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28 September 2021

AFL Blogs
  • The rule that could have changed the AFL grand final
    28 September 2021

    The AFL grand final at Perth’s Optus Stadium under lights saw the Melbourne Demons break a 57-year drought, defeating the Western Bulldogs by 74 points.

    The game was a see-sawing affair for the best part of three quarters until a midfield masterclass broke the game, kicking 16 of the last 17 goals of the game. The Norm Smith curse of 1964 has finally been broken.

    The game could have and should have looked very different. The game was broken loose and all hell broke loose by the Demons at the 15-minute mark of the third quarter.

    The newest rule brought in by the AFL at the start of 2019 was the 6-6-6 rule, making it mandatory for teams to have six players in each third at a centre bounce.

    The idea of the rule was to stop flooding and having all 22 players rushing to one half of the ground.

    (Photo by Gary Day/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

    The rule has copped its fair share of criticism with many believing the use of flooding is a very natural part of the game. The use of flooding first came into use by then-coach of the Western Bulldogs Rodney Eade in 2000.

    Essendon was on an unbeaten run of 21 games straight and came up against Eade and his Dogs in the final game of the round.

    Eade was determined to curtail the influence of players such as James Hird, Dustin Fletcher and Matthew Lloyd. The tactic of flooding was used to double-team players and changed the face of the game, making it almost impossible to find space or have a clean possession.

    The grand final saw Melbourne take the ball out of the centre and get a run-on to eventually take the Bulldogs out of the equation.

    The Western Bulldogs were certainly outplayed by the Demons on Saturday night. The centre clearance work by Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver and putting Luke Jackson in the ruck were the cornerstones to success.

    This is certainly not to take anything away from Melbourne’s success, which has so richly brought the east coast of Australia so much joy through a difficult time.

    But the constant changing and tweaking of rules by the AFL has really sacrificed the traditional values of the game at the risk of ruining the spectacle and making it harder for coaches and players to stop a run-on and change the momentum of the game.

  • The five players your team can least afford to lose: GWS Giants
    28 September 2021

    The Greater Western Sydney Giants finished seventh in 2021, with 11 wins, one draw and ten losses, although they are effectively sixth for the purpose of this exercise, due to their semi-final performances against higher-rated teams.

    They had six debutants, while only four players featured in every game: Callan Ward, Harry Himmelberg, Tim Taranto and Isaac Cumming.

    Here are the five players and an honourable mention that the Giants could least afford to lose based.

    Honourable mention: Sam Taylor
    Taylor featured in 17 of 22 games, the Giants winning two, losing two and getting a draw when Taylor was unavailable through injury.

    He averaged the fourth most intercepts of any player in the AFL, an average of 8.47 per game, and averaged the third-most contested marks of any Giants player.

    5. Josh Kelly
    Kelly was extremely consistent in 2021 and was rewarded with a new contract. He averaged the most metres gained in the club, with an average of 454.17. He also averaged the second-most score involvements, with an average of 5.96 per game, as well as the most tackles, an average of 5.61 per game.

    His versatility was a strength as he could play in the midfield or on the wing.

    Last but not least, he led by example.

    4. Jacob Hopper
    Hopper was in the All Australian squad, had at least 21 disposals and only missed one game, which was through injury.

    He averaged the third-most inside 50s of any of GWS player, with an average of 4.30, and the most contested possessions, with an average of 12.04.

    3. Toby Greene
    Greene featured in 18 games, including the elimination final win over the Swans and was named in the All Australian forward pocket.

    He averaged the second-most score involvements of any player in the competition, with an average of 8.28, and kicked at least one goal in every game!

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

    2. Lachie Whitfield
    Whitfield was unavailable for the opening six games, and the club lost five of the seven games he didn’t play. Along with that, in Round 17 he was subbed out after accumulating just three disposals and the team lost to the Suns by one point!

    He averaged the third-most metres, with an average of 437.65 per game, and 4.53 score involvements per game – remarkable for a player who played predominantly on a half back flank.

    1. Tim Taranto
    Taranto was a revelation, featuring in all 24 games that they played, averaging the most disposals and the most inside 50s at the club.

    He also averaged 5.42 score involvements per game and had the second-most tackles – with an average of 5.33 tackles per game – which shows he worked hard defensively.

  • Coaching great tipping sustained success for Melbourne following drought-breaking premiership
    28 September 2021

    Coaching great Leigh Matthews believes Melbourne is well set for sustained success in the coming years.

    On the back of Simon Goodwin’s side winning the premiership on Saturday night – Melbourne’s first in 57 years – Matthews says the club’s list profile and talent across the park means they are as “well equipped as any premiership team in recent times” to continue their dominance this season for years to come.

    “If you’re talking about Melbourne, they have good big defenders and good medium smalls,” he said on Sportsday.

    “They have a fantastic one-two ruck combination (with Max Gawn and Luke Jackson) and they have (Clayton) Oliver, (Christian) Petracca, (Jack) Viney,(James) Harmes, (Angus) Brayshaw and (Ed) Langdon, that’s a fantastic midfielder group.

    “If you want to be honest, (Ben) Brown and (Tom) McDonald are OK forwards… (Bayley) Fritsch looks to be a pretty solid third tall so he’s very good.

    “Between them it’s pretty good, I think it’s reasonable to say that Melbourne is well equipped as any premiership team in recent times to be a good team for a long time.”

    The Demons will depart Perth in recent days, following a successful premiership campaign which saw them largely base themselves out west in the lead up to the Grand Final.

  • “Bottom of the ladder for facilities”: Melbourne CEO speaks on plans for new club base
    28 September 2021

    Melbourne CEO Gary Pert believes the Demons are on the “bottom of the ladder for facilities” in the AFL.

    Multiple club departments are currently situated across different locations, and the Demons are looking to harmonise all operations under the one roof.

    The club has been working on a design for a new base near AAMI park in Gosch’s paddock, which is set to be funded by a joint venture between Melbourne, the AFL, and the Victorian Government.

    Speaking to SEN’s Dwayne’s World, Pert said the club’s dire situation in terms of training facilities is recognised by the AFL.

    “If (the state government) fast tracked it, I’d be more than happy, I’ve been working on it for three years now,” he said.

    “We’ve won the premiership this year and we’re acknowledged at a government level and by the AFL that we’re clearly on the bottom of the ladder for facilities.”

    “If I was to talk to anyone at the AFL and say, ‘I’ll meet you tomorrow at the Melbourne footy club,’ basically you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about because we’re in three, four, five different locations.”

    The fact of Melbourne’s poor facilities makes the Demons triumph in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final “even more amazing,” according to Pert.

    “It’s started, we’re starting the redevelopment of our oval, we’ve had a junior-sized oval that we’ve been training on for the last 10 years and in the next few weeks that’s going to be resurfaced and enlarged to an MCG length and Marvel (stadium) width oval, so that’s a really big step for us,” he said.

    “Right at the moment, we don’t even have the facilities of a community club, which makes the performance of the players even more amazing.”

    The Demons will return home to Melbourne from Perth in the coming days after breaking the longest premiership drought in the AFL with their win over the Bulldogs.

  • Suns list boss trade update on top 10 draft trio, Brodie, Dunstan and more
    28 September 2021

    Gold Coast list boss Craig Cameron has provided an update on numerous dealings for the club during the upcoming AFL trade period, including a trio of young stars set to come out of contract in 2022.

    The Suns followed a familiar path in 2021, starting fairly before fading in the back half of the season.

    However, important wins over Richmond and the GWS Giants late in the season, coupled with the likely return of numerous injured key players next season, has given the club hope for 2022.

    2018 top 10 draft picks Ben King, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine are all out of contract at the end of next season and will face the pull of clubs from their home states.

    When asked about the trio, Cameron told AFL Trade Radio’s The Late Trade the Suns are confident the young guns are invested in the team’s success and hoped they might be able to complete signings over the break.

    “We’d be hopeful we can do some signings this off-season before we get into next year,” he said.

    “Our young blokes are really invested, part of our strategy from the get-go was to bring a bunch of talented young guys together, and they’ve really bonded.

    “They’ve got good hope for the future, but on-field we’ve got to show it.”

    Cameron also commented on the futures of Will Brodie and Darcy Macpherson.

    The pair are in a similar boat, both 23-years old but have struggled to cement their places in the Suns best 22.

    Brodie especially has struggled up north, playing just 24 games in five years after being drafted with pick nine in the 2016 AFL draft.

    “Will’s going into his sixth year next year, and he quite rightly wants to explore his options elsewhere and we’re happy to facilitate that if we can find something for him, we’ll work to that through the trade period,” Cameron said.

    “Darcy is a little bit the same, but he hasn’t been quite as vehement in talking to us around wanting to find another home, but if he did and found something that works for us, then we’d look at that.”

    The Suns have some work to do if they are to bring in any trade targets this off-season with all list spots currently filled and signed for next season, however, it hasn’t stopped Cameron and his team from showing interest in delisted Saint Luke Dunstan.

    “We’ll have to wait until we get through the trade period to see where everything sits, but Luke’s a good player and he played some good games this season so we’d be crazy not to look at a player of his talent if he’s available to rookie list, it just depends what happens through the trade period as to how many rookie selections we have,” Cameron said.

    2022 shapes as a big year for the Suns, with numerous signings still to be completed and coach Stuart Dew out of contract.

  • Melbourne man under investigation for attending Perth AFL grand final allegedly in breach of COVID rules
    28 September 2021
    Police in Western Australia are investigating whether a Melbourne man who may have attended the AFL grand final on Saturday is in breach of a COVID-19 quarantine direction.
  • Dermott Brereton's top AFL commentators, experts and host
    28 September 2021

    If you could put together a commentary team made of all available media talent to call a game of footy, who would you select?

    Dermott Brereton has put together who he believes are the best in the business in terms of hosting a broadcast, calling the game and providing expert commentary.

    He has gone with one host, two callers and two experts.

    See Brereton’s call team below:

    Host: Eddie McGuire

    “Eddie McGuire’s the best host. I declare my interests: he’s a great mate, but really if anyone says they’re as good a host as Eddie, it’s chalk and cheese, he’s the best host we’ve got,” Brereton told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

    Callers: Anthony Hudson and Dwayne Russell

    “Anthony Hudson and I love the way Dwayne Russell calls,” he said.

    Subscribe to the SEN YouTube channel for the latest videos!

    Experts: Jimmy Bartel and Nick Riewoldt

    “I learn the most off Jimmy Bartel listening to him. Jimmy tells me the most of what I want to know when I’m watching a game off-screen that I can’t see and is able to tell me how things have happened in a certain way,” he said.

    “I’ve got him first, he’s clearly the best in my view. I can’t work out why Channel 7 don’t use him more.

    “I love seeing how Nick (Riewoldt) pulls it apart and shows where players are from, how they’ve got there and shows how things have transpired to get there.

    “They’re the two current best at telling me something that I want to know.”

  • Melbourne CEO reveals club's Adam Cerra trade ambitions
    28 September 2021

    Melbourne CEO Gary Pert has spoken on the speculation surrounding the Demons throwing their hat in the ring for Fremantle young gun Adam Cerra, who has requested a trade home to Victoria.

    Cerra still appears to be destined to nominate Carlton in the coming days, however, Melbourne has emerged as another club interested in the 21-year old.

    Speaking on SEN’s Dwayne World, Pert believes the club’s list is in a great spot, featuring plenty of depth.

    “I’m part of all the conversations the list management group is having with all the players and all managers,” he said.

    “We’ve got a list that’s pretty strong, there’s going to be a bit of pressure on us from a salary cap point of view.

    “But I think not only have we got a talented list, but anyone who was looking at the players who ran onto the ground after the Grand Final, there were quite a few of them who deserved to be playing at the highest level.

    “We’ve got a highly talented group, but again we’ll explore all options.”

    It’s unclear how Pert and his list management team would be able to secure Cerra, considering the club has just one pick in the first two rounds at number 33.

    On the specifics of a deal for Cerra, Melbourne’s CEO confirmed they were interested in the star Docker but refused to elaborate on how it would happen.

    “All clubs are going to be talking to the representatives of a young star player like that,” Pert said.

    “Whether you can have the room or be able to pull off the deal, I’d say the majority of clubs are exploring it, but until we think anything’s going to happen with any player, we keep all those conversations highly confidential.”

    The Demons have an extremely young list, seven of their 23 players on Saturday night 21 years old or younger.

  • Grand finals don't reward season's best team, AFLW star Ebony Marinoff says
    28 September 2021
    After a mixed record in do-or-die grand finals, Adelaide Crows AFLW star Ebony Marinoff says it is a shame that one "really bad day" should cost a team a title.
  • Silvagni explains AFL draft points system, how Dogs will land Sam Darcy
    28 September 2021

    Stephen Silvagni has explained the intricacies of the points system in the AFL draft and how the Western Bulldogs will be able to secure Sam Darcy in the 2021 draft.

    Silvagni has worked as a list manager at both GWS and Carlton and has drafted many players under the current, albeit sometimes confusing rules of the draft.

    Darcy, son of Bulldogs legend Luke, is one of the most talented of his draft class, the tall forward rocketing in to pick one calculations with a six-goal haul for the Vic Metro’s under-19’s trial match in June.

    As a father-son prospect, the Bulldogs have the option to match any bid for the 18-year old.

    Silvagni explained exactly how the Dogs will look to land their prized draftee.

    “They can go into points deficit, but they will try and find the picks,” Silvagni told SEN Breakfast.

    “Each pick has a value, if he goes at pick two, that pick’s worth 2,500 points, plus a 20% discount for father-son or NGAs (Next Generation Academies).

    “So, they’ve got to make up those points within that draft.

    “They’ve got to find 2000 points, so all their picks in the draft have to add up to 2000 points, and they all go (if they match the bid).”

    However, he says that’s not the be-all and end-all, using Fremantle as a past example.

    “If they don’t have enough points with those picks in this year’s draft, the points will come off their first pick in next year’s draft, that’s called going into deficit,” Silvagni said.

    “It’s happened to Fremantle. Fremantle, last year or the year before, there was a bid on one of their NGA players, and they were in deficit in their first-round, so their first pick actually slipped back a couple of spots last year.”

    The Bulldogs first pick currently sits at number 17 in the 2021 AFL draft, meaning they will likely face bids from rival clubs on Darcy.

    The former Carlton list manager says clubs will bid if they think it can benefit them down the track.

    “Ultimately, by me bidding, (you have to ask yourself) ‘Is it going to help me out or is it going to help other picks come in for you, do I really value that player and are we a chance to get him?’” Silvagni said.

    “If you value the player, sure (bid), within reason.

    “I always said that if you value that player and it’s going to help you get that player or it's going to help you get something further down the line, then bid.”

    A club whose bid is matched on a player will then collect the draft picks and points the rival club used to match the original bid.

    Collingwood father-son prospect Nick Daicos and South Australian Jason Horne-Francis are the other two who appear a possibility to be the number one draft pick in 2021.