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Chook’s Rooks – Round 1

The introduction of the Gold Coast meant it was always going to be a big year for rookies, but round one was even better than expected – and the Suns boys haven’t even taken the field yet. How did your rookies perform in the first round of the year?

The introduction of the Gold Coast meant it was always going to be a big year for rookies, but round one was even better than expected – and the Suns boys haven’t even taken the field yet.

While we might be facing off against league opponents from the first week this year, price rises haven’t changed and won’t impact our players until they play their third game. No use talking about breakevens this week, then. Instead, we’ll go old-school Grandstand and head around the grounds.

Carlton v Richmond

Carlton midfielder Ed Curnow had DT coaches trying to bend the rules of the partial lock out and squeeze him into their teams on Friday morning after he busted out a big 107 against Richmond on Thursday night. The score was tasty but watch out for someone like Brock McLean or David Ellard to steal Ed’s spot if he slips up. Popular back pick Nick Duigan provided a bit of dash of half back and scored 51, which is about what we can expect from him this year, I reckon.

On the Tigers’ side, high draft pick Reece Conca compiled a 61 after a shaky start – a good effort considering the one-sidedness of the match early – while defender Jake Batchelor and midfielder Brad Helbig finished in the 30s. Batchelor actually looked reasonably comfortable on debut, and Helbig scored well in the second half after eating his oranges on -3.

Geelong v St Kilda

While Carlton-Richmond gave us five rookies to appraise, the Geelong-St Kilda game gave us just one – the first of about 43 rookies named Cam, Cats defender Cam Guthrie – who matched Batchelor’s 39. A concern on both the job security and points potential fronts, Guthrie won’t be attracting too many suitors.

Collingwood v Port Adelaide

Pre-lock out, I was terrified that the sub rule would wreck havoc on our rookies (and rookie-priced players), but Collingwood recruit Andrew Krakouer was one of only a few to be impacted by the new rule. After using a run through the midfield to build up to a monster score of 96, Krakouer was subbed off in the final quarter of the Pies’ big win over Port Adelaide. It wasn’t until this time that teammate Simon Buckley finally fired up, failing to replicate his pre-season form with a underwhelming 54.

Port Adelaide elevated rookie Jarrad Irons was more successful at carrying impressive NAB form into the season-proper, building on a shaky start to chalk up 71 points – a touch under one point per $10 grand for the $80k midfielder. Irons was joined on debut by Cam O’Shea and Jasper Pittard, who managed 63 and 52 respectively.

Adelaide v Hawthorn

The Crows had a trio of players under the rookie-price umbrella take the field on Saturday, with back-forward option Shaun McKernan the best performed of the three from a DT perspective, picking up 83 points against the Hawks. McKernan took a couple of huge grabs, hopefully staking a claim on a place in the Crows’ line-up once Kurt Tippett returns. Andy Otten avoided the green and red jacket to produce a 64-point, handball-happy performance that disappointed a lot of coaches but one that I feel is about what we’ll see Otten average this season. Brodie Smith picked both Otten and McKernan in his DT but not himself, so won’t be too concerned by his 50-point game. You could’ve ushered Buddy through for a few more goals, though, Brodie.

On the Hawks’ side, Shane Savage lived up to the billing given to him by coach Clarkson with a handsome 70, while Matt Suckling managed 55. There’ll be pressure on these two to keep their spots, mind you.

Brisbane v Fremantle

There was a lot to like about the rookies running around the Gabba on Saturday night, with popular Brisbane midfield pick Rohan Bewick grabbing a decent 68, but, just as importantly, impressing enough to be considered among the Lions’ better players, improving his job security that little bit more. Teammate Ryan Lester was fairly handy, too, grabbing a 65 and the injuries that Brisbane sustained on the night will only help his chances of stringing together some money-making games.

Where Bewick and Lester were good, however, teammate Claye Beams and opposite number Nick Lower were great. After being traded out of a bunch of teams when he initially missed selection in the Lions’ round one team, Beams got his chance as a late replacement for Luke Power and then proceeded to dominate the DT scoreboard. Beams was on track for a big century, until a hip problem slowed him down in the second quarter, eventually being subbed off in the third with 62 points to his name. Fremantle’s Lower started just as well and kicked on, too, finishing the game with 98 precious DTs for those coaches brave enough to start him on the ground. I’m betting there’ll be a lot more willing to back him in round two. Fellow Docker Jayden Pitt was the other rookie to feature in the match, scoring 47 points.

Essendon v Western Bulldogs

Just two rookies made the grade in the Bombers-Bulldogs clash, but both made an impression, with Essendon’s popular def-mid option Dyson Heppell tripling his last NAB score with a 76 and Tom LIberatore snagging a 72 for Footscray. Both slotted into their respective sides well and I’m willing to bet Liberatore would have a lot more backers if the round four byes to the Bulldogs, Saints and Lions meant he wasn’t competing with the likes of Boyd, Montagna and Bewick for a place in our midfields.

Melbourne v Sydney

Another match with just a smattering of rookies, with Luke Tapscott making his long-awaited debut for the Dees and Byron Sumner slipping into Sydney’s round one side. While Sumner did little to suggest he’ll be a regular just yet, Tapscott looked completely at home at the top level, showing off his elite kicking skills and bruising some of the Swans with his AFL-ready frame. The news that Tom Scully will miss a month of football put Tapscott ahead of West Coast’s Jack Darling in the race for my final forward spot, but I came up $200 short when I tried to make the trade from Darling to Tapscott during the partial lock-out. Them’s the breaks, I guess.

West Coast v North Melbourne

Not that Darling looks to be a useless pick, though. The former under-age star applied the same defensive pressure in West Coast’s forward line that earned him a place in the Eagles’ round one side, landing four tackles in his score of 64 against North Melbourne. Teammate Andrew Gaff started as the dreaded sub but, luckily for his owners, an early injury to Chris Masten meant Gaff missed just the first quarter. He finished with 53 points.

North fielded more rookie-priced players than any other team, with the oldest of the four, Robbie Tarrant, being the most productive, clocking up 106 points in defence. Cam Pederson wasn’t far behind, registering 97 points in a role that saw him shoulder most of the ruck duties against DT superstar Dean Cox. Super-popular pick Cam Richardson chalked up a modest 61 while Shaun Atley managed 40 in a performance that was quiet from a DT point-of-view, but decent from a purely footy point-of-view, meaning he should get more chances to show what he can do.

Check back next week to see which rookies (bar GC and Adelaide players, of course) are on track for a big pay day on the eve of the first price rises.

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