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Chook’s Rooks – Round 14

Chook reveals his undying love for Survivor host Jeff Probst and, just for something different, eventually gets around to discussing rookies, too.

The challenges are edge-of-your-seat excitement, the in-camp banter and Tribal Council back-stabbings are endlessly intriguing and the fact that there are always a smattering of super-hot babes in skimpy outfits doesn’t hurt either, but one of my favourite bits of Survivor is the catchphrases that host Jeff Probst has cultivated over the years, hell, decades. If the forever-tanned fifty-year-old hadn’t signed on to do his own talk show this year, I’d have snapped him up to do the voice-overs for my Dream Team. I mean, how perfect would “The tribe has spoken. It’s time for you to go” be whenever you rage trade out an under-performing mid-pricer. Or his pre-challenge call of “Come on in, guys” when you bring in a couple of rolled-gold premiums. “You guys ready to get to your next challenge” would be suitable on the eve of the dreaded multi-bye rounds, while “once again, immunity is back up for grabs” could be used on a Friday night when you’re giving your rookies one more chance to impress before deciding whether to trade their arse on Monday.

The one Probst catchphrase you don’t want to hear during the Dream Team season, though, is the one that the khaki-clad host delivers just after handing over a reward to the winning tribe. He turns to the opposing team and says: “[Insert tribe name here], I’ve got nothing for ya.” In DT, that time comes when the rookie well runs dry and the downgrade targets vanish quicker than a hidden immunity idol disappears into the side pocket of some guy’s cargo shorts. While I’m not at the “I’ve got nothing for ya” stage quite yet, it’s getting pretty close.

Sure, there were six rookie-priced debutants in round 14 – a surprisingly high number given that it was one of the few occasions this season when the fresh-meat factory at Greater Western Sydney gave us doughnuts – but few if any of that six are likely to play much of a role in your quest for a million bucks, er, an FJ Cruiser this year. Western Bulldogs ruckman Tom Campbell leads the two-game bracket, but more about him and the debutants further down. For now, let’s have a look at how their more experienced peers fared in the first full round since round 10.

 Three-or-more gamers

Eighty-three players who started the season at a rookie price have played three or more games by now, with North Melbourne midfielder Sam Gibson the highest scoring of those in round 14 with 110 handy points. A substitute’s vest in round 13 and subsequent score of just 17 has capped his first price rise at $54k, but he’s in most teams for season-long bench cover now, not cash generation, and he got the chance to step on to the field with plenty of coaches missing Scott Pendlebury from their midfields last week. Collingwood rookie forward Jamie Elliott did the same for coaches with Geelong mid-fwd Paul Chapman, a late withdrawal from Friday’s game, racking up 95 points to cover the angry bald one. He could keep his spot on the field for a fortnight, with Hawthorn forward Buddy Franklin set to sit out a couple. Wedged between those two at the pointy end of the scoring chart was Port Adelaide defender Andrew Moore, but only 3000 coaches benefitted from his 99-point haul. GWS trio Toby Greene (mid), Jon Giles (ruck) and Adam Treloar (mid-fwd) all chalked up 80+ scores yet again and also loom as strong bench cover for the remainder of the season if they survived when you culled Giants from your team before their bye round a month ago. One formerly high-flying GWS kid who you can’t fall back on anymore, well, not for the next three-to-four weeks at least, is midfielder Dylan Shiel, who will be rested with a foot strain.

The big bombs of round 14 were mid-fwds Alex Sexton, of Gold Coast, and Adam Kennedy, of GWS, as well as Adelaide defender Sam Shaw. Sexton scored 14 before being subbed out and is gone for the season, having been booked in for hip surgery. I figure dual-positionality is the only reason Kennedy is still in 50,000 teams and it could be what saves Sexton from getting booted left, right and centre too. For the record, Kennedy’s score of 16 was his first in five weeks, and was exactly 100 less than the total he scored against Sydney the first time around, in round one. How long ago must that seem now? Just a fortnight seems an age for owners of Shaw, who has endured two shocking weeks of DT scoring, although it should be noted that the first of those was impacted by injury. With Goddard out this week, I for one am desperately hoping that Shaw returns to high 60s scoring and, more importantly, hasn’t squandered his spot in the Crows line-up.

Two gamers

After keeping his place last week despite the return of first-choice ruckman Will Minson, Western Bulldogs tall Tom Campbell has become a popular downgrade target for those looking to offload fellow rookie rucks Orren Stephenson and Jarrad Redden. It’s unclear how long Brendan McCartney will persevere with both Minson and Campbell in his line-up, but I’d check the team sheets tomorrow before loading up. The other two in this bracket are Gold Coast forward Liam Patrick ($173,100) and teammate Taylor Hine (defender, $104,200). While Patrick’s scores of 78 and 58 – the second in a drubbing from West Coast – have been okay, his high price tag rules him out of contention, while scoring power is the problem for Hine, who has notched 56 and 36 so far.

One gamers

Eight tackles helped put Geelong first-game forward Jordan Murdoch ($98,700) on par with DT Hall-of-Famer Jimmy Bartel on 88 points, but even his high scoring rate was exceeded by West Coast mid Murray Newman ($98,700), whose 65 points came in less than half a match, albeit against a compliant Gold Coast outfit. Collingwood mid Caolan Mooney ($85,800, 16 points) also copped a subs vest in his first run around at AFL level, but Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer ($104,200), Port Adelaide defender Thomas Jonas ($137,300) and Richmond forward Todd Elton ($98,700) all had full game time to get to 50, 42 and 34 respectively. Monitor Murdoch and Newman by all means, but I don’t see too many chances for them this season.

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