Tiger blood: 2011 Round 1 projections (1/4)

Richmond fans think they’ll be #winning on the opening game, but the Blues will be on some good Charlie Sheen of their own.

A reminder on the structure of these posts: they are intended as a guide to the players who are in consideration for the first game of the season for each team. Please note that the “iffy” and “waiting” lists are always four names long – thus some players are named who you would think are locks in the 21 just to fill out the numbers – and they are not listed in order of likelihood. Also, the “injured” list sometimes includes players who are not still injured, technically, but will not be considered for selection because they have not yet recovered sufficient fitness in rehab from a previous injury.

Carlton
FB: Nicholas Duigan, Jeremy Laidler, Dennis Armfield
HB: Chris Yarran, Paul Bower, Jordan Russell
C: Kade Simpson, Bryce Gibbs, Heath Scotland
HF: Andrew Carrazzo, Lachie Henderson, Andrew Walker
FF: Jeff Garlett, Jarrad Waite, Eddie Betts
Fol: Robert Warnock, Chris Judd, Marc Murphy
Int: Shaun Hampson, Mitch Robinson, Aaron Joseph
Sub: Ryan Houlihan

Iffy: Duigan, Laidler, Houlihan, Murphy (knee)
Waiting: Matthew Watson. Kane Lucas, Brock McLean, Andrew Collins
Injured: Matthew Kreuzer, Luke Mitchell
Suspended: Michael Jamison, David Ellard

Houlihan, Carrazzo and McLean are all coming off interrupted preseasons, and Murphy was seen in civvies at the last NAB match with a knee problem. Either of Duigan and Laidler could be replaced by Watson for the two games that Jamison is out suspended, but after that you’d think only one guaranteed spot is available for the three of them, with the outside chance of two spots depending on matchups.

Collins is coming from as far back as Houlihan in his preseason, so I think they’ll plump for Houlihan’s flexibility in the sub spot. Joseph will be preferred over McLean and will be given the job on Foley, as against Richmond they will not need McLean’s blocking ability so much – assuming Murphy is fit.

Richmond
FB: Kelvin Moore, Will Thursfield, Luke McGuane
HB: Chris Newman, David Astbury, Shaun Grigg
C: Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin, Mitch Morton
HF: Daniel Connors, Brad Miller, Robin Nahas
FF: Troy Taylor, Jack Riewoldt, Tyrone Vickery
Fol: Angus Graham, Nathan Foley, Dustin Martin
Int: Reece Conca, Bachar Houli, Shane Tuck
Sub: Matt White

Iffy: Miller, Conca, White, Graham
Waiting: Ben Griffiths, Jayden Post, Shane Edwards, Tom Derickx
Injured: Daniel Jackson, Ben Nason
Suspended: Jake King

Richmond fans are chirpier than normal this preseason, as if they have forgotten all about how chirpy they were the last two or three seasons at this point, just prior to getting the living suitcase kicked out of them on opening night. They are talking up names like Jake Batchelor and David Gourdis, like they’re farmers from Ballarat at the Royal Easter Show spruiking for the blue riband for Best Potato.

Back in the land of reality, the Tigers list is healthy at the moment so the best 22 will pretty much be on the park on the 24th. Having said that, a significant number of players will be underdone going into R1 like Griffiths, Foley, Moore, Jackson and Nason – plus the preseason hasn’t been graced with much attendance by Deledio, Newman or Riewoldt. Nevertheless, coach Hardwick will want to make a decent impression in the opening game for once, and will try to present his strongest team. For this reason, I think that Miller plays early while Griffiths recovers.

White seems to me to be a ready-made subs player: quick, workmanlike, versatile but not really best 21 material.

Geelong
FB: Josh Hunt, Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn
HB: Corey Enright, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie
C: James Kelly, Joel Corey, David Wojcinski
HF: Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Paul Chapman
FF: Mathew Stokes, Brad Ottens, Shannon Byrnes
Fol: Mark Blake, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood
Int: Tom Lonergan, Mitchell Duncan, Taylor Hunt
Sub: Daniel Menzel

Iffy: T. Hunt, Menzel, Lonergan, Chapman (calf)
Waiting: Travis Varcoe, Trent West, Simon Hogan, Steven Motlop
Injured: Cameron Mooney, James Podsiadly, Cameron Ling, Marcus Drum

I am projecting Chappy to be the only one to recover for round 1 of the multitude of sore Cats, mainly due to Sod’s Law. Varcoe will be underdone coming off a long convalescence, and Geelong really do need to play Menzel and T. Hunt a lot this year, not to mention Hogan and Motlop.

The absence of the forward spine presents a big short-term problem for new coach Chris Scott, one which will mean Blake gets a much greater chance than he will once Moondog and the jPod return. Down back, Mackie has had a poor preseason and Milburn is being talked up as a subs specialist, though I suspect if that is true of the latter then he’d more likely start on the field and be the designated redshirt.

St Kilda
FB: Steven Baker, Zac Dawson, Sam Fisher
HB: Jason Gram, Jason Blake, James Gwilt
C: Farren Ray, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
HF: Andrew McQualter, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna
FF: Sam Gilbert, Ryan Gamble, Stephen Milne
Fol: Ben McEvoy, Nick Dal Santo, Clinton Jones
Int: Rhys Stanley, David Armitage, Sean Dempster
Sub: Jarryn Geary

Iffy: Stanley, Dempster, Baker, Geary
Waiting: Raphael Clarke, Brett Peake, Alistair Smith, Daniel Archer
Injured: Justin Koschitzke, Jack Steven
LTI: Michael Gardiner
Suspended: Adam Schneider

This team is pretty settled. Stanley is ahead of Archer as the third tall forward cum ruck support, due to exposed form and list placement – Archer is still a rookie and may stay there despite Gardiner’s LTI status, with Robert Eddy a better option to upgrade.

At this stage I’m projecting that Baker and Dempster can start in the same side, albeit one of them (probably Baker) would be earmarked to be subbed off for Geary in this structure. That option may only last as long as Schneider’s suspension, though.

Let me know in the comments what you disagree with in these projections. How long will Duigan and Laidler last after Jamison’s return? DO you believe in Grigg off a HBF? How about the T.Hunt/Menzel combo at Geelong, are they really going to play the kids from round 1? Stanley: deadly or spudly?

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