MightyMagpie’s 2016 Preview

Nov 9th, 2015 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview

2016previewAuthor: MightyMagpie

A preview of the 2016 season from a Pies’ perspective to cover the following:

• Brief review of 2015.

• Player availability/injuries in 2015 and trends.

• List management (changes in and out and draftees come the draft).

• Player-by-player review, probably under the usual positional headings.

• Our fixture.

Anyway, feel free to post any comments (preferably polite), corrections, different viewpoints/opinions or additional information.

2015 Season – A Very Quick Review

A season of “what ifs”. We finished 10-12 after an 8-3 start (very similar to 2014 as we are constantly reminded). However, we lost six games by 12 or fewer points and we were more competitive against the better teams, specifically:

• Lost to Hawks by 10;

• Lost to West Coast by 31 (not so good, but that was after three heartbreaking losses on the trot);

• Lost to Freo by 7; and

• Defeated Norf by 17.

Clearly, in hindsight, the boys fell away after those heartbreaking losses mid-season. Bucks has already stated that performing in key moments of games will be something for the team to focus on going forward.

Bucks has described us in 2015 as a “grunt” side that is good in the contest, but lacking some “polish” when it comes to efficiency in transition out of the backline and up forward (including goal kicking accuracy).

The glass half empty version is we finished below .500 at 10-12 (one fewer win than in 2014). The glass half full version is that we were a bee’s appendage away from being around the 16-6 mark with a real shot at top 4.

2015 E.W. Copeland Trophy Top Ten

1. Scott Pendlebury, 169 votes (E.W. Copeland Trophy)
2. Dane Swan, 120 (R.T. Rush Trophy)
3. Jack Crisp, 113 (J.J. Joyce Trophy)
4. Taylor Adams, 103 (J.F. McHale Trophy)
5. Steele Sidebottom, 102 (Jack Regan Trophy)
6. Tom Langdon, 93
7. Marley Williams, 93
8. Nathan Brown, 70
9. Travis Cloke, 69
10. Travis Varcoe, 65

Interestingly, Bucks noted at the Members’ Forum that Ramsay polled in four of his five games before succumbing to injury.

Marley Williams was described as being in All Australian form at the midway point and Crisp, Moore, DeGoey, Langdon and Maynard (if I recall the list correctly) were among those that Bucks expected to be 10-year players.

If anyone has a round-by-round record of the Copeland votes, I would be really interested in that and would appreciate it if they could post the details.

I’ll delve quickly into our 2016 prospects here and note that in 2015:

• Adam Treloar was second at GWS with 98 votes behind old mate Heath Shaw on 117 votes.

• Jeremy Howe was ninth at the Demons with 151 votes (Bernie Vince won with 328 votes).

• James Aish played 11 (from memory) games, but did not poll in the top 10 for the Bears.

Magpie Army Player of the Year
Dane Swan

Darren Millane Perpetual Memorial Trophy (Best Clubman)
Nathan Brown

Harry Collier Trophy (Best First Year Player)
Jordan De Goey

Gavin Brown Award (Leading Desire Indicators)
Jack Crisp

Gordon Coventry Award (Leading Goal Kicker)
Jamie Elliott (35 goals)

Joseph Wren Award (Best VFL Player)
Ben Moloney

Phonse Kyne Award (Services to the Club)
Physiotherapist David Francis

Player Availability and Injuries

This won’t be very scientific because I don’t have easy access to the statistics I’d like.

What I thought I would do instead is list some of our players (still on the 2016 primary list) and note the number of games they played (out of a possible 22 games):

The good …

Pendles – 22
Varcoe -22
Langdon – 22
Crisp – 22
Swan – 21
Brown – 21
Toovey – 20
Blair – 20
Elliott – 20
Williams – 20
Frost – 20
Grundy – 19
Adams – 18 (two week suspension as I recall)
White – 18

The bad …

Sidebottom – 16
Cloke – 17
Goldsack – 13
Broomhead – 11

The ugly …

Reid – 5
Ramsay – 5
Sinclair – 6
Greenwood – 8
plus Macaffer – 0 (ACL from 2014)

List Management

Primary List Movements

We had 39 in 2015.

OUT: Keeffe (delisted*), Thomas (delisted*), Dwyer (delisted), Young (delisted), Karnezis (retired) Seedsman (trade), Kennedy (trade) and Freeman (trade).

IN: Howe, Treloar, Aish and Frost (promotion from rookie list).

So, 39 – 8 + 4 = 35. With a required primary list of 38-40, we will (in the absence of signing a delisted free agent) take 3-5 live picks to the National Draft.

National Draft

Our picks are 27, 66, 77, 83 and 84. Interestingly, at the Members’ Forum Dekka mentioned picks 27, 66 and 71 (from memory) so maybe he has factored in those Clubs who will be exiting the draft before our third pick – he did say that he wasn’t expecting many Clubs to still be in it after 58. There is also the likelihood of our picks (effectively) moving up as Clubs forego picks to pay for father/son and academy players who are selected by other Clubs. I really hope Clubs do pick father/son and academy players at an appropriate place in the draft order to force the nominating Club to pay a fair discounted price under the new arrangements. If Clubs don’t pick those players at an appropriate place in the draft order (as has been suggested by some in the media) then the system will fail as those Clubs will get the players (in some case very good players) with late picks. As expected, Dekka has said we will go to the draft with three picks and flexibility (draft and TPP-wise) for an additional two picks if any “Hine specials” slip the nets of other Clubs.

Primary List Composition and Profile

(Courtesy of Jezza in another thread) Comparisons between 2015 and 2016 on the age profile, games experience and height comparison on the overhead slides in the background with Derek Hine speaking at the Members’ Forum:

Ave Games Rank – 13th
Ave Age Rank – 11th
Ave Height Rank – 8th

Ave Games Rank – 8th (Up 5 places)
Ave Age Rank – 6th (Up 5 places)
Ave Height Rank – 2nd (Up to 6 places)

Still 11 premiership players on our list including Travis Varcoe from Geelong.

20 players on the list have played fewer than 50 games.

Only three players under 180cm on our list.

I’m a little curious about the focus on moving up the height rankings given that we had a greater average height than our opponents in 14 of the 22 games (for six wins and eight losses) and in the other eight games we were four wins and four losses. Interestingly, our average weight was greater than our opponents in 19 of the 22 games.

My own analysis shows the following:

• Top 22 players (by games played) average 112 games and 25 years, 9 months age.

• Top 25 players average 104 games and 25 years, 4 months age.

• Top 30 players average 89 games and 24 years, 7 months age.

• All current 35 players average 77 games and 23 years, 11 months age.

Rookie List Movements

OUT: Armstrong (delisted), Manteit (delisted) and Abbott (delisted).

RETAINED: Cox (category B) and Gault.

IN: Wyatt (category B). Wyatt is an ex-basketballer with an AFL background and is expected to be trained up as a key position forward. Here’s the club’s announcement:http://www.collingwoodfc.com.au/news/2015-10-12/collingwood-sign-elite-basketballer.

COMMITTED TO: Keeffe and Thomas.

If I remember the rules correctly then this leaves us with three to five category A openings (depending on how many we take in the National Draft) of which two will hopefully be filled by Keeffe and Thomas who cannot train until 9 December 2016 and cannot play until 9 February 2017 (so put a line through them for the 2016 season).

Dekka said at the Members’ Forum that he expected Cox to play senior footy in 2016 so I expect him to be either the nominated rookie or mid-season rookie elevation, probably the latter if we go with some State League senior backups as I expect we might.

Tim Golds (delisted by GWS) has been approved to train with the Pies and I imagine that he is being considered for a rookie spot. He is 23 in April 2016 and 193cm and 86kg. His profile from the GWS website states:
“Tim Golds is an athletic, running half back from Xavier College in Victoria. Tim was the GIANTS’ first 17-year-old priority selection in 2011 and played his junior football with Balwyn Football Club and the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup.” – See more at: http://www.gwsgiants.com.au/player-profile/tim-golds#sthash.CI2zjS0j.dpuf

Game Plan/Style Review


Let’s start with the basic Champion Data plot on points for and against. My plot graph appears at the end of this post.

Despite our relatively young backline in 2015 we were premiership standard (below 86 points) for points against. Take the bad Richmond loss out of it and we are even better than the table below shows. With improved ball retention and transition in 2016 I expect a little less pressure on our defence and I also expect a fair amount of organic growth plus potential improvement from a few players who struggled to get on the park in 2015, namely Reid and Ramsay. In short, I think we are in good shape in defence.

Avg PF Avg PA
2015 90 84
2014 80 85
2013 98 85
2012 97 83
2011 118 70
2010 107 75

We are not at premiership standard for points for, but we are moving in the right direction.

Some Key Areas

Many are unconvinced, but I think Bucks’ game plan will stack up well. He has clearly focussed on the “grunt” and “contest” as that has historically been critical come finals and, in my view, he is building a team that can improve the “polish” and “transition” fairly quickly.

We’ve all heard Bucks talk about “grunt” versus “polish” and the “contest” versus “transition”.

We get control of the ball enough (but I’d like more still!):

• Contested possessions – ranked #1 in 2015.

We do not retain control of the ball well enough – this often kills us and puts the defence under unnecessary pressure on turnover rebounds:

• Uncontested possessions – ranked #10 in 2015.

• Effective Disposal % – ranked #16 in 2015.

This has partly been an issue of the cattle on the ground and that has been addressed over the last couple of years in list management and also in training (Adams would be the obvious improver there).

We get enough scoring opportunities (but, again, I’d like more):

• Inside 50s – ranked #6.

• Marks Inside 50 – ranked #5.

• Bucks mentioned that our time in forward half statistic was favourable also.

We don’t convert well enough (at least not in key moments in games):

• Goal accuracy % – ranked #3 in 2015 with 52.0%, but the Hawks were nearly 4% higher than us (55.9%) and nearly 6% higher than AFL average (50.0%).

Whilst it ignores non-scoring shots at goal, to put that 4% differential under the spotlight and to give some perspective, the Hawks kicked 426 goals and 296 points (in 26 games) – that’s 59.0% goals – and the Pies kicked 287 goals and 250 points (in 22 goals) – that’s 53.4% goals. Applying the Hawks 59.0% to the sum of our goals and points gives 316 goals, 29 goals more than we actually scored. There is probably a better statistic to show what I am attempting, but I can’t find it in publicly available data. Anyway, even when we were the #1 ranked team for accuracy in the first half of the season, Bucks was still copping it from the media and some fans regarding some players’ goal kicking. We have had a specialist goal kicking coach since the beginning of 2015 I understand and hopefully that will pay dividends over time.

Player Review


I’ll deal here with our primary rucks in Grundy, Witts and Cox. The chop-out rucks in White and Moore I’ll deal with under the forwards heading as I see that as their main role (at least historically).

Brodie Grundy probably overtook Jarrod Witts as the #1 ruckman in 2015 increasing his game output from 7 to 15 to 19 games through 2013-2015 whereas Witts potentially stagnated in 2015 after shoulder surgery playing 7, 20 and 11 over the same period. Bucks gave the impression at the Members’ Forum that he regarded Grundy as more developed than Witts.

Both big fellas are still young (21 and 23) and developing as I see it and probably several years off their peak. With three seasons under their belt we can reasonably expect continued improvement in 2016.

The areas I particularly want to see improvement in are:

• aerobic capacity/endurance;

• around-the-ground marking – this seems to be something where our rucks are behind other teams;

• being a threat forward – both have struggled to make an impact up forward.

They are two quite different ruckmen and if they can be adaptable to play up forward and create a real threat then I think we have a seriously good combination going forward. If they cannot create that forward threat then I think that it becomes increasingly difficult to justify playing both of them in the same team with no substitute and reduced rotations.

Perhaps this is where Mason Cox can create an opportunity and overtake one of them (probably Witts). Cox showed in the VFL that he can create a threat up forward and if he can translate that to AFL then I think he becomes the second ruck.

The rucks will probably create the biggest selection dilemma in 2016. balancing the need for the best team and developing our three young rucks. Dekka indicated that he expected Cox to play senior football in 2016 (a little bit of a surprise to me). Can we play two ruckmen in the same team? Clearly the club wants to in order to fast-track the development of Grundy and Witts. Instinctively I’m inclined to protect young ruckmen from an overload of the crash and bash of AFL rucking and I would tentatively put forward a plan of Grundy and Witts each rucking around 6-8 games solo and around 6-10 games as a tandem (probably against lower-ranked teams). That would give them each 14-16 AFL games for development and potential rest breaks or VFL breaks (perhaps up forward to develop that aspect). This decision will probably be the starkest test of whether we a “developing” team or a “competing” team because I think the answer to the question whether to play two rucks is potentially different depending on where we see ourselves. For what it is worth, my view is go all out to win and, if we fall out of contention, then slant decisions towards development rather than winning.

I am concerned about our ruck depth if one of Grundy or Witts goes down injured as it would potentially put a huge burden on the other too early or rely on Cox being ready ahead of his time (in my mind). For this reason, I would not be surprised if the club rookied a State League mature ruckman as backup.


It’s probably worth thinking a little bit about stoppage structures here. Bucks has indicted that in 2014 and 2015 our midfielders were getting drawn into the ball (contest) too much and we were losing our “shape” and “width” which is what allows effective transition.

There needs to be a fair bit of flexibility around this and room for adjustment on the field, but I would expect that at any stoppage we would aim to have two inside hard nuts looking to get the ball and move it out. Adams and Greenwood are easy to pick for this role 100% of their time on ground, but after that I think we are looking at guys who will rotate through – De Goey, Williams, Swan and even some of the more outside midfielder types.

I will deal with our midfielders in descending order of height.

Our captain, Scott Pendlebury, probably didn’t play at his peak (in my eyes anyway), but he won the Copeland and managed plenty of Brownlow votes so he suffers in part from being held to such a high standard based on expectations. Bucks seemed to experiment at times with Scott forward and roaming half back. In 2016 I expect to see Pendles playing more of an outside midfield role and setting up play going forward with his precise kicking. Ranked high in the AFL for most disposal stats, but most importantly in 2015 was ranked second in effective disposals per game and sixth in total effective disposals.

What an effort by Jack Crisp finishing third in the Copeland. He turned out to be exactly the type of big-bodied midfielder we were lacking and I have no doubt we are better off for the Dayne Beams trade – a great job by out recruiting staff turning a potentially negative situation into a big win with (effectively three quality players, including Crisp) coming in for Beams. Jack primarily had “run with” roles, but has the offensive side as well – certainly more so than the Crowley/Macaffer-type taggers. Really enjoyed watching some of his long kicks for goal from outside the 50 metre arc. If Crisp can play to his 2015 standard then we have a very good player. He’s only just turned 22 so I think we can even expect some further improvement from the lad.

Brent Macaffer after another ACL he didn’t play in 2015, but made his return through the VFL in the latter part of the season. To my mind, Crisp has overtaken him as our run with player and Greenwood may well get the hard tag role if and when that is required. In my view, Macaffer must go back to that (defensive) forward role he played at times in 2010 to have a decent chance at selection. Frankly, I find it hard to see him breaking back into the team.

Jordan De Goey was another key part of the Beams trade and din’t disappoint in his first year. The kid can clearly play, but tired a bit towards the end of the season. Will need to make every post a winner in the pre-season and avoid the second year blues. There is a role for him play (third inside mid, behind Adams and Greenwood, swapping out of a forward pocket) and I suspect he will ultimately be Swanny’s replacement.

After an injury affected drop off in 2014 I thought Dane Swan played very well in 2015. It was also great to hear him say he would play on if he could see a premiership on the horizon. We can’t expect too much as he ages, but it is entirely possible that he will continue to play at a high level for some time yet. I think with our younger midfield types coming through that we can expect to see Swanny playing forward a fair bit more. He is pretty dangerous there.

I don’t have anything much to say about Matthew Goodyear as I have only rarely seen him play. Given our young midfielders, you would have to think that he is towards the bottom in the pecking order currently.

James Aish is tough to assess. A high draft pick, a good 2014 and a poor 2015. I’m happy to sit back and see what he produces in the NAB series and take it from there. He’s very lightly framed and I expect would be considered as competing for the same type of role as Tim Broomhead, but time will tell.

Adam Treloar adds quality to our midfield group and he is at just the right age and experience for us. He will likely play his 100th game in 2016 and is already established as high disposal midfielder.

Fourth in the Copeland and probably my most improved in 2015 was Taylor Adams. I no longer wince as he is kicking the ball! Tay was great in 2015 and it was clear that he had worked hard on improving elements of his game. I expect to see further improvement in 2016.

Levi Greenwood A broken leg in the NAB series really disrupted Greenwood’s season and I don’t think we have seen anything like the best of him yet. He was recruited to play an inside role and along with Adams I expect him to clear from the stoppages for us. There is a question mark over Greenwood’s disposal. He ranked 8th in total clangers in 2014 and 8th in clangers per game in 2010. His effective disposal percentage has ranged from 52.3% to 72.5% over his career. If he can improve his disposal (as Adams did in 2015) he already gets enough of the ball.

Travis Varcoe wasn’t great in the first half of the season, but he won me over in the second half. I have a vague recollection of him shirking some contests in the early part and even in the second half of the season he still had a tendency to bump rather than tackle at times. I just had a look at his game stats and other than three very quiet games versus Adelaide, Carlton and Richmond (two of which we lost) his stats at least weren’t bad. I think Varcoe was best when the pressure was on and that kind of example can really help the team going forward. I hope Varcoe gets back to his form of 2009-2011 for Geelong where he set up numerous goals and kicked a few himself.

A broken wrist probably prevented Steele Sidebottom from running second in the Copeland. A quality player, Steele is also an endurance specialist and may well benefit from the lowered interchange cap and removal of the substitute. Ranked 7th in effective disposals per game and 8th in uncontested possessions per game in 2015. I expect Sidey and Pendles to move back from the contest a bit and be our “quarterbacks” setting up play going forward in 2016.

Key Position Forwards

Along with the ruck position, this is probably one area where we arguably lack some depth and I would expect the club to use a rookie spot for a mature aged key forward to go along with category B rookie Darrean Wyatt and rookie Corey Gault.

Leaving aside pinch-hitters like Reid and Goldsack, we have Travis Cloke, Darcy Moore and Jesse White.

I’m personally not convinced that Cloke is critical (irreplaceable) to our forward structure. I see his best work when he is running up and down the ground tiring his defender, taking let out marks near defensive 50 and using his long boot to kick over the top deep into forward 50. Do we need to use (or think of) Cloke more as the goal assist guy rather than the shot on goal guy? In a worrying sign, his marks, contested marks and marks inside 50 have all been well off his highs the last couple of years.

Moore showed enormous potential in his nine games in 2015, but we must remember he is still essentially a kid. He certainly played well enough to expect a spot as a tall forward even though he has a lot to improve. I don’t want to see him overworked too early and if he pinch hits in the ruck then I have concerns about the effect of the crash and bash aspect on his body. I would expect Moore to play almost all games in 2016.

Despite the criticisms of his form, White had a career-best season in 2015. Having said that, Moore probably did enough to move ahead of him even in the short term. With our three jumping forwards in Elliott, Howe and Fasolo in addition to Cloke and Moore, I suspect Jesse will struggle for best 22 and may have to rely on injury to get an opportunity. He is an athletic type and has the potential to also play as a big wingman and perhaps we might see White and Howe switching between forward and wing.

Corey Gault showed a bit early in the 2015 season in his 3 games, but his frame still looks light for a key position forward. Given what Moore showed later in the season, I would imagine that Gault has fallen back in the pecking order.

Other Forwards

We are loaded here, with three jumping jacks (Elliott, Howe and Fasolo) to go along with Broomhead and Blair. Outside of Broomhead we don’t have any natural crumbers and that may be area the club looks to address in the draft or rookie draft. I’ve mentioned Shane Yarran in other despatches as a likely type who may fill a need a bit like Andrew Krakouer did.

Most of these guys have claims on at least part-time midfield roles and well and some of the midfielders can be expected to spend significant time forward (Swan and DeGoey in particular).

Elliott won the Gordon Coventry Award with 35 (not a typo) goals. Elliott consolidated his previous years’ good form, but something seemed a little bit off for me. At his best, Elliott is an absolute gun and he is one of forwards who I hope we keep forward most of the time rather than pushing through the midfield.

Fasolo was sent to the VFL to work on some aspects of his game. I really rate Fasolo. He may appear cocky and perhaps selfish at times, but I think he has started to demonstrate a real team aspect to his game. He is a real danger in the forward line and combined with Elliott and Howe should create some serious worries for opposition defenders.

I don’t have much to say on Howe especially since he has primarily been played as a defender the last two seasons. He can jump and take a mark and I hope he can kick a goal. The club has indicated his role will be on a wing and forward at times, but with a plethora of other midfield/wing types I’ve included Howe as a forward here.

Broomhead has the potential to breakout in 2016 and he could be one of our more important players as he possesses the natural crumbing ability we lack and he can set play up nicely. With eight games in 2014 and 11 games in 2015, I fully expect Broomhead to play almost all games in 2016.

Another Nick’s whipping boy, Blair, has been a heart and soul player for us. His performances have been pretty consistent over several seasons now, but I think 2016 will seem him come under serious selection pressure for the first time since 2010 as we have some youngsters with the potential to move past him (DeGoey and Broomhead in particular) and the possibility of Swanny spending more time forward.

Key Position Backs

I’m inclined to break this category in two as I see fairly distinct differences between the heavier-framed Nathan Brown and Ben Reid and the lighter-framed Jack Frost, Tyson Goldsack, Jonathon Marsh and, if he’s not forward, Darcy Moore.

I love the fact that from the above list all of Reid, Goldsack and Moore have had the flexibility to play forward and back at AFL level and I think that gives Bucks some nice levers to pull and mix things up during games. Marsh probably also has that capacity to go forward at times.

After injury struck to ruin his in 2014, Brown was back and played 21 games holding down the fort at full back. I thought he fitted right back in without missing a beat and his 8th place in the Copeland is a testament to that (he and Cloke were the only big fellas in the top 10). He is also the master of the one-percenter. I am of the view that Browny is suited more to the heavier stay-at-home wrestling forwards rather than the fast-leading forwards, but it is a role he plays well and he is a starting 22 lock for mine.

For the second year in a row, Reid struggled to get on the park, but he showed glimpses when he did. If he has his body right in 2016 then we effectively have an All-Australian recruit in 2016. In his best years his contested marks, intercept marks and one-percenters have stood out and I think he is potentially a massive positive impact for us in 2016 if he can get on the park. His ability to swing forward (swapping with the likes of Goldsack and Moore) provides a different look up forward at times and some pressure-relief for Cloke. Without looking at his stats, my recollection is that Reidy is a pretty accurate shot at goal too.

The ice-man, Jack Frost, filled a void as a rookie in 2014 when Brown went down. He has now been promoted to the senior list for 2016 – something that was well-deserved after two years as a rookie playing 22 and 20 games in 2014 and 2015. Frost’s output fell slightly in 2015, but that likely was as much to do with Brown’s return as anything else. He was sent back to the VFL to work on the offensive side of his game and I suspect he will benefit greatly from the opportunity to play closely alongside Reid (a man he could model his game on). Here’s a stat for the negative Nellies – he ranked 4th in the AFL for effective disposal % in 2015 with 87.33%! Clearly if Brown and Reid hold down the bigger-bodied forwards then Frost has the opportunity to create with some run and his closing speed probably provides some protection for him playing a bit “looser” on his man to create attack.

I will get howled down for this, but (to me) Tyson Goldsack is the unsung hero of the team. When he leaves the AFL he can get a job for Main Roads filling potholes. Every time someone goes down injured (even during a game) good old Tyson steps up and fills the hole. He is the definition of versatile. Now, as good as he is filling those holes, I think he is our best kick out man (at least currently). I don’t have the statistics so this is from my failing recollection of events, but in the first half of the season (remember when we were winning games?) Tyson was taking kickouts and we were getting the ball out of defence okay. I note that this was one area where Bucks quoted a couple of statistics at -0.2 and -0.4 suggesting we could get a one goal improvement per game if we can just sort out our kickouts. To me they went markedly downhill when Tyson got injured.

Marsh oozes potential, but I still have a question mark over his decision-making under pressure and disposal efficiency. I’m not bagging the guy as if he comes on as we would all hope he will be a great player for the pick he was taken at. Unlike many on this board, I struggle to find a place for him right now at AFL level. This doesn’t concern me at all though as I think he will benefit immensely from continued development in the VFL, perhaps even in the forward line as he is a player who can provide a bit of “X-factor”.

I will deal with DTM’s favourite player in the forwards section.

Other Backs

We run pretty deep in the small/medium backs category. A few of these guys can pinch hit in the key position posts, but I don’t think any of them really have the size right now to do that full time.

With only 2 games to his name, Adam Oxley came in and played 17 games in 2015 including a few with big possession counts playing the loose man in defence and a bit higher up the ground. I suspect Oxley will be groomed for a wing/outside midfield role going forward. There will be significant competition for the spots Oxley might take so it will be interesting to see if he can retain his spot.

After injury issues Matt Scharenberg came in late and played 4 AFL games. I found his performances in those games uninspiring given the very high regard Scharenberg is held in having been drafted at #6 in 2013. To my mind he was (somewhat at least) gifted those games rather than having earned them knocking down the door at VFL level. Shazza is one player I will watch closely in the NAB series and I hope he really performs well and forces his way into the team.

Tom Langdon followed up 19 games in his debut year with the full 22 in 2015. No second-year blues for him. Like Oxley, Langdon has been a solid contributor, but I suspect he may spend some time through the middle and on the wings in 2016. There will be intense competition for spots in our back half and, unfair as it may seem, Langdon will need to step up another gear in 2016. I think he is capable of it. He strikes me as going about things very professionally and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the leadership group soon.

I missed Alan Toovey first time around and he may find that happening at the selection table in 2016. Toovey is a pretty good shut-down defender with flexibility to play on talls and smalls. I suspect his lack of offensive output will put him under pressure in 2016 with the likes of Langdon, Oxley, Scharenberg (and to a lesser extent, Marsh and Maynard) likely to overtake him.

I put Brayden Maynard in the same basket as Scharenberg in that he was (somewhat at least) gifted games in 2015 rather than having earned them knocking down the door at VFL level. We are all enticed by his penetrating kick, but I’ve seen him make some costly mistakes at both VFL and AFL level. That’s not a huge surprise at his age and experience. He has the potential to be a massive weapon coming out of the back half, but is he ready yet?

Nick’s whipping boy Ben Sinclair has struggled to stay on the park the last two seasons. I suspect 2016 is make or break for him. Like Maynard, he has that potential to be a massive weapon coming out of the back half. In his case it is probably more carry and foot speed whereas Maynard is more a penetrating kick.

2016 will potentially be Jackson Ramsey’s make or break year also. He has managed limited AFL games (2 in 2014 and 5 in 2015) since being drafted, but he is clearly highly rated internally and managed Copeland votes in four of his five 2015 games before injury. I suspect that the club took a conservative approach with him towards the end of the season in order to ensure that he would be cherry ripe for 2016. Ramsey has honed his craft in the VFL, but has shown that he can apply it at AFL level. He is a rebound 50 king and between Ramsey, Sinclair and Maynard we have three guys who can help us rebound forward quickly and break the lines out of defence.

I haven’t forgotten Marley Williams. He’s as tough as a cat’s head. If he needs extra coin after his AFL career, maybe he and Clarko can put on an exhibition cage fight. I’ve been a big fan of what Marley has done on the field since 2013, but 2015 was his best year and he bested most of his statistical averages in 2015 and played 20 games. For mine, Williams is a lock for best 22. The only question is whether he will stay back full time or spend some time in the guts as an inside midfielder.

I’ve mentioned in other threads that I expect to see Pendles and Sidey spending time at half back setting up play going forward, but I will cover them under midfielders.

Ultimately, I suspect who gets selected in these roles will come down to who can provide the best disposal efficiency and break the lines going forward whether that be penetrating kicks, run and carry or a combination of the two. (It’s a given for me that they are expected to limit the impact of the opposition forwards and I think they have all demonstrated that capability with differing degrees of consistency, but generally at a pretty good level.)

Pre-season Snippets

New recruits Adam Treloar and James Aish joined the 1-4 year players commencing pre-season today (9 November).

In the 2km time trial – Jack Crisp led early followed by Tim Golds (permission to train list). Crispy won and “among those who ran well were Golds, Elliott + Broomhead” (club twitter feed).

“Taylor Adams leading the way in running drills day 1″ (Mark Stevens twitter).

Courtesy of Neil Appleby in another thread:

2km Time Trial – Finishing Order:
1. Jack Crisp (6:36)
2. Gold (6:39)
3. Elliott (6:44)
4. Broomhead (6:45)
5. Goodyear
6. Sharenberg
7. Witts
8. Williams (6:59)
9. Moore
10. Cox
11. Maynard
12. Oxley (7:09)
13. Grundy (7:17)

Adams, Aish, Gault, Treloar, Frost, Wyatt didn’t run.

Is it just me or should we be worried about the midfield types (Williams, Maynard and Oxley) who finished behind Witts?

2016 Fixture

I’m not thrilled with our fixture, but it is what it is and we have to deal with it.

If you average out 2015 wins for our opponents (giving Adelaide and Geelong a draw for the missed game), then you get 11.11 wins which is about what you would expect for a middle of the ladder team from 2015. I think that we might have hoped for a slightly lower number given our 12th place finish in 2015. Pre-bye that average is 10.0, post-bye the average is 12.5, so we again have an easier run in the first half of the season.

We have six 6-day breaks and three of them are coming off travel (Richmond Round 2, Carlton Round 7 and Norf Round 18 ).

Whilst I take the view that we can win against anyone on any given day, based on what we produced in 2015 I see:

• 8 games where we will likely start clear favourites: Rounds 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 15 and 22.

• 9 games where we will likely start as clear underdogs: Rounds 1, 2, 6, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 23.

• 5 games where the odds will likely be near enough even: Rounds 9, 10, 11, 16 and 17.

If we can improve by 2-3 goals a game in 2016 then those expectations change significantly.

Why will we be better in 2016?

#1 Natural improvement in all of our young list – surely?

#2 Full (fingers crossed) seasons from the likes of Reid, Greenwood and Sidebottom – three handy players?

#3 New recruits Treloar and Howe (and perhaps Aish, I am hoping to be convinced) – everyone’s excited right?

#4 No (or limited) drop off in our veterans performances – Swanny is evergreen especially if he spends time forward, Travis will surely kick more goals in 2016 and Goldy and Toovey have potential replacements coming through that would mitigate any drop off.

#5 Greater shared experience as the bulk of the list has another season together under their belt.




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