Three hours ago, if you told me that in the lead-up to the first week of DT finals, the highest scoring player in the competition would be suspended for getting pissed on a Sunday, I would have told you to **** yourself.
But here we are. With qualifying and elimination finals on the horizon, Dane Swan will miss two pivotal games against Sydney and North Melbourne and has left a large portion of coaches sweating in anger. However, to those with a few trades up their sleeves, now is your chance to gain some handy leverage over the competition.
If you are in possession of two or more trades, then I think the right call is to trade him. Being the most expensive player in the competition at $617,900, you can pick from any midfielder you please. Let’s look at some of the main options.
Gary Ablett ($574,600)
If you don’t have him, then this is a no-brainer. The little master boasts the second-largest average in the competition (behind Swan), averaging 126.31 points for the year and 141.7 over his last three games. No need to analyse the Suns’ draw or anything else for that matter, just pick him.
Scott Thompson ($455,100)
If you’re looking for a smoky, then I reckon Thompson’s your best bet. His current owners won’t be happy, as this ‘smoky’ appears certain to increase in popularity. Not only because he’s scored the seventh most points in the competition and has an average of 107.78 points per game, but his fixture over the next four rounds is quite enticing – apart from this week.
Thompson comes up against the Fremantle Dockers and Ryan Crowley this Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park. Last time the Crows met the Dockers was round 10 at Paterson’s Stadium, where Crowley troubled Thompson all day to the point where he was moved deep into the forward line – which didn’t help. Thompson finished with 65 points, his second-lowest score of the season. However, the Dockers still lost this game by 29 points, largely due to Rory Sloane running amuck and kicking three goals to go with his 33 possessions. Though I think it’s unlikely that Ross Lyon will change the choice of tag, Thompson had scores of 154 and 143 the last two times he played the Dockers prior to this year, so if he is allowed some roomthen we know what he is capable of. If you are in danger of elimination this week then perhaps tread carefully, however if you are confident you will remain in Grand Final contention after the completion of round 20, then there are certainly benefits to be had.
After Freo, the Crows play Brisbane at the Gabba, Melbourne at the MCG then the Gold Coast at AAMI Park in what should all be solid victories for the Crows and Thompson. Though I can empathise with fears that he may be rested, I would think it’s unlikely as a home final in Adelaide could well be decided by percentage.
A gamble that could decide your premiership fate.
Dayne Beams ($514,700)
2012 has seen Beams emerge as a star player of the competition, averaging 114.18 points per game and being the sixth highest-scoring player of the year. When Swan missed games in rounds nine and 10 of this year, Beams scored 132 and 98 points against the Crows and Suns respectively. In the run home, the Pies play Sydney at ANZ Stadium, North at Etihad, West Coast at Paterson’s and the Bombers at the ‘G. You can speculate over how much extra attention Beams will receive in the next two weeks in the absence of Swan, and you can try to analyse whether or not the Pies have a good run home; the bottom line is this kid is a gun,and it will not surprise me one bit if he scores the most points between now and the end of the season.
If you don’t have him, now is the time to put an end to the pain he would have been causing you.
Aside from these three options, Jobe Watson, Matthew Boyd, Scott Pendlebury and Joel Selwood look the next best bets. Watson is very reliable and will do whatever it takes to hold onto the Bombers’ spot inside the top eight. Boyd has enormous scoring potential and will continue to soldier on in what has been a tough year for the Bulldogs. Pendlebury seems to have been forgotten as an elite DTer and will likely remind us all by season’s end, while Joel Selwood will continue to thrive as the Cats continue to grow stronger heading into September.
All are good selections.
If you’re down to your last trade
If you have sufficient cover, or just don’t like the idea of departing with your final trade(s), then holding onto Swan is completely reasonable. You know he is going to explode when he comes back, and in the mean time Sam Gibson, Adam Treloar and Devon Smith are doing an incredible job of providing bench cover. The trade you save now could be used to greater effect deeper into the finals.
If you’ve run out of trades
Don’t panic, so have most of us. Swear at something then cross your fingers that your bench cover will step up to the plate and adequately fill the void. If your bench cover is non-existent, don’t worry, just hope that your opponent’s cover is even shakier than yours.
Any questions or discussion via twitter @tomcraigie