Pop goes Puopolo: 2011 round 1 projections (2/4)

Fans always like to pick Round 1 teams with plenty of kids. Veteran footy watchers know that coaches value experience at selection.

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.

Collingwood
FB: Alan Toovey, Chris Tarrant, Leon Davis
HB: Heritier O’Brien, Ben Reid, Heath Shaw
C: Dale Thomas, Dane Swan, Ben Johnson
HF: Steele Sidebottom, Travis Cloke, Alan Didak
FF: Brent Macaffer, Chris Dawes, Andrew Krakouer
Fol: Darren Jolly, Scott Pendlebury, Luke Ball
Int: Leigh Brown, Sharrod Wellingham, Dayne Beams
Sub: Jarryd Blair

Iffy: Macaffer, Blair, Beams, Tarrant (knee)
Waiting: John McCarthy, Tyson Goldsack, Lachlan Keeffe, Simon Buckley
Injured: Nick Maxwell, Josh Thomas
LTI: Nathan Brown

I am assuming here that Maxwell either doesn’t recover from his kidney bleeding, or is given extra time to heal regardless. As for his replacement, I am not sold on Keeffe. He looked anything but ready against Essendon in my view with two 50m penalties given away for petulant conduct that resulted in scores. Goldsack is underdone, and Malthouse will give the Neon BP experiment time to develop. I don’t believe in Buckley either. He has that Rainesian ability to look great sprinting out of defence with suntanned industriousness, but his long, high kicks are rarely effective.

I think Macaffer is just ahead of McCarthy at this stage, but not by much. Post the retirement of Steak Knives, this is a spot that must be filled by a heavy body shape like those two, as opposed to a Brad Dick type. Dick himself will work through the magoos.

I can see Blair as a subs specialist, switching with the likes of Beams or Sidebottom to maximise run from fresh legs.

Port Adelaide
FB: Paul Stewart, Alipate Carlile, Troy Chaplin
HB: Matthew Broadbent, Jackson Trengove, Steven Salopek
C: Danyle Pearce, Domenic Cassisi, Robbie Gray
HF: Chad Cornes, Justin Westhoff, Brett Ebert
FF: Cameron Hitchcock, Jay Schulz, Daniel Motlop
Fol: Dean Brogan, Travis Boak, Kane Cornes
Int: Tom Logan, Matt Thomas, David Rodan
Sub: Jarrad Irons

Iffy: P. Stewart, Salter, Broadbent, Thomas
Waiting: Mitchell Banner, Hamish Hartlett, Jason Davenport, Daniel Stewart
Injured: Jacob Surjan, Ben Jacobs, Matthew Lobbe, Andrew Moore, Ben Newton, Simon Phillips

You could add Jasper Pittard and Jarrad Redden to that waiting list too, as they are all thereabouts. Thomas and Logan are classic 22nd/23rd men, so with Surjan recovering from his knee problems in the WAFL, Thomas’s stopping ability will be needed in the short term.

While under normal circumstances D. Stewart would get a gig as a third tall forward, with the marking ability of Ebert and Chad plus D. Motlop’s multitudinous skills, playing a 200cm bloke as your third option with his lack of frontal pressure is a laxity that can’t be afforded in the footy world of 2011.

I am putting Irons in there because I think he’ll get a run at the start of the year coming off a decent preseason and will provide decent run off the subs bench. I don’t expect him to be there all year, though.

Port’s drafting strategy of picking the sluttiest ball magnets in junior ranks may pay off in future years, but I can’t find a spot for the likes of Banner, Broadbent or Hartlett at the moment. In fact, one has to wonder whether Port and coach Matthew Primus will suffer under the new defensive-minded AFL, given they are the biggest frontrunning unit in footy. One might start to raise eyebrows if these kids can’t get nearly as much traditional Port-style cheap outside stuff as in previous years. Thus, they might find that lesser-skilled hard nuts like Thomas and Logan are the sort of players who win games over the outside-running flashy kids. But hey, that’s why they pay coaches the big bucks, people!

Adelaide
FB: Graham Johncock, Ben Rutten, Scott Stevens
HB: Michael Doughty, Phil Davis, Brad Symes
C: David Mackay, Scott Thompson, Brent Reilly
HF: Chris Knights, Taylor Walker, Ricky Henderson
FF: Patrick Dangerfield, Kurt Tippett, Jason Porplyzia
Fol: Ivan Maric, Nathan Van Berlo, Bernie Vince
Int: Rory Sloane, Andy Otten, Richard Douglas
Sub: Matthew Jaensch

Iffy: Otten, Sloane, Henderson, Jaensch
Waiting: Richard Tambling, Brodie Smith, Sam Jacobs, Shaun McKernan
Injured: Ian Callinan, Jared Petrenko, Sam Shaw, James Craig, Will Young

Unlike last preseason, Adelaide’s best 22 is mostly fit, creating the opposite dilemma of what Neil Craig faced for round 1 of 2010. The main choices are that due to structural issues and 16 of the 21 being set in stone, for the other five spots you have to pick: four of Tambling, Symes, Sloane, Smith, Jaensch, Otten and Reilly; and one of Henderson, James Sellar, Jacobs, Brad Moran and McKernan. Then you have to figure out whether Craig will want pace or height in the subs position. Ask any group of Crow fans and they’ll give you different combinations to each other.

Otten is obviously the most fantasy relevant of these, and it is interesting that he has been given run-with roles in preseason. Van Berlo is being named on a HBF in most fan sides at this stage, underlining his role behind the play which replaces what Otten did in 2009. Can Craig play Reilly and Otten both doing tagging roles in the same side? Not every week, I’d suggest. The obvious set up there is Reilly tagging, Symes rebounding and Otten switching between the two roles… but where does that leave Tambling? In the SANFL, I suspect, at least to start with. Then you have Jaensch and Sloane, who are suited for small forward roles, but you can maybe only squeeze one of them in to support the dominant Porps/Danger/Knights combo.

As for McKernan, can Craig really give him the green bib and expect him to cover injuries, given he resembles an overweight giraffe? If push comes to shove and one of the big forwards is having problems, Stevens can switch and Otten can cover him as the third tall back. I think Adelaide will use their sub to provide run, run and more run. That’s why Jaensch is my Crow sub, as he has shown a bit both forward and back.

Hawthorn
FB: Brent Guerra, Stephen Gilham, Ben Stratton
HB: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Cameron Bruce
C: Clinton Young, Sam Mitchell, Chance Bateman
HF: Michael Osborne, Lance Franklin, Jordan Lewis
FF: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, David Hale
Fol: Brent Renouf, Luke Hodge, Shaun Burgoyne
Int: Xavier Ellis, Brad Sewell, Brendan Whitecross
Sub: Ryan Schoenmakers

Iffy: Whitecross, Ellis, Schoenmakers, Hodge (achilles)
Waiting: Paul Puopolo, Liam Shiels, Rick Ladson, Jordan Lisle
Injured: Sam Menegola

Not since the flag year of 2008 has Hawthorn been this injury-free this early. Only Hodge is carrying anything serious. Personally, I’m singing the Doom Song. 😮

Anyway, with everyone present and accounted for, it’s a bit hard to find places for fringe players. Kyle Cheney doesn’t make the list, and neither does Isaac Smith. Journeymen like Jarryd Morton, Matt Suckling and Thomas Murphy stay at Box Hill at this stage.

Schoenmakers at the sub spot is an acknowledgement of the limitations of Hale, who is a player made to be subbed off after giving his regulation 15 minutes of effort per match. The Hawks hierarchy might want a bit more pace off the bench in the form of Shiels or Smith, but with Hale in the side they will have to work around him. (Perhaps you can tell I’m not a Hale fan.)

Let me know in the comments what you disagree with in these projections. Are you a Leon believer? Has Port zigged when they should have zagged at the draft table? How much JS does Otten really have? Can you squeeze Puopolo or Smith into the all-fit Hawk 22?

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