Versus – Round 4: Cox v Leunberger

This clash looms as a real unique comparison as they are both at different ends of their careers. Once is a dominant big man who, for years has been the first picked ruckman in Dream Team. The other is a young, emerging ruck who is starting to take the AFL by storm with his size and ability. In many ways, Leuenberger is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Cox’s Qui-Gon Jinn; however 2012 should see Leuey step out of the shadows and become a ruck master in his own right (hopefully not at the expense of Cox to the lightsabre of injury that is Darth Maul).

In the blue corner we have Dean Cox, the most expensive (justifiably so) ruckman in DT who has the ability to consistently dominate his opponents and synonymously rack up massive scores; and in the red corner we have the most promising big man in the game, who is quickly carving out a reputation as one of the best talents in the game.

Dean Cox

Price: $532,000
Position: RUC
Bye round: 11
Age: 30

2011 Details
Avg: 107.55
Games played: 22
High Score: 155
Low Score: 57
No. 100 + scores: 12

Matthew Leuenberger

Price: $459,100
Position: RUC
Bye round: 11
Age: 23

2011 Details
Avg: 92.82
Games played: 22
High Score: 140
Low Score: 48
No. 100 + scores: 9

Scoring Potential

Cox was THE premier ruckman in 2011. As the only ruck to average over the 100 mark, he was also the only man in his class to sit inside the top 20 players’ bracket at the end of the year (Ranked #11 overall). Big Coxy enjoyed his 4th year with a 100 + average and is primed to do so again in 2012. With an amazing scoring potential, he is undoubtedly the best ruckman in the game. Taking himself to a new level in 2011, Cox scored over 110 in all but one of his 100 + games, including 4 games over 135! Enough said.

Take aside his first 5 games where he played primarily in attack (and averaged a solid 76.2), Leuey returned to the ruck in round 7 and made an immediate impact averaging an encouraging 97.7 ppg over his remaining 17 games. Scoring over 100 x 9 times, with 6 of those 109 or more; he has shown the definite ability to dominate all around the ground. Equally adept at amassing possessions as he is at gaining hitouts, Berger’s natural improvement should see him continue to score from everywhere; as well as improve his average to be verging on the 100 mark.

Cox wins this battle hands down, however I expect the margin will be a lot closer by Round 23 this year.


Both men played 22 games in 2011 (with Cox also playing all 3 finals for West Coast) so are coming off strong, consistent seasons. Starting with the master, he has managed to play a full season 5 times in his 11 seasons, including 3 out of the last 4 years. Based on recent years he has been one of the more reliable options in terms of durability. With the exception of a freak injury, the only factor that may play against Cox this year is that of resting. Depending on how strongly West Coast are positioned at the end of the year, Woosha could look at resting the big man in round 21 against Port (rnd 2 of finals in DT). However if 2011 was anything to go on, the chances of this happening are fairly slim.

The apprentice on the other hand has only had 2 seasons we can judge as it took him 3 years to break into Brisbane’s line up behind Jamie Charman. Since his breakout into the best 22 in 2010, Berger has played 44 games out of a possible 44. This suggests he is going to be a dependable option in the ruck, whilst steadily improving his DT scores in the process. Going on the last 2 years as a comparison due to the above reasoning, these two are hard to split – with both being affected by injuries in the past however now appear fit and ready for another 22 games in 2012.


As two players at opposing ends of the spectrum, the question of value is debateable. Whilst Cox is coming off his best year in the AFL, many will think he can continue to improve and push his average even higher in 2012. However with his age now over the topical 30 mark, statistics suggest he may start to decline – especially with a talented and youthful Nic Natinui waiting in the wings to take over. Therefore, based on his high price, Cox isn’t a ‘value pick’ by any stretch. This argument will be made null and void by many given coaches usually don’t look for value in their top premiums.

Leuenberger on the other hand is just starting to hit his straps; and by no means has he peaked yet in terms of DT. In a year where he will be primed to elevate his average to between 95-100; being priced at 93 will give him the edge over Cox as his price may not be this low again. If he breaks into the true ruck premium range of 100 +, he will be one of the ruck steals of the season.


There has been no negative news out of the Eagles camp about the ruck veteran. I’m going to go along the lines of the popular mantra in this case – no news is good news. This suggests that he is travelling along fine and should be primed for a strong start to the season. Coach John Worsfold will be looking to manage his experienced players through the preseason so as to not overload them. For this reason, we may not see much of Cox until round 1.

Similar to Cox, Leuenberger hasn’t put a foot wrong in the offseason, looking to extend his run off 44 consecutive games in 2012. We will likely see him in a game or two during the NAB series as Voss looks to work out how he will use new recruit Ben Hudson in 2012. It is highly possible that Hudson is simply insurance for the Berger, however even if he does have to share the ruck load with the former Bulldog; this may end up helping his DT scores with a few more goals the likely result. As always, keep an eye on the club injury lists for any surprises; however barring some terrible luck, expect to see both big men suit up for game 1 of the season in the # 1 ruck spot for their respective teams.

Team Draw

West Coast have a great start to the year in 2012, only playing 3 x top 8 teams from last year before their bye. Starting off with the Dogs, Demons and Giants; expect your Eagles’ stars to fire early. Their draw does get harder in the second half though, playing the Pies twice inside 10 rounds. The teams they play twice in 2012 are the Pies, Hawks, Kangaroos, Dockers and Lions. Of the top 4 teams from last year, they appear to have the best draw. The Lions on the other hand have an even more favourable one – particularly in the latter half of the year. In total – they only play 2011 finalists Blues and Eagles twice, along with the Demons, Suns and Bulldogs. In the wake of their round 11 bye, Brisbane have a strong finish to the year; playing the Saints, Suns, Tigers, Crows, Port and Dogs all inside the final 8 rounds. This should enable them to come home with a wet sail and give the finals a real crack in 2012.

Bye Week Relevance

Cox and Leuey both have the round 11 bye in 2012 so will share it with the likes of Adelaide, GWS, North and Western Bulldogs. The round 11 bye is undoubtedly the worst for rucks this year. As well as these two, teams will also be missing popular choices Goldstein, HMac, Giles, Nic Nat and Jacobs in this round. Based on the way the byes are structured this season it is advisable that coaches don’t pick more than 1 player with the round 11 bye unless they are sacrificing the round (more on this from Warnie soon). If you are one of the brave coaches going into the season with 1 premium ruck and 3 rookies, you could consider starting with one of the above, then upgrading to another in round 12 – this would be one of the only viable ways to have two R11 rucks and get away with it. Starting with two would be a sure-fire muck up.


In a battle of Master v Apprentice, there is no clear winner here. Your choice of one of the above will come down to a matter of opinion and structure. At over $70k cheaper, Leuenberger provides better value and more upside. However Dean Cox is an absolute champion and has been the best ruckman in Dream Team for years. I have a feeling both may average over 100 in 2012 and may just finish the year as the top 2 rucks in the land. Choose one and upgrade to the other; or pick one and stick to your guns. Whatever you choose – rest assured that these two big men are both great choices for your team in 2012.

Cheers for Reading – Feedback Appreciated.



  • Cox is definitely a champion, but I am worried about a rising Nicnat. Gone the Burger this year.

    Nice article.

    • One could argue that the Burger has the same problem as Cox, with the inclusion of Hudson, albeit he doesn’t seem quite as promising as NicNat. But still, it can’t help Leuy’s scores…

        • New coach creates uncertainty for Sandi as well. Numbers last yeat didn’t seem overly impacted by injury (late in game etc). Good draw and full strength team will help Sandi.

          R11 bye – includes Giles. Looking ugly unless looking to tank in round 11 – surely we are too early in the season to be giving up already.

          Concern on tanking – top 8 stil yet 18 sides this year for leagues. For my tough leagues last year, only scrapped into the 8.


          • If going the R11 tank (given many of the rookies are GWS also with the bye in 11), Cox would be the pick if only selecting one premium ruck IMO. Easier draw to start and playing Pies twice I think historically has been ok for ruckmen (Cox 113 last year, 57 in final with only 45% TOG).

            Then upgrade to Berger in R12.

        • i agree sandi is cheap as chips. hes not amazing player in real life but amazing at dream team. hes in my team at 469k

    • na I have gone for 3 rookies and have gone cheap with David Hale HAW If he goes up then I will get Cox Fingers crossed.

  • “one large smelly Berger meal please”

    “that comes to $459,100. Drive through please!”

    • Nice analogy :) Would you like some Hudson with that? He might take up a bit too much room on your plate however :P

  • Great article, never thought to compare these two (was thinking one of Mumford, McEvoy, Jacobs, etc). Very interesting, although i’m going for the Sandi Jacobs combo, or Mummy Jacobs if I need the $$$ (you can probably guess my bench…)
    Just as an added point, I feel so much less stress about my DT having to premos established in my rucks. It really is “set and forget”
    When’s the Swan vs Pendles matchup!!!

    • Also this just in. Didak to miss a month with adductor tear. Source: Eddie Mc on MMM

    • Cheers guys – Swan v Pendles is our next versus actually. I think Robdog may also be doing one for a certain 2 Hawks defenders.

      Watch this space!

      • I’ve gone for a value pick here mate. Havent heard anyone talk about Daisy Thomas yet? Heaps cheaper than Pendles and Swanny but I think will avg 110 this year!

      • “like” haha.

        I’m loving these comparison articles! I look forward to the articles about the two Hawks defenders and two Pies. I have some uncertainty about both.

        I locked in the Berger from the start, this article has helped solidify that view. Just unsure about going Leunberger and McHintosh or Leunberger and Giles… Hurry up NAB Cup!

  • Nice article,

    At this stage I am on the Sand/Burger. Strange thing, I know, but Cox/Burger’s are to expensive.

    Not sure why I am going Sandi after last year. Turf toe is hardly a freak incident when your big toe is as long as other people’s feet.

  • Let’s all forget Dean Cox now. why would you want to pencil in the master?
    Lets get Leueny or Jacobs or Mcevoy, even HMAC instead!
    Goodbye King Cox ;)

  • Boyd v Pendles match up plz

  • sorry stew42 misread your last comment. i have now subbed out berger and sandi back in, hudson does scare me….so many ruck changes i think i am finally losing it!

    • Don’t worry, it’s happening to everyone!
      ATM I’ve got Mummy and Jacobs going strong…

  • Getting Berger and even H-Mac and if H-Mac goes down in the NAB, hello Kreuzer.

    Still waiting on Suckling v Birchall

  • For the people that want a premium ruckman in round 11 would you go Sandilands, Mumford or McEvoy?

    • Sandi every day of the week.

    • McEvoy is the one this year. No competition from within. Sandilands has Clarke and Griffin, Mumford has Seaby and Pike.

      I think he will be in the top 2 scorers for rucks by the end of the year.

      • Seaby and Pyke are not in the Swans best 22 however… if anything Pyke might be on the fringe if Jesse White gets dropped

        • While Seaby and Pike might not be in the Swans best 22 it is possible that it wont take much for that to change. The Swans recruited Walsh as well who will play early in the season. It wasn’t that long ago that Mumford and Seaby were seen to be fighting for the number one ruck position.

          Mumford is only another ‘sling tackle’ away from a 6 week holiday. Just a little food for thought that’s all.

      • If Mumford avoids the sling tackle, he will be the only Ruckman in the team. I can’t see Seaby breaking into the best 22, whereas Pyke will be a fringe player.

        If Pyke breaks into the side that will give Mummy the opportunity to kick goals while he rests forward.

  • Leunberger for me as my premium ruck. Contemplating H-Mac vs Giles now. NAB Cup will help that.

    What are people’s views of North playing two fit full-time ruckmen who are proven that they can both kick goals. There are a few of us Roo supporters here so it’d be great to hear your thoughts. I think good things are coming for North!

    All going well, this’ll be the first time North have 3 dominating talls in their squad so it’ll be interesting to see how Scotty plays the three big men (the luxury).
    2010: Petrie was Injured most of the season and Goldy finding his feet. North struggled this season.
    2011: McHintosh was injured most of the season and with Goldy and Petrie dominating. North improved a lot with the young midfield strengthening…
    2012: Can the three big men all stay fit?

    • Any North Melbourne supporters keen to share their thoughts?

      • Not a Kangas man (go the Swannies), but can’t help recalling Hirdy’s fruitless efforts to fit three rucks into the one side. Though the Dish is the best forward of these six, Scotty still had to push out Hansen who had been starting to find his feet in the forward line towards the end of 2010. I think it just underlines the problem in today’s fast-paced game of trying to squeeze too many talls into a side (especially ruck-type talls). The only one who seems to have been able to make it work is Woosha. Is it impossible for the Kangas to get all 3 in there in 2012? No. [It sounds like even Hirdy’s going to have another go at it.] It is just going to be difficult, and in DT terms rather fraught I’d say. I reckon their DT output is going to be inconsistent (Petrie was that already in ’11; Goldy will be the main one to suffer if that happens; and it for HMac it may limit is ability to reward those who take him as a mid-pricer with a view to making big steps to an upgrade).

        Sorry for this rambling stream of consciousness.

  • Has to be Cox, and will possibly be my captain for Round 1. With scores of 125 and 155 against the Bulldogs last season, will be hard to go past.

  • Cox and having a pair of gun ruckmen is the past. Cox’s average will drop for sure, maybe up to 10-15 points if Natanui and Lycett get some more ruck time. Meanwhile Berger’s will rise because he is maturing and will hit peak very soon, Hudson will take ruck time from him (but it depends on his role at the club) but Berger’s peaking will allow him to average 10-15 points more. I can see this season Berger averaging more then Cox. And at 70k less that can turn, for me anyway, Sidebottom to Beams. And Beams has a predicted first three round average of 135. Get on.

    • Cox is the King… the end!
      You and your predictions.. .beams 135 ave blah blah. Just stick to your little soccer Ronaldo!

    • Don’t believe the assistant coach predicted scores!

      • Well Beams scored 12 against Hawthorn last time he played them.
        So if he repeats this great feat in round 1, then in rounds 2 & 3 you can expect 196.5 per 5 in both weeks to reach his 135 ave.
        Leuenberger Beams for me.. cheers :)

    • I can’t believe people are writing off Cox again. It has been the same thing for the past couple of years. Natanui this and Natanui that. Yet he just pumps out the scores year in year out.

      If assistant coach says Beams will average 135 then it must be true. Better get on him now Ronaldo and while you are at it make him captain.

    • A ur an idiot if u pick any1 over cox

      B ur an idiot if u pick Beams over Sidebottom… ur the 1 who was talking about averages increasing and decreasing what proof do u have behind that…. how about researching even watching the DT eps u would realise Sidbottom will get more mid time then Beams this year… did i mention it was the coach of collingwood, Mr Nathan Buckley (bless his DT soul), that said that…

      • It doesn’t matter if Nic Nat plays more in the ruck, Cox will just run his opponent off his feet and slut it up all over the ground on his way to a 120 thanks.

  • Does anyone have any thoughts on who will be the number one ruckman at the Bulldogs this year?

    • Minson maybe?

      • I am not so sure about Minson. Was wondering whether Roughhead has had a good preseason. There were big wraps on Cordy as well.

        • I think all 3 will get a chance during the season, but Minson should start as No.1 ruck. And even if the others get some game time, their DT scores wont be great, better and cheaper options around.

          • I was asking in reference to who will be playing against the Eagles in round one.

            I already have my Rucks sorted – Cox, McEvoy + Giles and Orren. That wont be changing for the season unless there is an injury etc.

            Set and forget!!!

  • Leuenberger vs McEvoy plz??

    • It depends on who your other ruck is, who they share the bye with

    • why not have them both? different byes and both expected to avg 95+ this year. if you’re going set and forget then that would be a formidable combo…

      Leuey – best young ruckman around and should improve to avg 95-105
      McEvoy – no competition from within and continues to improve – should also flourish under Watters – expect to rise to avg 95+ also

    • I think McEvoy due to the lack of other options for the Saints. Berger is a better ruckman but there has been the recruitment of Hudson, Lilse and Longer and the return to fitness of Brown.

      It really is a close thing though.

  • it look like Didak it out for 4weeks now

    • They were saying he is out for the whole NAB Cup and is in serious doubt for the start of the season. Its a shame as I had him in as my forward smokey this year. Lucky for me though there are a million options in that price range

        • from those comments u both have been relegated to the bottom 50% of DT

          • Relegated to the bottom 50% of DT. Because I had an under-priced Didak as my 5th forward behind Buddy, Martin, Robinson and NRoo. All reports were suggesting he had his best preseason for a very long time and I felt like it was more than worth a punt esp at 360,000. Doesn’t particularly matter anyway as he has now injured himself.

          • lol
            BTW I’m in the top 1% matei ;)

          • lol mate, Zan’s a shot at top 100.

          • if you believe you’re halfway there

            just ask my mate TKOL ;)

          • If you guys were any good you would’ve known the top players are the top 0%. A few of us were there all year last year!

          • You wont need to worry about the likes of us then Ike as we will be bottom 50%. Damn you Didak!!! :-)

  • I wouldn’t worry about NicNat affecting the Big Cox scores. Cox tends to roam around the half back line and around the ground where he takes a shit loads of marks and kicks. This is where his value lies.

    Also Cox and NicNat play on the ground together, with Cox going forward to kick some goals or NicNat playing as a rover at Cox’s feet.

    NicNat getting better will probably be a good thing for Cox, taking some stress of him and letting him roam around the ground more

    Its the big Cox all the way for me

  • who is starting with giles on field ?

    • I thought about it for a heart beat then remembered that consistent 50-70 points aren’t the same as consistent 70-90 points for a rookie midfielder. I would be starting Orren if I had a choice between him and Giles.

      • Zachary smith proved he could have been a on field
        Player in his 1st year sorta tossing up the risk

        • cox/zsmith are my starting. I think Smith is worth the risk…..

          If it pays off…

        • My thoughts might change after the NAB Cup and Giles kills it. He might surprise me. Just cant see him getting anymore than 60’s. I am wanting 200 points for the rucks this year from the start hence Cox + McEvoy combo. there is plenty of value in the rucks with McEvoy, Berger, Jacobs, Mumford etc all possibly pushing the 100 ave.

          I am also doing the Rowe interchange trade mid year as suggested by Warnie. I think it is a great idea and a very smart way to trade.

          • If I recall correctly the big O averaged a touch under 100 dt points in the VFL last year.

  • i didnt realise berger scored aswell as he did last yr,,i just cant get the injury thing out of my head..i remember him getting drafted thinking this blokes gonna kill it….but now he just looks like an injury waiting to happen…but i spoz everyone should be considering him
    iv got him in the same basket as higgins,,thats either a good thing or a bad one..only time will tell
    but he looked like he could be anything
    good write up,good question

  • talking of Rucks… A DT future prediction question.. Natanui is a future star in my books… but as a Dt player atm he is risky to take. What do you think of Nik Nat for a future DT addition? Has anyone included him this year?

    • He’s overrated as, can’t kick for shit and if it wasn’t for athletic ability he’d be shit. I’f you’re confident he can pick up 50+ hitouts a match then get him.

    • He’s still too young to make declarations about – but most ruckmen at his age are doing laps and bench pressing and are no where near their team’s best 22 so that gives some indication of where he’s at right now.

  • Nik Nat is a superstar but not that great in Dream Team. He has the potential too be but I think it will be when he becomes the main ruck at West Coast. This will only happen if Cox retires or gets a freak injury. So wait a couple of years to pick him up.

    Hope I could hellp (:

    • Thanks Jack.. I totally agree. I think the way WC switch Coxy and Natanui through ruck and fwd is going to mould Natanui into a future DT premo!

  • 636893, please join if your a good player, lets make this league top 20!

  • Im back for another year of DT. Have barely looked at any players or anything DT relevant although last night was watching the news sparked me into action

    They were saying there was a possible ruck rule change, if this goes into effect, it will be a Sandi Cox combo for me all the way!!! Not only will they get the possesions around the ground that they normally would aka cox, but they wont be getting locked in a restle while a 3rd man jumps in. (From my understanding thats what it eliminates). This is what it sounded like to me. Therefore players like Sandi will be able to 95% of the time get the tap because he is just sooo tall!!

    Will be interesting to see if it does go through but i expect some different scores from rucks in the NAB

    • Good point, thankfully it is only being trialled in the NAB Cup and not the season proper. The AFL thinks the rule will make ruck contests more of a spectacle but it doesn’t appeal to me, ball-ups/throw-ins are becoming too non-contact and prone for free kicks as it is! Will be interesting to see how it plays out for sure.

  • Does anyone has any articles/news/info/updates on how Shannon Byrnes from Geelong on Roughead from Hawthorn are travelling?

    Feedback much appreciated :)

    • As a mad Geelong man, Byrnes is certainly one to watch during the pre-season.
      With Geelongs retirements and injuries to Wojzinski, Menzel, and Varcoe, there is a starting 21 spot for him if he has shaken off those niggly little injuries that plagued him in 2011. He could be an absolute bargain ala The Porpoise Porplyzia!

  • NicNat is the only reason I don’t have Cox…..

  • Cheers & thanks…a great read. Probably should have included a section on ruck competition from within their clubs, but the various comments posted covered a lot of that ground.

    ATM leaning towards Sandi & McEvoy myself.

  • Please do a Swan Vs Pendlebury Vs Jellwood.
    These three have the same bye, and most will be looking to pick two of theses three.
    I beleive they are the best three premos in the middle.

    I realise i could play all three and sidways trade. but thats not my style.
    what do people think?
    whats the best combo?

  • what are peoples thoughts about jolly??? @369K might be worth a bet…. he is running pre season trials in the same as a mid bucks said they are his best times in 3-4 years he it appears his knee is holding up….

  • ATM i have Mcevoy Giles Orran and Witt(and b4 you say it witt y the f do you have Witt well bucks has a big thing for youth and wood has not worked the way we wanted so i beleave that Witt will get Leigh browns spot as second ruck/fwd/def. at 200 cm he is a man mountain eg sandi)and the money i saved on Witt i put towards Hayes as fifth mid instead of a rookie hoping the Hayes to avg 100 or so to cover the 70 or so giles or orran will get.