Hello all, and welcome to the first of our Rookie Reviews for 2020. Massive shoutout to the legend that is Huttabito for the years of service he’s given to SCT as our resident rookie expert – I only hope I don’t fall flat on my face while I follow in his footsteps!
There’s bit of concern about the lack of viable rookies so far this year. But those of you who have been in this game for a while will know that this is pretty much an annual event, ever since the halcyon days of the Giants and Suns and their respective boatloads of draft picks. There are still three weeks until the opening bounce, and I’m willing to bet that the newbies are going to emerge from the shadows before too long….So how did they fare in the opening weekend of the pre-season?
For clarity, all players priced at or below the “Rowell line” of $207,300 are regarded as rookies. Allsaints will have more detailed stats on all the rookies and midpricers in the days to come…..
GAME 1: ST KILDA vs HAWTHORN
All eyes were on Max King ($123,900 fwd), pick 4 in the 2018 draft who is expected to spearhead the Saints’ attack this year. After bagging a major early on, Chips Frawley kept him pretty quiet and King could only manage 7 touches. His job security is very good though, and in a tricky forward line you can comfortably lock him in at F8 as a slow burner.
The pleasant surprise from this game was Hawks’ small defender Damon Greaves ($123,900 def), who was prolific in the WAFL last year. Greaves compiled 17 possessions at 70% efficiency, and did not look out of place at all alongside more experienced teammates. With the likes of James Sicily to return, it’s an uphill battle for Greaves to play round 1 but you should definitely keep tabs on him.
The only other rookie from this game was Matthew Walker ($123,900 fwd), who played limited game time and only managed 2 handballs.
GAME 2: NORTH MELBOURNE vs WESTERN BULLDOGS
Traded from GWS, the big-bodied midfielder Aiden Bonar ($202,800 mid/fwd) has attracted interest as a mature age rookie. There are some doubts about his endurance, but 76 points in 61% TOG was a great start to his life as a Shinboner. This included 8 tackles and 11 centre bounce attendances, although the caveat here is that neither Higgins nor Ziebell played in this game. Monitor in game 2.
With Tim English missing this game with concussion, ruck numbers should be treated with caution but Tristan Xerri ($123,900 ruc/fwd) showed a bit as backup ruck to Goldy. 11 touches, 24 hitouts and a couple of late goals boosted him to 98 points, and places him as an R3 candidate. His opposite number Jordon Sweet ($123,900 ruc) battled hard for his 73 points (13 touches and 25 hitouts), but wouldn’t be expected to line up when the real stuff starts.
I expected good things from Jack Mahony ($117,300 mid/fwd), but he disappointed with only 6 touches and 30 points in 69% TOG. Curtis Taylor ($123,900 fwd) was okay in limited game time with 33 points in 42% TOG from a goal and 8 possessions.
GAME 3: ADELAIDE vs MELBOURNE
Lots of fledgling Crows in this game, most of whom were promising rather than brilliant. Ned McHenry ($123,900 mid) has been a popular off-season pick, but only played the second half. He still managed to make 5 tackles for his 37 points, and should be watched to see if he gets more clock in game 2. Jordon Butts ($123,900 def) struggled at fullback at times but still managed 55 points, while Ben Davis ($123,900 fwd) and Tyson Stengle ($202,000 fwd) did some good things at the other end. SANFL superstar Patrick Wilson ($190,100 mid) had 14 possessions and a goal for his 59 points in 64% TOG, but will probably battle to crack the starting 22 again this season.
Billy Frampton ($165,400 fwd) made the move across town in the summer. He played predominantly forward in this game with some ruck time when ROB was having a rest, and managed 54 points from 11 touches and 20 hitouts. I have doubts about his job security owing to O’Brien being such a beast, but time will tell. Ben Crocker ($152,000 fwd) is the other one to watch, with the former Pie booting two majors and looking lively in his 59 point effort.
For the Dees, pick 3 Luke Jackson ($198,300 ruc) is clearly still finding his way in senior footy, and should be noted for future years. Melbourne’s other first round pick Kysaiah Kropinyeri-Pickett ($157,800 fwd) is an exciting prospect, but also the type of small forward to be avoided in Supercoach. 43 points in 70% TOG will be typical of his output this year.
Most impressive rook for the red and blue was Tom Sparrow ($182,500 fwd), who attended 17 centre bounces and had 17 possessions at an impressive 82% efficiency in only 60% TOG. It’s possible he will make way for Brayshaw, but he was far from being the Dees’ worst and has already had a year in the system to develop. Monitor.
GAME 4: GOLD COAST vs GEELONG
A team eager to impress up against a team having a training run, and the scoreboard reflected that. The lockiest of all rookie locks Matthew Rowell ($207,300 mid) played the way a number 1 pick should, racking up 20 possessions (15 contested) at 70% efficiency to go with seven tackles. An even ton in 67% TOG makes him a must for your starting lineup. The second pick Noah Anderson ($202,800 mid) is a different sort of player, but showed good signs in his 59 point effort, including a clever goal. He won’t be the consistent scorer that I expect Rowell to be, but he might still be worth the extra dough. Connor Budarick ($106,900 mid/fwd) put his hand up with 74 points from 14 possessions, playing a distributor role off halfback and also snapping a great goal. With DPP status and a rookie draft price tag, he deserves a place on your shortlist. Of the other Suns rookies, Jez McLennan ($123,900 def) was quiet with 36 points in 86% TOG, and Jeremy Sharp ($117,300 mid) showed off a powerful right boot but struggled overall with his disposal (33% efficiency, 16 points from 40% TOG).
The kittens in hoops were mostly irrelevant in this game. The more seasoned Zach Guthrie ($190,100 def) had 11 touches and 5 tackles in his 59, and unfortunately was probably the best of them. Cooper Stephens ($139,800 mid) has been hyped and attended 8 centre bounces in the second half, but mostly looked out of his depth at this stage in his 21 points. Brad Close ($109,900 mid/fwd) did some nice things in the first half including 8 contested possessions, but must have questionable job security. Jacob Kennerley ($123,900 def) might be one to watch after he showed some spark in the second half. 13 touches for his 34 points in 49% TOG.
GAME 5: BRISBANE vs PORT ADELAIDE
Draft bolter Mitch Georgiades ($130,800 fwd) has been talked up by the Power coaching staff during the off-season, and showed promise in the first half for his 35 points from 49% TOG. Straighter kicking in front of goal would have boosted that score even further, and he is one to watch in game 2. Tobin Cox ($123,900 fwd) was the other Power rookie in this game, but was unimpressive in compiling 24 points from 62% TOG.
None of the four Brisbane rookies in this game spent much time on the field, but Brandon Starcevich ($147,700) made the most of his with 40 points in 45% TOG, and should be enough to get the popular defender more time in game 2. Connor Ballenden ($123,900 fwd), Ely Smith ($123,900 mid/fwd) and Conner McFadyen ($123,900 fwd) all look to be on the outer at the Lions at this stage.
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