Starting Rucks In 2021

Written by Motts on February 1 2021

The optimum is Gawn and Grundy of course but $1.4m is a HELL of a lot of money.

It sure makes a difference to your team in the other positions if you go cheaper in the rucks. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go.

The question then is: will you have to pay through the nose to get Gawn and/or Grundy in later?

In the immortal words of Jeff Probst, “it’s time to vote”.

2021 Starting Rucks

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52 thoughts on “Starting Rucks In 2021”

    1. I am with you 100% bAps.
      I also experimented with the rucks and it was a total disaster. Not only did it limit your captain scores but trying to generate enough cash to get them in was problematic. Injuries needed replacing became a priority and it just became so frustrating. Not going through that again.
      This year set and forget


  1. I wonder if anyone is tempted to give Stef Martin a shot at his new club of the Bulldogs. Coming off a injury ridden 2020 at the Lions he is now partnered with English in the ruck and is only 272k.

    Being 272k he acts a risky midpricer and hard to replace if he fails, but shows he can average 90+ through the years of 2014-2019


    1. The dogs will want to get as much ruck time into English as they can, so I don’t think Stef will get a heap of games/minutes.


    2. Actually not a bad idea. Stef will definitely get more game time than any other rookie ruck, but would you gamble the 100k to bench him hoping he will go up in price?


    3. That’s exactly why you shouldn’t pick him, he’s sharing the ruck work with English- Big O McInerney from Brisbane would be a better choice, showed some serious talent last year and will be the main ruck with stef gone. Great middle priced choice to complement a Gawn or Grundy


  2. Doing the grundy / gawn thing, they’re my Captain options.
    Find it more curious how many are fitting in Neale, Grundy, Gawn and Lloyd.

    Tried all 4 and was quite a chunk of change.


        1. Start the Fab Four… and you will sleep well at nights.

          2020 I had all 4. Season stopped round 1, then restarted again in round 2 with extra trades I got rid of Gawn, Neale and Lloyd to free up money thinking footy will be cancelled down the road. It didn’t, I had nightmares going up against teams with the Fab Four. Buy and throw away the key and sleep well with happy dreams.


    1. But it is a very worthwhile choice. It gives you great flexibility for timing of captains and vice captains.

      Plus, of course, the forwards basically all suck.

      You can normally afford about 12-13 premiums.

      Choosing the top 2 rucks and 2 absolute top of their position players makes sense, unless we see some real big performances from Preuss (or some real bad signs from Grawndy)


      1. I always find it an interesting trade off. (I’m looking at the extreme cases here to highlight it)

        12 keepers means 10 upgrades but you won’t have to chase the expensive ones and you may have better cash gen as you have more rookies.

        14 keepers you need less upgrades but you have to chase the expensive ones and you have less rookies for cash gen.


        1. In any season if you could retrospectively go back and cull two of your rookies, two of your uber-premos, and pick 4 ordinary priced premiums you would be in front.

          But the problem there would be your odds of actually picking the correct ones without the benefit of hindsight.

          I’m certainly not saying you can’t win out, but it is more difficult.

          This year with one monster bye might even be a good year to spread the risk around more, because it’s looking almost impossible to avoid round 14 disaster.


  3. I’ve got Preuss at the moment on the thinking that he will surely outpace his price by some distance and provide some return when he’s eventually traded in. I’m also not certain Grundy is the second best ruck, so having Preuss for 8-10 rounds will give me some better data to work with when making my final decision.


    1. Grundy without the clearance work of Treloar, and the current Collingwood intrigue certainly gives me second thoughts about how I can maximise value in my team.

      But the problem with those big 4 is once they’re not the lynchpins of your team it gets very hard to find a way to get them back in.


    1. There is a few caveats on that “superiority”.

      Firstly, ROB. Finished the season with 141, 105,101, 129
      Grundy’s last 4? 127, 104, 105, 122.

      And if you go back to their last 8 regular season matches, Nic Nat wipes the floor with all of them (as Gawny missed 3 non bye rounds he should have played).


      Secondly, Treloar gone means Grundy’s HTA figures should drop. By comparison, I expect improvement in the Adelaide midfield.

      Thirdly, if we’re gonna have another Covid affected season I doubt we’ll see drastic improvement from Grundy, in fact it’ll probably be worse. Nor will the Collingwood kerfuffle help.

      As far as Gawn goes there is ALWAYS injury risk. He’s clearly the standout ruck by a large amount as far as averages goes, but the injury risk means he often misses games.

      He only scored 54 more points than Goldy last year. 3 points a game over a season for $150,000. That’s 10 x the price per point of the magic number.

      The superiority of both these players is not as certain as people like to make out.

      I’ll be starting with one, or even both of them.

      But there’s nothing crazy about investigating other opportunities.


      1. I crunched the numbers on how the top 5 rucks go against the teams they have to play twice and compared it to their annual average and calculated the difference.
        I thought ROB had a hard double game draw because he faces Gawn, Goldy and NicNat twice but he turned out ok.

        Gawn 0 difference, averages the same
        Grundy -12 (12 points less against the teams he has double games against)
        Goldy +8 (8 points less against the teams he has double games against)
        NicNat -5 (5 points less against the teams he has double games against)
        Rob +2 (2 points more against the teams he has double games against)


      2. Yeah HH, I’m right with you there.
        For those coaches who set and forget with the likes of G&G $$$$$
        Well!!!!!……you’re just nut crunching the numbers.
        You won’t find that nugget in the dirt if, you’re following other prospectors!.


        1. Start the best, trade to get the best, your team will be the best. Only factor is “when”, which you can speed up with maybe two value picks. People with midpricers will forever be chasing the good players, along with all the ultra premiums they didnt start with. Might seem cookie cutter but start with all the best players you can, and then you have the much easier task of getting the next best in, as opposed to all the best. Dont be stuck with a witherden averaging 70


  4. O.McInerney scored well in the ruck when Martin wasn’t in the side. I expect he will be the number one ruck and consistently score over 100.


  5. The only worthwhile option apart from G+G for me is if Preuss impresses in preseason and looks like a 110+ Scorer. That would be a serious case of cash generation not to frown upon , specially if it allows me to upgrade to a premo keeper somewhere


    1. At $300k, I’d be happy with a 95 average from Preuss. Sure he may lose 20-30 points compared to Grawndy, but That $350-$450k gets you another premo elsewhere that will surely eclipse the lost points. Of course, I want to see how Preuss goes in his NAB game…


        1. Excellent question. At the moment I’ve left out Gawn, as I feel he drops his ave around 10 points due to the longer quarters which will reduce his influence due to less game time %wise. And I feel Grundy increases his average by at least 5 points outside the hub.

          At the moment, I’m not seeing too many value rookies, especially in the midfield, hence being able use the extra $450k while getting a 90-95 ave from my second ruck suits my team set up at the moment.

          This could all change of course, if there is an influx of excellent value rookies come through before Rd 1. 😀


    2. To me it’s about whether Preuss starts you an extra premo instead of a rookie, and if you can swap him for a premo or fallen premo at the appropriate time.

      Say he let you Whitfield or Ryan instead of a Rookie, then down the track you can trade him out directly for a fallen Danger (say subbing in Marshall), or add some cash and get Grundy/ROB etc.

      The exact average doesn’t matter, like buying and selling houses, it’s exchange price. As an example I sold him at $460k because Grundy was on post injury bubble I certainly wouldn’t cry about him not making $500k.

      But yeah, anything in the 85-95 you’d move him on. If he’s above that you might well have bigger problems to deal with anyway.

      Trading out 100 point players is definitely luxury trade territory.


      1. Only 1 fit and good enough(?) last year.
        Valid point, although, that would waste the onball manpower.
        CHF role maybe 2nd ruck?????


        1. This is my crazy theory.
          Geelong played a defender as the second ruck, Tigers copied out of necessity.
          Two years ago Giants played their wing as back up ruck.
          Tigers used to play Grigg.
          I think some coaches prefer the extra running power of another mid or an extra key positional player.

          I just don’t think its quite so straightforward with reduced interchanges to play two rucks and split them 50/50. The means the other 20 players are doing alot of running. So they either must play forward or back to spend more time on the ground.

          Do will play 2-3 big forwards anyway without their rucks is my guess? (Bulldog supporters feel free to correct me)


          1. GP,
            I don’t think they will play 2 set rucks.
            Refer Geelong and Blicavs, who was probably an exemption from my next comments.
            How many makeshift rucks actually won hitouts?
            Why did they need to take them? – Was it because the ruck was“resting” or just couldn’t get there?
            IMO we will see a main ruck cover 2/3 of the ground and a supporting “tall” in another key roll covering their 1/3 or the ground ie forward 50, defence 50 or even a wing! (Wing 6ft ers….blaspheme).
            That’s what I will be trying to assess while watching the preseason propaganda.


            1. It’s usually not about winning hitouts, just providing enough of a contest so that the other ruck can’t just palm the ball wherever they want.

              There’s probably only 3 rucks big enough and talented enough to ensure absolute domination of ruck contests when facing a makeshift ruckman that you can’t just throw a part timer in there, and they are Gawn, Grundy, Witts.

              Reilly O’Brien and Goldy are a step down from that in height, so although they have a bit of a skill advantage and a little bit of a height advantage over your part time Fwd/Ruck or Def/Ruck types (whether they have dpp or not) it isn’t going to be a total domination and a HTA free-for-all.

              After all, both only just crack the 2 metre mark, and most of the tall forwards or tall backs are in that 196 cm range.

              So, when those three rest, you rest yours, and the second stringers go at it. Potentially the hardest one to work around is Collingwood and Grundy, both because he has a bit more tank, and his backup is 213…

              But then again they’re far from the best contested clearance team in the league, even less so with their offseason trade carnage, so that kind of negates that advantage.


  6. First of all, I’m a coach who theorises Billy Beane & Co (Moneyball)
    But someone argue for/against why not have a little bo-peep at left field.
    For example R1 -Reilly O’Brien $570,800 (Adelaide) and
    R2 -Brayden Preuss $303,00 (GWS)

    With R.O.B first, He tonned up 10/18 times last season, 5 times over 120 Av.106.1 (played every game)
    His last 7 games of 2020 were very consistent, bar one (Rnd 13- 82pts)
    In 2019 his first season posted 5 tonnes for an Av.95.3 (played 18 games)
    He’ll be 26yo this year (prime age for young ruckmen)
    He’s the number 1 ruck at Westlakes, 3rd season…..I see upside and value here.

    As with BP, He’ll also be 26yo this year (prime age for young ruckmen)
    He’ll be the number 1 ruck over at Breakfast Point
    For a big guy starved of opportunity, he does score well once he gets enough game time.
    For games where he accumulates, 20 HO along with let’s say 12-15 disposals he will post near on or over 100. Given he hasn’t had much game time over the years, (remember he missed entire of 2018) you should really only focus on his full games. Take that into account, he actually is really good value with plenty of upside.

    Keen to hear your comments fellas!


  7. Grundy going to need some help this year and i am not sure he gets enough of it, Treloar-gone , Pendles -ageing, De goey-hotcold, apart from Adams and maybe Sier if he gets himself superfit , he needs help on the deck where he gets a lot of his points tackles etc , doesnt mark the pill nearly enough and was on the slide at the end of 2020.
    Big Max and who knows ??


  8. You have made valid points.
    But we often forget the big pictures and zoom in on part.
    Your comments make me think cricket, ie more wickets are taken caught.
    A bowler relies on his fielders as a ruckman relies on his onballers.
    ie Tactics and results.
    It doesn’t matter how hard you resort back to the past, you will still need to assess the present.


  9. With the abundance of mids, what’s the thoughts on English?
    He will only have to breathe on the ball and probably get points.
    Comments anyone………


    1. Improving. How much he’s learning from Stef is a mystery too.

      If he’s put on 5kg in the offseason you’d have to show some interest. I think that physical presence and muscle is going to be required before we start to see consistent big scores from him.


  10. Starting to consider flipping the usual DPP approach.

    Normally it’d be Premo ruck + premo or mid pricer + DPP rookie, with a DPP option in the forward line.

    Well, thinking this year I may start Gawn and Marshall in the ruck, and then look to move Marshall forward to bring in a premium ruck later in the season.

    Means I don’t have to commit to a Grundy or Goldy or O’Brien now, or roll the dice on a Preuss or Hickey. Instead I can take a safer forward option, or another forward rookie and use the money on another line.


    1. I think as a good solid forward option, or as a ruck cover via Treacy, or as a Starting R2 to shift forward that Marshall is the biggest starting 22 lock this year. Possibly even in front of Neale.


  11. I did a whole post explaining it but fot tired. Just pick grundy and gawn. Gawn is the best C option, and you won’t find a player in any position for 640k odd who will outscore grundys 130 odd. Its all about player positions, so while Preuss is value, his 95-100 odd has nothing on Grundy in comparison to the rucks. Not explaining be it as well as I’d like but i know it’s the truth. Just pick g and g


    1. Why would you expect a $640k player to outscore a $751k player? (although 8 players did score more points than Gawn last year, and some were under $640k)

      Why would you expect a $303k player to match a $751k player?

      Value is exactly that. If a player can score well above what he is priced to do, then your team is better because of that “value”. It gives you more money to buy better players elsewhere.

      $451,400 + $123,900 means you can have a $575,300 player instead of a standard priced rookie.

      That’s a Luke Ryan instead of a Luke Towey (or a Will Gould), or a Josh Dunkley instead of a Josh Honey (or a Matthew Owies).

      So an expected 95-100 which you acknowledge as possible or even probable for Preuss, and about 100-105 points for either Dunkley or Ryan means about 200 Points per game.

      Max Gawn, lets say he averages 140 again, to be very generous to your calculations. Then Josh Honey, Matthew Owies, or some other $123900 rookie needs to average 60.

      And if you’re buying up all the G+G plus Neale, Lloyd, Laird, Oliver etc you’ll have a team of about 12 Guns and you need nearly all of your 18 rookies to turn up every week for those 60 points.

      Most don’t get near that, not do they consistently play every week like Dunkley, Luke Ryan, Rory Laird or any other decent premium you can buy around that $575k price point.

      Let’s look at $123k or less rookies who did do that combination of 60+ ppg and play every match last year.

      Oh that’s right, that didn’t happen, or at least I can’t recall it. Closest were Starcevitch and Max King with 16. Both good picks if you got them and kept them. Actually, then again Starcevitch never broke the $150,000 barrier, so really King is the only one you can count.

      MacAdam played 13 and averaged 66. Pickett played 15 and averaged 71. Rankine played 12. All of these had been around and were basically mature age rookies at budget prices. Barring Pickett, who we knew would be given a run after 2019 finals stuff that didn’t count in pricing, both were in my team and then culled preseason because they were not named to start early.

      Then there’s some good price risers who played 9 games.
      Rivers basically didn’t break the +$150k mark until round 17 – he would have been great to trade out for cash before round 18. McInerney would have been good to cull for cash for $150k at round 16, also far too late in the season. MacPherson for 69, who you could have culled in round 12 which was convenient as he didn’t play the next 3.

      What you’ll notice there is five main things.
      One: the good cash cow rookies are names we all know because they’ve been around a while either as a mature age player in a state league or a top draft pick a few years ago who is only a good cash cow because they were too injured to play the last season and are given until well into the year to be fit.

      Two: Don’t expect your cheap rookies to play every game. They’ll either come in to replace injured players, and thus get a decent run, or play a couple of games early then get dropped once a best 22 player returns. Round 1 availability can often be a trap. Up to 6 games in a season is normal for a reasonably good rookie. The average ones tend to get culled after a few years without ever playing more than three games.

      Three: Rookies who end up worthwhile often tend to start with low scores and boost their averages towards the end of the year. It takes time for the other players to trust them with the ball and for them to work out the team’s game plan. This requires a lot of faith in them by their coach, which most coaches will not do.

      Four: By the time you can cash out your cheap rookies the season is often well on it’s way to over.

      Five: Less interchanges gives even less likelihood of rookies playing regular games.

      This means while Guns and Rookies does work, it still requires selecting value in both your guns and your rookies, and guns who are not prone to injury, and finding consistent scoring rookies. Of those 18 roookies you need who might fit that consistent scoring criteria, most of which will cost a lot more than $123k.

      Good luck.


  12. I currently have gawn and nic nat but see there is not a lot of love for the latter. Had nic nat in the second half of last season and couldn’t have been happier. Dude straight up crushed it.

    I’m assuming his time on ground restrictions will be a thing of the past and has a good midfield supporting him for advantageous hitouts.

    Am I missing something?


    1. All the Pros are the ones you’ve listed
      the cons are:
      Longer quarter might not favor his playing style
      Simpons has mentioned the two ruck thing (as distinct from playing Allan as the second ruck)
      Injury history (???)



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