Around the Grounds – Round 20
Hello community and welcome to another edition of Around the Grounds. Almost at the end of the year now, so again we’ll be going through some teams to take a look at what potential Supercoach rookie options may be available to us in 2022. It’s Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong and the Gold Coast up this week, so let’s go take a look!
Tom Hird (MID, $123,900)
It’s always tough being the son of a gun, but Tom Hird has slowly been coming along as a rookie this year. Signed as a Cat B rookie by the Bombers, Hird was originally planning on becoming a soccer player having trials in the Netherlands before making the switch to football. He had some injuries last year, suffering a navicular stress fracture (that’s in the foot says Google) but has managed to stay healthy this season.
|VS Box Hill||16||11||5||5||3||0||0|
He hasn’t been a prolific ball winner yet, but we must remember he may be slightly further behind than other players at his age (20). What is notable is his last month of football where he’s been able to make an impact on the scoreboard, which is an area the Bombers VFL side has really struggled with at times this year.
VERDICT: The Bombers have a lot of youth already and they’ll probably bring in a bit more in the next draft, so he likely spends another year in the VFL if he sticks around. Pass.
Josh Eyre (DEF/FWD, $117,300)
Josh was pick #39 in the last draft for the Bombers, taken from their Next Generation Academy. A good athlete with good size (198cms), he recorded good results at the draft combine with top-10 results in the running vertical jumps, as well as clocking a sub 3 second 20m sprint time and doing the 2km time trial in 6:30.
|VS Box Hill||5||3||2||1||1||0||1|
He was touted a bit as the Danniher replacement, but that’s still a bit of a ways off at this stage. He was used a few times in a backup ruck role, which would be a nice addition for him to add to his skillset given his height and vertical abilities. Hasn’t really troubled the scoreboard, but as said above, that was a problem the Bombers had in general at times.
VERDICT: Will probably spend another season developing in the VFL, so pass for now.
Lachlan Johnson (MID/FWD, $123,900)
Johnson was another pick from the Bombers Next Generation Academy while he was also eligible to be picked up by Brisbane due to his father being triple premiership winner Chris Johnson. He missed 2020 due to an ACL injury, but has come back in 2021 ready to roll.
|VS Box Hill||6||5||1||3||2||0||1|
Johnson wasn’t a big ball winner even at junior level, averaging 15.2 disposals for the Oakleigh Chargers, but one thing that has translated from his U18 days to VFL level is his tackling. He’s noted as a tough player and being 175cm he’d have to be to be able to post double digit tackling numbers in a game. The question for him going forward is where will his best role be, as a defensive nuisance in the midfield or if he’ll be pigeonholed as a small forward due to his size. And if that’s the case can he start to add some goal scoring ability to his repertoire.
VERDICT: Supercoach loves players who tackle
Cody Brand (DEF, $117,300)
Add another Bombers draftee coming from their Next Generation Academy, Brand was pick #53 in the latest draft, with the Bombers matching a bid from the Western Bulldogs to ensure the 196cm key defender remained in the red and black.
|VS Box Hill||17||12||5||5||0||0||0|
His lists Dustin Fletcher as an idol of his and you certainly couldn’t do worse if that’s who you’re modelling your game after. Key defenders can be a bit up and down in Supercoach, with not many breaking through to be premium picks, but as rookie selections they’re well worth considering. He’s got some decent disposal and mark numbers to his game, so we’ve seen with guys like Nick Murray this year, while they won’t be standouts they can be decent picks. The Bombers have a few options down back, but I wouldn’t completely write him off for 2021 at this stage.
VERDICT: Monitor for now
Luke Valente (MID, $123,900)
The Captain of the National Under 18 Championship winning SA side, he was also named MVP and the Vice-Captain in the Under-18 All-Australian team. Valente was drafted at pick #32 in the 2018 draft, but still hasn’t made his AFL debut 3 years into his career.
|VS South Fremantle||15||11||4||7||5||1||1|
|VS West Coast||13||8||5||6||3||1||0|
|VS West Perth||16||6||10||2||6||0||0|
|VS Swan Districts||21||12||9||5||3||0||0|
|VS East Perth||18||9||9||3||0||1||1|
|VS East Fremantle||20||13||7||5||5||3||0|
He’s had a fairly decent year so far for the Peel Thunder, averaging almost 18 disposals and a goal a game, while adding some decent tackle and mark numbers too. The continuing question for Valente has been opportunity and if that will open up for him in 2022. With Adam Cerra still un-signed there is the possibility for a big hole to suddenly open up in the Dockers midfield minutes, which would probably rocket him up our watchlists if it did happen. He’s currently on personal leave from the club, but I would expect him back and ready to roll for the start of the next pre-season.
VERDICT: Wait and see what Adam Cerra does
Nathan O’Driscoll (MID, $117,300)
One of the outlaws from that no-good O’Driscoll clan, Nathan was drafted at pick #27 in the last AFL draft. A contested machine at junior level, in his U18 year he led the WAFL Colts league in ground ball gets, was 2nd for contested possessions and tackles and 3rd for clearances per game. That’s some good cowboy sh*t right there.
|VS East Fremantle||10||6||4||2||4||0||0|
|VS East Perth||9||6||3||3||0||0||0|
|VS South Fremantle||13||10||3||5||6||0||1|
|VS West Coast||10||7||3||1||1||0||0|
|VS West Perth||12||8||4||3||3||0||0|
|VS Swan Districts||20||14||6||8||1||0||0|
|VS East Perth||26||15||11||10||5||0||2|
|VS West Perth||19||13||6||2||1||0||0|
O’Driscoll is very much in the same category as Valente and may very well be competing with each other for a single spot that is potentially available next year. The contested stuff is a Supercoach favourite, though O’Driscoll hasn’t shown the ability to hit the scoreboard the way Valente has recently. We must also consider that Valente has a couple more years experience under his belt, so will probably be a bit further ahead physically and fitness wise, which could prove advantageous for Supercoach purposes.
VERDICT: Get your lasso out so this one doesn’t get away
Oscar Brownless (MID, $123,900)
Browless was delisted after one season with Geelong, but re-drafted back onto the rookie list as a list management manoeuver to free up senior list spots at the Cats. The son of Billy Brownless, Oscar really started to take off at VFL level in 2021, turning into a very hand midfielder for the Cats.
|VS North Melbourne||24||11||13||6||3||0||0|
He’s played most of the year with someone like Charlie Constable taking up the #1 midfield spot, but averaging 22 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles and 3 clearances isn’t a bad effort at all. Like a lot of younger players at Geelong it’s just a matter of opportunity, with the Cats often preferring to go with older players, this can sometimes leave the younger guys sitting back in the VFL. Brownless is a free agent heading into this off-season due to his delisting, but you’d imagine he may be given one more year with the Cats after his strong VFL season.
VERDICT: Dunno if the Cats will give him a consistent run
Nick Stevens (DEF, $117,300)
Pick #47 from the latest AFL draft, Stevens is a local lad recruited from Geelong Grammar. He’s a 192cm medium defender who averaged 14.3 disposals and 3.5 defensive rebound’s in his 2019 NAB league year.
|VS North Melbourne||11||8||3||8||1||1||0|
Playing less across half-back than from his U18 years, he’s actually managed to hit the scoreboard a bit this year and was noted for his long kicking ability which gets him some decent inside 50 numbers too. The common theme for the Cats may be just built around opportunities given, but we have seen them call up guys every now and then, so Stevens could be in the mix for 2022, but I’d say not to start the year.
VERDICT: Might be a downgrade target mid-way through the year?
Shannon Neale (RUC/FWD, $117,300)
Taken at pick #33 in the latest draft, Neale is a developing ruckman standing at 202cm, Neale has spent most of his time in the VFL up forward, rather in the ruck, but does take some spot minutes occasionally for the Cats.
|VS North Melbourne||7||4||3||3||2||0||0|
His last 3 weeks showed a developing trend of impacting the scoreboard which was nice to see. His ruck minutes have looked to be very restricted at this early stage, that’d be due to guys like Darcy Fort taking the majority of ruck minutes, with other options like Josh Jenkins and Sam De Koning taking minutes, along with the occasional appearances by Rhys Stanley too. Either way, if he’s playing forward or in the ruck he’ll be behind a few guys at this stage
VERDICT: Will most likely spend another year in the VFL working on his game
Alex Davies (MID, $102,400)
In a piece of trivia that will delight AFL commentators across the nation, Davies was a basketball convert who was added directly to the Suns list via their Academy because of AFL rules and such. He actually reminds me a bit of Hugh Greenwood in being a 191cm mid who is great at the hard stuff, winning clearances and tackling.
|VS Box Hill||27||12||15||5||4||0||0|
His stats are showing some clear standout areas for Supercoach in tackles, as well as averaging 5.4 clearances per game. I don’t think it’s a matter of “if” with this kid, just when he debuts. The Suns are not doing all that great at the moment, so could definitely give him a game before the season finishes, which may ruin his price point for 2022. But that’s just something we’ll have to wait and see about!
VERDICT: Yes if he doesn’t play this year.
Jez McLennan (DEF, $123,900)
Another version of Harrison Wigg for the Suns it seems, he was pick #23 in the 2018 draft and headed into his 3rd season with the Suns has yet to make his AFL debut. Used as a rebounding defender he’s yet to show he can be a consistent ball-winner, averaging 14.7 disposals at NEAFL level in 2019. He’s been named as an emergency a few times in his career, but hasn’t broken through with a single opportunity yet.
|VS Box Hill||22||17||5||8||2||0||0|
His numbers have generally improved through the 2021 season, though for someone who was drafted on the back of his elite kicking skills I may be worried about that kick to handball ratio a bit. Given he’s been on the list 3 years without playing a game you’d probably assume he’s missed his chance with the number of younger players coming through, but he is still contracted for 2022 at this stage.
VERDICT: I’d say he’s unlikely at this stage
Hawego Paul Oea (MID/FWD, $102,400)
Joined the Suns via an International scholarship, the Papua New Guinea native spending 3 years with the Suns Academy before being added to the rookie list. He’s noted for his speed and endurance, he’s another one who may be pigeonholed a bit into that “pressure forward” role due to being 172cm. He has shown rapid improvement since coming over to the Suns and especially this year has put up some solid numbers in the VFL.
|Hawego Paul Oea||Disposals||Kicks||Handballs||Marks||Tackles||Goals||Behinds|
HPO may be in the same position of Alex Davies in that it’s not a case of if he’s going to debut, just a matter of when. He’s certainly a possibility to get a call-up before the end of this year, though if he’s going to be a pressure forward he likely won’t set the world on fire the way Davies may if he’s going to get midfield minutes. Still, you can’t turn your nose up at any rookie prospect, especially ones priced at the basement and who (currently) have dual role eligibility.
VERDICT: Watch and wait
Ned Moyle (RUC, $102,400)
Added to the Suns through the mid-year draft, Moyle is a 204cm ruckman who was playing for Collingwood in the VFL prior to being drafted, where he usually split his ruck duties with Max Lynch.
|VS Gold Coast||8||1||7||4||11||0||1||For Collingwood|
|VS GWS||11||9||2||6||13||2||0||For Gold Coast|
He’s facing the same sort of split at the Suns where he’s splitting his time with Zac Smith. He was added to the list due to Connor Budarick and Jarrod Witts being on the LTI, so isn’t contracted for next year, but Zac Smith is also out of contract to, so I suspect the Suns may go with the younger, higher upside player as backup next year. Either way, the #1 ruck spot will belong to Jarrod Witts, so he’s not likely going to be there for Round 1.
VERDICT: Could still be picked up as a loophole ruck worst case scenario
Elijah Hollands (MID/FWD, $180,300)
One of the bigger hyped midfielders in the 2020 draft, Hollands slid a bit to pick #7 due to injuring his ACL early in 2020. There’s absolutely no doubting this kids talent, the only reason he hasn’t debuted yet is because he spent most of 2021 recovering from his knee injury.
He’s only been back for a few games now and probably wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Suns take it slow with him and just let him finish the year out in the VFL. 2nd game back and he’s already getting 27 disposals (admittedly against Aspley) but a strong pre-season and he could be right there ready to pluck at Round 1 in 2021.
The VFL managed to get through a majority of their games in Round 16, though the Gold Coast vs Southport game was cancelled minutes in, while Brisbane vs Sydney, Aspley vs Essendon and Werribee vs the Bullants were cancelled.
North Melbourne defeated Port Melbourne 77-60
Charlie Lazarro (MID, $192,800) was noteable for the R oos finishing with 24 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles and kicking 1.2 while Patrick Walker (DEF, $102,400) had 20 disposals, 8 marks and 4 rebound 50’s.
Carlton defeated Sandringham 109-60
The Blues had a bit more firepower in the VFL side this week with Sam Petrevski-Seton (DEF, $326,600) racking up 30 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles and a goal. Mitch McGovern (FWD, $284,700) also returned, kicking 2.4 with 15 disposals, 6 marks and 7 hitouts. Former Magpies/Crow/Bird aficionado Ben Crocker also added 4.4 for the Blues.
For the Zebras, Jack Bytel (MID, $235,500) had a team high 27 disposals with 7 marks and 10 tackles while Darragh Joyce (DEF, $186,400) had 24 disposals, 6 marks, 12 rebound 50’s and a goal.
Box Hill defeated Collingwood 123-60
Former Bulldog Fergus Greene led the way with the Hawks, kicking 5.1. He wasn’t alone though, Emerson Jeka (FWD, $155,800) added 4.2 with 9 disposals and 4 marks and Jackson Callow (FWD, $102,400) added 2.4 with 14 disposals and 8 marks. Oliver Hanrahan (FWD, $215,100) had a game high 35 disposals and Jai Newcombe (MID, $169,600) added 22 with 2 marks and 5 tackles.
On the Collingwood side of things, Tom Wilson (FWD, $136,100) had a team high 24 disposals with 5 marks, 3 tackles and a goal, with Max Lynch (RUC/FWD, $123,900) adding 2 goals of his own with 8 disposals and 25 hitouts.
Footscray defeated Casey 106-69
The Bulldogs were led by Rhylee West (FWD, $278,000) who had 27 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles and 3 goals. Ben Cavarra (FWD, $194,900) booted 3 of his own with 21 disposals, 2 marks and 5 tackles with Lachlan McNeil (MID, $231,900) also got in on the 3 goal club while adding 18 disposals, 4 marks and 2 tackles. Will Hayes (MID, $249,300) led the game for disposals with 31, along with 9 marks.
Kye Declase (DEF/MID, $102,400) continued his strong form with 27 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles and a goal while Oskar Baker (MID, $290,100) had 20 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles and a goal.
Richmond defeated Frankston 99-83
Patrick Naish (MID, $204,600) was the leading disposal winner for the game, collecting 32 with 5 marks, 6 tackles and a goal. Derek Eggmolesse-Smith added 29 disposals with 11 rebound 50’s, Will Martyn (MID, $123,900) had 25 disposals, 9 marks and 5 tackles and Riley Collier-Dawkins (MID, $227,200) finished with 26 disposals and 3 tackles.
South Fremantle defeated Peel Thunder 141-25
Not the day the Thunder would want, but being a stand-alone team they only featured Reece Conca (DEF, $309,100) from the Freo list. He had 16 disposals, 2 marks and 4 tackles.
West Coast defeated Perth 99-43
Nathan Vardy (RUC, $238,400) had 2 goals with 12 disposals and 38 hitouts with former Gold Coast/Carlton player Jarrod Garlett adding 3.2 for the Eagles with 12 disposals. Alex Witherdon (DEF, $415,400) had 40 disposals, 11 marks, 7 inside 50’s and 8 rebound 50’s and Jarrod Brander (MID/FWD, $276,100) added 33 with 13 marks and 2 tackles.
As usual you can check out the Jock Reynolds Podcast, which is available here. Any comments/queries feel free to whack them in the section below, or hit me on the Twitters @BarronVonCrow. See you all next week!