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Chook’s Rooks: Round 10

Like a circus lion tamer turned on by his performing pride, I feel like my rookies bit my head off this round.

The eliminator was all my Merv Gray Autos had going for them, given my poor national ranking and league position, but I was kicked out of that this week with Michael Barlow missing, Cameron Hitchcock injured, Jeromey Webberley struggling in his first start ahead of Matt Maguire and Ben Howlett following a good first half with a horrible second one.

My bad choices/underperformers aside, I still would’ve progressed to the next stage of the eliminator had my opponent not got hundreds from three rookie forwards – yes, three – in James Podsiadly, Tom Rockliff and Nathan Fyfe. Like I said, head bitten off.

I’m not telling you about my eliminator hard luck story because I’m chasing sympathy (well, not completely), but because it serves as an example of the kind of crap most of us put up with from our rook-stars this week. Lots of coaches would’ve been stung by the resting of Melbourne duo Tom Scully and Jack Trengove, especially if they also had Barlow and a Luke Shuey/Mitch Banner/Jarrod Kayler-Thomson-sized hole on the bench.

Aside from the three aforementioned forwards, there was one other bright spark, however. Jordan Gysberts made a Barlow-like debut for Melbourne, racking up 103 DTs against Geelong. Not too shabby. More about him later, though.

Three-or-more gamers

There were more price drops for Scott Gumbleton, Anthony Morabito, Mitch Farmer and Lewis Jetta, although they are merely the worst of a pretty bad bunch. So many of our rookies have now plateaued, coaches have to decide whether they’re there for the cash or as bench cover for the rest of the season. That’ll depend on how many trades you’ve got left, of course.

Owners of Pods, Rockliff and Fyfe have nothing to worry about, with the latter two joining Tony Armstrong and Henry Playfair in negative-breakeven territory. If you’re planning to milk Ben Howlett, Todd Banfield or Jeromey Webberley, then you’d do better to hang a week or two as well, with all three still enjoying low BEs.

The Dees’ decision to rest Trengove and Scully bought their owners another week before they leaked any money, but expect price drops from the top two picks after round 11. Barlow seems to have already convinced the Freo fitness staff that he’s ready to rejoin the high-flying Dockers this week, while Mitch Duncan is an outside chance to be recalled given the poor performance of Simon Hogan on Saturday.

There’s no news yet on Cameron Hitchcock‘s shoulder injury, but a berth this week seems out of the equation.

Two gamers

After attracting 12,000 new owners on the back of just one game, Sydney defender Campbell Heath is bound to prove popular again this week now that he’s on the verge of his first price rise. Heath was less impressive against Hawthorn as he was on debut, and his job security is slightly reduced with Paul Roos stating that Craig Bird should be recalled for the Swans’ round 11 clash, but he’s still the best (and only) option if you’re downgrading a defender.

For Buddy owners with little or no cover, North Melbourne forward Nathan O’Keefe is the other slightly tempting two-gamer this week, coming off games of 58 and 55. In the wake of North Melbourne’s Sunday arvo massacre at the hands of Fremantle, the Kanga fans on BigFooty were baying for blood (including that of rookie Ben Cunnington), but the majority seem to think O’Keefe deserves some more opportunities. I desperately want to sign someone who’s going to see the season out and don’t think it’s this guy, but the downgrade targets are getting fewer and farer between.

There are three other two gamers, but I’m doubting they’ll attract many suitors. Why? Austin Wonaeamirri comes at a high price ($138k), has looked slower than the 2008 version of himself and has enough injuries in his past to put most coaches off. Daniel Stewart missed five games between his first and second, posting 40 or fewer points in each. Rhys Stanley is a ruck. Wona could recapture his rookie-year form, Stewart might do a Fyfe and Stanley, well… he’ll still be a ruck, but you get the point. These guys could prosper, but I haven’t got heaps of faith in them.

One gamers

It’s a short shout down here with just Gysberts and yet another forward, Richmond’s Ben Griffiths, making their AFL debuts in round 10. We’ve already touched on Gysberts’ awesome first-up effort, which has prompted plenty of coaches to suggest he’s secured a spot for the year. I’m not so bold, and want to see how the return of Scully and Trengove affect his output. Still, it’s nice to finally see some fresh meat in the midfield bracket. Griffith scored just 19 points against Port Adelaide, but that was in only half a game after a thigh injury forced him off in the third quarter. If he fails to return, either through injury or form, he’ll be, like, the winningest Tiger of all time. The mail from most Richmond supporters is that Griffiths will get another chance, however, with the tall forward likely to be given an opportunity to show his talents in dry conditions before being written off.

Like last week, anyone downgrading at the moment is engaging in some risky business. Are you going to do a Tom Cruise? If so, let us know who you’ll you be adding to your team this week.

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