Rookies On The Radar – Mid-NAB Update

A couple of sick kids – one that I’ll likely sell off in six weeks or so and another that’s more of a season-keeper – have trashed my best-laid plans for this week’s Rookies On The Radar article. After watching GWS defender Sam Darley in person last weekend, I had planned to wax lyrical about the uncontested +6s the talented teen was hoovering up in the back pocket of Aurora Stadium. Then came a mid-week tweet about a trip to hospital, followed by his absence from Kevin Sheedy’s team sheet, robbing me of the chance. I’d just switched focus, prepared to pump up Sam Kerridge or some other likely type, when Alex, my one-year-old son, fell crook. It’s not like I was seriously considering him for a spot in my DT just yet – he hasn’t been elevated – but it’s robbed me of some rookie research and writing time so you guys are getting Chook Lite today. Apologies, but it’ll leave me with more ammo for the all-important post-NAB round 4 write-up. Around the grounds we go, then.

Essendon v Sydney

As we get down to the business end of the pre-season merry-go-round, you can look at the omission of rookies from these round three NAB squads in two ways. Either they’ve blown their chance at a round-one berth and we won’t see them again until later in the season (or until this time next year), or the coaches are giving the kids a break before handing them a first-round debut. In Essendon’s case, I think the former is more likely. The fact that Elliott Kavanagh and his fellow first-year Bombers have been overlooked for the game against Sydney extinguishes their chances of being smokies to start the season. The only rookie-priced player in the Bombers team is 19-year-old defender Luke Davis ($104,200 defender), who wasn’t a huge ball-winner at junior level and that didn’t change during his VFL season at Bendigo last year.

For the Swans, Harry Cunningham ($85,800 mid) is getting another run after scoring 56 points in about two-thirds game time last week. While it’d be a nice story if Cunningham debuted against GWS in round one after the Giants overlooked him (Cunningham played some footy with GWS last year but was let slip until pick 93 in last year’s rookie draft before Sydney snapped him up), it’s more likely we’ll see him make his first appearance later in the year.

Adelaide v Collingwood

Sam Kerridge ($98,700 mid-fwd) and Josh Jenkins ($104,200 ruck) are the most DT-relevant rookie inclusions in the Adelaide line-up, while Luke Brown’s continued absence puts to bed any hopes we had of making him our cheap-as-chips link between the backline and midfield this season. Kerridge impressed with 58 points in half a game against Brisbane last week (he started as the sub) and Jenkins was serviceable too, but will need an injury to Jacobs, you’d think, to have any real impact this season.

Marty Clarke ($140-something defender, [Lazy, I know, but I said it was Chook Lite!]) gets the chance to reclaim a spot as our D7 after interest in the Irishman plummeted through February. Heading in the opposite direction is Peter Yagmoor ($98,700 defender), another contender for the spot left vacant by Leon Davis. An impressive performance by either could give them the edge in this race, although Simon Buckley will presumably get a look-in also. I’m rooting for Yagmoor.

Geelong v Richmond

Orren Stephenson ($98,700 ruck) is yet to live up to the hype surrounding his recruitment to the Cattery, although, to be fair, the DT community probably set that bar a little high. He gets another chance here. Speaking of hype, there’s been a lot of love for Simon Hogan ($133,600 midfielder) following consecutive high-scoring outings for Geelong this pre-season. As I’ve said previously, he ticks a lot of boxes but there’re some question marks over his disposal. Hopefully that’s not the excuse that the Cats selection committee use to hand Cameron Ling’s spot to Taylor Hunt instead. Priced a little higher than Hogan but, critically, listed as a defender, is Cameron Guthrie ($150,400), another Cat who’s had a prolific pre-season and could be worth a look if he can squeeze into Geelong’s first-round team. At the other end of the ground, George Horlin-Smith ($104,200 forward) has been named again, while Billie Smedts ($104,200), a rare forward-defender for DT purposes, returns to push his case for round-one selection after missing last weekend.

Richmond looks set to play an aggressive role in our Dream Team defences this year, but exactly which Tigers to pick remains unclear. First-year recruits Steven Morris ($104,200 defender) and Brandon Ellis ($116,700 defender) appeared to be battling for a spot in the Richmond rear-guard before Jeromey Webberley ($110,800 defender), drafted in 2009, re-entered to muddy an already hazy picture. It’s been said that an amalgam of Morris and Ellis – Morris defensive abilities and attack on the ball combined with Ellis’ elite kicking skills – would create a player perfectly suited to Richmond’s needs, but only the crap-kicking half of that combo gets a guernsey this week. I’m near-certain one of these three will fill a space on my backline bench at the beginning of the season, but I won’t be deciding which one until the final moments of that first partial lock-out.

Port Adelaide v Fremantle

Port are doing the right thing by us rookie hunters and auditioning a few kids for our Dream Teams again this week, but let’s face it, they don’t have much choice. Chad Wingard ($157,200 midfielder) enhanced his reputation with 30 points in a half against West Coast last week but his high price and the quality rookies in the same bracket made it hard to offer him a contract. Firm job security could be his saving grace. Mature-ager Darren Pfeiffer ($117,800) put his name forward with a more-than-handy 74 in his most recent outing, not forgetting of course that he holds dual-position eligibility between the midfield and forward lines. Perhaps even more impressive, however, was the performance of ruckman Jarrad Redden ($104,200), who racked up 84 points against DT royalty in Dean Cox. Those running with three rookie ruckman will have Redden ahead of Rowe, Witt and Derickx on the back of that match alone.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like a fistful of rookie defenders to choose from, not the lonesome few currently about the place. That’s why I’m hoping Lee Spurr ($107,800 defender) puts in a blinder for new coach Ross Lyon. His 46 points in a half last week wouldn’t of hurt. It’s more likely, though, that Lachie Neale ($98,700 midfielder) will be there in round one after a string of successful pre-season performances.

Brisbane Lions v Carlton

Brisbane’s Elliot Yeo ($98,700 midfield) is probably the only slightly DT-relevant rookie here after Carlton’s Sam Rowe ($98,700 forward-ruck) lost the right to claim that title following his own poor showing and Redden’s stand-out effort. Yeo scored just 42 in a full game last week, which doesn’t cut the mustard when you’re competing for a spot with the likes of Magner and Hogan. After a measly three points in Carlton’s last pre-season game, Rowe will only be a consideration for those wanting to make use of his DPP status. No, the best rookie news to come out of this match would be an update on the fitness of fellow DPPs Dayne Zorko and Sam Docherty.

Gold Coast v Greater Western Sydney

What should be a veritable gold mine of rookie goodness has been weakened somewhat by the absence of GWS kids Sam Darley, Devon Smith, Stephen Cognilio, Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel, and Gold Coast youngster Aaron Hall. Smith deserves a rest after plundering a DT century from the wide wings of Aurora Stadium last week, but we’d to love to see an end to the injury-enforced lay-offs currently being endured by potential DT money-makers Treloar and Shiel. It’s entirely possible we’ll be faced with the proposition of picking the two newly 19-year-olds without any NAB Cup appearances to use as a form guide. Of those that are playing tomorrow, keep an eye on, well, everyone, but in particular Calvin’s new favourite Tommy Bugg and Warnie’s old mate Tim Mohr for your backline, midfielders Steve Clifton, Anthony Miles, Dom Tyson and James McDonald, as well as dual-position mid-forward Curtly Hampton and, of course, ruckman Jon Giles, who will once again shoulder the bulk of the ruck duties in the absence of Dean Brogan.

Melbourne v Hawthorn

Another injury to Jack Grimes and a round-one suspension to Colin Sylvia (not to mention inconsistent scoring) looked to have condemned Melbourne to DT irrelevance this season, but rookie pair James Magner and Tom Couch can change all that, hopefully. Magner ($85,800 midfielder), the 24-year-old who led the VFL in the possession column last year, has been getting all the attention with team-topping scores in his pre-season encounters, but Couch (also $85,800) has his admirers (most notably in Fanfooty’s fearless leader m0nty), following his own solid contributions and he has mid-forward eligibility to boot. They’ll both need to be elevated off the club’s rookie list, but there’s room to do so if new coach Mark Neeld sees fit.

There’s no room for rookie-priced players of much note in the Hawthorn team following the return of Franklin, Mitchell and Rioli, and the season-ending injury to potential mid-season downgrade target Alex Woodward.

West Coast v St Kilda

The West Coast-St Kilda clash features a bunch of young blokes who are not necessarily new faces but come at a rookie price nonetheless. The Eagles have Koby Stevens ($104,200 midfielder) and Gerrick Weedon ($104,200 forward) pushing for a place in their line-up and ours, while we’re hoping the Saints can find room for Tom Ledger ($163,200 midfielder), Jamie Cripps ($174,400 forward) and Beau Wilkes ($98,700 defender). Stevens disappointed in the first weekend of mini-games that kick-started the NAB Cup before finding his feet with 77 points against Port Adelaide last week. Weedon went the other way, notching just 44 against the Power but impressing in the NAB’s opening round. Ledger, Cripps and Wilkes were infamously denied a hit-out against another AFL club last week. Genuine rookie Terry Milera ($115,800 forward) is named this week, although it might be the last we see of him in the short term, with Ahmed Saad (also a $115,800 forward) seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order, injuries permitting. The Milera-Saad situation will need some monitoring, with Saad not playing this week.

North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Don’t lock down that midfield until Sunday, when Sam Gibson ($85,800 midfielder) and Clay Smith ($107,700 midfielder), the last of the rookies vying for a spot, audition in the North Melbourne-Western Bulldogs game. Gibson was considered a lock after the first week of pre-season games, but interested has cooled thanks to the emergence of Magner and co, as well as Gibson’s slightly less productive showing as a second-half sub last week. Don’t be too deterred; still strongly consider if named in the Kangaroos’ round-one team. Smith is a similar proposition. After scoring 48 points in the first half of the Bulldogs’ narrow win against the Blues, have little fear in picking this hard-at-it midfielder if he wins an early debut in the season-proper. Tory Dickson ($98,700 forward) was another youngster who impressed for the Bulldogs last weekend, nabbing 37 points in the second half.

Talk up anyone you’re keen on and anyone I’ve missed (unless you’re saving them for yourself!) in the comments or take pot shots at me on twitter (@ChookDT).


  • Insightful as always Chook. Good read

    • And your first mate. Don’t take that shit lightly it’s the real deal

  • Thanks Chook. Good as always.

    It’s a pity that Sam Darley, Devon Smith, Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel, and Gold Coast youngster Aaron Hall. are not playing to cement spots in my team. Iam hoping that demon roks get up.

    What about Blayne Wilson; Freako mentioned him. What do you think about him? You also talked up Yagmor. Is it all hype?

    • Possibly, but there is a spot to be won back there. My guess would be that Buckley will give his namesake first crack, but there’s still time for Yagmoor to slip past him. We could certainly do with a few more backline rooks this year!

      • Plus I don’t necessarily think that Clarke is one of those competing for Davis’ position. I won’t be surprised to see Marty in the mid/half forward rotation. Yagmoor is a lock for a few games I think, but naff all chance of playing every week all year or even for the first dozen weeks to fatten up for you because he’ll constantly be fighting for his spot and probably be rested even if he’s killing it.

  • Cheers Chook! My January/February team had Shiel, Miles & Clifton all in the midfield at one point or another. At this rate I’m not so sure anymore

    • Sames, mate. I’m really tempted to go with Shiel if he’s named round one, despite the lack of match fitness, such is his potential. Like most decisions at the moment, it’s a wait-and-see scenario.

      • I would be surprised if Shiel was named for Round 1 without any matches under his belt. If he does play next week and is named in Round 1, he’s a certainty to be sub affected.

  • Port, WB, WC and St.K all play on the Sunday of the opening round, so they’re going to be naming 25-man squads. The teams won’t be announced until the Friday afternoon, after the first two matches have already been played. Something to keep in mind when considering their rookies.

    • Word. Going to affect a few rooks, like Wingard, Pfeiffer (though if he gets an upgrade you’d expect him to play), Smith, Saad, Milera, Redden, Dickson, etc, etc, not to mention Panos and Brennan (see below). Happy that we’ll know GWS before partial lockout and Dees before full lockout, though.

  • Well done Chook. Was hoping Devon Smith would be on again as I like his DPP status. What about Jacob Brennan from WCE? He continues to get named in their sides.

    • Hey mate, thought i’d jump in here and answer this one as a Eagles supporter.

      Brennan is virtually no chance for Round 1, look elsewhere. His pre-season games are just for experience, especially with McKenzie, Brown, Waters and Butler still on the sidelines. Blayne Wilson is definitely ahead in the pecking order, and he probably won’t even get his chance unless there are injuries.

  • Hey Chook you missed Panos from the dogs. ;)
    My dad does Panos’s dads tax and It looks like Panos might be the Barry Hall replacement :D

  • Good read Chook,
    You’ve actually uncovered my back line smoky which I don’t think anyone else will have.
    Simon Buckley!
    Laugh at your own risk clones, this guy has had premium written all over him for years!, and now is his chance! While the opposition teams lock down Heath Shaw, Simon Buckley is the one that will pig it up IMHO(not really humble)

  • I don’t believe Yeo actually played the full game, as I remember watching parts of it online and the commentators mentioning that he came on.

    If you take a look at the AFL website it says that he played 51% gametime. Put up some impressive numbers so far.

    • Shit, good pick up. Very solid score if from only half a game. Voss hasn’t a great track record of playing first-year kids consistently, unfortunately. Change your ways, Michael.

      • Yeah, this is the thing I’m worried about, don’t know enough about the Brisbane list if there is a spot for him. Voss worries me as much as Scott of the Kangaroos playing youngsters…

      • Mark Harvey loves the youngsters, hopefully Harvs will get in his ear.

  • great write up chook, were not going to have the lesuire of picking rooks as easily as lat year, anywaiiz what happened to Darley, i liked the guy was on my starting ground, well good work mate, hoping for another article soon from you mate

  • Great stuff Chook as always. Despite the ‘lite’ version, the article is still solid. My eyes will be on Bugg, McDonald (not really a rook), Rowe (was only really his first game at this level), Weedon, Gibson, Clay Smith and of course the Magnet. I’m happy with the way the talent is lining up at the moment – some great mid options for R1. Now we just need some fwd options to step up (Weedon, Rowe or Smedts would be great) and my R1 squad is almost ready.

  • Sam Docherty will play next week. Thats what josh drummond said on his online chat, dont know about zorko tho…

    • Good info. Great for our DTs if he gets a game given he’s a rare mid-def.

  • Chook,
    as always, your article was well worth the wait. Hope the little fella is OK.
    Have you considered doing a “purely” mature aged rookie writeup?
    Could make good reading.

  • any one miss out invite code: 415062

  • I’m kinda curious to see who/if the doggies elevate now that ‘China’ Williams is once again sidelined with a major injury – poor bugger…

    • Would love to see this Jack Redpath kid get a run – he’s built like a steamroller and would give the doggies added grunt in their new look forward line. He could easily be elevated for R1 if he performs this weekend…

      • Yeh, he looks a decent possibility, and at least he has a ready-made body. Not sure realistically he’ll get a lot of run though if he’s elevated. Lin Jong is getting a run on the weekend too. I want to see what this kids’ athleticism is really like. No realistic shot this year, but the hype certainly is there (then again, whenever a player from a nationality not well represented gets onto a list there’s hype…). WIsh him well though, he’s also got that ready-made look.

        Neither of them are DT targets though – not even a sniff…

      • I’m more concerned as to the impact it will have on Hargrave. Will he now be forced to take the key defensive role with the absence of Williams? If he can’t play his customary loose, his DT figures will fall significantly.

  • Sooo many rooks to watch this weekend. Spewin Devon isnt playing

  • Hey top write up. Was taking to a mate who went to my school and is good mates with Curtly Hampton he said curtly had said he’s got op so don’t know what’s going on there

  • Thanks Chook, fantastic ass always. :-)

    I’m wondering about Tim McIntyre (hope that’s spelt right) Crows rookie.
    Is he injured now, or have people gone off him?

  • Great as always chook, I’m keen to see if Skinner can repeat his first round scoring.

  • Great article Chook…So much fresh meat to smell and sample.

  • Re the abundance of rookie rucks this year (from

    Q. (to Tom Derickx) Do you know what position you will be playing?

    A. I’ll be starting off as a sub but will probably do 80% of the ruck work in the second half

  • Great read Chook! Well done! I haven’t read all the comments, but do you think Levi Casboult from Carlton is a chance to play some early senior footy?

  • what do u think of justin clarke from brisbane Chook????

  • any thoughts on Josh Bruce GWS?