North Melbourne’s Ryan Bastinac is among a host of first-gamers who have shown enough to merit round 1 selection.
I am breaking this second edition of the team projections up into four posts, because they are taking me a looooong time to compile. I am including injury and suspension and retirement lists for each team as usual. Keep in mind that these are all projected for round 1, so that some who are currently injured are not labeled as such because I expect them to recover in time.
FB: Heath Grundy, Craig Bolton, Martin Mattner
HB: Tadhg Kennelly, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Rhyce Shaw
C: Kieren Jack, Brett Kirk, Ben McGlynn
HF: Ryan O’Keefe, Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton
FF: Jesse White, Daniel Bradshaw, Lewis Jetta
Fol: Mark Seaby, Josh P. Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh
Int: Shane Mumford, Paul Bevan, Nick Malceski, Daniel Hannebery
In: Jetta, Hannebery, Kennedy, Bevan, McGlynn
Out: Craig Bird, Trent Dennis-Lane, Patrick VeszpremiTed Richards, Nick Smith
Iffy: Kennedy, Richards, Malceski, Hannebery
Waiting: Richards, Smith, Ed Barlow, Daniel Currie
Injured: Bird, Kristin Thornton
I have been asked often in the FF chat about Vesz. There is something weird going on with him, that much seems obvious. Some think he came back from the summer break too fat. Others say he’s been on some funky diet and gotten too thin. Others say he’s too muscly so the physio crew is trying to smooth him out, like he’s a holiday suitcase that won’t shut until you reposition the bottle of duty-free goon stored within. I think he’s turning into the smoke monster from Lost. It’s too freaky.
Meanwhile, the Swan fans have worked themselves into a lather over the practice match form of Hannebery, who apparently earned three Brownlow votes in the NAB on the weekend. I jest you not. Perhaps the Blood faithful have turned a little crazy after so many years of nothing to talk about in the preseason, and have gone a little sideways in the head after seeing their team earn an actual honest-to-goodness NAB Cup victory.
Bradshaw’s preparation has been nowhere in the preseason and the rehabilitation from his knee injury has always been hovering at or just after the date of the Round 1 clash with the Saints. Mind you, he also had very little preparation before the 2008 season after missing all of 2007, and then proceeding to play at his former level as if nothing had happened to his knee. Those of us who bought him that year remember with fondness the hard-to-find match reports on him playing barely anything of the fourth NAB game and winning it with a late goal. Bradshaw doesn’t need a preseason! He’s the Chuck Norris of preseasons. He can deliver a roundhouse kick to the preseason WITH HIS BAD LEG. That’s how awesome he is.
FB: Steven Baker, Zac Dawson, James Gwilt
HB: Farren Ray, Sam Fisher, Brendon Goddard
C: Jason Gram, Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo
HF: Stephen Milne, Nick Riewoldt, Adam Schneider
FF: Andrew McQualter, Justin Koschitzke, Sam Gilbert
Fol: Steven King, Clinton Jones, Leigh Montagna
Int: Ben McEvoy, David Armitage, Brett Peake, Jarryn Geary
In: McEvoy, Geary, McQualter
Out: Raphael Clarke, Michael Gardiner, Jason Blake
Iffy: Geary, Peake, Gwilt, McQualter
Waiting: Sean Dempster, Luke Miles, Tom Lynch, Steven Gaertner
Injured: Clarke, Gardiner, Blake, Jesse W. Smith, Jack Steven, Robert Eddy
Suspended: Andrew Lovett (club)
Retired: Jarryd Allen
The big story at St Kilda for fantasy is Armitage ensconcing himself in the Saints 22. With Hayes hanging onto his round 1 spot by a thread with a corked calf on the weekend – the same calf that has hampered him all preseason, apparently – and the injuries to Eddy and Steven, Armitage’s spot is now secure, at least for now. Whether he will get the same kind of terrible TOG that Luke Ball used to is another question.
The injuries to Clarke and Blake are more interesting for structural reasons. Blake, who may yet return from the back soreness that kept him out on Saturday night, is rather important to the St Kilda backline because he frees up Fisher to be the loose man. Gwilt has had some pretty impressive results playing much the same sort of role in the preseason on the likes of Goodes and Pavlich, albeit that those two were probably only going at half rat power. If coach Lyon decides Gwilt is not the answer to Goodes at full steam in the real stuff, he may have to sacrifice someone like Gilbert who he would otherwise want as a lead-up forward. That might open up a spot for Lynch in the forward line, who has also looked handy in the NAB.
FB: Paul Stewart, Alipate Carlile, Jacob Surjan
HB: Nathan Krakouer, Chad Cornes, Domenic Cassisi
C: Travis Boak, Steven Salopek, Justin Westhoff
HF: Jason Davenport, Warren Tredrea, Kane Cornes
FF: Brett Ebert, Jay Schulz, Daniel Motlop
Fol: Dean Brogan, Robbie Gray, Danyle Pearce
Int: Matthew Lobbe, Matthew Broadbent, Mitchell Banner, Cameron Hitchcock
In: Banner, P. Stewart, Schulz, Hitchcock
Out: Hamish Hartlett, Michael Pettigrew, Jackson Trengove, Matt Thomas
Iffy: Pettigrew, Thomas, Broadbent, Hartlett
Waiting: Scott Harding, Jay Nash, Nick Salter, Trengove
Injured: David Rodan, Hartlett, John Butcher
Suspended: Troy Chaplin
That bench still looks a little young and inexperienced to me, but I’ll go with it for now. Perhaps I’ve been reading too many Power fan 22s, which routinely contain six fan fave kids that no one else has ever heard of.
I have gone with Paul Stewart over Trengove for reasons of age – Trengove is 19 while Stewart is 22. The Kangaroos have some experienced talls up forward and the Power will need some bigger bodies in the absence of Chaplin and Pettigrew, with the latter not fit apparently. Whoever it is is going to be hard to justify buying for fantasy teams, with Chaplin lurking in the wings to return from suspension in round 2.
Port fans are also agitating for the second Stewart brother to be given a black-white-and-teal V-necked guernsey, as Paul has also shown a bit in the NAB. I think Schulz and Tredrea are enough in that structure, especially with Westhoff drifting forward and Motlop also able to mark overhead.
As for Hitchcock, his resemblance to Wade Thompson last year for fantasy purposes may extend all the way to playing two games to start the season then retreating into the mists of oblivion, because round 3 is the first week that Rodan’s banishment to the LTI list can be lifted. By then, Rodan will be 13 weeks into ACL recovery using the LARS technique that helped Malceski play again after 12.
I am still projecting Lobbe to play as second ruck, as I don’t rate Westhoff’s ability to actually touch the ball in the ruck. It’s all very well being a small, mobile ruckman, but you have to show that you can be treated seriously in the ruck contest itself. The Hoff is no Paul Dear, let alone Patrick Ryder. I see Cameron Cloke as a second-half option for Port, after round 11 with the free rookie elevation.
FB: Lachie Hansen, Scott D. Thompson, Scott McMahon
HB: Leigh Harding, Nathan Grima, Michael Firrito
C: Levi Greenwood, Andrew Swallow, Liam Anthony
HF: Brent Harvey, Aaron Edwards, Matt Campbell
FF: Lindsay Thomas, David Hale, Ben Warren
Fol: Hamish McIntosh, Daniel Wells, Jack Ziebell
Int: Todd Goldstein, Brady Rawlings, Ryan Bastinac, Corey Jones
Out: Gavin Urquhart
Iffy: Edwards, Jones, Rawlings, Warren
Waiting: Daniel Pratt, Ben Ross, Robbie Tarrant, Sam Wright
Injured: Ed Lower, Ben Cunnington
Suspended: Drew Petrie
In the first version of this column I said fantasy fans would be interested to hear about the gameplan under new coach Brad Scott. Perhaps not surprisingly, the gameplan is based around attack at the ball and the man with the ball, just as it was under Leigh Matthews at Brisbane where Scott learned his trade.
I am projecting both Edwards and Jones to play in round 1 but I expect one of those to make way for Petrie in round 3 – probably Jones. Grima is still under an injury cloud, and his direct replacement would be Tarrant, who is being converted from a forward to a back in the manner of Ryan Schoenmakers. I have picked Bastinac over Urquhart based on NAB form, though I am not prepared to also insert Cunnington as I expect him to graduate through North Ballarat.
Pratt has had a terrible preseason, while Rawlings was mooted to play a bit of a quarterback role, but if so Scott didn’t show his hand in the NAB. Wright was the one who performed that sweeping role to great effect, though opposition coaches quickly worked it out and manned him up. In the Freo match, in particular, it became clear that Wright needs more tuition at VFL level to round out his game so that he doesn’t get exploited like that again.