By Matt F
Lachie Whitfield had a career best year in 2018, rolling off the halfback for the Giants and providing his side with countless counter-attacks using his pace and elite kicking. He seemed to find a home for himself in the absence of Zac Williams (injury), and Nathan Wilson (Fremantle).
The former number one pick has a nose for the ball, averaging 26.75 touches a game last season, and with an elite boot, can rack up SuperCoach points in a hurry. With a stacked GWS team, will Whitfield earn enough points this season to be worth his $542,100 price tag?
As I mentioned above, Lachie Whitfield gets a whole lot of kicks every week. Last season, in his new role as the primary ball mover out of the defensive fifty, he averaged 16.46 kicks a game, which was good for 7th in the competition. Of his 26.75 touches a game, 21 of them were effective, giving him a percentage of 78.36 per cent.
Whitfield also took about 25 per cent of the Giants’ kick ins, and with the new rules designed to accommodate the players kicking the ball in, watch to see if Whitfield can use his elite speed and efficiency with the ball to hit up targets further up the ground. Whitfield’s ceiling is also pretty high, mainly due to his ability to accumulate.
When on, Whitfield can gather 35 disposals pretty easily, and due to his ability to penetrate the forward fifty, he can score big points registering 5 scores of 125+, with 4 of them being 130+. Apart from two sub-70 scores (64 in round 3, and 61 in round 23), Whitfield fell in the range of 80-120 for the rest of the season, with 11 home and away season tons.
When Zac Williams returned from his injury in the first week of finals, people questioned what role Whitfield would play. Although not SuperCoach relevant at that stage of the year, it was interesting to see him play off the half back for the most part, whilst still pushing up to a wing. Despite the inclusion of a player in the same position as him, Whitfield averaged 30 touches for the two finals, scoring a 135 against the Swans, and a 133 against the Magpies. In the first JLT game, Lachie was good but not spectacular, 21 touches at 83 per cent DE highlights his cleanliness with the footy.
One issue to look out for is that inclusion of Zac Williams that I mentioned. Despite the two big scores, that clearly isn’t something he’ll do every week, especially since Zac has now had a full preseason and is ready to launch into a H&A season. Those two finals won’t be super relevant come the start of the regular season this year, so form and role in JLT will prove pivotal.
Another cause for concern would be the ten scores he had under 100 (7 under 90). For a valuable premium, that can be an issue. A counter argument could be that he averaged 99.9 last season, and defenders in general struggle to average 100+, so being close enough is good enough (as well as being 5th highest scoring defender last season).
Personally, I’m holding out judgement until I see him play with a fully prepared Zac Williams, Nick Haynes and Heath Shaw. I think he’s the sort of player who could be a bit of a trap if people don’t watch him closely enough in the JLT. People will select Whitfield based off of last season, which is fair enough, but if Williams and co. are going to affect his role, he might end up being the sort of player that you want to avoid. Wait until after the two JLT matches before you lock him in.
What do you think, community?