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Rooks On The Radar – Backs

Once again, selecting rookie defenders looks as fraught with danger as letting Brendan Fevola near other humans. Chook has a look at who’s on the radar so far this pre-season.

Once again, selecting rookie defenders looks as fraught with danger as letting Brendan Fevola near other humans. Chook has a look at who’s on the radar so far this pre-season.

The Gold Coast will once again provide options in this part of the ground, although probably not as many as the forwards, mids and rucks after the Suns picked up established defenders Harbrow, Bock, Brown and Krakouer. In any case, the challenge that rookie defenders have in breaking into the Gold Coast backline is evidenced by Michael Coad, one of their best prospects down back, failing to make it into Champion Data’s projected best 22 in the recently released Prospectus. Coad, a mature age recruit who averaged the most marks for the Suns last year, had a DT average less than the likes of Harris and Swallow in 2010, but showed his ceiling’s pretty high with a club-high DT score of 159 in round 3. The other Gold Coast defender on the radar currently is Josh Toy, an 18-year-old who played just the four games of VFL footy last year as he finished off his schooling. He averaged 19 disposals in those four games, proving he’s got the potential to be a solid scorer, although even more appetising is the fact he’s been nicknamed “Little Chaddy” by Champion Data, who predict Cornes-like numbers in the future. That’s Rad Chad of ’05 numbers, by the way, not Sad Chad of 2010.

Elsewhere, Hawthorn’s Paul Puopolo is attracting interest after averaging 21 disposals over the past two years for SANFL club Norwood. A little worrying is his kick-to-handball ratio, which is weighted towards the handball even more so than new teammate Sam Mitchell, and the fact that he was often used as a run-with player with success at SANFL level. Still, if the bloke plays, which he’s a chance to do at this reshuffled Hawks team, then we won’t be complaining too much as long as he kicks it occasionally.

One of Puopolo’s teammates at Norwood last year, Nick Duigan, is hoping to crack Carlton’s back six this season. He’s a mature-age player as well, entering the AFL at 26 years of age, but may face more competition for a starting role at Carlton than Puopolo at Hawthorn. Having said that, before the Blues posters over at BigFooty started their annual scrap with Tigers fans, they were raving about Duigan and his chance of getting early games, saying he’s “trained the house down”.

Yet another rookie with senior experience, Jacob Brennan played for East Fremantle in the WAFL last season before being picked up by West Coast. He doesn’t look too assured of early starts or loom as a heavy scorer if he does – in fact, he’s only mentioned here as he’s popped up in more than the odd plan team so far.

In a similar position is Jamie Cripps, who, like Brennan at West Coast, is a father-son selection at St Kilda. He also lined up for East Freo last season, but, still a teenager, appeared in just one senior game last season, racking up 24 disposals. Brennan and Cripps have more than their WAFL club in common, however, with the latter also unlikely to feature in an AFL game too soon.

Let us know which other rookie defenders you’re looking at in the comments. Forwards and rucks are up tomorrow, with the midfielders to follow on Friday.



  1. Foley fan

    January 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Nice rundown!! Would also like to hear your opinion on Nathan Faulks from Freo who has been suggested as a possibility for round 1, and big Matthew Watson from Carlton – what are his chances of breaking in? I notice on fanplanner that McKenzie from Gold Coast is listed as a back where I think he plays midfield? – if he is a midfielder who is listed as a back is he then worth a shot?

    • Chook

      January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Will look into Faulks and Watson, mate, but McKenzie will be mid only, unfortunately. Bloody millions of them to choose from!

      • totes magotes

        January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        Unless I am mistaken, you might have more success looking into Peter Faulks from Fremantle, as opposed to Nathan – who I have never heard of

  2. Benatration

    January 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Nice write up Chook

  3. benno

    January 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    a good read chook! what your opinion on Ben Jacobs from port? only seen a little info on him so far, will he be getting games earlier? plus you mentioned talia from the crows yesterday as a fwd/back. forgetting the fact he is a dpp, what are your thoughts on him as a back specifically? will he be getting games early on? from what i read he was looking at games last year later on if he didnt injure himself… any ideas mate?

  4. Fatty McButterpants

    January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Sam Iles – won the GC B&F last year. He’s 25 and got a taste of playing with the big boys when he played a few games for Collingwood a few years back.
    Jake Batchelor – Dimma has hinted at him getting games early.

    • Chook

      January 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Batchelor, another one to look at! Sam Iles will be mid only, sorry shagger.

      • Fatty McButterpants

        January 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

        DANG! I didn’t notice that Monty had changed his position on FP.

    • maanco

      January 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      i would also like to hear about batchlor

  5. Black Klaw

    January 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    This post is for defenders only man, those 2 you mention are both DPP.

    One that didnt get a mention is ben ross from the bombers, brother on the roos’ ross. Here is a write up from the dons website he could get games –

  6. ProudLion1991

    January 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    You’d think Brodie Smith from the Crows is a fair chance of playing some games this season?

  7. sgi86

    January 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Blayne Wilson from west coast also a juicy prospect, maybe not early on but definately think he will get games imo, any thoughts chook/ west coast fans?

    Also do u reckon mccarthy or watson may break into the carlton side?

  8. feathertopDT


    January 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    my starting rookie backs obviously will depend on who’s playing in round 1 or for gold coast round 2 but so far its

  9. andyjh

    January 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Nick Lower, The former port defender is now on Freos rookie list. after last years performance he looks pretty good.

  10. Money Sharks

    January 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Yo Sup guys , can’t wait for the footy to start aye ?? Ok so quick question, I won the cash league last year and was just seeing if you guys where doing it again, would love to take your money again lol ! Let me know cheers

  11. TheRavalle

    January 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Oh if only getting Peter Faulks first name wrong was the only error……..St Kilda rookies are traditionally not the greatest rookies to follow but maybe have a look at getting a good spy down at the saints cause Cripps will play this year and play well…….usually love the write ups but gotta also say when they are way off the mark…

    • Chook

      January 27, 2011 at 7:17 am

      Oh if only? I didn’t get Faulks’ first name wrong, I just missed him altogether! Ha. He seems a good chance to get a game early, although some are questioning his fitness base. If he plays in the last line, you wouldn’t have thought it’d need to be extraordinarily high, but that seems to be the question mark over him at this point.

      I’m still not as sold on Cripps as you, but that’s the beauty of this time of year, you can go speculation crazy. I was going to write that St Kilda are clearly in the “premiership window” and as such would be expected to stick with their established players, although having lost a couple now they may be inclined to inject a few new faces.

      Here’s a “chosen-at-random” best 22 from the St Kilda board at Big Footy:

      baker, dawson, gwilt
      clarke, fisher, gram
      goddard, montagna, gilbert
      gamble, riewoldt, schneider
      milne, kozi, dal santo

      r – mcevoy, hayes, ray

      bench – jones, armitage, blake

      sub – dempster

      depth –


      As you can see, there’s a fair bit of competition for a place in that side. Not saying it’s impossible, but no sure thing, either.

      • Chook

        January 27, 2011 at 7:22 am

        Of course, Cripps will dominate the NAB Cup and be first picked in my side now!

        Really do appreciate people piping up with the rooks currently on their radar, so keep ’em coming, rookie watchers.

        • Ike

          January 31, 2011 at 8:50 pm

          Only just catching up, and it doesn’t really matter – but Cripps is definitely no father son – first round selection yes, but no relation to the Cripps who used to run around with the Sainters. From all reports he is flying, expected to play this year as early as round 1. But not so sure about picking a Saints rook, Ross is pretty likely to go back on his word about playing kids as soon as it gets serious.

          • Ike

            January 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm

            Other thing was East Freo apparently have a policy of keeping their juniors back. Cripps won the Colts B&F last year (read into that what you want as most other gun U18s are playing seniors already), but that was why he only played one game in the seniors.

          • Chook

            January 31, 2011 at 10:55 pm

            Cheers, Ike. Good info.

  12. Sandi2Pav

    January 27, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Peter Faulks will be the likely replacement for rodger hayden who will miss the whole first half of the season. Plenty of time to fatten his price up. $$$

    • sgi86

      January 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

      I wud hav thought faulks wud be better playing the chris tarrant role while mzungu wud be the fill in for hayden and hence allow the human head jack anthony to play up forward with Mayne and Pav

      • Chook

        January 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

        Yeah, Faulks is more of the full-back type than a dasher, from what I can tell.

    • Sandi2Pav

      January 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      Your 100% sgi86, forgot about Mzungu, but McPharlin and Grover are still there and would think when they’re there faulks could play as a spare man in defense and rack up mark and kicks but he will play man on man when Harvey wants to allow McPharlin to play up the ground.

      But McPharlin usually takes the number 1 forward (like Buddy who he killed in the first final) and Grover the second forward because of his little lack of height so this could leave Faulks with the ruckman pushing forward and history tells us you can often break away from them at times.

      Faulks can take the ruckman ’cause he is only 1cm shorter than McPharlin.

  13. Fabregas

    January 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Great write-up Chook!

    Couple of other potential smokies – read somewhere (AFL website probably) that Cameron O’Shea (Port’s #52 pick from last year) is training well and a good chance for early action. Wouldve thought Primus will blood a fair amount of rooks this year. After the draft it was said he has the endurance of a midfielder so could be a handy pickup..

    Another maybe less likely rook is Christian Howard (WBD #15 pick from 2009) – hasnt been sighted yet as (according to the Prospectus) he had pre-season hip surgery last year, then spent from May til September plying his trade for Williamstown in the VFL. Was Glenelg’s designated kicker and has good skills apparently. Read somewhere a month or so back that he is training the house down (as is everyone, amazing how lazy footy journalism gets in the offseason), but being such a HDP, he could get a look in this year..

    • Chook

      January 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Will add them to my list, Cesc. Good research there, mate. Thanks for sharing.

    • broaja4

      January 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

      anyone know where we can see the champion data GC projected team??

      • Chook

        January 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

        The Prospectus, which is produced by Champion Data, has a possible best 22 for the Suns, but it’s really only used to make a comparison between their crop of young talent and “a line-up based on the same draft concessions and entitlements two years prior”.

        It looks like this:

        B: Brown, Hutchins, Toy
        HB: Harbrow, Bock, Krakouer
        C: McKenzie, Rischitelli, Bennell
        HF: Day, Brennan, Weller
        F: Matera, Lynch, Dixon
        Foll: Smith, Ablett, Swallow
        Int: Harris, Fraser, Caddy, Iles.

        Like I said, it’s just whipped up for comparison’s sake, and doesn’t include a member of the leadership group, Marc Lock, as that hadn’t been announced at the time of print.

        Very much a case of monitoring team sheets in NAB Cup/Challenge.

        • broaja4

          January 27, 2011 at 11:49 am

          thanks heaps

      • Max Power

        January 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

        In the Prospectus.

        • Max Power

          January 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

          You beat me to it chook.

          • swanlow36

            January 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

            Matera, Lock and Load!!!! Will he be DPP as I heard he played midfield in the VFL last year? Will have to wait and see on Presita.

  14. ProudLion1991

    January 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Hmm.. No Prestia in the best 22, interesting to see how he goes in the NAB. I think he is pretty solidly built so you’d think he’d play a bit this year if he impressives enough.

  15. Warnie


    January 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Duigan is all but locked on my back bench. Impressed in the intra-club game today apparently.

    • Benatration

      January 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      And he will play alot of games too!

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