In the early days of the AFL’s great expansion experiment, we were spoilt for choice when it came to Supercoach cash cows. The much-loved Gun’s ‘n’ Rookies was the only strategy in town, and everyone’s team was inevitably loaded with cheap Suns and Giants – the main question being when was the right time to offload and upgrade.
In recent years, the well has dried up and we’ve had to become a lot more selective with our rookie selections. Aside from questions about ruck setup, I have to say that consternation about the availability of the rooks is the dominant issue on this site for the past few seasons and 2021 looks to be no different. The weekend’s scratch matches weren’t much help in this regard either. For example, Lions recruit Nakia Cockatoo is the most popular selection at 59% ownership but has yet to be sighted this pre-season, while other popular cheapies that are seemingly on the outer include Will Gould (52%), Will Phillips (43%) and Luke Valente (35%). If the regulation cows don’t come home, we’ll be forced to look further afield and perhaps pay a little bit extra up front for our cash generation: enter the “Premium” Rookies. Here’s a recap of their weekend efforts….
Jack ZIEBELL (NTH, $257 900 fwd) – North were well beaten and Ziebell played in defence – two excellent signs for his Supercoach relevance. Jack took a bunch of kick-ins and roamed around the defensive 50 for the Roos and averaged 91 only two years ago…
VERDICT: If Ziebell plays well against the Hawks on Saturday, lock him in. Experienced, proven scorer with a friendly role.
Joe DANIHER (BRL, $233 300 fwd) – Booted four majors against the Suns and by all accounts moved extremely well. The question with Joe will always be how long can he sustain that sort of performance for, having missed 46 games in his past three seasons….
VERDICT: Brave pick, but if he kicks a couple of bags early on you’ll be laughing. The Lions have Sydney, Collingwood and Essendon at home in the first five rounds.
Jarman IMPEY (HAW, $212 800 fwd) – Played a similar role to Ziebell apparently (without the kick ins), using run and carry to rebound the Hawks out of defence. He should have plenty of work to do this year, but can he stay on the field?
VERDICT: Scoring history is not encouraging, neither is his injury history. Are there enough regulation rookies available in the forward line that you can get away with not having Jarman?
Orazio FANTASIA (PTA, $271 800 def/fwd) – Kicked a few goals against an understrength Crows side, and generally looked zippy in new colours. Very much a forward pocket role though.
VERDICT: It’s a solid no from me. Hope he has a good season though.
Jordan CLARK (GEE, $241 800 def/mid) – Played primarily as a small defender in his rookie year in 2019 and was barely sighted in 2020, however by all accounts he was impressive playing on a wing against the Pies on Friday. Huge warning though that both Mitch Duncan and Isaac Smith – both first-string wingers – were unavailable for this game.
VERDICT: Job security just isn’t there at this price, especially after he could only manage three games last year.
Lachie YOUNG (NTH, $202 000 def/mid) – He’s gathered a bit of interest after moving across from the Dogs and bringing DPP status with him, but a non-descript effort in a well-beaten side isn’t going to stoke any fires.
Hayden YOUNG (FRE, $279 400 def) – A top 10 draft pick who looked a million bucks last year before his season was abruptly ended by the dreaded syndesmosis. Classic halfback flanker with a raking left boot who can push up on to the wing if necessary, but also tall enough to stand a defensive post. The only concern is price tag – is there enough room to grow to make him a viable cow?
VERDICT: With rookie defenders rarer than rocking horse manure, Young might find a home at D4 in quite a few sides, especially if he turns in another good effort against the Eagles on Sunday.
Paddy DOW (CAR, $202 400 mid/fwd) – The big mover among this group, Dow was dynamic in the Blues’ scratch match against the Bombers, kicking a couple of goals and attending lots of centre bounces. But can Carlton fit him into their midfield rotation alongside Cripps, Walsh, Curnow, Williams, Setterfield, Murphy, Martin….
VERDICT: Forward status helps a lot, but Paddy has spent his three years in the league thus far promising much and delivering little. Is this his breakout year?
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