Rooks On The Radar: DPPs and Rucks
Last year it was Mzungu, and this time it’s Zorko. Why can’t we have our most promising dual-position rookies from the get-go? Here’s hoping there’s a Heppell in this year’s bunch.
You don’t throw words like “curse” around carelessly, but we’ve certainly been short of luck when it comes to dual-position rookies the past couple of years. At this time 12 months ago, mid-fwds Tendai Mzungu and Ian Callinan were installed in the teams of every DT coach worth their salt, and Ben Jacobs was the must-have mid-def link to the Goddards and Deledios in your backline. As it turned out, injury or illness meant none of the much-hyped trio were ready to go in round one, leaving the likes of Dyslon Heppell and Andrew Krakouer to shoulder the DPP load early in the season. This year, Brisbane looked set to provide some DPP goodness with mid-fwd Dayne Zorko and mid-def Sam Docherty shaping as useful picks, but both will miss some NAB Cup action, and possibly early season games, as a result of hip injuries. The flip side is that, like Mzungu, Callinan and Jacobs last year, the Lions pair could serve as strong downgrade candidates once a few of our initial rookie selections have a made a handsome profit. In the meantime, it looks as though we’ll be relying on Greater Western Sydney to do the bulk of the heavy lifting in the DPP department.
Week 1: Rich/Haw/NM, GWS/Coll/WB, WC/Ess/Frem
It’s all about the Giants here, with the new expansion club certainly offering a bit more in the mid-fwd category than their Gold Coast fore-runners. Devon Smith ($121,200) and Curtly Hampton ($104,200) were the two that impressed the most in the Giants’ intra-club match, continuing rich form from 2011. Smith is coming off a monster 124ppg average over six games for Geelong in the TAC Cup last year, while Hampton played 12 games in the NEAFL, securing the side’s fifth-best average with 82ppg. His last four games of the season were huge, however, knocking up back-to-back 97s before going intergalactic with two 128s. It really is a question of how many is too many when it comes to Kevin Sheedy’s young mid-fwds, because Adam Treloar and Adam Kennedy (both $104,200) are also tasty prospects. A hip injury restricted Treloar to just six late-season games for the Giants last season, compiling a modest average of 71ppg, although he was a prolific ball-winner at junior level. Speaking of “prolific at junior level”, Kennedy averaged 98ppg for the Western Jets over 14 TAC Cup appearances last year.
Week 2: StK/Syd/Geel, GC/Mel/Bris, Port/Carl/Adel
With no GWS def-mids demanding too much attention at this stage, (Kurt Aylett may be worth monitoring), and Brisbane’s Sam Docherty injured, our best bet for releasing Goddard into the midfield could be Adelaide’s Luke Brown ($98,700). His average wasn’t too flash in the SANFL last year, playing 21 games as a running defender at a lowly clip of 58ppg, although he did have a midfield role at under-18 level in 2010, so has experience through the middle of the ground and around the packs. New teammate at the Crows Sam Kerridge (also $98,700, but mid-fwd) can boast a better average, scoring at 108ppg in the TAC Cup last year, although his under-18 championships was underwhelming, scoring just 38ppg. Elsewhere the mid-fwd bracket, Port Adelaide’s Darren Pfeiffer ($117,800) is one of the few remaining options if fellow mature-age recruit Dayne Zorko fails to recover from a hip complaint in time to force his way into Brisbane’s round-one team, although Pfeiffer himself isn’t forecast by many to be in the Power team when they start their season against St Kilda on April Fool’s Day. That leaves Geelong’s def-fwd and Twitter funny man Billie Smedts ($104,200) and Carlton’s mature-age ruck-fwd Sam Rowe as the other likeliest types. Both will be picked more for the versatility they add to our teams than for their scoring potential, although Rowe’s average of 71 with SANFL club Norwood last year shouldn’t be sneered at. Under the current structure of my team, most of the upgrading will be needing to done in defence, so I like having Smedts back there so that I can utilise the new rule and sell either him OR a forward to buy a big-time defender. I can see Rowe being used in a similar way with the rookie rucks.
No one needs any more convincing that Geelong’s Orren Stephensen ($98,700) and GWS’s Jon Giles ($117,800) should be cemented into your DT – they’re among the top five most-picked players this pre-season. If you’re running two premium rucks on the ground, then stop reading – you’re done and dusted. If you plan on rotating Big O and Giles through that second ruck spot, however, then you’ll want a heartbeat in that fourth ruck spot. Keep an eye during the NAB, then, on Richmond’s Tom Derrickx, Collingwood’s Jarrod Witt and Brisbane’s Billy Longer to see who’s most likely to earn a bow this year.
Thanks to those throwing up names that I missed in the midfield article on Wednesday (there’ll be plenty more here today, don’t worry). The major omissions were North Melbourne’s Sam Gibson (who somehow disappeared between the pencil scribbling and two-finger typing stages of preparing the post), Hawthorn’s Alex Woodward and Essendon’s Brendan Lee. All are definitely worthy of a place on your rookie radar tonight and on Sunday.