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Rooks on the Radar – Midfielders

To Swallow or not to Swallow? It’s not a question I’ve had to ask myself too many times before, but it shapes as one of the major decisions of this AFL Dream Team pre-season.

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Ah, the mids. Or the mint as I like to call it. This is where you’ll make your money. Sure, there’s always the odd forward or back rookie who’ll step up and make a decent amount of coin or, better still, become a keeper. But it’s the midfield where the true treasure lies and there’s gold to be found if you’re willing to do the prospecting in, like, the, um, Prospectus.

We’ll start this trip at the top end of town where you’ll find number one pick David Swallow priced at $160k. With lower-end picks coming in at just under $100,000, that’s a fair premium to pay for the Gold Coast young gun. What that extra dough buys you is job security. Voted the fourth-best player in the VFL last year, Swallow is clearly a star in the making and will get plenty of opportunities in the Suns’ midfield this season. Some will argue that teammates like Maverick Weller or Marc Lock are better value picks at $97,600, given that they’re part of the debut club’s leadership group, but I’m not convinced that’ll guarantee that they play every round this year. It’s a big leadership group and I don’t think the Suns’ selection panel will feel they’re hands are tied when it comes to those two, should they go through a form slump that warrants some time in the seconds. On the other hand, $160,000 is too much money sitting on the pine, so the question as to whether you Swallow or not really comes down to structure. If we’re talking about a place on your ground, then Swallow is the ticket. Bench fodder? Then lock in Lock or make Mav your man – in my opinion, Weller is the better of the two.

While not a rookie, former North Melbourne midfielder Daniel Harris will be the most picked Sun in this price range, of course. Priced at $114-thousand-something, he’s a little more expensive than your bargain-basement rookie, but averaged 107 DT points for Gold Coast in the VFL last year, compared to 82 for Swallow, 51 for Weller and 61 for Lock. The step up to AFL level and the addition of established players like Gary Ablett will have a big impact on Harris and co’s scores, but there’s no reason to suggest that Harris won’t be a valuable cash cow this season. Your other midfield options at the Gold Coast include mature-ager Sam Iles, Trent McKenzie, Harley Bennell and Josh Caddy, but I’d take Harris, Swallow or Weller ahead of any of them and you don’t want to go GC crazy given we won’t see their first team sheet until round two.

I mentioned Mitch Wallis in my segment on the second pre-season vidcast earlier this week, but only to highlight the potential the kid has as a heavy DT scorer. As I said, he’s got all the hallmarks of an ideal DT rookie – averaged over 100 DTs in the TAC Cup and national championships last year, recruited to a high-scoring top-four team, priced at just $92k – the only problem is that he is far from guaranteed any time on ground for the Western Bulldogs. It doesn’t matter how much of a ball magnet you are if you’re running around in the VFL – I don’t have a VFL Dream Team (yet). I’m not wishing an injury on anyone, but Mitch might need one to unlock his awesome DT potential.

One player who may be the beneficiary of a teammate going down is North Melbourne’s Shaun Atley. Atley’s bid to repeat the efforts of Ryan Bastinac last year by playing every game for the Kangaroos has ironically been given a big boost by Bastinac suffering a pre-season knee injury that could keep him out for four months. The major criticism of Atley’s game in the TAC Cup was his inaccurate kicking, but who cares? This is DT Talk, not SuperCoach Talk.

A horror season for Brisbane last year was compounded by the off-season departure of several experienced players, such as Palsonic, the “real JB” and the Sherminator, and yet more tom-foolery from Fev, meaning Lions coach Michael Voss has no choice but to rebuild. Hopefully it’s from the ground up and we get plenty of game time out of youngsters like Claye Beams, a promoted rookie from last year who happens to be the younger brother of Collingwood’s Dayne, and Josh Green, a proven ball-winner at junior level. Both are sub-$100k picks in the midfield, but could be fighting it out for the same spot in the Lions’ round one team, so keep an eye on the NAB to see who’s got their nose in front. Brisbane’s top selection last year, the speedy Jared Polec, looks a good pick for the future, but at this stage seems behind both Beams and Green for a round one debut.

There’s been a bit of media speculation already that suggests West Coast’s highest pick and number four overall Andrew Gaff has been “pencilled” in for a round one berth. There’s no doubting Gaff’s quality – he’s a noted ball winner with excellent endurance who averaged 27 disposals at the nationals and 30 in the TAC Cup last year. The main problem is the club that recruited him, or more specifically, the coach he now plays under, has shown a reluctance to gift early games to rookies. That’s probably why the general feeling on the West Coast board at BigFooty is that Gaff is more likely to pull on the blue and gold in round 6-10. Hopefully a wooden-spoon has given Woosha a change of mind regarding blooding the youngsters. If not, let’s hope Gaff can produce an outstanding NAB Cup/Challenge campaign and change it for him. At a touch under $150k, you’ll want to be sure Gaff is getting a game before splashing the cash.

The last two midfield rooks on my pre-NAB radar are both at Richmond – last year’s number-six pick Reece Conca and the rookie-listed Pat Contin. I don’t know a great deal about either, apart from the fact that they’ll both get a crack against the All-Stars tonight (whenever the game is held), so will get the chance to have a peak at their potential then. Oh, and Contin is the subject of the funniest thread doing the rounds at BigFooty at the moment. It’d be great if Conca or Contin could sneak in to the Tigers’ team, as Richmond have one of the latest byes, meaning an unbroken period of generating cash.

Anyway, there’s a few kids to keep your eye on when the NAB Cup starts next week. Remember, most midfields will have three to four premiums, possibly a Foley/McLean type and two dual-position rookies (one to switch with the defenders and one to switch with the forwards). That doesn’t leave a lot of room for midfield-only rookies, so choose carefully.



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    super renga

    February 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    another great write up chook! your really helped bring some rookies in my team. Thanks Chook. :)

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      February 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Pleasure, shagger. Just remember, it’s early days so don’t go throwing away the key on anyone just yet.

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    Robert Harvey 35

    February 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    im starting with ablett. so swallow or harris?

    • Warnie


      February 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Harris will be better value. $50K less for possibly better DT output.

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        Black Klaw

        February 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

        Hey Warndog!

        Absolutely loving the output up until now, it has sustained me through the ‘DTRY’ season. Getting so amped for the season and spending way too much time on this site….

        I was wondering if you guys could please put up a list of the GC players DT stats from last year? And if you have access to them a list of the top 20 odd draft picks TAC averages (I dont have access to a prospectus because I am o/s)?

        Cheers boys!

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          February 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm

          Just buy the prospectus dude! It is all in there, every stat you could ever want!

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            Black Klaw

            February 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

            I dont have access to the prospectus because I am o/s (overseas)

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Didn’t Swallow only average mid 60’s in the VFL and not 82?

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      February 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Nope he averaged 82 in 15 games he only dipped under 80 twice in his last 11 games.

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        February 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

        Pretty sure he averaged 65

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          February 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm

          is that “pretty sure he averaged 65” wink, wink, shut the f**k up andy???

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        Black Klaw

        February 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

        Hey guys where can you find the Suns VFL DT stats/averages for last year? I have hunted around for them but cant find them – any help would be greatly appreciated! (I am overseas at the moment so havent been able to buy the prospectus)


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          February 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

          champion data ships overseas!

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            Black Klaw

            February 5, 2011 at 8:33 am

            Yeah the prospectus would be sick lugging through central america with me….

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Currently in the same postion with R.B35 but instead, ive got to eliminate one out of swallow,harris or atley to change one of them for a DPP. I’m also starting Gaff on the field, other 3 mids consist of swan,boyd and cotchin.

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Great write up chook, love your work and your comedy (that joke about Ian Calinan was great!) I’m seriously considering droping polec now and i’m wondering who i should put in his place???? my other rookies are Swallow, harris, Gaff, Smith and Hibberd

    Please comment and tell me who i should get or if my other rookies are crap, thanks

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      February 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm


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        February 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

        Well, Atley or Beams probably, but, as with all the rookies, keep an eye on their performances over the NAB Cup/Challenge to see who looks likely to grab a chance. We might reach round one eve and realise that there aren’t enough rookies ready to go and have to lose one from our midfields. Could well happen.

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          February 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

          Yeah i’m on atley now, i know he is a back but any thoughts on paul puopolo anyone?

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            February 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

            for what it’s worth I reckon he is yet another to watch in the NAB and if he does enough to start in Round 1 then could be a gem … must check out this bloke Iles next …. I missed him altogether in my potential squad!!

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    why is no1 getting on my boy sam Iles?

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      February 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Iles scored pretty well in the VFL last year, but my concern is his job security in a team that won’t have to play its cards until round two. Have Weller and Lock ahead of him on job security at the moment, but agree that Iles has better points scoring potential.

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    My midfeild will probably have 5 rookies
    i was thinking swallow and weller from GC but now i have to consider harris in stead
    i will go with two dpps too jacobs and smith
    and the last spot will probably go to gaff

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      February 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      maybe ill go with harris instead of swallow if swallow has an awesome first 2 games i can always trade him in

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        February 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

        as if u would waste a trade on that!!!!!!!

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          February 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm

          Jacobs has glandular fever doesnt he?

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            February 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm

            Nup u should select him and make him captain.

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    My midfield structure in going to be:
    3 super guns: Swan + ? + ? … Montagna, Boyd, Bartel etc all options.
    1 mid-ranger: Foley, but McLean a possibility
    2 high priced rookies: Swallow and Gaff looking the most likely if Gaff gets picked round 1. Conca a possibility.
    3 cheaper rookies on the bench: Harris, Weller and Krakour currently sitting there. Atley, Contin, Green, Wallis all possibilities if they get picked round 1.

    I am keen to have DPP connecting midfield to defence and to forward.

    For the mid/forward- Krakour seems the perfect candidate, but could just as easily be Mzungu or Callinan
    For the mid/defender- does Heppel or Hibberd go into the midfield? Looks like Heppel might be the go.

    Or are 3 reserves enough to cover the byes each week? Should DPP not be a priority ?

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      February 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      dpp will be handy early on, but if you manage your team well, less significant as the season goes on, imo.

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        February 4, 2011 at 11:00 pm

        DP will NOT be handy early on. Picking a team with rookies that have good job security and will play early will be handy. If your team is put together well enough you won’t need to rely on DPP for the round 4 and 6 multi-bye rounds- you’ll be able to slot your rookies onto the field, even if it does mean that your score is reduced for the week. That way you will have the gun rookies from the start and not have to waste trades to get them onboard, and your team will be closer to what you want it to look like by the end of the season.

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          February 5, 2011 at 9:54 am

          Peck, I agree with you, but when you’ve got rookies with apparent job security of the likes of Heppell, Callinan, Krakouer, Mzungu, I.Smith, D.Prestia….., ALL with Dpp, surely that’s handy!
          Really not a fan off the F/B dpp.

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            February 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

            DPP will be pretty handy this year i reckon
            The FWD/BAC DPP will hardly be used by anyone i think

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      Punching in a Dream

      February 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Great write up chook. Not enough power in your mids maybe sylvinator.
      Mine is currently Swan, Boyd, Montagna, Selwood, Mundy, Swallow, Harris, Jacobs, Smith

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        February 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm

        too much power in yours i would say.. what does the rest of your team look like PIAD?

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    February 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Simon Phillips???

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    February 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Simon Phillips. Haha.

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    February 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    good write up, got a few but dont wanna listen to every word everybody says so im unique but..


    gay how click on the player n goes to a whole new page not a pop up and easy add to watchlist button haha.

    anyone find how to do it?

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      Black Klaw

      February 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      I had that trouble today – you have to go through the players in the stats option, not the trade.

      Annoying: Yes.

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    February 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    i’m sorry chook, i love the writeup but i have to disagree about sammy iles. he won GC’s best and fairest and i had a look at him in the vfl and he is mature and absolutely smashing it. In such a young side, iles will not be dropped no doubt and i’ve got him locked in my team

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      February 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Hey, if you saw him in the flesh once last year, that’s once more than I did. Cheers for the info. I had Iles and Weller about even, but I thought Weller’s inclusion in the leadership group might give him the edge. Iles definitely scored much better than Mav last year and has had a sniff at the big time. Obviously a situation to monitor closely in the pre-season games. Wish St Kilda or Geelong had the round one bye instead of GC!

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        February 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm

        Leadership group is selected by the playing group. Wouldn’t read huge amounts into it.

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    Punching in a Dream

    February 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Interesting article on the WAFL website about which clubs the interstate players went to.

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    February 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    What about Isaac Smith as a DPP???

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      February 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Do you not read Chook’s other posts? He has already done a post on DPP players (Like Smith) a week or so ago….

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        February 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm

        yer i read that but i dont know if he is worth a spot on the bench as a smokey as everyone will have mzungu

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    February 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    just wondering will there be a DT TALK GROUP?
    i just joined the lions one but was just wondering if theres a dttalk one

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    February 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Great write up once again Chook ;)

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    February 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    what does everyone think of andrew swallow from north

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      February 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      A. Swallow seems to be a good bloke. Plays for a pretty average team but only talks on topic within the players groups. I doubt he’d talk about ice creams at half time. A guy who stays on topic is a good bloke.

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        February 5, 2011 at 12:00 am

        thanks nails but what about scoring wise

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    February 5, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Another great write-up Chook, great work

    Agree on the GC rookies – with such a monstrously large list and apparently so many gold-plated future guns i wouldnt be surprised to see a lot of chopping and changing (players in/out and positional changes) while McKenna works out what his best 22 looks like. The 2 early byes makes GC rooks less desirable from a pure cash generation POV than, say, a Port or Tiger rook who wont have a bye til Rd 12 or 11 (not withstanding their ability to stay in the side of course)..

    Other potential mid rooks who’ve been talked up as potentially starting early:
    – Pittard (Port) – #16 in 2009 draft, good preseason and apparently has a lot upstairs. Have to think Primus will blood a lot of youngsters this year if he’s building from ground zero for their next premiership
    – Helbig (Rich) – think i read somewhere he’s a reasonable chance to get early games, and like Port, Tigers will continue to add youngsters into the mix as they rebuild and cycle out some of the more mediocre players
    – Christensen (Cats) – drafted in the 40s in 2009 (after being touted as a potential top 10 earlier that year). From memory was an emergency a few times last year. Hard to break into that side as they seem to still believe they’re a chance for a flag but the new coach may blood some rooks

    Does anyone know much about Rohan Bewick, who the Suns pre-listed and then traded to BL?

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    Phil Ken Sebben

    February 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Great write up!
    …I *thought* I had all my rooks sorted until this article…hmmm, ’tis food for thought indeed.

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    Jades guns

    February 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    i have 303,300 need one more onfeild midfeilder, was thinking Dangerfield??? i already have swan, bartel, anthoney and Swallow

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