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Chook’s Rooks – Round 13

In Old School DT Week, I want to reminisce about the good old days when you could buy rookies for half of what you’ll pay for one Jon Patton bicep. Instead, it’s a couple of mature-agers – the new breed of first-year footballers – that have stolen the headlines.

I thought I’d keep it to just the one or two sentences this week, seeing as it’s Old School DT Week, and that’s how I used to roll way back in 2007, when, writing as Merv Gray, I would spruik “rookies” like Tom Hawkins and Aaron Edwards in a hundred words or less. Even by 2010, when we were faced with critical decisions such as whether to pick up then first-year players Tom Rockliff and James Podsiadly, I kept it to a short story.

Seriously, though, looking back through my rookie writings over the past six years, there’ve been some massive changes, but one of the constants is how redundant this post becomes at about this point of the season. A combination of downgrade targets drying up (I’ve got just a single one-gamer and only three in the two-game bracket this week) and coaches wanting/needing to conserve trades, having completed their teams ahead of the run towards finals, means there’s not a lot of interest in the rookie crop from here on in.

Lucky, then, that we’ve got blokes like Dayne Zorko knocking up premo-like scores to give me something to natter about.

Three-or-more gamers

In honour of Old School DT Week, I popped back to see how the kids of 2011 fared in round 13 to find that ridiculously huge scores were all the rage, with Hawthorn mid Shane Savage top of the pile with a 163-point game that ranked as the year’s best by a rookie-priced player. While Zorko’s 120-point performance last week won’t rank as the highest of 2012 – his 140 the previous round has that distinction to date – it added a whole heap of weight to the argument that he’s is capable of holding down an F7 position in most respectable Dream Teamers’ teams. I’m still not completely convinced, but it sure makes news like losing Scott Pendlebury for yet another week easier to swallow when you’ve got a back-up like that waiting in the wings.

While a few decent scores beforehand had forecast that Zorko might be of some help through the dreadful MBRs, a more surprising source of points during that three-week period was Western Bulldogs forward Tory Dickson, who added an 86 last week to his round-12 90. This after starting the season with a 37, 25 and four consecutive DNPs.

Wedged between Zorko’s round-best 120 and Dickson’s 86 were GWS trio Taylor Adams (93), Dylan Shiel (89) and Adam Treloar (89). It was a welcome return to form for Treloar after his round-12 21 made me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but, like teammates Devon Smith and Jon Giles, he still lost cash and will take a breakeven bigger than his average into round 14. A second consecutive low score puts Collingwood defender Marty Clarke in the same position – leaking cash and strapped with a big BE. That’s not a concern if you’ve got them locked in as season-long cinnamon (doughnut cover), but if you were thinking of selling some time soon, now would be your best bet. Clarke didn’t have the humiliation of producing the round’s lowest rookie score, of course, with promising Adelaide defender Sam Shaw doing his best substitute’s impression for a half before crawling to 21 points.

Two gamers

The pick of the two gamers is clearly upgraded North Melbourne mid Sam Gibson, even if the mature-aged recruit was squeezed into the green vest in round 12. The MBRs forced coaches’ hands a little with Gibson, with many bringing him in after just one or even zero games at the top level. If you’re not among the 30,000 who’ve jumped on the $85k Kangaroo already, then join us… it’s going to be a good ride. Outside of Gibson, the other rookie-priced players on the verge of their first price rise are GWS pair Jon Patton ($179,700, forward) and Mark Whiley ($104,200, defender). By all means “ooh” at the size of Patton already and “aah” at his powerful over-head marking, but don’t feel compelled to put him in your Dream Team. You’ve got to have something better to do with all that cash?

One gamers

Western Bulldogs ruckman Tom Campbell ($85,800) did very little wrong in his AFL debut, grabbing 70 points in an assured display for a youngster. It’s more the nature of his inclusion, filling in for first-choice ruckman Will Minson while he served his one-game suspension, and the competition for places in the Bulldogs’ ruck division (yes, even after they shipped off Ben Hudson last year) that makes Campbell a risky proposition. Still, some will regard the cash to be made from downgrading Orren Stephenson too tempting to ignore. In fact, that exact trade is proving the most popular one this week.

Hopefully you got your Warne Dawg on and milked enough cows over the MBRs to finance all your upgrades from here on in, because the downgrades look few and far between, shaggers.

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