What we learned at Ghantoot Polo Club

It was quite surreal watching a football match being played in bright Dubai sunshine starting at 8.45pm local time, but that’s the brave new internationalist world of football. Adelaide were more than up to the task, which would have been slightly disappointing for the Collingwood hierarchy who didn’t put on much of a show for their major sponsor Emirates, but we can blame three weeks of altitude training in South Africa plus a timely bout of gastro going through half the team for that. Nevertheless, there were some points to be taken out of the game.

  • Brent Reilly looks like a million dollars, but he might not be the real deal. Yes, a fair few fantasy coaches of some note, including some in the EliteDre@mTe@mers league, love this bloke like a brother, and he did show flashes of brilliance in the second quarter including some Judd-like pack-bursting runs and a lovely supergoal to rack up 50 DT points at half time… but he ended up with only 75, good for 8th among the Crows. I’m still not convinced that he’s going to be able to post consistent tons. He has averaged 40 minutes on the pine across the last two seasons, according to the AFL Prospectus, so he’s one of those players whose TOG (time on ground) fantasy coaches keep very close eyes on, but in my mind it’s not certain that he’s going to take that extra step just yet. We’ll have another opportunity to see him against the Eagles in a fortnight.
  • Fans of Scott Pendlebury have a slight cause to worry. Pendles and Dane Swan are supposed to be the replacement inside midfielder package for the ageing Scott Burns and Shane O’Bree. With Burns missing the Dubai game and O’Bree not starring, this was a perfect opportunity for Pendles to show that he can step up to the level that Swan has already attained. Sadly, he could only manage a DT total of 59 with 8 kicks, 9 handpasses, 3 marks and 2 tackles – including a duck egg in the first quarter (admittedly due to him being benched… but why?). One to watch with a furrowed brow.
  • Tyson Edwards on the backline and Tarkyn Lockyer on the forward line? That was weird. Edwards’ move is far more likely to be permanent, which would probably remove him completely from fantasy calculations for DT/SC because he won’t be designated as a back and it’s not going to be healthy for his numbers. As for Lockyer, surely that was a crazy experiment that Mick won’t ever try again… please?
  • Ivan Maric is probably not going to be worthy of a spot in your 22, and Kurt Tippett is probably not going to be worth stowing on your bench either. Neil Craig rotated several players through the ruck, not only Maric and Tippett but Scott Stevens and anybody else in a German-coloured shirt who looked tall enough. The Crows ruck division is going to be a shambles this year, no two ways about it, and there won’t be much fantasy value there.
  • The replacement for James Clement’s “quarterback” position will not be Nick Maxwell, as some had surmised, but Heath Shaw. This will be an excellent move for him in DT, and an outstanding move in SC. Get on board.
  • Nathan Bock is going to have some very good days at centre half back when he gets a good match-up, as he did with Travis Cloke in a BOG performance in Dubai, but he still won’t deliver significant fantasy value. On a day where he dominated his position and thrashed his opponent, he still managed only 79 DT points.
  • Rhyce Shaw is worth keeping an eye on, but no more. He has burnt fantasy coaches before.
  • Brad Symes is the real deal, but temper your expectations. A highly impressive 35 points in the third quarter underlined how good he can be. Nevertheless, he’s more of an accumulator than a gun. Expect him to improve from his 61 average in 2007 to around 80 at most, but don’t be disappointed if he doesn’t crack it for many tons.
  • And finally, be wary of getting excited about this hyper-attacking gamestyle that Neil Craig sprang on Collingwood in this game. It’s not the way Adelaide has gone about it in recent years. The Crows might even get to the NAB Cup Grand Final playing that sort of game all the way through, only to drop it for their old Wall-based strategy in the regular season. Don’t be fooled into assuming that their games are going to become Carlton-under-Pagan-style goalfests where Crow plodders are going to transform into fantasy superstars. Then again…