Rucking Hell!

Written by Thommo on March 8 2017

  • 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!

Big Sauce and his people.

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

2016 Form

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.

Stef getting ready for his next meeting with Steven May…

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

2016 Form

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.

What the…?

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

2016 Form

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.

Sandilands post drive-by.


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

2016 Form

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.

Weird without the beard!

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

2016 Form

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?

It doesn’t always pay to be tall…


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

2016 Form

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?

Which 2 ruckman are you starting with in 2017? (2 choices)

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30 thoughts on “Rucking Hell!”

  1. Good job Thommo – let’s hope coaches read SCT, and realise they’re really hurting themselves (as well as us) by hindering what is possibly their best asset.

    Comment on Majak – hard but true.


    1. Yeah, playing a ruckman for the sake of having 2 seems like a poor choice if the second ruckman can’t play forward effectively. Majak looks impressive but just doesn’t impact a game enough.


  2. Nice insight into the Ruck quandary Thommo.

    The fact that Fyfe is back perhaps makes the case for 211 a bit more compelling particularly if Spencer ends up playing Round 1 as you say.


    1. Even if Spencer plays R1, I don’t think he’ll last long. Not sure what the alternative is – maybe Watts, Pederson, Sam Frost or OMac – but don’t think Spencer will hold a spot down.


      1. Spencer can’t play the forward role yet. Until he learns that, he’s unlikely to share a ruck role with Gawn. I’m expecting him to just fill in when Gawn is rested or is injured. The Dees have been missing a backup ruck for too long, it’s nice to have one! 🙂


      2. I am hoping the Spencer experiment won’t last so Gawn remains at R1 for me. There’s going to be some crazy reshuffling when the teams are announced!


  3. Nankervis also deserves a solid look, although he is currently in my forwards.

    With Hampson still out and Maric more a coaching role, Nankervis looks like getting a fair chance of sole ruckman duties.

    Should see enough of it until the true situation is clear.

    With North possibly going to run 2 or all 3 of Goldstein/Preuss/Daw I cannot see ANY clear single ruck options this year.

    Cox looks too good to leave out for Collingwood and should easily take Jesse White’s forward post.

    Not even Jacobs can ensure solo ruck either.


    1. I left Nankervis out simply due to the lack of past data. If you’re picking him it’s based on his pre-season and a possible break-out year.

      For what it is worth, he’s F4 for me currently.


    2. I’ve been testing the waters with him at F3 or 4 (my forwards line isn’t very strong this year). I don’t mind it but he does make me nervous that he’ll just tread water with his price. I also currently have Roughy so 2 mid-price forwards looks all kinds of wrong!


      1. You’d think he’ll average mid-80s even sharing the ruck role and maybe become bench cover late in the season.


  4. Great review Thommo, thanks for putting even more doubt on my ruck selections, I thought Gawn was a safe bet until reading this.


  5. I’ve slowly been going off Gawn. I’m really thinking of running a Sandi/Nankervis combo and upgrading later


      1. The Nankilands express passes through Grey hair Forest, overlooks the Lake of Tears and pulls in at Heart Attack City about Round 5.



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