A couple of rookies with famous names graced the top of the stat sheets in this game.
The headline for this game looked to have been Liam Shiels with a 70-point Q1 including three goals. He finished with a 114/135 and was still best on ground, building on a 122/86 from the first game. Both he and Jonathan Simpkin (79/87 following 94/72) have been given their head in the preseason, and there were none from the first choice Hawks midfield who missed playing in Launceston.
We know Shiels is capable of premium scoring, because he produced it across 22 full games in 2011 for a 102.7/91 average. Since that year he has been given roles, especially tags, as he and Shane Savage had a few lesser years, exacerbated by an achilles injury last year restricting him to low 60s from only 14 matches. Savage is gone to the Saints now, and Shiels looks like he’s going to inherit more responsibility as the likes of Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell step out of the limelight.
Perhaps more encouragingly, it looks like the Hawks might have unearthed a tagger to replace him. Will Langford (101/105, son of Chris Langford) did a job on Jack Ziebell (55/61), though of course any conclusions to be drawn about this game should be taken with a huge grain of salt given the low stakes and the deliberate variability of effort instructed by the coaches for their own devices. I am certainly not going to pot either Ziebell or Ryan Bastinac (22/21) for their low numbers given their focus has to be on round 1 of the real stuff, and they had more than enough of a run last week. The fate of Langford should be judged in this context, in that he didn’t actually take Jay-Z’s scalp because it wasn’t really up for grabs. Even if picked for round 1, I’d expect Langford to be a vest candidate as tagging at the senior level is a different proposition aerobically.
I would similarly advise caution in investing too much hope in Derick Wanganeen (not a son of Gavin Wanganeen but a distant cousin). He played a productive halfback role for a 101/72 – the discrepancy in scores explainable by the fact that only two of his 19 touches were contested. Six tackles and seven marks means he has an all-round DT game, but his SC game may be a tad lacking and it was noticeable that he had zero rebound 50s, suggesting he starts his runs behind the wing rather than in the back 50. Wanganeen may play in round 1 in place of the suspended Cyril Rioli (87/90) in much the same halfback position that Cyril is set for this year, but with him, Sam Mitchell (79/102) and Grant Birchall already there with Taylor Duryea playing back pocket, the Hawks have enough halfbacks when they are all fit. All it takes is one twang of Cyril’s soft tissue, though, to put COG (Cousin Of Gavin…?) right back in calculations for an extended run in the ones.
As for the Roos… [Luke McDonald (75/69) firmed himself for the new nickname in fantasy circles of Lock McDonald, he’s eminently startable and just as well because there’s not a lot of depth in the rookie backs this year. Robin Nahas registered a 70/72 with six tackles and four marks to add to his 13 disposals and a behind, in a typical Nahas performance: running about chasing touches in the wrong spots, not helping his team all that much in the forward half where they need him (only one inside 50).
Joel Tippett played second tall back again, and again performed reasonably for a 42/47. His pointscoring is typically limited for a back of that height (197cm), but with Luke Delaney at the Saints, Nathan Grima struggling to recover from offseason back surgery and Cameron Delaney (32/50) subbed out in Q3 on recovery from offseason work on the toe injury that cut short his 2013, the Roos may be a bit light on in the KP defender department to start the regular season. Tippett’s fate may be tied to that of Grima and the remaining Delaney, so watch those two as well if you’re watching Tippett.
To round out the rookie talk: I liked the look of Tim O’Brien (58/71 including three goals) but he looks to be a bit raw for the big time and is the wrong type of player to score much in his first year anyway; Mitch Hallahan (43/33 after wearing green) needs to do more; Daniel Currie (42/46) is a serial disappointment; and Majak Daw (14/24) is not a compelling story for fantasy coaches.
How about you, are you hoping to see the names of Langford and Wanganeen on AFL team sheets in round 1? Do you believe Shiels can party like it’s 2011? Was Robbie’s score more Nahas than class? And where is that gentleman who potted me in the comments for not talking up Ziebell in the first North game? 😉