Malthouse likes 3 young boys…. for round 1

Michael Malthouse likes to make Big Statements at pre-game pressers, and today’s gobsmacker was that he could name up to three debutants for round 1. Eligible players for this honour, assuming that the Pies don’t immediately elevate one of their rookies to replace the ACL-wrecked Brad Dick, are: John Anthony, Jaxson Barham, Nathan J. Brown, Chris Dawes, John McCarthy and Toby Thoolan. Now even if you think MM is speaking with forked tongue about round 1, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to decipher his hints about spots opening up in the Pies 22 with the retirements of Buckley, Clement and Licuria.

Barham is injured with a dislocated shoulder for the next month, so that rules him out. Thoolan is a ruckman and they always start slow, so cross him off as well. McCarthy is labelled as “raw” in the pre-season guides I’ve seen, so he’s probably going to start in the VFL. Anthony is probably closest to senior selection, given that injury was the only thing that stopped him debuting in 2007, followed by Brown – both defenders, notably. Anthony is compared to Clement in both the AFL Prospectus and the AFL Record, but intriguingly the 20-year-old is listed at 85kg in the Prospectus and 92kg in the Record, as well as adding a centimetre in height from 191 to 192. That tells me he’s bulked up in preparation for senior football. With Harry Taylor falling by the wayside, you have to consider John Anthony as a legitimate option on your back bench if he’s named on Thursday, especially if he’s named as one of the back six.

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