Early season observations

The Good

  • Adelaide have overcome the odds, continuing to perform despite the depletion of an already underwhelming midfield (Jarrod Lyons gone, Scott Thompson and Brad Crouch injured). Rory Atkins and Charlie Cameron might just be the keys for the crows’ midfield with their outside run and class. Atkins’ poise and kicking is elite, and who knew Cameron could be a game breaker from centre bounces?
  • Dusty Martin has gone from high quantity to high quality. His incredible fend-offs and one-on-ones in the forward line could help Richmond contend for finals. The only player with the height and athleticism to stop is Alex Rance… oh wait.
  • Youngsters Eric Hipwood, Sam Powel-Pepper and Clayton Oliver are stars of the future. Hipwood reads the play beautifully, and is incredible agile for such a tall guy. Forget his Round 3 performance, that can happen with any young tall. Powel-Power looks like he’s played 100 games, while Oliver is a contested beast.
  • The Bont is a star. He is easily the most influential player per disposal, and just never looks at all troubled, whether it’s at ground level, in a marking duel, or with the ball in hand. Speaking of good kickers, Scott Pendlebury seems to have finally lifted in the big moments, after two underwhelming seasons. I’d want the ball in their hands, and you can add Shaun Higgins, Matt Suckling and Shannon Hurn to that list.
  • Gotta love seeing Daniel Menzel running around kicking goals, overcoming all adversity.
  • The package 2.0. Jakey Stringer is turning it on again, but meanwhile Elliott Yeo is quickly establishing himself as an equally gifted athlete. His leaps are extraordinary, not to mention his quick feet and strength to break through tackles.

The Bad

  • Collingwood won on the weekend, but against a depleted Sydney side, on the back of unsustainably high pressure. Still much improvement needed for finals. Their bookends lack quality talls, signings Chris Mayne and Daniel Wells appear to be busts (although Will Hoskin-Elliott has been great), and when Collingwood turn the ball over, teams run through them as if they’ve got no defensive structure. You have to question the strategic nous of Nathan Buckley.
  • Luke Parker looks slow and unfit, while Todd Goldstein is loping around like he’s 10kg heavier. Both need to lift for their teams to register their first win.

The Ugly

  • Forget deliberates, scoring or the ruck debacle – the play on advantage rule is the biggest problem in footy. No other aspect of AFL causes as much injustice. It is ridiculous that a team can receive a free kick, and gain no advantage, because a teammate has run off with the ball under pressure, unaware that a whistle has been blown. A player cannot be expected to realise immediately that a free kick has been paid, given the crowd noise and adrenalin caused by the frenzy of the situation.

In other situations, the injustice of this rule is compounded by the fact that the opposition sometimes pause as they hear the whistle, only to see the team with the ball continue on with a 2-3 second head start. The resolution is simple – let the umpire determine if there is an advantage, and if there isn’t, only then should they blow the whistle. This is how it’s done in soccer, and it works a whole lot better.

  • Before the win against Hawthorn, I wrote – “We know Gold Coast have the quality, but there is clearly an overriding issue at the club. Player attitude? Coach? Club culture? Who knows.”
  • They’ve got a win on the board, but still major question marks over the commitment of their playing group, including Gary Ablett, who produced a high disposal, low impact performance.
  • Speaking of Hawthorn, it appears time is up for Josh Gibson, Luke Hodge and co.


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