Analysis: Loopholes & R3

Written by Gunboat Diplomacy on January 8 2024

The Death of the Loophole

A time honoured SC tradition: picking a basement priced player who isn’t going to play a single game, will allow you to facilitate the VC/C exploit and can save you a handy twenty grand. Those days are over. Lists have become increasingly shallow, high quality draftees are held back and developed over longer periods of time and the frequency of debutants has decreased. Couple this with modern wave of soft tissue injury and stringent suspension regimes, we’re getting less and rookies and less cash gen.

The need for max cash generation outweights the utility of a starting loophole. Within the first few weeks you’ll get one anyway through a rookie being dropped, rested or injured – in fact, probably more than one. We’ve also got a slew of early byes this season.

R3 has been the traditional home of the loophole but the aforementioned need for maximum cash generation, I’d argue, should extend to that R3 spot. There won’t be any R3 that starts but there’s a handful of guys who in the event of injury will slot right into the SC lucrative ruck job. Recall Pittonet, ROB and Preuss. The play is to have on of those guys already sitting at R3 and hope the ruck ahead of them goes down and *boom* they’re in, doing 80s, making bank.

To that end, there are three candidates:

#1) Jordon SWEET (PTA, $158.7k)

Sweet would be the most potent of the three were he to get a gig. Put up insane VFL numbers last year and was apparently averaging 200 SC on those loose calculations they do.

They’re saying him, Soldo and Visentini are duking it out to ruck in 2024 but as lovely as the spirited competition, raise each other up chatter is for the member’s emails, it’ll be Soldo to start. Port nabbed Sweet early in the Trade Period but then pursued Soldo to the death.

Sweet however could enter the side on SANFL form. Last year the Port panel showed a willingness to spin guys like Teakle and Hayes for Lycett (all of whom have departed) and have said they’d do as much this year. Accordingly, Sweet has two (albeit narrow) avenues to playing: a standard injury to the #1 ruck AND form.

The problem is, unlike the next two candidates that do you no real harm at 123k, Sweet is 158k. Tricky – and potentially the setting on fire of 30k if Sweet never gets a go.

Sam NAISMITH (RICH, $123.9k)

Next up, Naismith. A journeyman who’s never really been on a journey with just 24 games over 10 years. Soldo’s depature saw the Tigers grab Naismith late in the piece as a clear back up ruck to Nank. Nank, as we know, plays a crash and bash style and is thus prone to injury and suspension. Naismith’s superior is the most likely to go down of the three.

Kieran STRACHAN (ADEL, $123.9k)

The Crows have a habit of stowing away quality rucks and Strachan is from the old school. A traditional HO ruck with decent craft, he’s popped up just 5 times with never more than 2 games in a season. Some might remember him a few years ago covering for ROB for a fortnight where he valiantly notched up 25 HOs v Big Maxxy and then ripped a 120 the week after v Goldy – leaving him with a 100.5 average for 2021. ROB is very durable however, playing 18, 17, 20, 20 and 23 games since he became a mainstay.


It requires an initial cash outlay, and one that could become entirely useless, but the imperative to take maximum cash generation and play all the angles remains. We simply do not get enough rookies and cash as we used to. Having an R3, who will function as a loop early, potential come in and rattle off a quick 200k will be huge.

I’d have Strachan as the most consistent and batting to the most adept midfield but with probably the slimmest chance of playing. Of an identical traditional profile to ROB, so would have no problems emulating his scoring.

Plays: 5%, Scoring: 8/10

On pure injury replacement, Naismith is the most likely to play. Nank will do something ridiculous or get injured at some point; having played 9, 7, 16, 22 and 15 games over the last 5 seasons.

Plays: 25%, Scoring 5/10

Sweet has the dual avenue of playing through injury or form and does have the most tangible and recent form to go off – the obvious problem being your starting side will feel the chasm between 102k – 158k far more acutely than the one from just 102k – 123k.

Plays: 15%, Scoring 9/10


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11 thoughts on “Analysis: Loopholes & R3”

  1. Hi GD,

    I agree there isn’t going to be a need for a loophole at R3 this year. Too many byes and best 18’s in the first 6 rounds and by R7 there will be rookies dropped or rested.

    I would add one more ruckman to your list – Toby Conway from Geelong.

    I know he is 180k and that is a lot to have sitting at R3 but I think he is an absolute certainty to get games unless he is injured.

    I think it will be Stanley’s last year and Scott wants to get games into Conway with the aim of him being No 1 ruck in 2025. Ceglar is gone and other than Blicavs, there is no other ruck at the Cats.

    It is just a matter of when he gets the games, hopefully early on.



    1. G’day GD,

      I am going to the roll the dice on Ethan Read. I reckon the unicorn will notch up a few (hopefully more) matches with his ability to play a variety of positions and has a huge tank. Not cheap at $171k but worth the risk in my team.


  2. Just reminiscing to the days when we had 2 rookies for the ruck and it’s a big struggle to find just 1.


  3. Good work GD.

    100% on board with R3 not just being a rookie option, but a strong cash earner with low cost / high points. Plus bye back up that’s more important than ever.

    I’ll thinking it’s more likely than not that we will get one named in round 0/1. Who ever that is will be in my team.


    1. Really the only combo that makes sense is a pure loophole DPP 102k F/R and that gives you the extra for Jackson at F2 or F3 with the hope he stays F6 worthy by the end of the year.

      Given so many people are bullish on Flanders at F2 it’s quite structurally hard unless you’re going pretty thin defensively.

      Remember Jackson is a Walsh/Miller or Sheezel/Young priced player. If you want Flanders he’s probably starting at F1 for you. If you want him and Macrae (but no) Flanders and you probably miss out on Tingles or Bont or Daicos for a Gawn or Walsh or Young.


      1. Agree. Livingstone at WCE looks a good option for r3 with his dpp and c loop availability with round 4 his earliest game up to r11, and that is game 4. Plan would be to find a handily priced r/f to play forward before the mid season byes, but who… ??


  4. Happy New Year all.
    Just switching back over from the Shuddy-iiis-Enititard (?) sensationalism farce. (BBL).
    I see we’ve got more byes than a GD cruise…..well almost.
    Sometime soon I’ll submit a team for your wisdom and guidance, so have the tissues ready in preparation for those tears of laughter. So cheers all while I catch up on some decent reading. (Goss?)


  5. Nice work GD! I think I’m looking at Visentini as mine.. looks like the one that port want to be the long term #1 ruck,and looks to be really talented. If he has the pre season he should and starts to fill that big frame then he’ll be great. Other option is the three premium ruck thing with a dpp ruck fwd to help out. I’ve not had much of a chance to look at anything this year but I understand that the fwds are cooked yes? Good to see you fully invested again, the board is so much better for it!



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