As with all AFL matches that are not for actual premiership points, it really is important not to read too much into the results over the weekend. What these games give us a chance to do, however, is gently froth over potential stars and underpriced guns – so here are my highlights and lowlights from each team:
Jimmy Toumpas - As an Adelaideian, I’m generally loathed to follow the advice of Stephen Rowe – however, when Rowey says that Toumpas is ready to play AFL, it’s hard not to believe him given the evidence of Friday night. He looked slick, and happy to sit on the end of numerous handball receives and is worth of consideration on your midfield bench if you’re willing to pay the premium.
Jack Viney – If you’re not, then you should strongly consider Jack Viney, whose oft-hyped contested ball skills were on show. Whilst his scores were modest, you would expect him to improve as the season wears on, and he settles into the side.
Dees fans will also be very excited about 17 year old Jesse Hogan. The youngster looked authoritative on debut displaying courage & aggression in the air as well as skill in the tight goal he confidently slotted through. Jack Watts was skilful across half back & up the wing.
Shannon Byrnes – Whilst he never seemed to be able to consolidate his place in Geelong’s best 22, Byrnes often had a happy knack of popping up and scoring massive AFL Fantasy scores during his tenure at the Cats. Whilst his experience will be valuable on a Demons squad that clearly needs it, there must be a question mark over his fantasy viability, even at his low starting price. As they say, if you pay peanuts…
Chris Dawes was very disappointing in his Demons debut and couldn’t get near the pill while Cam Pedersen didn’t fire a shot against his old club.
Jordan Gysberts – I really feel like Scotty should be doing this section – however, I’m not sure we have time for 3,000 words. Nevertheless, there was plenty to like about the Kangaroos, who are one of the most exciting teams in the comp when they are up and about. Gysberts will definitely benefit from the superior spread of midfield talent at the Roos, and may be a nice mid-priced option to watch.
Shaun Atley – Particularly good in the first game against Melbourne, Atley has long been a favourite of mine and looks like he’s added a yard of pace to me (is that even a saying in football terms? Anyway, you know what I mean!). He will show plenty of dash, and adds another string in the bow of a dangerous midfield. (As an aside, I think these mixed metaphors are an indication that I have been listening to FiveAA for too long)
Majak Daw took an excellent defensive grab in the first game, slotted an excellent goal in the second & was a solid contributor on the night. Brent Harvey was busy through the midfield while Lindsay Thomas & Drew Petrie looked dangerous up forward. Andrew Swallow & Jack Ziebell were pivotal in the centre for North.
Todd Goldstein – A popular Ruck option in 2011, and has been talked about over preseason, particularly at his price point. He will only get better, but at this stage, he looks a step or two behind the game, and looked a little lost at times. Will work his way back, but with the emergence of young talent such as Currie and Daw, Brad Scott may not feel the need to work Goldstein too hard.
Richmond should be pleased with their efforts on Friday night. They looked a cut above the Dees in their first encounter & were only narrowly pipped by North with a depleted side. Jack Riewoldt was dangerous up forward, Trent Cotchin pulled the strings well in midfield for his teams as the Tigers spread well on numerous counter attacks. Brandon Ellis looked really good across half back in both games while former Demon Ricky Petterd was sharp against his old side. New recruit Nick Vlastuin was very impressive against North Melbourne and looks in the mix for a round 1 debut.
Aaron Edwards – Whilst he did snag a couple of goals in the second fixture against North Melbourne, he was awful against Melbourne and is a poor fantasy option (as well as an incredibly unlikeable bloke).
Brent Moloney – This bloke has been locked into my Fantasy Squad as a value player all pre-season – he showed why against the Hawks and the Suns on Saturday. All reports out of the Lions have been about how impressive Moloney has been on the track, and he looks ready to slot straight into the midfield rotation up north.
Mitch Golby – Golby is another name that was appearing early in many conditioning reports out of the Lions, and he looked sharp coming out of defence. He is definitely a risk, but I think he has a higher ceiling than what he showed us last year.
Sam Docherty – Much hyped, nowhere to be seen. Such is the talent of the kid, however, that he will get many other opportunities to impress throughout the NAB Cup…particularly as Voss likes him a lot.
Gary Ablett – There comes a time in every superstar’s career where you notice a significant drop off in their output – their decision making looks poor, or their engine looks suspect. That time is not now for this bald-headed freak. Lock him in with confidence, if you are so inclined.
Jaeger O’Meara – Yet another of these kids who looks ready made o play AFL. You would think he too will get plenty of opportunity in an emerging squad, given his clear potential.
Greg Broughton – no reason, other than I don’t like him. In all seriousness, however, he wasn’t horrible. He just gave me no reason to move him off the ‘never again’ list. And there are plenty of other players around his price range who can and will do a more consistent job.
Jonathan Simpkin – May not see much game time during the season proper, but 25 year old Simpkin’s 43FP and 23FP performances for the Hawks will not do his chances any harm. He was the Hawks’ primary means of entering into attack during the game against the Lions, and you can see why he has been identified as a talent at so many clubs. Keep an eye on his NAB form.
Paul Puopolo – A potentially important member of the Hawks forward line, Puopolo went down with a knee injury in the Suns’ game. No word on his return, but it has to be a concern.
Lance Franklin – Different season, same old Buddy. Will suffer if his incident goes to the Match Review Panel, due to his poor history. A side thought though, with the likes of Buddy and Steve Johnson potentially missing Round 1, it may dent their popularity as those who strive for efficient Round 1 squads may just avoid them?
Sam Rowe – Gets a mention here firstly because of his feel-good story, but secondly because he looked the business against GWS providing a target up forward in the absence of Jarrod Waite. In reality, may struggle to break into the side given the talent in the Blues forward line, but I know Mick rates his effort and tenacity, and he may just be a sneaky bet to score a couple of games early on.
Shaun Hampson – Although Kruezer was not playing, Hampson’s first interrupted pre-season in many years looks to have done him some good as he dominated Giles around the ground at the stoppages. As far as I can see, Fantasy Ruck strategy is far from clear, and Hampson might be worth a sneaky bet.
Kane Lucas – Has gotten a lot of press due to his efforts in two intra-club matches, as well as his coach talking him up in every interview I’ve heard – but his decision-making leaves a touch to be desired for mine. Buyer beware, as poor decision makers rarely last too long in quality squads – and make no mistake, Carlton will be a quality squad this year.
Greater Western Sydney
Jon Patton – Whilst I’m very wary of picking him myself, Jon Patton remains at an incredibly low price, due to his injury woes last year. Looking fitter and healthier, it’s hard to imagine that he won’t lock down a spot in the Giants forward line, and showed what he could do with a goal ‘round the corner that found its way onto all of the 6 o’clock news highlights spots.
Toby Greene – Looked every bit the premium midfielder, and had me doubting one of my much vaunted (by myself) rules – don’t pick a second year player. However, Greene picked up right where he left off, and might be a tremendous point of difference in your midfield if you have the cojones.
Setanta O’hAilpin - It’s very easy to pick on the former Carlton big man with the anger problem…so let’s do. Big Setanta seems to be plagued by ill-discipline, and the highlights in his career are seeming to come further and further apart. Avoid.
Tony Armstrong – Whilst there is not a lot to be said about Sydney, apart from the fact that they clearly don’t care about the NAB Cup, I did enjoy seeing Tony Armstrong around the fray. I don’t love him as much as Brian Taylor seems to, but I do think he provides spark coming off half-back, and potentially in the midfield mix. Whilst he may not be in the Swans best side when they decide to give a rats’, he’s still worth monitoring.
Tommy Walsh – Quite frankly, I wanted to blast the whole side – they are clearly a month behind in their prep, and whilst that shouldn’t be a concern to Swans fans, it’s never nice losing. Anyway, given that blasting the whole side is a bit of a cop out, I thought I’d just highlight Toby’s favourite Irishman, who has missed one of his big chances to make an impression as a key forward in that soon-to-be very crowded forward line.
That’s all I’ve got guys – and whilst I know there is a tonne more I could have talked about, I’d now like to throw it to you – who did you get a buzz from on the weekend? And who killed your Buzz?
Let me know in the comments section below!