Howdy all and welcome to this edition of The Bruyn Manoeuvre.
In this article I’m going to attempt to give you an insight into the thinking I’ll employ when picking my ruckmen. I won’t be focussing too much on ‘who to pick’, that’s still up to you, but hopefully it’ll give you a kick start.
And as always, don’t take my word on anything…think for yourself!
Righto lets get cracking.
What the Ruck!
It gets said over and over in SuperCoach circles – the ruck position is always the trickiest to select. Considering we only pick two blokes plus a bench player – formerly two of course – this is an intriguing state of play.
Even this year, with everyone fretting over Defence, a coach’s choice in the ruck will still arguably go the furthest in defining their team’s structure.
Why is this? Well for starters, I think it is because you only pick the two on field players. Versus the ten choices you have in the midfield it means that you have fewer chances to pick the ‘right’ guys.
Consider Sam Jacobs and Will Minson owners last year. If they were midfielders many people would’ve probably had both – which equals an even playing field. Instead, one set of coaches was ruing that single selection for much of the year.
Combine the above with the fact that there is typically a large gap between the best and the rest and it becomes abundantly clear – high scoring, durable ruckmen score your team a ton of points.
Take Sam Jacobs last year. Across 22 games he scored a massive 2538 points for his owners. That’s premium midfielder levels! The next best ruckmen on a points basis, in Aaron Sandilands and Todd Goldstein, scored 2269 and 2244 respectively. Subtract the extra game Jacobs’ played and he is still about 200 points in front. Bang.
It’s probably obvious then that I’m an advocate for a set and forget ruck strategy, right?
‘Set and forget’ ruckmen are rucking expensive.
Try pick a team with Sam Jacobs and Shane Mumford as your rucks. Looks nice right? Awesome bye combo too!
Damn, it’s expensive though.
Are you picking Tom Rockliff? Yes? No problems. He’s expensive but geez he can go big. No? You think he is going to drop in price and you’ll get him at his bye? Fair enough too.
Champion Data – the guys that own the SuperCoach scoring system – have said that if the new points system was applied to last year’s stats Jacobs’ and Mumford’s averages would fall by -7.1 and -12.5 respectively. Together, that’s approximately $105,000 down the drain.
Hands-up Rockliff owners – would you pick him if you knew he’d fall to $600k around his bye? Hands-up non-Rockliff owners – are you hoping the Lions captain falls to about $650k let alone $600k before nabbing him?
Nothing is certain in SuperCoach. Ask the Will ‘I’m-gonna-set-and-forget-my-rucks-with-the-2013 AA-ruckman-in-2014′ Minson owners out there. There is nothing certain about Sam Jacobs being the No 1 ruckmen again this year either.
Sure, sure, avid coaches will say that the signs were there for both of Jacobs’ and Minson’s trajectories, SC average wise, in 2014 but the fact is:
If you set and forget your rucks, you are giving the guy who nails the right value pick(s) in the ruck a head start.
You rucking beauty. I’m going all mid pricer in the rucks!
As fast as I will claim that I am NOT telling you to avoid Sam Jacobs as a selection, I am also NOT telling you to go all mid-pricer. I’m also NOT, not telling you to go all mid-pricer either. Still with me?
What I AM telling you is that the ruck position is like every other on your field. If value is on offer you have to look for it.
For rucks sake, hurry up and tell me who to pick already!
Last year, Sandilands was a ridiculously easy choice in the ruck. This year’s Sandilands is Nicholas Natinuai for me. If he plays plenty of the preseason matches and enters round 1 fighting fit I think he should be one of the first selected players.
Not only is he a SC points scoring beast when on song, but Natinuai’s price is ‘coming from the bottom’ and so won’t (read “is highly unlikely to”) fall as a result of the new ruck rules. Boom. Value, value, value.
OK let’s do some maths.
Let’s assume Sam Jacobs’ average does fall 7.1 points in 2015. Now, let’s also assume that up until his round 11 bye he records two less hit outs to advantage per game owing to his slightly interrupted preseason:
Sam Jacobs starting price in 2015 $620,100 (average 115.4)
-> Minus 7.1 from his average (scoring change) = -$38,152
-> Minus 10 from his average (2 less hit-outs TA) = -$53,734
Jacobs becomes a 98.3 averaging, $528,214 priced ruckman* by round 11
Now, let’s say Matthew Leuenberger repeats his 2013 year and averages 97 (before the 2015 rule adjustment)
Matthew Leuenberger starting price in 2015 $358,000 (average 66.6)
-> Plus 30.4 to his average (improved scoring) = $163,411
-> Minus 7.5 from his average (2015 scoring change) = -$40,315
Leuenberger becomes a 89.5 averaging, $481,096 priced ruckman* by round 11
This means picking Leunberger might have cost us 88 points (8 point difference for 10 rounds) BUT it has made us $123,096 straight up and preserved the $91,886 Sam Jacobs’ price has fallen.
Furthermore, not only are we ahead almost $215,000 versus the Jacobs owners but we also had an extra $262,100 to spend on our starting squad. This could arguably have been used to more than bridge that 88 point gap between the two ruckmans’ averages.
Okay, I can hear the Crows supporting crowing from here. Why should we assume Sam Jacobs’ hit outs to advantage fall at all? He’ll be right for round 1. And besides, who says Leuy will average anywhere near 90!
My answer to this is that SuperCoach is about probabilities. Sam Jacobs is priced at a level representative of a career best, All-Australian year. His average and price risk is to the downside.
Matthew Leuenberger is cheap. Yes, he’s been injury riddled, but he will not fall in price. There’s downside risk – definitely – but on balance it’s reasonable to expect him to appreciate in price and score reasonably well.
PS this is not an advertisement for picking Leuy!
How well is of course the $50k question. If the answer for you is “I dunno, about 70” then re-do the maths above and you’ll see the equation starts to favour the Sam “set-and-forget” Jacobs owners.
In 2013 I started Mark Blicavs as my R2. At this stage, I’ll be looking for value in my rucks in 2015.
Hang on, we’re not finished. What about the rucking rookies – there’s ruck all!
It seems that way at this point doesn’t it? As it stands I’m not confident that any of the cheap rookie ruck options are worth picking. They either won’t play, or may only for a couple of weeks.
I have been wrong in the past though – Tom Derickx case and point.
Without an injury occurring I can’t see the Swans playing Naismith or Nankervis – Pyke and Tippet will get the gig there I reckon. Perhaps Lobb or Phillips will sneak in at GWS but I think it’s more likely they’ll prefer an additional midfielder in their 22 and support Mumford with one of their talls. I don’t like to cheer on an injury at any stage but Nathan Grima going down does bring Sam Durdin a step closer to our sides.
Look, the fact is, we won’t know until round 1 is upon us and we have some NAB form to look over. Put simply, right now your teams should have either a cheap R/F locked into R3 or a placeholder rookie ruck if you are that way inclined.
So which of these options should I rucking pick?
I have Tom Read at R3 and I think you should too. If you have Mason Cox as your R3 then he better have been the last bloke picked in your side – and only because you needed that extra $7k – or you need to listen up!
Presumably, Cox made your team because he lets you swing Tom Bellchambers (TBC from here) or another R/F from your forward line, OR, he at least gives you that option down the track.
Great, I like your thinking BUT you’re missing something. Tom Read of Geelong is actually the the guy you should have at R3. Here’s why..
Let’s look at the draw up until the first bye.
Below I have set up a table comparing Mason Cox at Collingwood and Tom Read of Geelong’s playing schedules. On it I’ve listed when they play, the times they play after (or against TBC) and the times they play after the obvious captain choices.
First things first. If your selected R3 is to be truly useful as your R/F link he needs to play after or, at a minimum, the same time as your playing R/F. This is so you have as much flexibility mid round as possible. If TBC is a late withdrawal and your R/F is already locked your trading options to avoid a potential donut will be limited.
During rounds 1-10 Cox plays after TBC 5 times versus Read’s 7. Significantly, Read plays after TBC for each of the first 4 rounds of the season. This is huge because this is when things will be most uncertain and your team will be most vulnerable.
Next, if you are going to pick a non-playing player he better be usable as a VC/Captains loophole agent or you’ve wasted that rookie slot. Forgoing cash generation is a big call.
During rounds 1-6 Cox plays after Gary Ablett once (in rd 1) and NEVER plays after Tom Rockliff, Joel Selwood, Nathan Fyfe or Scott Pendlebury (same team). This means that after that single round 1 game Cox becomes useless as a VC loophole agent. Things improve marginally during rounds 7-10 but by then the damage is done.
On the other hand, during round 1-6, Read provides 12 unique VC loophole options and remains more useful in rounds 7-10 than Cox. In addition, Read’s most useful rounds are the first 4 of the season.
But it doesn’t end there.
Read’s usefulness as a VC loophole agent is because he plays for Geelong who play far more late round games than Collingwood. This means, not only is he more useful as your R/F link, AND allows you to loop your VC more often, but he should also allow you to Emergency loophole several times through the early rounds.
Between rounds 1-10 Cox plays 3 Sunday games and these only come in rounds 7, 9 and 10. Over the same span Read plays 5, however 4 of these are rounds 1 through 4!
If you’re gonna win the title you need to start the season well. Trust me, Read’s your man.
Pick wisely people.
The rucking end.
*For these calculations I’ve only used the round 1 ‘magic number (MN)’. The ‘MN’ is simply the coefficient Champion Data multiply with a player’s average to arrive at their price. This number actually fluctuates through the season. Typically by round 10 it will have fallen to about 5000. I’ve ignored this fall in the above calculations as the conclusions drawn are not materially impacted.
Follow JB on twitter: @imjohnb