Didn’t do a Benny: Aaron Edwards suspended for drink driving

Key forward’s suspension for drink driving could open up spots for Roo youngsters Ziebell and Anthony.

In a severe case of poor timing, Aaron Edwards has been suspended for the preseason and four matches into the home & away season after being caught drink driving on the way to training, according to the Herald-Sun, only days after the AFL leaked its new, tougher alcohol policy to the Age.

Kangaroos Training Session

The suspension comes directly from the leadership group, which probably means that’s the extent of the on-field punishment for Edwards. For fantasy coaches, the options that open up for the first month of the season with Edwards’ absence are interesting.

As a tall forward – or semi-tall, given that he’s listed at only 184cm – he is vital to the Kangaroos’ structure, as the lead-up forward who delivers it inside 50 for the likes of David Hale to contest for, which then spills crumbs for Matt Campbell and Lindsay Thomas. The natural replacement in that role should be Corey Jones, and but he has had some poor years in the last couple and may be suited elsewhere in the structure. Lachie Hansen and Scott McMahon can lay some claims, but coach Dean Laidley might decide to blood some youth in that role.

Let’s be honest here, there are only three Kangaroo youngsters that fantasy coaches should be concerned with. Jack Ziebell is the obvious one, but you wouldn’t think he’s the right shape to fit into that role yet – he’s the right height at 188cm, but Edwards has 8kg over him in weight, 92 to 84, pointing to the extra muscle and conditioning that the older player has stacked on over a number of AFL and VFL preseasons. Ben Ross is a different type of player, of course, so he’s not in the running. The sneaky pick for me would be Liam Anthony, who has 1cm and 3kg on Ziebell – not to mention three and a half years of age! – and has proven at lower levels that he knows how to find the pill when given a roving commission, as can be seen from his 94.5 Dream Team average while playing 19 games for East Fremantle in the WAFL last year, including per-game rates of just over one goal and six marks. He is one player to watch with an eagle eye in the NAB, especially since we may only get to see him once if Carlton are up for the preseason, as they often are.

This is North Melbourne we are talking about, home to the Fantasy Antichrist, so let’s not get too carried away. How much can you trust Laidley to actually play one of these kids for more than a game or two at a time? Who do you think is the natural Edwards replacement, and is there any fantasy value there? Tell me in the comments.

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