- I have always thought coaches have some insight into football that we plebs lack, but I am starting to realize that many of them are simply lemmings. Remember that delightful 90s game where the stupid rodents follow the leader anywhere, even to a certain death?
If you don’t, you’re young and I hate you!
“Clarko runs two rucks, maybe I should too,” the lemming coaches think, not understanding that stars like Max Gawn or Todd Goldstein don’t need back-up. They are not in the same league as honest battlers like Ceglar or McEvoy.
And so, in the 2017 pre-season we see most teams experimenting with multiple rucks while we, the Supercoaches, become increasingly nervous.
For that reason, I’ve looked at the premium rucks below and where available, I’ve added their statistics from the 2016 matches in which they shared the ruck role. Unfortunately I can shed little light on Adelaide and Melbourne as they did not play multiple rucks even once in 2016.
Let’s hope they continue that trend!
SAM JACOBS (Ade) $472,000
2016 SC Average: 86.75
2016 Games: 22 (including 2 finals).
2016 Statistics: 15 possessions, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 32 hit-outs at 28.75% HO Adv.
2016 Goals: 8
2016 Average as sole ruckman: 86.75 points
2016 Average as shared ruck: NA
After hitting a high of 115 points in 2014, Jacobs’ average dropped to 107 points in 2015 and 86.75 points in 2016. The first drop in 2015 was a direct result of the change in scoring rules for ruckman, the second was due to a drop in his hit-out to advantage ratio to below 30% with the departure of Patrick Dangerfield. He also lost a few points as a result of a first quarter injury in Round 19, 2016 when he was on 26 points.
In the past five years, Jacobs’ scores have cycled up and down and many coaches have presumed Jacobs’ scores will jump again but a return to 100+ scores seems unlikely until the Crows’ midfield improves.
STEFAN MARTIN (Bri) $488,000
2016 SC Average: 89.7
2016 Games: 20
2016 Statistics: 17 possessions, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 28 hit-outs at 30.4% HO Adv.
2016 Goals: 5
2016 Average as sole ruckman: 100.3
2016 Average rucking with Trent West/Archie Smith: 56.4
It was a year to forget for Martin. He started the year with a knee problem but despite that he still averaged 102 points per match over the first three rounds facing Natanui, Goldstein and the Geelong ruck crew. Then he met Steve May’s shoulder in Round 4 and he, and his scores, fell hard.
Struggling with the after-effects of concussion between Round 4 and 8 he averaged 83.2 points per match and from Round 9-12 he shared ruck duties with Trent West during which time he scored 47, 40, 69 and 56. Ouch!
For the coaches who held him, he then rediscovered his old form, averaging 106 points per match for the final 8 matches. The only poor score in that time was when he shared ruck duties with Archie Smith in Round 21 (a 70!)
So, the moral of the story for Martin is: Single ruck = Good, Shared ruck = Run away.
BRODIE GRUNDY (Col) $520,500
2016 SC Average: 95.67
2016 Games: 21
2016 Statistics: 18 possessions, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 26 hit-outs at 28.4% HO Adv.
2016 Goals: 11
2016 Average as sole ruckman: 102.7
2016 Average as shared ruckman: 88.6
A virus late in the 2016 preseason meant Grundy played in the VFL in Round 1 but he made an immediate impact on his return, kicking the winning goal against the Tigers in Round 2. His form plateaued for weeks, with Grundy relying on his form around the ground to score points as he shared the ruck role with Cox.
This all changed when Cox’s form dropped off in Rounds 14 and 15 and Grundy became the Pies’ sole ruckman from Round 16 until season’s end (except Round 20). In that time Grundy increased his hit-outs per match from 21.61 to 33.4, the only match he didn’t record over 28 hit-outs being Round 20 when Mason Cox returned to the senior side for a single match. Not only did Grundy win more hit-outs as sole ruckman, he also averaged 21 possessions per match compared with 17 per match in his other 13 matches when he shared the ruck work with Dr Cox.
Like Martin, Grundy really needs to ruck alone to guarantee success as a Supercoach ruckman, although given his age he probably has more upside than Martin.
AARON SANDILANDS (Fre) $308,200
2016 SC Average: 70.8
2016 Games: 5
2016 Statistics: 8 disposals, 2 marks, 2 tackles, 29 hit-outs at 31.7%
2015 Statistics: 12 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 44 hit-outs
2016 Goals: 0 (9 goals in 2015)
2016 Average as Sole Ruckman (2 matches): 127.5
2016 Average as Shared ruck: 105.4
Like Stefan Martin, Sandilands did not enjoy 2016. He missed Round 1 through suspension, had a massive 48 hit-outs at 108 SC points in Round 2 and then had his ribs smashed through his lungs by a NicNat Knee on 27 points in Round 3.
He returned for three games late in the year but he lacked fitness and suffered a glute injury in one of the three matches.
Compared with 2015, his hit-outs dropped from 44 to 29 per match and he recorded 4 less possessions per match.
The good news is that Sandilands shared ruck duties with Griffin and Clarke for all but 2 matches in 2015, his last full year, and still averaged 105 points. An interesting fact is that he averaged 94 points playing with Clarke in 13 matches and 124 points playing with Griffin in 7 matches.
Guess who’s injured?
That’s right, Clarke is out for half the season which can only help 211.
MAX GAWN (Mel) $645,000
2016 SC Average: 118.55
2016 Games: 22
2016 Statistics: 14 possessions, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 42 hit-outs at 33.4% HO Adv
2016 Goals: 16
2016 Average as sole ruckman: 118.55 points
2016 Average as shared ruck: NA
Unfortunately Melbourne’s ruck department set-up is an unknown in 2017. In interviews Max Gawn has indicated that he thinks Goodwin prefers two ruckman, with Jake Spencer (baby-beard) sharing the role. Gawn did not share the ruck job even once in 2016 so who knows what this will do to his scoring.
So far in the preseason, Gawn has scored well as a forward-ruck but will this continue in the regular season when Melbourne is not so dominant?
Fingers crossed Spencer doesn’t line up for the Dees in Round 1 but if he does, can we afford to risk selecting Maxy?
TODD GOLDSTEIN (NM) $588,400
2016 SC Average: 108.14
2016 Games: 21
2016 Statistics: 12 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 44 hit-outs at 30.9% HO Adv
2016 Goals: 18
2016 Average as Sole Ruckman: 113
2016 Average as Shared ruck: 98.9 from 8 matches
Goldstein started off pretty strongly with eight scores over 100 in the first ten rounds and an average of 118 points per match. However he struggled with a knee injury from mid-year, missing a match in Round 11. He remained relatively competitive following the injury but only recorded another four scores over 100 points from the remaining eleven regular season matches for an average of 99 points per match.
As noted above, Goldstein shared 7 matches with Majak Daw and scored less than his average but this seems more related to his knee trouble than the shared ruck role.
Of all the ruckman, Goldstein seems one of the most capable scorers when sharing the ruck role.
Maybe that’s because he was sharing with Majak?
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