Paul Duffield breaks hand, Suban followers rejoice

Comes news from the wild West that Paul Duffield has broken his hand at training and will miss the next month, which should cover the Dockers’ round 1 NAB appointment with Richmond. Who, you may ask? It’s not really all that important who he is, especially if you’re a Nick Suban groupie who is gagging to hear news of his early selection for Fremantle.

The West Australian had the story. Duffield is described as a utility, though Champion has him pegged as a general defender and he was a back and a midfielder in VirtualSports competitions. He played 11 games last year, including the last six in a row, for averages of 63.9 in Dream Team and 57.7 in Super Coach. All in all, an average player on an average list, and not one who should normally come under consideration for anything other than Premium Dream Team and other private draft leagues where he’s a fringe player at best.

No, the relevance of this story is in how it may open up a spot in the Fremantle starting 22 for a small defender. Unfortunately, for those of you rooting for Suban, Stephen Hill or rookie Greg Broughton to snag that last halfback flanker spot, the competition is already fierce. Behind the guaranteed starters (if fit) of Roger Hayden and David Mundy, the third small defender spot is often filled by Steven Dodd and/or Scott Thornton, with Garrick Ibbotson also spending some time on a back flank in between stints in the midfield. Throw Brock O’Brien into the mix and it’s a position where the Dockers have already copped criticism for loading up too much in the 2008 draft.

The good news for Suban spruikers is that he was the star of today’s training session, if Dockerland is to be believed.

The one player who I am looking forward to watching is Nick Suban. He was leading the first year players in the drills they were doing right in front of me before the scratchy and looked to have time and space during the scratchy as well as having quick hands and a thumping left boot.

The smart money is on Hill being WAFLed, due to his body needing more development, and Suban getting an early gig as he’s more AFL-ready. Suban is certainly popular enough in the Fanplanner that many of you seem to think he’s a good chance to be blooded early, like Ibbotson was last year. The problem with that theory is that Ibbotson himself is still there, as as all those other small defenders. Then again, Collingwood seems to carry seven or eight small forwards into each game, so why can’t Freo do the same with small defenders?

While we’re talking about Freo players, apparently Chris Mayne rolled an ankle at training earlier in the week and is in doubt for the Richmond gallop. Given the Dockers’ lack of small forward options, this is perhaps less newsworthy.

There’s no denying that Fremantle was a great source of fantasy value in 2008, and with the youth policy in full swing under Mark Harvey, there will continue to be kids pushed through the system earlier than a lot of other clubs will in 2009. The question remains, how early is early? Can you trust Suban to make the 22 for round 1, given that as Fremantle play the Bulldogs in the Sunday twilight game, you will only have access to a squad of 25 posted 160 minutes before the first lockout on the Thursday night?


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