Jimmy Webster looked well on his way to a true breakout season in 2018, until he was derailed by a hip/groin issue that killed his momentum and expansive role. His body remains a question mark, but with an apparent move up the wing on the cards, the prospect of someone with Jimmy’s rare disposal ability racking up 25-30 touches a week is tantalising for a 472k defender, but will St Kilda stick with one of their best defenders moving out of defence? Or is he better at reading the play from behind the ball?
Jimmy appeared to be breaking out last season when, despite battling a hip flexor issue that forced him to miss rounds 4-5, he carried an average of 103.8 into R13 when he aggravated his injury. The high scoring potential here is obvious when you look at his run after returning in R6, where he rattled off consecutive scores of 112, 105, 132, 107, 128 to have a five-game average of 116.8, while St Kilda lost all five games by an average margin of 32 points (he was St Kilda’s top scorer in 4/5 games). A big selling point on “The Dictionary”, as he’s known by the Hipster, is his apparent role change this year moving up onto a wing while mature-age rookie Nick Hind moves into the backlines. Up until his second injury, Webster was averaging over 25 touches per game, while also possessing one of the best left pegs in the whole competition. He would regularly have five touches in the first quarter and be leading his team in SC points due to his deadly efficiency. Theoretically, a move to the wing will absolve Jimmy of his defensive responsibilities which, unfortunately for us coaches, he takes very seriously, as he was considered so highly for his defensive work internally that he was given stopping jobs on Buddy Franklin and Robbie Gray (talk about versatility).
While the first half of 2018 was special for Webster, it kind of came out of nowhere. His efficient ball use and good decision making makes it seem like he would be a SC scoring wizard, but, whether it was due to role or fitness, his best SC season prior was an average of 71.1 in 2017 (he did have six scores of 90-99). Also, he significantly dropped off after returning in R16, failing to score more than 83 points in any of his remaining six games. It’s worth noting that he was playing a far more defensive role when he returned, while his possessions dropped to 19 per game, and he went from being a top-five Rebound-50 per game player, averaging 6.75 per game until R10, to just 2.1 per game post R10. We have been told he is likely going to be a winger, meaning they realise how damaging he can be with ball in hand, but how highly rated he is as a defender can be a huge Supercoach cloud hanging over his head every week in a St Kilda team that will likely leak goals and be desperate for more capable help back there.
There cannot be a fair Jimmy Webster assessment without first bringing up the fact that he has failed to play more than 18 games in a season throughout his six-year career. At the end of the day if you don’t trust a players body to hold up to 20+ games, you shouldn’t pick him in SuperCoach. This is a mistake I make often when I fall in love with potential and ignore the dreaded tag of injury-prone.
While he struggled with soft tissue injuries early in his career, Jimmy has still managed 35 games in the past two years (18 in 2017, 17 last year), and in 2017 he missed two games with a hand injury, and two games to suspension – which shows me that he is absolutely capable of going a full season without any soft tissue injuries. He did have a hip/groin issue that kept him out of five games last year, but despite having some of his training loads managed this pre-season, the club has said the he is completely fit and expected to play in JLT. If he is fit and firing, and in a role that allows him to accumulate possessions into the mid-20s, then the damaging nature of his disposal should see him push close to a three-figure average. But be warned, there will always be the risk of his role changing to fill team needs, and his versatility could be a red flag for some.
A huge thank you to community member ToughBretts for his great work with this write up.
You can find him on Twitter @LiamPhil35
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