The fact that there were no league games last week tricked a few rookie DT coaches, I think. In one of my mates’ leagues, a James Hird-style DT coach (a first-year coach who’s impressed in the opening rounds after surrounding themselves with the best in the business, in this case the DT Talk Cheat Sheet) revealed on the weekend that he was thinking of trading Andrejs Everitt to Brodie Smith just before the league games resumed in round seven, thinking I guess that there’d be no price fluctuations until then. Big-time fail, Jim. Sure, players who have a bye won’t move that week, but it’s not like the rest of the DT world comes to standstill, frozen in carbonite like Hans Solo at the start of Return Of The Jedi. This error cost my inexperienced mate 62 points and $57,000 in cash. None of you are going to make a mistake as Jabba the Hutt huge as that one, but it’s a timely reminder to pay attention to your breakevens during the multi-round byes – there ain’ t no Princess Leias to save your arse in the DT universe.
The first multi-bye round could’ve been disastrous to those who give a hoot about national ranking, with plenty of premos like Goddard, Riewoldt, Montagna, Boyd and Higgins benched, and rookies such as Bewick and Libba unable to help out. It wasn’t the case, though, with as many as 10 rookies (Jack Darling, David Swallow, Nick Duigan, Ed Curnow, Dyson Heppell, Brodie Smith, Andy Otten, Jayden Pitt, Jasper Pittard and Reece Conca) scoring 87 or more points to ease the loss of the Saints, Bulldogs and Lions from our line-ups. Amazingly, apart from super-rook Curnow, who’s used to pumping out huge scores by now, the rest all managed their highest score to date in round four.
Darling was particularly good, working well up the ground to earn his points instead of playing as a stay-at-home forward. We all know he can tackle by now, but it was very pleasing to see him engage in other profitable DT acts like handballing to teammates so under the pump that they had no choice but to handball directly back to him. As good as he was in round four, bench him in round five; the Eagles will join Melbourne and Sydney rookies on the sidelines this weekend. While Darling was the only rook to crack the century-mark this week, Curnow became the first $100,000 earner, rising another $46,200 after round four to take his total increase to $127,100. Perhaps surprisingly, Curnow’s Carlton teammate Duigan is the next best earner, having made more than $90,000 for his owners, just ahead of Darling. Near-80s followed by near-90s, coupled with only one prise rise thus far, has given Adelaide defender Smith and Fremantle forward Pitt bragging rights in the biggest breakeven stakes, with both looking at $40k increases this week if they maintain their solid scoring.
Where there are heroes, you’ll undoubtedly find zeroes and they came this week in the form of Jarrad Irons and Nick Lower, who were axed from Port Adelaide and Fremantle respectively. Only slightly better than those two were mid-fwd options Dion Prestia and Nathan Krakouer, who could suffer a similar fate to Lower/Irons in round five after poor showings over the weekend. While owners of those two will be contemplating trades, coaches who’ve picked up Michael Coad don’t have a choice after news that the Gold Coast defender will miss 12 weeks with a hamstring tear.
While last week presented us with a second-chance grab at some tasty two-game rookies – courtesy of early byes to the Gold Coast, North Melbourne and Adelaide – there’ll only be a trickle of two gamers coming through from now on. This week the kids on the verge of their first pay rise are Gold Coast pair Josh Toy (back) and Maverick Weller (midfielder), who both played in the most-recent round, as well as defenders Matthew Watson and Cameron Guthrie, def-mid Simon Buckley and midfielder Harley Bennell. The latter four will need to force their way back into their respective sides before they start accumulating cash, of course, as all of them were MIA in round four. Of the lot, Toy is the most appetising with a breakeven of -52 following scores of 53 and 75, bearing in mind the first was a sub-affected performance. Weller’s stats are a little worrying, with two sub-50 scores so far resulting in a positive breakeven already (albeit one of just 3). The injury to Coad could have a positive knock-on effect to his job security, too.
Just the two debuts in round four, and neither of them were loin-stirring efforts, I’m afraid. Luke Thompson got a gig in Adelaide’s Showdown loss to Port, scoring about 100 points less than his namesake Scott with a 45, while fellow defender Matt Shaw played his first match for the Suns, edging his way to 34 points. Be prepared for high draft pick Jared Polec to resume this round now that Brisbane has had its first bye.
Keep an eye out for def-mid option Michael Hibberd. He might get his chance this week after kicking a goal and making Bendigo’s best in the VFL on a weekend in which the AFL’s Bombers lost a couple of players to long-term leg injuries.