Who’s the Furphy?





Who’s the Furphy?



Ahh, Nathan Buckley. Such an idiot.


Sorry, you had me with your response to the cheer squad banner fail against the Eagles, 2018, but, damn, you just lost me again! What a nob! The hit outs, like all stats, are only a guide, but a fair guild… if your ruckman is any good.


Or your coach is.


Sounds to me like the other mob, the Lions in this case, are much better organised around the fall of the ball.


Sounds to me like your ignoring the fact any AFL fan worth a pinch, including those of the black-and-white persuasion, will tell you Grundy, as good as he is (and he’s plenty good), is not great at hitting the ball TO players. Hasn’t been since day one. Remember against GWS in the 2019 Prelim wet? In the end the Giants didn’t even bother going up against him! All that first touch, yet you lost by a point and missed a grand final against Richmond.


A great ruckman will hit the ball TO his on-ballers. A great coach will have the patterns to make it so. The runners, the blockers. Especially the blockers.


Gawn is great. Just great! Hell, centre bounces are the only time Melbourne look like kicking a goal. God, imagine if HE got 64 touches to 4!


Gawn is front on, stand and deliver. Body on the line. Grundy is all torso, twisting, wrestling, good at it, but by the time the ball hits the fingers, his bearings, the precision of his radar is gone.


Goldstein, Ryder, they weren’t ruck rovers like Grundy, but, like Gawn, when they got/get clean fingers to it, look out! They destroyed teams, won games.


Yes, Grundy hits it to a spot, and lands helping the team swarm to that spot, but a crisp possession in 50/50 traffic? Worth diamonds!


I get it, Bucks, in your day you were out back. Licuria and Burns were at the ruckman’s feet. And rightly so! Your burst, and delivery, were worth their weight in silken farts! I get it, you’ve decided an extra ruck rover on the ground is the way to go. But mate you’ve given up something grand.


Robbed Peter to pay Paul.


Which is fine. Your call. Footy evolves.


Yet some teams can do both. Hit the ball down TO players, and land to clear paths. Those teams win flags.


Ruck stats tell porky pies? ALL stats only tell a part of the tale. It’s one of the reasons Bruce and so many of his ilk were such pedestrian commenters. They sounded excited, but, beyond that, stats were all they had. God save me from race callers and numbers men!


Ask Cyril Rioli about stats? Or Gary Pert. Or Jeremy Howe. Or, even in his day, Ross Lyon. Some players destroy you with a handful, week in, week out. Some rack them up game after game, but never penetrate, never impress. Sometimes a losing team has a ripper tackle count… but only because they were always second to the ball. Sometimes their tackle pressure wins them games.


Geelong, in their prime, never had great centre clearance stats, but, wow, their attack from the half back line!


Today’s Melbourne get it inside 50 heaps, there’s a stat, they just have no idea how to score.


One of the greats told me Dempsey would play to win ruck taps more than hit targets. They didn’t like playing to him, despite his Brownlow. Funny what the public misses. Yet players like Round, to them, a ruck stat was a true as the day is long.


Take a stat, a piece of math, and put it in the context of a game. Yes, a help, yes, often a basic indicator, but no more. Important at that level, sure. Just not the final port of call.


But an out-and-out Furphy, Bucks? The ruck stats? No way!


They told me plenty! First hand to the ball 64 times to 4, and you STILL couldn’t win? You’re not as good a coach as you think you are.



Read more from Matt Zurbo HERE.


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  1. Rulebook says

    Good stuff Old dog – the other part I don’t get with Grundy is the lack of smashing the ball forward structuring with a player to take and then give off hey it was MR September Clark Keating main strength

  2. Tom Cannon says

    Happy Easter old dog a great time to smell the hint of leather anticipation of another season. A good tap ruckman worth their weight in furphies!

  3. Matt Zurbo says

    Fist bounce second quarter Melb v GWS. I rest my case.

    Cheers Rulebook.

    Onya Tommy. See you in a week. Otway vs The Bay.

  4. It’s definitely the sign of a good team to react to the centre bounces because they happen so often. When I was coaching kids we always had strategies in place. It all depended on what happened at the previous bounce/ball up. Did we win the tap? Set up to provide a ball to a player moving across the front with a blocker and one defensive player. Did they win? One player going for the ball, two defenders…

    If you can get the ball out of the middle, you get first look at goals, especially with the 6/6/6 rule now. Defenses are under pressure. Much better to get it going your way.

    When playing for the Bali Geckos, we played a 9 a side tournament that featured an ammo side from Melbourne. They were far and away the most skilled team despite having only 11 players all up and enjoying a big night on the rums after the first day of the 2 day tourny. My opponent in the ruck was sweating rum in the humidity. I was killing him, but their rover, was reading my taps and sharking everything I got my hand to. Running through and feeding their nippy full-forward with lace out passes for him to slot goals.

    Sure it helped that the bloke was Steven Baker, (still playing for the Saints and on a clandestine footy trip with his mates), but it showed that even if you were losing the taps, a smart player/team could still make the difference.

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