After two rookie-priced hundreds in round one and three in round two, it’d have been nice if the pattern continued in this all-important round three and we saw Greater Western Sydney pair Toby Greene and Jon Giles, and Melbourne midfielder James Magner joined by a fourth young centurion. No such luck, though, with not a single rookie-priced player raising the bat in the round three. Last week’s poster boys – Greene and Magner – were particularly disappointing, halving their round-two scores with 54 and 48 respectively.
This time last week I asked that we don’t anoint Magner the next Michael Barlow yet, because the original story had a sad ending – a season-ending leg break. The similarities have continued thus far, however, with Barlow also following his two first-up hundreds in 2010 with a mediocre 46 (against Geelong). He bounced back with a 78 against another strong outfit in St Kilda, before returning to his ton-scoring ways with hundreds in his next two matches. I’m more confident of Magner following that form line than Greene, given that Magner has much better job security (he wasn’t alone in being anonymous against Richmond plus he’d have banked some credits from his first two weeks and coach Mark Neeld has this week expressed his desire for some continuity in team selection). Greene’s spot in the team could come under threat as soon as this week, however, with James McDonald set to return after serving his two-game suspension.
Regardless of their less-than-spectacular returns in round three, Magner and Greene were still among the top-five earners in the rookie ranks this week. Magner took top spot with an $80,000+ increase, while Greene ($68,900) was just behind teammates Tommy Bugg (def, $71,800) and Adam Kennedy (mid/fwd, $71,400), courtesy of his higher starting price. There’s still plenty of money to be made from this pair, of course, with Magner boasting a breakeven (BE) of -47, the second-lowest of any three-game player, and Greene on -30.
Giles (-50) has the best breakeven of any three gamer going into round four, despite registering his lowest score in round three with a 65, with teammate Devon Smith (mid-fwd) and Richmond back Steve Morris not far behind with -43s. Smith scored 87 in round three to be the third-highest scorer in the rookie ranks and is proving more consistent (69 in rd1, 72 in rd2) than fellow mid-fwd Adam Kennedy (116, 72, 58). The highest score went to GWS defender Tommy Bugg with a 93, but he may well have been consigned to the bench after his 53 last week and the fact that he was up against West Coast while other popular backs Morris and teammate Brandon Ellis took on the lowly Demons. St Kilda forward Rhys Stanley was the second-best scorer, backing up last week’s 98 with an 88 this week.
At the other end of the scale, form, injury, vestage, a high starting price or a game clearly unsuited to DT has put some rookies precariously close to a cash drop this week. In fact, we’ve already had one bargain-basement boy pop his reverse lights on and start to head backwards already. GWS forward Israel Folau dropped almost $10k from his starting price of $115k after scores of 28, 22 and 4. Ouch. Others in danger of following the NRL recruit down that dastardly path are fellow League convert Karmichael Hunt (avg 42, BE 42), Freo forward Josh Mellington (avg 38, BE 44), St Kilda forward Jamie Cripps (avg 40, BE 45).
Eleven rookie-priced players have played two games, putting themselves in position for their first price rise, although only three of them played in round three – Geelong ruckman Orren Stephenson (77 points, BE -33), St Kilda midfielder Jack Newnes (61, -31) and GWS def-fwd Adam Tomlinson (70, -28). They’re all in line for handsome price rises if they get another game, then. A couple of other def-fwds, Geelong’s Billie Smedts and Collingwood’s Jackson Paine, should jump up about $20k when they get their next game, with only small increases predicted for the likes of Nathan Wilson, Tory Dickson, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Broc McCauley and Paul Seedsman when they force a third game, while Dom Tyson looks set to drop with a BE of 71, having averaged 21 in his two sub-affected outings thus far.
Seven players debuted (for 2012 at least) in round three, including a couple of mid-fwds who could prove to be popular picks this season. If you gave up your midfield-forward link last week to swap Tory Dickson for Toby Greene, or are doing it this week to dump Nathan Fyfe for a premium midfielder, then you’ll be watching Adam Treloar (GWS) and Sam Kerridge (Adel) with plenty of interest as a downgrade trade to either in the midfield could re-open that mid-fwd door. Treloar had 66 points in his first taste of AFL action, while Kerridge – who showed plenty during the pre-season – managed just three handballs against Hawthorn after coming on as the sub in the third quarter. Gold Coast forward Sam Day also copped a sub’s vest, nabbing just 13 points as a result. The Cats handed debuts to forward George Horlin-Smith and defender Tom Gillies in the loss to North Melbourne, with both players returning scores in the 50s. It should be noted that Horlin-Smith’s score came from half a game after he started as the sub. Also in the 50s was Brisbane ruckman Billy Longer, but the best first-gamer of the round was West Coast midfielder Koby Stevens. Like Gillies and Day, Stevens has turned out at the top level in previous seasons, but received a rookie price this year. He opened his 2012 campaign with an 83, but it’s worth remembering that came against the Giants. Monitor again this week before jumping on board.
Downgrading already? Sideswaysing a rookie? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @ChookDT.