Many young footballers have talent, but sometimes talent alone is not enough. What they really need is opportunity. How often do we see gun sportsmen spend years waiting in the wings for established teammates to retire for them to have their chance to shine?
So, while injuries, player movement and retirements are not things we enjoy in sport, they do create such opportunities. Last season we saw Dayne Zorko pump out 4 straight weeks with a 131 point average after Tom Rockliff went down with injury… unfortunately leading to him being tagged by Ward (GWS) in Round 14…
So who is set to step up in 2018? Who will benefit from the misfortunes of a fellow teammate? Today we look at the first six clubs (in alphabetical order):
Injury: Taylor Walker (Foot (in mouth)) will miss at least Round 1.
Beneficiary: Darcy Fogarty won’t die wondering, dominating Tom Jonas in the first quarter of JLT2 to stake his claim to take Tex Walker’s forward spot for Round 1. Despite being only 18, he is a beast of a kid who can play defence and midfield and could hold his spot even with Walker’s return in Rounds 2-3.
Injury: Brodie Smith (Knee Reco).
Beneficiaries: Initially I thought Bryce Gibbs would be earmarked to take the rebounding defender role but he attended a lot of centre bounces during the JLT. Jake Kelly seemed to rack points with Smith’s (and Lever’s) absence. So does Gibbs feature in the midfield or defence and will he take points and midfield time away from Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch?
Departure: Charlie Cameron requested a trade to Brisbane at the end of 2017.
Beneficiaries: Jordan Gallucci was meant to take Cameron’s role as small forward but his foot injury has paved the way for Lachlan Murphy to play in his stead. With the Crows’ forward depth, his job security may not be as assured but signs were positive in the JLT. Just be aware that Gallucci did play in SANFL match simulation last weekend.
Departure: Jake Lever surprised everybody by trying to get closer to his home of Romsey, one of the few places more boring than Adelaide (just joking Adelaide folks).
Beneficiaries: The obvious beneficiary of Jake Lever’s departure is Zippity Do-Day, Tom Doedee, who lead the SANFL for intercept marks in his second year on the Crow’s list and is primed for AFL.
Departure: Tom Rockliff was the highly publicized departure of the off-season, finding his way to the Power.
Beneficiaries: The JLT was not the least bit helpful working out who would step up in Rockliff’s absence. Unfortunately Dane Beams didn’t play a game for personal reasons meaning we never received a glimpse of how the Lions will line up in the midfield. In JLT1 Rhys Mathieson looked to spend more time in the midfield but he didn’t feature in JLT2 during which the Lions seemed to run half their team through the midfield. In wet and muddy conditions, Lewis Taylor, Mitch Robinson, Tom Bell, Ryan Lester, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McLuggage all seemed to spend time in the midfield, but who will be there when the real business starts?
My personal opinion is that Mathieson and Taylor will lift their averages, but take that with a grain of salt!
The only guarantee I can give is that with Rocky gone, Dayne Zorko will collect possessions at will unless the taggers come knocking. Wet or dry, the man is a beast!
Departure: Josh Schache took his cardboard cut-out routine to the Bulldogs in the trade period.
Beneficiary: Everyone at Brisbane: The kid was wasting precious oxygen.
Injury: The Blues have a few injuries, but none are as devastating, or Supercoach relevant, as Sam Docherty (Knee).
Beneficiaries: We have all discussed ad nauseam who will replace Sam Docherty and after the preseason we are none the wiser. We all expect Kade Simpson to earn some extra points as the go-to man in the Blues defence and for Aaron Mullett, Cam O’Shea or Ciaran Byrne to step into a small defensive role but none have really put their hand up in the preseason. Instead Caleb Marchbank pushed further up the ground, especially in JLT1, but he could simply be a preseason trap.
Departure: There were a huge number of departures, mostly through delistings, but the one that overshadowed the rest was Bryce Gibbs although the Mick Malthouse haters will appreciate the delistings of Blaine Boekhorst and Kristian Jaksch: what was he thinking?
Beneficiaries: Matthew Kennedy could well get the coveted midfield time he desires, attending the second most centre bounces across the preseason for the Blues. However, as is fast becoming the norm, Bolton appeared to favour running many players through the midfield rather than simply swapping Bryce Gibbs with a single player. Expect Kennedy to share time with such players as Ed Curnow, Zac Fisher, Paddy Dow, Charlie Curnow, etc…
Injury: Unless you live under a rock with poor TV reception, you will know that Jordan De Goey (Hamstring and Stupidity) is the main out for the Pies to start the season.
Beneficiaries: The Pies first round draft pick, Jaidyn Stephenson, seems the likely recipient of early games to cover the injured De Goey. With De Goey likely to return early in the season, he may not last long enough to earn decent cash.
Delistings: I know he doesn’t seem relevant, but Bucks rated Jackson Ramsay as a rebounding defender until injury struck. His delisting (and injuries to Daniel Wells, James Aish, Tyson Goldsack, etc) opens the door for…
Beneficiaries: Sam Murray, the man plucked from Sydney’s NEAFL side with a second round draft pick. He tore it up in JLT2 and should be named for Round 1. For the record, Murray may have freed Taylor Adams up to return to the midfield, with Adams playing pure midfield in JLT2 when Murray played at half back.
Retirements: Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton have left quite a big hole in the Bombers midfield.
Beneficiaries: Jake Stringer (stop laughing), Andrew McGrath, Darcy Parish and Devon Smith have all been slated for more midfield time. Let’s face it, half the Bombers’ squad is expected to play midfield. After the JLT, Smith seems the most likely player to be SC relevant but don’t be surprised if Parish and McGrath improve rapidly across the season.
Also don’t be surprised if Zach Merrett takes his form to a new level to fill the void.
Departure: They were well-rewarded with Pick 2 for the trade of Lachie Weller to the Gold Coast and unsurprisingly, Weller’s replacement is…
Beneficiary: … Andrew Brayshaw. At this early stage Fremantle may have won this trade with Brayshaw likely to play midfield from game 1 after going tackle crazy in the JLT.
Injuries: With Stephen and Brad Hill struggling with leg injuries, the Dockers are missing a lot of outside leg-speed.
Beneficiaries: The Hill brothers aren’t particularly SC relevant but their absence will open room in the best 22 for Bailey Banfield (The trade of small forward, Hayden Crozier, will also help Banfield hold his spot). With no wingman available, Michael Walters, should also spend plenty of time running through the midfield early in the season.
Maybe Harley Bennell will show up some time this decade…
This article is based entirely on my biased outlook on the AFL and Supercoach so if you think I am wrong, or if you can think of any players I have missed, please let me know in the comments.
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