as the bulldogs are and the bulldogs would be annoyed at the other team

your never going to get a completely 100% fair competition

so im sure "recruiter" would have no problem if it was his team
Seems to me they all have the opportunity to ‘invest’ in young kids.. if it pays off good luck to them I say
 
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As a Bulldog supporter, I am very excited about Ugle-Hagen. As an AFL fan, I agree that there should be NO discount on first round draft picks. And that the AFL should reconsider their NGA rules and who is allowed/not allowed in that system.

Any fan receiving a top quality player like JUH would be ecstatic and any fan not receiving a top quality player would be seething.

In years gone by, other clubs have used and abused the system too. Top NGA players are no different from the Northern Academy players or father-son picks, in the sense that the club has direct access to that player even in another club bids on them first.
- North traded their top pick to acquire Polec/Pittard because they knew Tarryn Thomas was theirs (NGA pick)
- Swans shrewdly traded out their top pick for multiple later picks due to Nick Blakey and traded back into the draft to acquire another top 25 pick (academy pick)
- How many years of GWS getting above their academy pick to acquire multiple first round players - Tim Taranto (pick 2) before Will Setterfield (pick 5), Harry Perryman (pick 14) and Isaac Cumming (pick 20) in 2016 . Lachie Ash (pick 4) before Tom Green (pick 10) in 2019.
- In the old system, Heeney was taken at like pick 18 but was rated as the best midfielder in the draft.

AFL is a business. Each club will do their part in putting themselves first to get the best players and deals.
 
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Wasnt sure where best to post this as not Herald Sun....

Fremantle captain Nathan Fyfe has set his sights on a smarter brand of football that preserves his body and which will enable him to continue his career until his mid 30s.
Speaking to 7NEWS ahead of the February 28 bushfire appeal All-Stars match, where he will be one of the major drawcards, Fyfe said:
  • Playing in the match put him at no heightened risk of injury because if he wasn’t playing there he would be playing in a pre-season series game for Fremantle.
  • The All-Stars game would not be an exhibition and that they would be playing to win.
  • The new concept worked better than State of Origin because it only required one game a year.
  • That Fremantle would play a more aggressive and attacking style of game under new coach Justin Longmuir, with the emphasis on creating opportunities rather than defending.
Fyfe is 28 and underwent his fourth shoulder reconstruction over summer but said the injury had healed well, he had full range of movement and was playing “smarter and wiser” football.

“In previous years it was bash and crash and high contact, now I try to make better decisions so I can preserve myself and get through the season and hopefully still be playing when I am 34 or 35 years old,” he said.

Fyfe said it made little sense to say he was at any greater risk of injury because he was playing in this game.

“If I wasn’t playing in this game I would be playing in a scratch match for my club or a Marsh Series game which is just as intense.
“There will be injury risk whether you are playing rep footy or playing for your own team,” he said.
And he labelled the All-star concept the best representative football opportunity on offer to AFL players.
“The format is the best format they could have come up with given that they can only really play one game,” he said.
“We are there to win. Don’t get me wrong about that.

“It is not going to be like an NBA ‘ham it up game’ where guys are going to be having a bit of fun. We are there to win.”

Fyfe said that his top priority remained getting Fremantle ready for their first season under Longmuir.
He expected to play a “mid-forward role” and predicted youngsters Adam Cerra, Andrew Brayshaw and even Caleb Serong would play midfield roles this year.

He promised a more attacking game plan at Fremantle.
“We have got (Matt) Taberner and (Rory) Lobb and (Jesse) Hogan forward who are going to take big marks and kick goals for us,” he said.
“We have got attacking half-backs in Luke Ryan and Nathan Wilson, James Aish who are going to be able to set us up, and we have got a midfield of talented ball winners.

“What you will see is a different model to what you have seen in past seasons.
“The lens has now shifted towards opportunity and how can we exploit opposition teams and how can we get the ball from one end to the other as quickly as possible whereas previously maybe it was biased towards how can we restrict.”
Fyfe will line up for the All-Stars alongside Fremantle teammate and fellow All-Australian Michael Walters.
 
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The best SuperCoach mid-price selection from every club for 2020

Devon Smith and Jack Steven are among the most-popular SuperCoach picks of 2020. But who are the other mid-price gambles worth a look? Here’s our verdict on more than 20 options.

Tim Michell, Herald Sun

Subscriber only

February 22, 2020 12:27pm

There is no greater temptation in KFC SuperCoach than a mid-priced gamble.

Try talking yourself out of choosing a player priced below their potential output who delivers a faultless pre-season.

Or one coming back from a season ravaged by injury whose price has plummeted.

History tells us mid-priced risks are commonly a disaster waiting to happen.

Rarely does a player in the $300,000-$450,000 bracket emerge as a likely top-six or top-eight finisher in their respective position.

Last year, West Coast grand final hero Dom Sheed ($394,100, average 95), Brodie Smith ($332,500, avg 88.6), Brad Crouch ($418,000, avg 98.4) and James Worpel ($395,700, avg 97) were worth the punt.

MORE MID-PRICE ANALYSIS:

But there were just as many mid-price misses, with Aaron Hall ($389,200, avg 75.8), Anthony Miles ($342,000, avg 83.8) and Tom Liberatore ($300,400, avg 82.4) unable to regularly produce premium scores.

Outside Devon Smith and Jack Steven, the top mid-pricers this season are less obvious than last year.

But there’s enough value that if you choose wisely, you should be handsomely rewarded.

Here’s the top mid-priced pick from every club.

Adelaide

Tom Lynch (FWD) $459,900 2019 avg.: 84.7

Mobile forward Lynch has averaged 80.5 points or more in the past five seasons. He last year posted seven scores of 86+ from 16 matches including four tons. He doesn’t have a huge ceiling (his top score in the past five years is 133) but is a consistent performer who has averaged 20 disposals, six marks and a goal a game in the past three years. Consider him if you’re after an uber POD.

VERDICT: Only if you’re desperate for a forward POD.

Bryce Gibbs $375,100 MID 2019 average: 69.1

Gibbs had only once averaged less than 80 since his debut season before last year’s fall from grace. The veteran Crow was one of the victims of Adelaide’s struggles which led to Don Pyke being sacked, only playing 12 AFL games. New Crows coach Matthew Nicks is bullish about Gibbs’ importance to his side, predicting a return to form for the 30-year-old playing as a freewheeling half-back flanker. That role should suit his game, although he’ll be competing with Rory Laird and Wayne Milera for possession. He’s one to watch closely in the Marsh Series but comes with a very awkward price.

VERDICT: Only if you’re short on cash after spending big up forward and in defence.

Brisbane Lions

Callum Ah Chee (MID) $311,700 2019 avg.: 82

The former top-10 draft pick has been traded from Gold Coast to Brisbane as he looks to realise his undoubted potential. His best average in four seasons with the Suns was 82 last year, although he only featured once. Otherwise, it was 59.7 in 2016. Playing for a team which will win more often and slated for a SuperCoach friendly-role at halfback, this could be his breakout campaign.

VERDICT: He should improve at the Lions but not at that starting price.

Carlton

Jack Martin (FWD-MID) $420,800 2019 avg.: 77.5

Another player who left Metricon Stadium at the end of last season without reaching the heights he was tipped to reach as a junior. Choose Martin as a forward if he interests you as he’d need to increase his output from 77.5 points a game to 100+ as a midfielder. The Blues have been impressed by Martin’s physicality and tackles are a quick source of SuperCoach points.

VERDICT: The Blues are bullish but it’s a big leap for him to become a premium.

Collingwood

Rupert Wills (MID) $337,900 2019 avg.: 69.1

Job security is the major concern with Wills, however he did play the last five matches of 2019, including Collingwood’s qualifying and preliminary finals. Wills’ greatest asset is his strength and he laid 25 tackles in the Magpies’ two finals. He only had more than 20 disposals once in nine games and will need to increase his possession average to be a worthwhile pick.

VERDICT: Prefer Brayden Sier who is $90,000 cheaper and could play the same role.

Jeremy Howe $431,900 DEF 2019 average: 79.5

Howe had averaged 90+ in three consecutive seasons before dropping under 80 points a game last year as Darcy Moore took on his role as an intercepting defender for the Magpies. The high-flyer battled injury issues throughout last year and only hit top gear late in the campaign. Howe scored five tons in his last seven matches (including finals) and scores of 106, 115, 116 and 130 in four of his last five games of 2019. He dropped to as low as $356,700 last season and could be a bargain D6 if you can nab him at a similar price in 2020.

VERDICT: Make him a mid-season downgrade target.

Essendon

Devon Smith (FWD-MID) $335,800 2019 avg.: 68.7

Smith should be one of the first players picked with dual-position eligibility and a price tag well below his capabilities. His 2019 campaign was ruined by knee problems but he averaged 97.9 points a game the previous year. If he can replicate those numbers, he’ll likely be a top-six forward in 2020. The Bombers have been buoyed by his pre-season progress.

VERDICT: One of the must-have players of 2020.

Tom Cutler $296,500 MID 2019 average: 78

The former Lion battled for opportunity last year, only playing three games as Brisbane surged into the top four. Cutler didn’t score less than 72 in that period from rounds 6-8 after averaging 81 the previous season. He’s unlikely to average enough to be a keeper but looms as a potential mid-priced cash grab. If you think Cutler can make enough to become a fallen premium in one trade, then consider him. The issue is he might have to average career-best numbers to make that happen.

VERDICT: Watch his Marsh Series form before considering.
 
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Fremantle

Connor Blakely (DEF) $411,500 2019 avg.: 75.8

Blakely was tipped to take on a midfield role at the Dockers last year before injury delayed his season until Round 9. He never quite got going after that and only twice tallied 100+ SuperCoach points (rounds 11 and 15). It’s been two and a half years since his barnstorming run to end the 2017 home-and-away season which featured six hundreds in nine matches. Consider Blakely if Justin Longmuir uses him in a midfield role or free wheeling across halfback.

VERDICT: If the breakout hasn’t come yet, it might never.

Adam Cerra $338,900 DEF 2019 average: 62.4

The No.5 draft pick from 2017 looms as one of the best breakout picks in defence. Cerra has been training with the midfield group during summer under the watch of new Dockers coach Justin Longmuir. It’s a big leap from averaging 62.4 to more than 90, although not unprecedented. The concern is Cerra only managed 90+ once last year and will need to perform at that level consistently to justify spending $60,000 more than it costs for Tom Doedee and Dylan Roberton.

VERDICT: He’ll be a real bargain in draft but that price is a real detterant.

Andrew Brayshaw $382,800 FWD-MID 2019 average: 70.5

The signs are there to suggest a breakout season looms for the No.2 draftee. He increased his average by 10 points last year from 60.5 to 70.5 with three scores of 95 or better in his last six games including a season-best 116. Like Cerra, Brayshaw has been slated for increased midfield time which will only benefit his scoring as his game is largely based around contested possession. If you’re going to take the punt, choose him as a forward.

VERDICT: A nice POD pick instead of Devon Smith and Jack Steven up forward.

Gold Coast Suns

Ben Ainsworth (FWD-MID) $329,000 2019 avg.: 60.6

It’s few and far between at the Suns for mid-priced options, although Will Brodie ($435,800) and former No. 4 draft pick Ainsworth hold some appeal. Ainsworth has provided glimpses of his talent, scoring 93, 82 and 99 last year. Hopefully he’s built his tank enough during the summer to be in the mix for more midfield minutes.

VERDICT: Maybe next year.

Will Brodie $435,800 MID 2019 average: 80.3

Brodie’s impact in eight games last year went largely under the radar as he increased his output from 68.1 to 80.3. That number would have been much higher had the tough on-baller not tallied 19 points in Round 17 against Adelaide. He rebounded with 120 against Carlton the next week after tallying 26 disposals and 10 tackles. Brodie rated No.1 at the Suns for hard ball gets, second for tackles, third for disposals and fourth for clearances in the last six games of 2019. The price is prohibitive but he’s got breakout written all over him.

VERDICT: Where does he fit into your midfield at that price? M5 and your structure is too skinny, M6 and you’ll be sacrificing in other positions.

Geelong

Jack Steven (FWD-MID) $361,700 2019 avg.: 74

Pending fitness, Steven should be locked into SuperCoach forward lines. A player who has averaged 103 or more three times and 90+ five times can’t be ignored at that price. Steven admittedly wasn’t at his fittest last year after taking time away from the game, yet still scored 95 points in his return match against Fremantle. There’s midfield minutes on offer at Geelong after Tim Kelly’s departure and Steven is likely to fill them.

VERDICT: Tough to leave out if he’s named for Round 1.

GWS Giants

Sam Jacobs (RUC) $348,400 2019 avg.: 80.2

Few mid-priced ruckmen can reach the scoring heights or value of top picks Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn. But Jacobs is a safe pick if you want to save $300,000 and invest elsewhere. He’s averaged as high as 115.4 in 2014 and while that season was an outlier, Jacobs hasn’t dipped below 80 since 2010. Gawn’s pre-season knee injury has forced coaches to entertain other options and Jacobs represents great value compared to other mid-pricers. The veteran big man is durable, featuring in 20+ games every year from 2012-2018.

VERDICT: The top option behind Brodie Grundy if you don’t want to ‘set and forget’.

Hawthorn
Chad Wingard (FWD-MID) $412,300 2019 avg.: 75.9


Wingard has been a premium forward in previous years, averaging 93+ in 2013 (98.6), 2015 (97.8) and 2017 (93). He posted 88.6 points a game in his last year at Port Adelaide and averaged 87 from Round 17 onwards last year. Hawthorn’s midfield will be stacked after Tom Mitchell’s return, but Wingard is an option if there’s any indication he’ll spend extra time on the ball to complement the Brownlow medallist, James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara.

VERDICT: Promising signs in his first Marsh Series game but still too risky.

Jon Ceglar $417,000 RUC-FWD 2019 average: 76.8

Ceglar has never been much of a SuperCoach factor due to playing second fiddle to Ben McEvoy. But Alastair Clarkson wants McEvoy playing in a key-defensive post this year, which will allow Ceglar to take the No.1 ruck mantle at Hawthorn. He scored 110, 83 and 94 as the Hawks’ first-choice ruckman in his last three games last season, an average of 95.6. It’s a stretch to predict he can maintain that output for a full season but if Clarkson sticks with his plan of playing McEvoy in the backline Ceglar will have ample opportunity to do so.

VERDICT: Like it. No.1 ruckmen are traditionally strong scorers. The obvious risk is it doesn’t work out and McEvoy returns to the centre square.
 
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