For the final time this preseason, Thommo reviews a team’s list. He’s done such an incredible job with these I’ve already elevated him into the SCT Hall of Fame for Services To The Site. Congratulations mate and thank you once again.
Gazing in to my crystal ball, I see a tough year ahead for West Coast. With a list that is strong but not spectacular, it seems unlikely that the Eagles will be able to match up with the big boys, let alone cope with the injuries and interrupted preseasons suffered by core players Mackenzie, Schofield and Darling (not to mention Selwood and Brown). If the middle rung players stand up they could push for 7-8 spot, but it seems likely West Coast will just miss out on the top eight.
The good news is that Simpson is likely to get games into young players like Yeo, Lamb and Sheed. The bad news is that nobody really knows how he will structure his team. To be honest, at times last year, it seemed like even Simpson didn’t know where to play his stars.
If any West Coast members can help out with tips on how they think Gaff, Yeo, Sheppard and Masten will be used, feel free to correct me!
Round 13 bye shared with Geelong, GWS, Melbourne, North Melbourne and Port Adelaide.
Shannon Hurn (DEF, Av 87, 18 games, $467,300). If not for his injury affected score of 7 in Round 2, Hurn would have averaged 92 in 2014. He never wins a lot of the ball, with 20 possessions in only 10 of his 18 games, but due to his beautiful delivery and kick-to-handball ratio of 3.0 he scores well anyway. Just don’t expect consistent scores with no back-to-back tonnes in 2014.
Verdict: Slightly underpriced so may be worth a shot with rubbish defenders this year.
Chris Masten (MID, Av 85, 21 games, $454,100). Do you want to be different? Masten has killed in the preseason (1.5 points per minute) but who knows what will happen when the real business starts? He averaged 97 as an inside mid in 2013 but as an outside mid he dropped to 85 in 2014. So what has Simpson got planned for his midfield in 2015?
Verdict: Big risk, but could surprise if Simpson puts him back in the middle.
Nic Naitanui (RUCK, Av 91, 20 games, $488,300). Last year Simpson said Naitanui is likely to require managing for the rest of his career, but after one good preseason Supercoaches were jumping on the bandwagon. One hamstring strain later and most of us have jumped off again. In his last full season in 2012, Naitanui averaged 114 in Supercoach on the back of a 77% contested possession rate and one goal per game. Now that Cox has retired, Naitanui will spend more time in the centre and if he remains healthy he will definitely average over 100.
Verdict: He’s cheap but with no ruck bench options, he’s a massive risk!
Matt Priddis (MID, Av 113, 22 games, $606,200). A durable, under-rated gun who deserved his Brownlow for pure hard work. He was my M5 last year and I particularly enjoyed his form from round 6 onwards where he only dropped below 100 on 3 occasions. Priddis has a standard deviation that would excite any statistician but he comes at a high price this yearand is not likely to improve on his average.
Verdict: If you want a guaranteed 110 points per game, Priddis is your man.
Scott Selwood (MID, Av 81, 12 games, $433,100). Selwood didn’t tag much last year yet his form tapered off badly as a result of an ankle injury in Round 3, dropping his average from 104 (2012 and 2013) to 81 points per game before he finally had surgery in Round 12. Further surgery in December interrupted his preseason but he did manage to play NAB 3 and looked great against Fremantle.
Verdict: A brief preseason concerns me but 117 points from 63% TOG in NAB 3 makes you think.
Luke Shuey (MID, Av. 100, 20 games, $538,000). Shuey has rarely rated a mention this year as he has a reputation as being a flat-track bully. But to be fair, despite being tagged most weeks he managed to increase his average from 91 to 100points per week in 2014. He started 2014 slowly with only 3 centuries in the first 9 weeks but came home strongly with 7 from the last 11 games, during which time he never dropped below 80. His preseason has also been strong, playing all 3 games and scoring at 1.17 points per minute.
Verdict: A point of difference and likely to improve with so many taggers injured!
Andrew Gaff (MID, Av 88, 22 games, $472,300). After a poor 2013, Gaff returned to his 2012 form last year, again averaging 24 possessions per game. He has excelled this preseason with games of 26, 22 and 27 possessions so he should continue where he left off last year. Given he is an outside player he is not a big tackler and wins few contested possessions (26% in 2014) so he relies on a good efficiency rating to score well. Since he is so damaging with his running game expect him to cop some attention most weeks even though Shuey is likely to receive the main tag.
Verdict: May improve mildly in his fifth season but too much of an outside player for Supercoach.
Scott Lycett (FWD/RUCK, Av. 78, 12 games, $418,400). Simpson thought three rucks in the best 22 was a good idea last year, so despite being third in the ruck pecking order Lycett managed 12 games, the most he’s managed in a season to date. Sharing minutes reduced his output slightly and gave him dual position status this year. In his 6 WAFL games he averaged 16 disposals, 6 marks, 2 goals, 2 tackles and 19 hitouts per game so he can score big even as a forward. Unfortunately it was hard to judge how he will score with Naitanui this year considering they only played together in one NAB game. Lycett did manage to score at 1 point per minute, so he may be a good mid-priced option for the courageous.
Verdict: Tough call. If Naitanui goes down, Lycett will dominate.
Brad Sheppard (DEF, Av. 67, 14 games, $359,400). A good defender, Sheppard never really scored well, averaging over 20 possessions only once in 14 games. This preseason he started well, scoring an 89 in NAB 1 and 116 in NAB 2 but when given more of a lock down role in NAB 3 he only managed 40 points from 78% game time.
Verdict: He’ll improve but seems likely to be up and down dependent on his role.
Elliot Yeo (DEF/MID, Av. 66, 13 games, $353,500). Taking out Yeo’s injury effected game in Round 13 and green vest in Round 23 he averaged 74 in 2014 with quite a low standard deviation. With his ability to win the contested ball and the natural improvement likely in his fourth year, Yeo should take his average up to at least 80 this year. His preseason has been decent, scoring at 0.8 points per minute.
Verdict: If you have no other defensive options, Yeo may be worth a shot.
Tom Lamb (FWD, $117,300). With his elite fitness and ability to win a contested possession (40%+ in junior footy) Lamb has stepped straight into the Eagles’ senior side in the absence of Schofield, Brown and Darling. As a junior he played forward but can play on a wing if necessary. He didn’t score overly well in the preseason but did manage to score at 0.76 points per minute so he may score better than expected if he gets full games. His hair also makes him easy to spot on the field.
Verdict: As he’s likely to be best 22 in Round 1, he is the perfect bench forward.
Dom Sheed (MID, Av. 40, 10 games, $214,500). Six green vests in ten games meant that Sheed only averaged 64 minutes per game, but even when he did play a full game he failed to trouble the scorer with a maximum score of 64 all year. He performed better at East Perth with 20+ possessions in 9 of 11 games. This preseason he has scored at the decent rate of 1.04 points per game but never played more than 70% of game time.
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