Recycled Players: Worth the Gamble?

Last year, Ryan Gamble was a popular pick as the 7th forward for many teams.

After moving from Geelong, where he constantly switched between the forward and backlines, to St Kilda, Gamble was seen as a viable third option next to Riewoldt and Kosi and at $157,800, he was also a cash cow. In 24 games over 5 seasons, Gamble had averaged 59.7 points and it was assumed more game time in his favoured forward position would see him boost his output, Dreamteam and real life, considerably.

What happened? He scored 57.9 points per game and kicked just 11 goals in only 11 games. Gamble played the first three games, where a 2 kick, 2 mark, 1 handball and 1 tackle, 18 point third game performance saw him dropped.  He finished the season worth only $231,500 a return just $73,700. More importantly for Ryan Gamble, he was delisted by the Saints and will not play in the AFL this season.

St Kilda and his Dreamteam owners, who gambled on Gamble, rolled a snake eyes.

Recycled players are always a slight risk, if they were solid players on and in most cases off the field or had good injury histories, they wouldn’t have been delisted or traded in the first place.

Some players make the most of the increased game time and those owners who rolled the dice in 2011 on Bachar Houli (Ex Essendon), David Hale (Ex North), Nick Lower (Ex Port), Andrew Karkouer (Ex Wooroloo Prison) or Danny Stanley (Ex Collingwood) were rewarded with high scores and a healthy cash return.

Likewise those who bet on Nathan Djerrkura, Patrick Veszpremi, Andrejs Everitt, Ben McKinley, Richard Tambling or Cameron Bruce ended up throwing their tickets into the bin.

As we prepare for 2012, let’s study the form guide of this year’s recycled players. A note of caution, be careful who you gamble or you might find yourself like the inspiration for this article, out of the league in a years’ time.

* Denotes Rookie Listed player.

100 Rated

Who are the recycled players who will score significantly higher at their new club and make us some money.

Best Bet

Jonathon Giles – GWS
Old club – Port Adelaide
Position: Ruck
Cost: $117,800
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 67


Besides Dean Brogan, Jon Giles is the only other viable ruck option that GWS have. Brogan will be slated to be the number 1 ruck with Giles the understudy. This is a position familiar to Giles who spent 4 years learning from Brogan/Lade on Port Adelaide’s senior list. We should expect Giles to play the majority of games and to take most of the centre bounces. Why? Brogan’s main strength was his centre bounce jumping ability. Brogan struggled last year with Achilles problems which have robbed him of his hops.

Giles has matured and grown into his frame. He was the Giants B&F winner in the NEAFL last year. Unlike other Giant players won’t be reliant on winning the ball for a majority of points. Giles should get 50% of his points from hitouts and the Giants are definitely likely to have lots of centre bounces.

Runner Up

James McDonald – GWS
Old club – Melbourne
Position: Midfield
Cost: $98,700
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 70


An unusual case as McDonald becomes the first playing coach for at least the last twenty years. The former Melbourne Captain will be a popular pick based on the starting price. As outlined previously on DT Talk, McDonald averaged 94.8 points in 2010 highlighted by 7 tackles per game. He believed he could play on but Melbourne wanting more game time for youngsters, ironically including Tom Scully, forced him to retire. He played amateur football in Victoria last year to keep fit and got through without any injury concerns.

McDonald is unlikely to play on the ball for the Giants, with a role in defence where his leadership, experience, ball-winning and decision making will be most needed. His tackling helps to de-risk his selection as we can bank on 16/20 points without getting a kick. A 70 average should see him increase $250,000, a very healthy return.

Tony Armstrong – Sydney
Old club – Adelaide
Position: Defender
Cost: $289,700
2011 avg: 73.2
2012 expected avg: 80


I don’t know if Tony Armstrong realises this but he owes us. In a small number of games in the last two seasons Armstrong has shown glimpses of real talent as a playmaking half back, a key position for Dreamteam. In his debut season in 2010, a 123 against North in his second game saw a number of people jump on Armstrong as a trade down target, this writer included. What did he do after that? He played another 7 games averaged 55 points and was dropped for the Dreamteam finals. Last year a drink driving charge saw the Crows discipline Armstrong and it wasn’t until Neil Craig was sacked that Armstrong came into the side. A final game 26 at West Coast hurt, but if you take this performance out he averaged 85 which would have been good enough for the 10th best defender in Dreamteam if he played the entire season.

With Ty Kennelly retiring and Nick Malcevski having bionic knees, the Swans are left with Mattner, Rhys Shaw, Nick Smith and Armstrong as rebounding defenders. Armstrong has the most upside of those defenders as someone who can break lines and use the ball at an elite level.  The Week 12 bye hurts as Shaw, Broughton, Heppell, Enright and Grimes all have the same bye. Picking him will save you $100,000 on most of these and the price rise will allow you to upgrade to a premium if inconsistency or disciplinary issues come up again. If he can deliver a full season with an average above 80 then he can considered his debt to the Dreamteam community paid.

Marty Clarke – Collingwood
Old club – Collingwood
Position: Defender
Cost: $141,500
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 72


The last two years he played in Australia he averaged 71.6 points per game over 46 games. Clarke is who we think he is. Can we expect a higher average from an older, more physically and emotionally mature Clarke yes. But if even if scores he 2008/9 average, will net owners $220,000 or a solid top 30 defender in terms of scoring.  If he doesn’t play then all of this is a moot point. Clarke will need to beat out Ben Johnson/Alan Toovey for a spot in the starting line-up, which doesn’t seem likely. However, if you consider that Simon Buckley played 13 games last year and then you look at the overall squad depth – Clarke will play, how many games?, how many consecutively? and will he start in Round 1? will determine if Clarke worth the gamble.

Mitch Morton – Sydney
Old club – Richmond
Position: Forward
Cost: $263,800
2011 avg: 53.3
2012 expected avg: 75


Now at his third club, the former Eagle and Tiger is given a final chance at the Swans. Not many players get so many chances, especially those that average 53 points in only 9 games for the Tigers in 2011. So why are Sydney willing to give Morton another shot? There aren’t a lot of mid sized forwards that have kicked over 40 goals in a season. One of three Morton brothers to have played in the league, Morton has elite kicking and marking skills for his size. Frozen out of the 2005/6 golden era at West Coast, Morton flourished in his first two years kicking 76 goals. He then fell out favour with Damien Hardwick for his work without the ball and a general lack of fitness.

In preparation for his last chance in 2012 Morton went to Thailand to do an 5 week intense kickboxing pre-preseason training session. A rededicated Morton, playing for a team that knows how to get the best out of recycled players, could be unique mid priced pick. A return to his 2009 form, with 35+ goals will see Morton average 75, a rise of about $112,000. Only question is whether Morton is another recycling success story for the Swans or is he another Andrejs Everitt?

Darren Pfeiffer* – Port Adelaide
Old club – Carlton
Position: Midfield/Forward
Cost: $117,800
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 70


Now on a third and final chance at the AFL level it seems the Pfeiffer has grasped what is required of an AFL player. The South Australian, was originally picked 17th overall by the Adelaide Crows in 2005. He struggled to break into a strong Crows side ahead of more experienced players. Despite being a highly touted home town player youthful issues such as breaking curfew, drinking, bar fights and a lack of dedication saw Pfeiffer delisted after only two season, failing to play a game. Carlton picked him up but he struggled playing only 7 games in two years.

Solid form for Southport in Queensland and Norwood in SA over the last two years, has seen Pfeiffer earn a return to the AFL. He is currently on the rookie list and will need to beat out Jarrad Irons and Tom Jonas for the vacant spot on the Power senior list. At 24, Pfeiffer is a tough bodied midfielder who can play a variety of roles including half back and half forward. Good in close, he will be needed for hard ball gets around stoppages, an area that Port has struggled with since Shaun Burgoyne left. For Port he provides depth and relative experience in a young squad. Even if he is nothing but a cautionary tale for some of Port younger players he will have value.

For Dreamteam, Pfeiffer is a Dual Position player, who will be handy as a midfielder bench player. A good NAB Cup will see Pfeiffer in the side from Round 1. An average in the Broadbent /Thomas range of around 70 will see him increase $180,000.

Tom Scully– GWS
Old club – Melbourne
Position: Midfield
Cost: $379,400
2011 avg: 76.7
2012 expected avg: 90


Form is temporary, class in permanent. Just two years after Melbourne made Scully the Number 1 draft pick, the weight of a new franchise is on his shoulders. Scully and his 80 year old knee will be under a microscope from day 1, but at least Tom will have his Dad there to support him.

Scully had an injury interrupted pre-season, which limited his game time and impact for the Demons in 2011. Reports about Scully knees note that he will always need to managed which is a concern from a Dreamteam perspective. At the same time, Scully is claiming to be fully healthy for the first time in two years, which is good because he will be needed to play more than 79% of games. If Scully stays on the field for 4-5% longer, is fully fit, meaning he rotates across half back and not the bench, an average above 90 should be expected. He is the Giants number 1 player but he is no Gary Ablett. The Giants are all in with him, will you?

Tommy Walsh – Sydney
Old club – St Kilda
Position: Forward
Cost: $104,200
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 60


If you were one of the three people in Australia that watched the International Rules Series last year, then you would know all about Tommy Walsh. Walsh dominated the Aussies with physical play at Centre Half Forward. Most impressive was his disposal skills, Walsh linked up with Ty Kennelly to create numerous scoring opportunities.  St Kilda had been grooming Walsh on their rookie list with the goal to promote him to the main list in 2012 as a potential key position player. Aged 24, Walsh at 195cm and 97kg demonstrated in the International Rules and in the VFL he is physically ready to play in the AFL. A 6 goal performance against Collingwood’s VFL side late last year highlights this.

Lured to the harbour city in part by former teammate Ty Kennelly, whose number 17 he will wear, Walsh will be expected to fill the role of the retired Daniel Bradshaw at Full Forward.  Swans coach Longmire has stated that Walsh and Sam Reid will be the main forward targets in 2012. For Dreamteam owners, the concern is what impact Walsh will have on the ground. Setanta O’Hailpin is fair comparison, he averaged 74 points in 2011 in only 9 games for a high scoring Carlton. An average just short of Setanta’s is a reasonable expectation, which should net Walsh owners $200,000.

Callan Ward – GWS
Old club – Western Bulldogs
Position: Midfield
Cost: $404,300
2011 avg: 81.7
2012 expected avg: 90


Put simply someone will have to score points for GWS. Last year Gold Coast had 45% of total possessions in the games they played. If GWS have similar possession rate in 2012, there are around 1400 Dream team points up for grabs. Scully and Ward are the main signings and will spend the most time on the field. Ward spent 85% of time on the ground for the Bulldogs in 2011, so his score isn’t going to go up from the increased time. What will see his scores go higher is the increased role. Ward was secondary to Boyd, Cross, Griffen and Cooney last year, this year Scully and Ward will be the focus of their team attacks and opposition tags. Rischitelli is a close comparison to Ward, he average 96 but struggled late on as the kms caught up with him. Watch out for Ward to do the same at slightly lower points per game.

Beau Wilkes – St Kilda
Old club – West Coast
Position: Defender
Cost: $98,700
2011 avg: N/A
2012 expected avg: 60


Former West Coast Eagles squad member that earned a return to the AFL based on a strong season for Claremont in the WAFL. Originally drafted as a key defender, Wilkes played full forward last season in the WAFL. He was best on ground in the WAFL Grand Final were his 5 goals kicked Claremont to the premiership.

Thinking his AFL career was over, he started a career as a builder. Beau the builder is a renovation project for Dreamteam, he will provide a solid foundation to limited rookie priced defence options. Picked up by St Kilda to bolster its key position stocks, Wilkes will either assist in replacing Zac Dawson in defence or play out of the square up front. If he plays down back, all bets are off. If Wilkes settles in down forward, an average around 60 (What Ryan Gamble, the player he could replace got last year) can be expected which will net $200,000 for Wilkes owners.

Worth an each way punt?

Two clubs, one second chance. These guys are a 50/50 chance of paying off.

Mitch Clark – Melbourne
Old club – Brisbane
Position: Forward
Cost: $356,100
2011 avg: 72
2012 expected avg: 80


Melbourne’s recruitment of Clark has been called a significant gamble. Clark had wanted to come home to WA and Fremantle thought he was committed to the club before Melbourne offered him most of the money allocated to Tom Scully. Suddenly Clark with a $2.5 million contract in his pocket found that he wasn’t so homesick after all.

Clark has had a difficult few years at the Lions. He was the 9th overall pick in the 2005 Draft despite getting meningococcal disease a week before the Draft. Over 6 seasons at the Lions, Clark played only 62% of available games and was nursed through many games that he did play. The one full season Clark had fully fit, in 2009, he was named to the All Australian squad as a mobile ruckman. He averaged a career high 94.4 in Dreamteam. The emergence of Matthew Leuenberger and continued injury to Jonathan Brown, saw Clark move to full forward in 2011.

The move to full forward saw his disposals drop a little but hit outs and tackles plummet, 22 hit outs per game to 5 in 2011. Clark was very inconsistent with only 7 games above 70 in 2011 but two of those were big 100’s. A concern for Dreamteam owners is that Clark’s 72 points came from a lot of game time. He was on the field for 86% of Lions games last year. Melbourne has said the Clark will play down forward in 2012. Clark’s big scores come not from bags of goals but from above average marking. Look for the NAB Cup to monitor Clark role, is he a FF or CHF and how involved in around the ground ruck contests does Clark get, before rolling the dice.

Chad Cornes – GWS
Old club – Port Adelaide
Position: Forward
Cost: $330,300
2011 avg: 66.78
2012 expected avg: 80


I have to declare I am a little biased when it comes to Chad Cornes. As a Port fan and Dreamteam player, Chad and his brother Kane were the first picked in my team for a few years. Now seeing I am not driving a Toyota, maybe I should have focused on other players but I don’t regret the picks. In 2007 he averaged 101.2 but what can we expect in 2012? It is unlikely that Chad will score near his 2007 average but an average higher than his 2011 average, seems reasonable. The main victim of Port’s slide down the ladder was Cornes who was forced out to make space for young key position prospects.

He was used as a defensive forward in the games he did play in 2011 for Port. If he plays down forward to protect Jeremy Cameron, Jonathon Patton and Izzy Folau, then a similar or lower average can be expected and owners should stay away. Why is Chad an interesting bet? A back line role where he is playmaker will see his score sky rocket. Can you picture Chad as a modern day Dean Wallis intimidating opposition forwards and racking up points through marks, tackles and short kicks. Free kicks against, 1 or 2 a game, hurt but aren’t a deal breaker. A mid-season switch to defence after his starting price drops from the forward role would be ideal.

Brad Ebert – Port Adelaide
Old club – West Coast
Position: Midfielder
Cost: $308,100
2011 avg: 62.29
2012 expected avg: 80


New team but not really, the Ebert name is synonymous with Port Adelaide. Uncle Russell won 4 Magarey Medals for the Port Magpies where his Dad also played, while cousin Brett has played 150 games for the Power. A former first round selection in 2007 for West Coast, Ebert is back home after missing out on the Eagles finals side. A young experienced midfielder, 76 games in 4 seasons, Ebert was forced to a new role across half forward last year due to the development of players like Shuey, Rosa and Gaff. This saw his average drop nearly 20 points per game. He spent only 73% a majority of which was across half forward which saw him score only 0.68 points per min.

What to expect at Port? Ebert has struggled with disposal and decision making at times. A review of the squad, shows the he is likely to rotate on the ball from the half forward line like Robbie Gray but he will spend more time through the middle. Port needs his endurance, pressure and eye for goal. It will be interesting to see what impact playing for Port, the club he always wanted to play for, will have. Given his relative experience and the family name, a return to his 2010 average of 82 will see $100 grand return to his owners. He will need to average closer to 90 than 82 though to be a viable midfield pick. But if pre-season fitness reports are to believed that could be achieved.

Jack Gunston – Hawthorn
Old club – Adelaide
Position: Forward
Cost: $303,400
2011 avg: 61.33
2012 expected avg: 70


Another reason why two year rookie contracts have failed AFL clubs, Gunston played 14 games in two years for Adelaide before orchestrating a return home to Victoria. After playing only two games in 2010, Gunston had a breakout season in 2011, despite playing only 12 games, winning Adelaide’s Best Young Player Award. The Award was taken off Gunston after the trade but the talent that won the Award remains. His Round 23 performance against Richmond, 5 goals and 105 Dreamteam points, highlights the potential that saw Hawthorn trade for him.

Hawthorn have said they will use Gunston in the forward half in 2012 but they don’t consider him a focal point of the attack yet. At 6’3 he is the right height but his slender frame will see him used as supporting forward. It is also possible that Gunston will play down back if the Hawks are struck with injuries again in 2012. Buddy and Roughead are key focus points in the Hawks forward line. Roughead was used as the back up Ruckman in 2011 before injury struck. He is likely to return a similar role in 2012, meaning Gunston will need to beat out David Hale for a spot in the Hawks starting 18. Watch the NAB Cup and Roughead’s rehab before selecting.

Jordan Lisle – Brisbane
Old club – Hawthorn
Position: Forward
Cost: $219,200
2011 avg: 55.4
2012 expected avg: 60


Lisle struggled to break into Hawthorn side with Buddy, Roughead and David Hale limiting him to only 5 games over three seasons. In those 5 games he didn’t distinguish himself averaging on 55 points despite playing for the high scoring Hawks and playing against Gold Coast twice. Left out of the Hawks final squads and squeezed out by the recruitment of Jack Gunston, Lisle finds himself at the Lions.

The Lions see Lisle as a foil for a fit again Jonathon Brown, replacing the departed Mitch Clark. Preseason reports note that Lisle has settled in well and is the front runner for the full forward spot. Lisle will need to beat out Ryan Lester, Aaron Cornelius, Bryce Retzlaff and Patrick Karnezis for the spot. Lisle can also play down back which may happen with Staker out for the year and Matt Maguire injury prone. Unlikely to break out, seems after three years Lisle is who we think he is.

John McCarthy – Port Adelaide
Old club – Collingwood
Position: Midfielder
Cost: $251,000
2011 avg: 50.75
2012 expected avg: 65


Prime example of the “Gamble Factor”. McCarthy was a second round pick for Collingwood but played only 18 games across 4 seasons. He played 8 games last year struggling to get game time for an elite Collingwood side. In the games he played he spend 1/3 time on the bench and averaged only 50.75 points per game or 0.62 points per min when in the game.

McCarthy was picked up by Port in the pre-season draft with a promise from coach Matty Primus that he would play a significant role for the club in 2012. To add McCarthy to your team as a cash cow, he will need to average about 85 which will see him earn you $175,000. Now will an expanded role for Port see his average jump that much? Maybe. Can we expect 60-65 points per game mainly due to more time on the ground, yes. Hardly a reason to pick him especially at the starting price.

Save your money

Don’t waste your precious cash on these guys. They won’t score points either because of the way/position that they play or more likely because they won’t play at all.

Ageing Veteran

Luke Power – GWS
Old club – Brisbane
Position: Midfielder/Forward
Cost: $384,300
2011 avg: 77.7


282 game veteran, Luke Power, gets a chance to reach 300 games as another on field mentor for a young GWS side. Power started to slow down last year and was used across half forward with rotations on the ball. Expect him to play a similar role in 2012 with the Giants but with less of the ball. The first time in a decade Power is out of Dreamteam consideration.

Spoil First Defenders

Matthew Warnock – Gold Coast, formerly Melbourne.

Setanta O’Hailpin – GWS, formerly Carlton.

Mark Austin* – Western Bulldogs, formerly Carlton.

Phil Davis – GWS, formerly Adelaide.

Zac Dawson – Fremantle, formerly St Kilda.

Sam Reid – GWS, former Western Bulldogs.

All these guys will average 55 or under. You’re not going to win your leagues or make any money with these guys in your team. Very handy in real life but in terms of Dreamteam, these guys will spoil your season.


Dean Brogan – GWS, formerly Port Adelaide.

Ben Hudson – Brisbane, formerly Western Bulldogs.

Brent Renouf – Port Adelaide, formerly Hawthorn.

Ivan Maric – Richmond, formerly Adelaide.

Broc McCauley* – Hawthorn, formerly Brisbane.

Adam Pattinson* – Hawthorn, formerly Richmond.

James Sellar – Melbourne, formerly Adelaide.

All these guys are tap first ruckman that will have limited playing time.

  • Hudson and Brogan are ageing back up ruckmen.
  • Renouf and Maric are Mark Blake type ruckman, just taps no kicks.
  • Sellar will be behind Jamar and probably Jake Spencer at Melbourne.
  • Broc and Pattinson are rookie listed and will need to be promoted.

If you had to pick one, Broc from a scoring point of view and Pattinson from a cash cow play are your best bets.

Rookie Listed

Brad Dick* – West Coast, formerly Collingwood.

Andrew McQualter* – Gold Coast, Formerly St Kilda.

Addam Maric* – Richmond, formerly Melbourne.

All these guys will need to be promoted to their main lists before you can pick them. All will have competition to be promoted. Dick and Maric are small forwards that have averaged around 60 points. Maric costs over $300,000 but Dick is available for only $122,000. You need to ask yourself are going to risk your season on someone with his injury history. McQualter is a veteran defensive half forward who is expensive at $213,700 and a low scorer avg of 43 points in 2011. Other rookies provide better options.

Squad Depth

Lewis Johnston – Adelaide, formerly Sydney.

Tom Lynch – Adelaide, formerly St Kilda.

Josh Hill – West Coast, formerly Western Bulldogs.

Nick Heyne – Carlton, formerly St Kilda.

These guys have been recruited to provide squad depth. Johnston and Lynch will need to beat out Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett to earn a spot. Hill may beat out Mark Nicoski for a half forward flank. Heyne provides bench depth for the Blues. Expect averages under 55 for all these guys as well as inconsistent game time.


  • Great article!

    Darren Pfeiffer wasn’t on my radar at all, but now I’ll have to watch him closely.

  • Nice assessment Damian. More food for thought. Much appreciated.

  • Brilliant article!! Spoilt for information that’s for sure. Great stuff.

  • Great article but one thing, Tommy Walsh was the best young player in Ireland with the round ball, why are people so gobsmacked with him dominating with the ROUND ball in the International Series?

    It doesnt transform to the oval ball. I saw him most weeks in VFL and trust me he is a average player, the hype that surrounded him by StKilda supporters was ridiculous, mostly by people that never saw him play 1 single game. Will be lucky to average 50 imo.

    • Mate, I am with you on this!

      How could a Irish key position rookie be on the radar! Dat is fooked!

  • Great article. A few extra players on my watchlist now.

  • “Andrew Karkouer (Ex Wooroloo Prison)” Haha. Brilliant

  • good stuff!

    you may have missed another one in your research.. hes is in my team right now.. gone from The hawks to the kangaroos and should play….

  • Great article… good info and food for thought.

  • Great article – thanks.

    Just one thing – its Tadhg, not Ty…….

  • Sensational stuff! Thanx Damian.

  • Phiffer should get a game at Port, how could they not try him out when all the talk was of ‘boys’ playing men last year? Still, don’t know if he’ll get a crack in my team with quite a few cheap forwards presenting, like Zorko, Treloar, Smedts and Hampton. Even Ahmed is cheaper.

  • What a shame Oakley-Nicholls isn’t one of them. Will miss hacking my mates team and trading him in………………..

  • I’m a tight-arse and don’t want to pay the money for the extra crap. Does anyone know if there will be a FF Genie again this year??

  • 968388 – Not a pro but a want people that will see the year out and are serious.

  • 591960: looking for anyone really.

  • Love all the articles guys. There is an AFL Dream Team preview magazine that sells for about $12 – does anyone know when that is available?

  • don’t know if too many share your optimism for Mitch Morton. The NAB will tell, if he kicks a bag then a whole bunch might get on him but I reckon he is this year’s Gamble.
    I like McDonald and Giles, this year’s Danny Stanley and bloke not quite as good as Mummy.

  • Disagree with a couple things in this article. Maric has been brought in by Richmond to be the number 1 ruck so will see more than limited game time and Lewis Johnston and Tom Lynch have been brought in by the Crows as utilities. Both have been told the could play down back or up forward. So they are not really fighting for spots with Walker and Tippett. Otherwise great write up.

  • Anyone for Rhys Palmer? At a new club and will see plenty of opportunities in the young GWS side. This kid is an absolute gun… NAB rising star winner, loves to kick the ball, oh and only $323,500!

  • Paul bower?

    • Just abit pricey for someone who is on the outer at Carlton mate… Many more options out there

  • What are your thoughts on the young ruckman that went to Adelaide from Essendon, Josh Jenkins?