The Talking Point: Late Withdrawals
Popular fantasy selections Sam Mitchell, Lance Franklin and Jonathon Griffin were all late withdrawals from their matches over the weekend, causing grief to DT coaches whose bench cover may be looking a little slim at this late stage of the season.
Popular fantasy selections Sam Mitchell, Lance Franklin and Jonathon Griffin were all late withdrawals from their respective matches over the weekend, causing grief to DT coaches whose bench cover may be looking a little slim at this late stage of the season.
Conversely, those coaches who have been clever or lucky enough to carry solid cover into DT finals will have reaped the rewards – possibly the difference between a league win or being left wondering what on earth you’re going to do until Easter of next year.
While the importance of bench coverage should never be underestimated, it can get a bit frustrating when a club has no intention of playing a certain player, take Sam Mitchell for example, yet name him on Thursday only for him to be a late withdrawal after lockout is in effect.
Given the Hawks knew that he would not play on Sunday, it is disappointing for DT coaches and footy fans that they would initially just select him to play anyway. It wasn’t as though Hawthorn needed to play any mind-games in order to get the win against the Suns.
The late withdrawal of Jonathon Griffin also sparked controversy, in that it was suspected by some that the late inclusion of Aaron Sandilands was conspired by the Dockers, giving them the leg-up over the Tigers in relation to match preparation.
Though the AFL today declared the Dockers innocent of any wrong-doing, Damien Hardwick is not alone in wondering why you would name one of the most dominant players in the competition as an emergency if he is fit to play, regardless of how impressive Griffin has been.
Unfortunately for DT coaches and the integrity of team selection, it is very difficult to prove whether or not a player’s late withdrawal was planned, as most AFL players would at least carry some niggle that the late withdrawal can be attributed to.
Though the Dockers are certainly not the only club that could be accused of using the late withdrawal system as a strategic implement, the AFL quickly dismissing them of any wrong-doing will certainly not make clubs hesitant of playing mind games with team selection in the future.
Therefore, it is important not to fall into a false sense of security and declare yourself donut-proof, just because you have a few trades up your sleeve and 22 players on the field with a green light next to their name.
In future fantasy years, it could be favourable to adopt a more secure trading strategy, particularly in the lead-up to the end of the season.
There could be greater benefit in trading out a non-playing bench warmer for a middle-tier coverage option, instead of making a half-assed upgrade or trading out a player who will only miss one or two weeks.
Whether we like it or not, late withdrawals will continue to plague our Dream Teams as long as the AFL allow it to.
Any questions or discussion via twitter @tomcraigie