Around the Grounds – Round 22
Hello everyone and welcome to the final week of Around the Grounds for 2021! It’s an exciting and also sad time for a lot of us, the season is coming to an end, some of our teams are way out of the finals race and we’re looking at the last game of the year, we also have retirements coming in, with Eddie Betts, Chris Mayne, Marc Murphy, David Mackay, Stephen Hill, Cale Hooker, Levi Greenwood, Jarrod Harbrow, Jack Hombsch, Jordan Murdoch, Zac Smith, Shaun Burgoyne, Tom Rockliff, David Astbury, Bachar Houli, Shaun McKernan, Daniel Venables and Lin Jong all announcing their retirements and we should all thank them for their services to their respective clubs throughout their careers.
OK, we have Richmond, St Kilda, Sydney, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs left to round out this series, so let’s go see what they got!
Taken with pick #43 in the 2019 National Draft, Cumberland was drafted from the Brisbane Lions Academy, with the Lions not matching Richmonds bid to draft him. Cumberland unfortunately ruptured his ACL near the end of pre-season in 2020 and lost the entire year in recovery.
Cumberland has been able to return in 2021 through the VFL and has spent the majority of his time up in the Tigers forward line. He wasn’t a major goal kicker early in the year, but showed some good form in that regard over the last few weeks. He’s more of a medium size forward, so would be an option that plays around Riewoldt and Lynch, rather than replace them. The Tigers have Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert who are 29+, so if the Tigers decide to inject some youth next year he might be one who gets an early look in.
VERDICT: If the Tigers decide to start a bit of a rebuild he could get games
The tallest man on an AFL list, Mate was a basketball player who was playing College ball with the University of Hawaii. The cousin of Noah Balta, Mate was drafted to the Tigers as a Category B rookie. The Tigers are stocked with rucks pretty well, so doubt this will be a guy we look at.
VERDICT: Cat B ruckmen don’t have the best track record
A key defender taken back in Round 4 in the 2017 draft, Miller has been plugging away for a few years now without making his AFL debut.
He had some groin issues this year that have kept him sidelined, but after that quiet game against Casey has been fairly consistent with his football. He was named on the Emergency list for the Tigers this year, which is usually a good sign on a player being close to selection and with David Astbury announcing his retirement, that could be a good sign for Miller in 2022 on making his AFL debut.
VERDICT: Key defenders aren’t my favourite, but you’ll have to consider if he’s getting games next year
Taken with pick #54 in the 2019 draft, Bigoa was a part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy prior to being drafted by the Tigers. The Tigers certainly do liked to be stocked with tall players, with Bigoa being added to that list standing at 197cm
He’s had some up and down form in the VFL, but from a pure depth perspective the Tigers are stacked with tall timber with Toby Nankervis, Callum Coleman-Jones, Mabior Chol, Ivan Soldo, Samson Ryan and Mate Colina all on the list as well. For that reason it might be difficult to foresee Bigoa getting a consistent spot next year.
VERDICT: Spots for talls at Richmond is tough!
He was born in Malaysia, grew up in Dubai, moved back to Perth and then travelled to the US to play basketball for the University of Louisiana Monroe, Alabaskis certainly has done the rounds! He’s a very tall ruck, selected as a Category B rookie in the 2018 draft.
|VS Box Hill||5||2||3||3||14||1||0|
He’s been given some fair competition for the ruck position at the Saints, with Ryder recruited in to support Rowan Marshall, as well as backups like Paul Hunter and Shaun McKernan brought in too. May be a long-shot at this point to make it given the success record of Cat B ruckmen.
VERDICT: Don’t think so
The Saints first pick in the 2020 National Draft, selected at pick #26, Allison is a 195cm key defender who can also push down the field and onto the wing.
|VS Port Melbourne||6||3||3||3||5||0||0|
|VS Box Hill||12||5||7||3||2||0||0|
He started the season pretty slowly in his first month, but seems to have settled in pretty quickly after that with some consistent football on display. He’s another one who has been named as an emergency during the year and with the Saints not being 100% set for tall defenders outside Dougal Howard and Tom Highmore he’s one who could definitely sneak through.
VERDICT: Tall defender, but still keep him open as an option.
Selected by the Saints in the mid-year draft, Heath is a 204cm ruckman who has not played any football for the Saints due to finishing off his year 12 studies.
The Captain of the South Australia 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships team, Gould was heavily hyped coming out of the 2019 Draft due to having an “AFL ready” body which saw him line up in Glenelg’s SANFL premiership winning side in 2019. Unfortunately for Gould, that “AFL ready” body hasn’t translated into an AFL game as of yet.
|VS Gold Coast||19||16||3||4||5||1||1|
|VS Gold Coast||13||12||1||4||2||0||0|
Gould hasn’t had any terrible form in the VFL this year, but also hasn’t had a patch of blazing good form that screams “pick me!” either. He does like to kick the ball, which is good for Supercoach and the Swans have been fairly settled down back, but at a certain point you’d think the Swans would be forced to give him a shot and see if he’s worth keeping around or not.
VERDICT: Has the skills, just have to wait and see if he gets selected
Pick #3 from the 2020 Rookie Draft, Carruthers is a 185cm medium defender, although the medium is more height wise than weight given he weighed 67kg at the time of being picked up from Sturt in the SANFL.
|VS Gold Coast||21||12||9||9||1||0||0|
|VS Gold Coast||8||6||2||4||1||0||0|
He’s found plenty of the ball through the VFL this year and playing across half back he may very well be in competition with Will Gould for a spot next year. Will be an interesting competition between the two next year perhaps?
VERDICT: Size may go against him getting a spot next year, but seems to have the potential to be given a go at some point
Selected in the mid-year draft, McAndrew was a part of the Swans Academy after making the switch from NRL. A 210cm ruckman, he’s considered a long term prospect, though you could certainly do worse than having Dean Cox as your coach if you were still learning how to play Aussie Rules football!
|VS Gold Coast||3||2||1||0||27||0||0|
|VS Gold Coast||5||2||3||1||7||0||1|
McAndrew’s ruck time has fluctuated a bit, mostly being dictated by injuries impacting other players. Callum Sinclair has been in the VFL side lately, where you can see the hitout numbers drop pretty significantly for McAndrew.
VERDICT: Another Category B ruck we can probably ignore
A category B rookie for the Swans, Barry made the move over from Ireland where he played Gaelic football. Training as a key defender, with his marking ability, strength and speed noted as his best attributes.
|VS Gold Coast||7||4||3||3||0||0||0|
|VS Gold Coast||14||4||10||3||1||0||0|
The Swans had this bloke named Tadhg Kennelly who became a damn fine AFL player, and although he’s no longer coaching at the Swans i’m sure he gave O’Connor some key fundamentals during their brief time together. Like we’ve mentioned before, the Swans are fairly settled down back and he’s got some competition for spots.
VERDICT: Doesn’t seem likely he’d be there for Round 1 at this stage.
Another Category B rookie, Sheather was picked up from the Sydney Swans Academy after not being selected in either the National or Rookie drafts in 2020. He’s noted on the Swans website as being able to “play both small and tall up either end, while also developing as a midfielder.” which kinda sounds like they don’t actually know what his best position is yet.
|VS Gold Coast||9||6||3||3||0||0||0|
|VS Gold Coast||2||1||1||0||1||0||0|
Some nice games sprinkled in there, especially the game against Southport where he did look like he did a bit of everything! He was signed to a contract extension about a month ago, which you’d take as a sign the Swans definitely see there’s potential in him.
VERDICT: Probably spends another year in the VFL.
Pick #49 in the 2019 draft, Jamieson is a developing ruckman who has also spent a bit of time playing as a key defender as well.
|VS West Perth||10||2||8||1||11||0||0|
|VS Swan Districts||13||8||5||2||22||0||0|
|VS Peel Thunder||16||7||9||5||6||2||0|
|VS East Fremantle||11||4||7||3||20||0||0|
|VS East Perth||12||5||7||3||10||1||0|
|VS South Fremantle||12||7||5||7||4||0||0|
|VS East Fremantle||10||3||7||2||0||0||0|
|VS Swan Districts||8||3||5||1||0||0||0|
|VS East Perth||7||1||6||2||0||0||0|
West Coast aren’t exactly short in the ruckman department, so moving over to being a key defender may give him a better opportunity to make his AFL debut. Still, nothing eye popping in those stats, doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be a good player, but the Supercoach potential is pretty limited from 10 disposals and 6 marks. Some backup ruck minutes thrown in there might be a help in that regard though.
VERDICT: Looks like he’d be a potential pick if guys get injured, but probably back in the WAFL to start
Picked up in the mid-year draft, Collins, a mid sized defender, was training with the Eagles in the pre-season during the Pre-season Supplementary Selection Period. Was playing for Claremont to start the 2021 season, but split his time between their senior and reserves side.
|VS East Fremantle||5||2||3||1||1||0||0|
|VS East Perth||7||4||3||3||1||0||0|
|VS West Perth||13||9||4||5||0||0||0|
Collins is 19, so there’s plenty of time for him to still develop, but I think that will come in the WAFL at this stage.
VERDICT: Don’t think he’ll be an option
A medium defender, Johnson was picked at pick #58 in the 2019 National Draft, Johnson managed to play senior WAFL football for West Perth in his draft year.
|VS Swan Districts||17||11||6||3||1||1||0|
|VS Peel Thunder||21||17||4||2||0||0||0|
|VS East Fremantle||29||23||6||0||1||0||0|
|VS East Perth||19||13||6||4||1||0||0|
|VS South Fremantle||14||9||5||1||1||0||0|
|VS Swan Districts||16||10||6||3||1||0||0|
|VS East Perth||22||11||11||4||2||1||0|
|VS West Perth||16||11||5||0||1||0||0|
He was noted for his kicking ability and that is certainly something he has looked to put to good use at times during his season at WAFL level. The stats certainly catch the eye and the rebounding defender position can be a very lucrative one, though you’d think someone like Alex Witherden may be the next cab off the rank in that position for the Eagles, with others like Luke Edwards being in the mix too.
VERDICT: Keep an eye out as there’s SC potential there
He was rated as one of the best midfielders in WA during his U18 season, but slipped all the way to the rookie draft where the Eagles seemed pretty happy to snap him up.
|VS West Perth||17||7||10||3||7||1||0|
|VS Swan Districts||16||8||8||0||2||0||0|
|VS East Fremantle||17||6||11||1||4||0||0|
|VS East Perth||15||4||11||0||3||0||0|
|VS South Fremantle||20||9||11||0||5||0||0|
|VS East Fremantle||22||7||15||2||4||0||1|
|VS Swan Districts||16||8||8||2||3||0||0|
He was noted by the Eagles as having “clean hands” and that’s certainly apparent by his kick to handball ratio, though it must be said there was another Eagle who liked the handball and that certainly didn’t stop him from become a fantastic Supercoach player! There’s some very good tackle numbers at times too by Trew, so there’s potential there for some good scores to be produced, even if he is handballing it twice as much as he’s kicking it.
VERDICT: Eagles have midfield depth, but if some injuries occur?
Pick #55 in the 2020 National Draft, Bedendo is the last player left on the Bulldogs list who has yet to play an AFL game. A medium forward he’s had some damaging moments in front of goal in games, but has yet to be able to break through to AFL level.
|VS Gold Coast||8||5||3||2||1||0||0|
|VS Cob urg||16||11||5||5||1||1||0|
|VS North Melbourne||10||10||0||4||2||2||1|
He was noted as potentially playing as a intercept defender for the Murray Bushrangers if the 2020 NAB season had gone ahead, which shows you the marking ability he has. Luke Beveridge does seem to like to give as many players a go as he possibly can and he usually sneaks through a player or two we don’t expect to see, so Bedendo could certainly be that guy in 2022.
VERDICT: Wait and see
And that’ll be me done for the week and the year! Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and contribute over this season, I hope I’ve been able to help you in some way. Hopefully we’ll see you all back here for the 2022 pre-season!