Toby runs through another mid-priced forward in Pat Karnezis – is his new role in the midfield worth a gamble?
Karnezis is actually a player I was half tempted to write about last week considering his fantastic pre-season, however I opted to have a bit of a look at him first and I’m very glad I did.
Karnezis was a player I quite liked in his breakout year of 2011 – he played 11 games as a forward, kicking 17 goals and averaging around 8 disposals and four marks a game. He looked to have really cemented his spot in the team, playing 11 of the final 12 games of the year.
Unfortunately, 2012 was a much different story for him, managing only seven games, and was given the sub vest on five of these occasions. Again he was played up forward, managing to average a goal a game. In the three games he wasn’t sub, he averaged 10 disposals, 2 goals, 7 marks and 2 tackles – all pretty reasonable numbers for a second year player.
The real story is actually what he was doing whilst not wearing Brisbane colours in 2012 – whilst he spent 7 games in the seniors, the other 14 games were spent playing for Brisbane reserves side in the NEAFL. One slight on his game had been his fitness, so he was trialled through the midfield to help develop this weakness into a strength. It paid dividends for him as he went on to be the highest vote getter in the Grogan Medal for the Brisbane reserves.
Despite just increasing his running power and endurance, Karnezis became a fantastic ball winner in the reserves competition, averaging 28 disposals, including six games where he surpassed the 30-touches mark. These are great numbers to suggest the midfield is a great place to see him develop – he has also not lost his ability to pull in the marks or kick a few goals too.
Over the off-season, Karnezis has spent his time training with the midfielders to further develop his craft – this is also a sign that Vossy is prepared to play him as a midfielder in 2013 and not just stick him back in the forward line. We got to see him in action on the weekend in the first of Brisbane’s two NAB Cup games. In the game he played 100% across the wing, showing good decision making and ball-skills – and most importantly, he showed a knack of finding the footy; he finished the game with 10 disposals (7 kicks, 3 handballs), 3 marks and 2 tackles.
We know these initial NAB Games are a bit a of fluff and they aren’t the sorts of games that should make you want to do a hundred changes to your squad. But it is a good chance to see some of the younger players and where the coach may be trialling them. I daresay Vossy would have been impressed with Karnezis’ performance – as I said above, he used the ball well, got plenty of it and looked confident. One position on the wing for the Lions will be taken up by Pearce Hanley, but I daresay Karnezis is the front runner for the other.
For those tempted to put him in their teams, he is dirt cheap – only $238,500 in Fantasy Football and $262,200 in Supercoach. He can be selected as a forward only. At the above prices, he will be competing with the likes of Shannon Byrnes, Travis Varcoe and Josh Kennedy for a spot in your team (or maybe you will have multiples) and I daresay Karnezis will be the least common option out of that group – but by no means does it mean he is the worst option. In the role he played on the weekend there is no reason he can’t average 75-80 points a game and give you a hefty price rise with some decent scores along the way. The main thing you would want to be cautious of is that he is best-22, so the next few weeks of the NAB Cup will be crucial for his chances. As it stands, he is in my team, although a couple of poor performances and he will be out. As I said last week, the increased trades in Fantasy Football lends itself to taking risks, so why not take a punt on Karnezis over Byrnes or Varcoe – it may just give you that edge you need over your mates.