Rooks On The Radar: Defenders & Forwards

In five years’ time, the Dream Team coaching community will look back on this season and the preceding one as the golden era of rookie-priced players. It won’t be this good again until 2032, when then-commissioner Karmichael Hunt grants the next wave of expansion teams – second and third Gold Coast sides – entry into the league. It’s not just GCS and GWS that are making this another year of rich pickings for rookie hunters, however. The other clubs’ willingness to take a punt on mature-aged draftees with AFL-ready bodies means there are a lot more first-year players getting 10-20 games as opposed to 2-3 games in their debut seasons. If this is our heyday, then let’s not f%^# it up. I can’t stop you picking the skinny key-position “project” kids that are going to spend the first 20 games in the VFL before getting a late-season call-up in which they score 12 vest-affected points. But I’m going to try.

The first (partial) lock-out is still four-plus weeks away and already I’ve got more than 50 rooks on my books. Intra-club matches are in full swing, though, and that annual rookie showcase – the NAB Cup – begins in earnest this weekend, so it’s time to dip my toe into the Dream Team waters for the first time in 2012. We’ll start with the defenders and forwards I’ll be keeping an eye on during the NAB Cup before moving on to midfielders, rucks and dual-position players later in the week.

There are more questions being asked here than there are answers, but things will look decidedly more clear cut at the end of the NAB Cup and I’ll be back with a more detailed take on our rookies’ job security and scoring potential then.

Oh, like in previous years, the post might be called Chook’s Rooks but won’t focus solely on first-year recruits to the league, as the name might imply. Anyone who’s earned a rookiesque price from Virtual Sports – that’s anyone under the $179,700 you have to fork out for last year’s number one pick Jon Patton – comes under consideration.  I’d call it Chook’s Rookies And Assorted Young Blokes Who’ve Been In The System For A Few Years But Have Yet To Make Their Debuts Or Have Only Played A Smattering Of Games, but it’s a little unwieldy, as far as headings go.

Defenders and Forwards

It’s unlikely we’ll find the Black Caviar of this year’s rookie crop amongst the defender and forward ranks, but there’re always a few good sorts in the top and bottom lines of our DT teams – think Broughton, Stanley, Podsiadly and Darling as recent examples – and this season promises to be no different.

Friday, Feb 17 – Richmond/Hawthorn/North Melbourne

There won’t be many forwards I’ll be keeping an eye out for in the first NAB Cup fixture, featuring Richmond, Hawthorn and North Melbourne on Friday, but the Tigers have a couple of potential DT pick-ups in defence in the form of Brandon Ellis ($116,700) and Steve Morris ($104,200). Morris, a mature-age recruit from SANFL club West Adelaide, has experience on his side, but Ellis, the Calder Cannons’ elite-kicking defender, put in a better showing in Richmond’s intra-club clash last week. Hawthorn doesn’t have anyone popping up on the radar just yet, but former Hawk Will Sierakowski ($104,200) is of interest now that he’s been recruited by the Kangaroos. Named in the best players more than a third of the time he played in VFL last year, averaging 19 disposals, the 22-year-old could be well worth a place in your team if he gets one in Brad Scott’s.

Saturday, Feb 18 – GWS/Collingwood/Western Bulldogs

The monthly spend on Fox Footy will be worth it for this night alone, as we get our first good look at the rookie-laden Giants outfit. Unfortunately, most of the prized assets appear in the midfield or are dual-position mid-fwds. Of the defenders, run-with candidate Tomas Bugg ($104,200) and likely full-back Tim Mohr ($115,800) have been named in coach Kevin Sheedy’s projected round-one team, although anything the master of mind games says on the eve of that game has to be taken with a bucket of salt, let alone anything he says a month beforehand.

Of the GWS forwards, number one pick Jon Patton ($179,700) won’t be ready for the season-proper as he rehabilitates his injured knee, Jeremy Cameron mightn’t play due to a fractured jaw (and is a key-position prospect anyway), rugby league convert Israel Folau harldy shapes as DT gold and Nathan Wilson, while named in Sheedy’s projected round-one side, hasn’t shown signs of being a major ball-winner. Hopefully someone from the GWS attack or defence puts their hand up and says pick me. If anyone’s going to distract me from the search for that someone, it’ll probably be Western Bulldogs forward Tory Dickson ($98,700) or Collingwood defender Marty Clarke ($141,500). Dickson, a mature-age recruit from the Bendigo Bombers, has garnered some pre-season interest, but didn’t play in the Bulldogs’ intra-club match last week, so this will be our first chance to see him in at AFL level, while there’ll be strong interest in whether Clarke lines up in the potentially profitable spot made vacant by Leon Davis.

Sunday, Feb 19 – West Coast/Essendon/Fremantle

Not many on the radar for this one just yet, although Fremantle defender Lee Spurr ($107,800) is worth keeping an eye on. I couldn’t say it better than DT Girl, who wrote about Spurr in her DT Studs Team article: “’Hot Spurr’ is a mature age pick who looks to have the goods. Arguably one of the most talented players in SANFL last year. Dominated in SANFL Grand Final. Named on a wing in SANFL team of year. Currently rookie listed at Freo. Hope to see him elevated!” Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t have said ‘hot’, but the rest is on the money.

Friday, Feb 24 – St Kilda/Sydney/Geelong

A big percentage of the rookie defenders and forwards that I’m most looking forward to monitoring during the opening round of the NAB Cup appear in the first weekend, although this second Friday boasts a handful of DT-relevant young guns. A host of retirements and delistings, in addition to a new coach, means there’ll be some spots up for grabs at St Kilda, and I’ll be interested to see whether any of Beau Wilkes ($98,700, defender), Ahmed Saad ($115,800, forward), Terry Milera ($115,800, forward) or Jamie Cripps ($174,700, forward) can etch their names on the round-one team sheet with stand-out performances here. Mature-age trio Milera, Saad and Wilkes took a step in the right direction during the Saints’ intra-club match last week, impressing new coach Scott Watters, while second-year Saint Cripps pleased other pundits with a DT-happy role across half-back. Priced at 35 after all four of his 2011 games involved a vest and, predominantly, a place in the forward structure, Cripps could see his scores sky-rocket if he can secure a spot running out of defence. Wilkes isn’t likely to set the DT scoreboard alight if played at full-back, but will offer decent job security if he can make the position recently filled by Zac Dawson his own. None of the St Kilda hopefuls will have to compete with Tommy Walsh for a spot in Watters’ best 22 after the big Irishman was lost to Sydney last year. Watch to see if Walsh ($104,200) can translate his International Rules form into DT points for your forward line bench.

Saturday, Feb 25 – Gold Coast/Melbourne/Brisbane

No Sun, Demon or Lion is blinking furiously on the radar. Yet.

Sunday, Feb 26 – Port Adelaide/Carlton/Adelaide

As above.

Let us know which defender and forward “rookies” are on your radar in the comments. Midfielders to follow tomorrow.


  • You forgot to mention Billie Smedts from Geelong. He’s both a defender AND and forward. Also Zorko can be taken as a forward, Luke Brown as a defender and Sam Rowe as a forward. I’ll be watching those players very carefully.

  • Didn’t forget, RP, they’re all coming in the rucks and DPP post on Thursday. With the new change to the way we can use dual-position players during trading, the blokes you’ve mentioned (plus about 14 GWS mid-fwds) have become more important than ever.

  • Ah, right on. I’m looking forward to it. Keep up the good work!

  • Oh, and forgot to mention, I’ve changed my twitter name – it’s now @ChookDT. If you were one of the three people following @djch00k, I don’t think you need to do anything.

  • Any word on Darley from GWS?

    • Not in Sheedy’s projected round one team, but that’s potentially a lot of smoke and mirrors. No Dom Tyson, either. I’d love to see Darley put himself in the frame over the NAB, as he’d be one of the best ball-winning backs available.

      • What about Luke Brown from Adelaide?

        • Jack, Luke Brown has already been discussed (above). Chook’s putting the DPP players into a separate article that’s due out on Thursday.

      • What about Devon Smith? He wasn’t on my radar at all until the intraclub match, but according to Sheeds he “is always where the ball is at”. And that’s what you want out of any player in Dream Team.

      • Thanks. Yeah, i didn’t pay any attention to the announced team as i just thought it’s probably BS.

  • I know he is Dual Position but does anyone have info on Taylor Hine from the Suns. He had a massive average in the NEAFL last year and is only around the $100k mark. He was one of the 17 yr olds they took so he must go ok.

    • Go die in a hole you piece of shit

    • Taylor Hine is interesting i was thinking about him after seeing them stats in prospectus, however i remembered he played 3 qtrs last year and scored 5 from memory before getting the red vest. I had him last year as he was DPP but i think ill steer clear this year, pending NAB cup form

  • Loving the chook photo!

  • how can you miss zorko ?

    I guess you’re counting him as a mid, but is listed as a fwd as well.

  • sam kerridge??

  • Great work Chook. Looking forward to your piece Thursday.

  • How about Treloar huh huh??? how about treloar??? I know he’s a dpp and this questions already been ansewred 23 times and the dpp articles coming out on thursday…. but how about treloar???

  • Welcome back Chook!, good to see your chicken face again. Your wattle is looking rather nice this time of year. Enjoyed the read and have quite a few on my watch list this weekend

  • where do you think there is more rookie potential forwards or backs? i currently have 4 guns and 3 rooks onfield in my backline and 5 guns and 2 rooks in my forwards, which line should i have the 5 guns in?

  • Hey Chook, great work! Will you be doing any post match reporting on how the rooks went in the NAB cup games? (for those of us who don’t have foxtel)

  • Just get a telstra smart phone. I am with vodafone, but I purchased a prepaid sim for the coming AFL season. $50 for a season pass.

  • West Australian paper mentioned a couple of big points today. Morabito is likely to have a stint in the wafl at the start of season, if you pick him at all this season (he may take part in the nab cup) and Scott Watters sounds like being a prick with us dt’ers with saints, with all the players having ‘enforced rest’ and riewoldt etc could sit out for 2 weeks to freshen up….awesome news

    • Freo
      Do you reckon they will win a derby this year?
      They were aweful last year

      • The last time Freo had a full roster of fit players they knocked off Geelong and looked bloody sharp. This was about two years ago. There is no reason they cant get back to that form and have a real crack at finals this year.
        If they can change there luck on the injury front, then the derby will be a cracker this season.

        • Kuruki,
          Do not acknowledge this rude weirdo’s existence, that goes for everyone else too he is not worth it. He looks forward to people having a crack at him so we just won’t.

          • I would put $1000 at the odds of $1.01 the he is just some anti-scoial annoying 15 year old keyboard warrior.

        • Spot on, can’t wait for the derby’s this year.. Finally have both WA teams looking at a crack at top 4 together, gonna be an absolute ripper! But West Coast will obviously come out trumps ;) haha

      • Were they full of awe?

  • Great work Chook! Looking forward to the mids and DPPs. So many to choose from! It’s too bad about Mitchell and Zorko. Oh well hopefully downgrade targets.

  • i like this article- so many great rooks remain hidden

  • What about Viv Michie from the Dockers Chook?

    I had a bit of a look at him in the NAB cup last year but I think injury stopped him from getting a game in the seniors.

    I still think he is worth a look in the NAB cup this year.

    Also possibly Jacob Brennan for the Eagles. I think he was an emergency a couple of times last year but never got a game.

  • Just want to ask about 2 older guys. Ben Warren and Nathan Brown. Any word how they are travelling?

  • stephen wrigley from the lions. defender basement price and mature ager. could be worth a look any news??

    besides the midfielders, the dpp rookies atm look better than the non dpp rookies!!

  • darren pfiffer not even on the radar? mature age mid/fwd

    • Read the article mate, there’s a dpp and a midfield article coming this week!

    • I saw that he didn’t rate a mention in Mr Fantasy’s review of Pt A. And he’s the only one of them you’d touch!

  • read…….the….article

  • feathertopDT

    Sam Rowe of no interest?

  • Chances of the following: Browne(Ess) Hiney (GC) Talia (great Calder player – WB) getting a game?
    Morris out should help Talia’s chances and Browne was said to be a heppel/hibberd type?

  • Nice work Chook!
    Fair dinkum, Coniglio, Buntine, Hoskin-Elliot & Haynes look like under 15ers in that pic!
    Cool shades on the “cool chook!”

  • What about Zorko :)

    • The (I assume intentional) omission of a question mark makes this comment even more amusing. Bravo.

  • Anyone know much news on Jamie Elliott, forward from the Magpies?

  • Koby Stevens?

  • Geez I really rate Cripps. Averaged 35 as sub only playing q4 last year.

    If he gets that role running off the backline which is earmarked for him he has to be considered. Price is only concern but less risk and similar upside to porpz

  • Only have DPP rooks on the radar at the moment, except the two Tiger backmen. Looking forward to Thursday Chook, always a great read and mighty helpful. Cheers.

  • Curtly Hampton must be a mid also I gather.

  • The only other one on my books is Josh Tynan from Melb DEF – 98,700, word is he is a flashy back flanker who loves a mark, plays like Heppell.
    Anyone else have him on their nab watch list??

    • Shit …how rude am I, thanks for the great write up Chook, looking forward to Thursday…..

  • ive been looking at Kelvin Moore and Campbell Health for my backline….. Mistake???