Welcome to the second edition of Lefty’s Leftfielders – if you missed last week’s write up on Nick Riewoldt I am trying to find a few players for your team that you may not have considered previously- and help you find that early season unique that goes bang!
This week on Lefty’s Leftfielder’s is Swan’s tough little bugger Craig Bird.
Name: Craig Bird
Club: Sydney Swans
In 2012, Bird played all 22 games for an average of 69 (including 3 vested games of 19, 38 and 80)
His 3 best regular season scores in 2012 were 127,113 and 97 with another 4 scores in the 80’s.
Hang on a minute – that’s only 7 scores of 80+ from a bloke who played all 22 rounds in 2012 I hear you say? Why is Lefty talking up this bloke for a starting gig in his squad for 2013?
Here is the logic behind my selection.
Bird started the 2012 season in a flurry with scores of 127, 82, 87, 97 and 113. That’s an average of just over 101 and certainly has him in premo forward territory. Even more important is who this run of top form was against – including GWS and North – and how he plays these same teams in rounds 1 and 3 in 2013.
By all reports he is injury free and having a ‘best ever’ preseason (mind you who isn’t!) and I don’t see anyone at Swans putting pressure on his spot (Ben McGlynn is injured again and likely to miss the start of the season)
Something else to note is Bird’s form in the Prelim and GF last year. Scores of 88 and 79 may not sound super impressive but he was a serious contributor in the finals series and finals games are generally not high DT scoring affairs due to the contested nature of the games.
Most importantly of all, Bird plays his 3 best scoring teams in the first 3 weeks – GWS, Gold Coast and Nth Melbourne.
The swans first 4 games in 2013 and Bird’s 2012 scores are:
|Team||Bird’s 2012 scores|
|GWS||127, (plus a 38 scored in 1 qtr due to being sub)|
|GC||80(started as sub!!)|
|Nth Melb||97 (104 and 91 in previous years games also)|
|Geelong||73 and 59|
So if Bird maintains his form against his first 3 opponents he will be averaging a tick over 100 after the first 3 rounds. Priced at a 70 ppg he has the potential to not only gain you valuable points in the first 3 rounds but also make you some serious cash by round 5. I know I said it last week in my write-up, but the seeming lack of forward rookie options this year has me scrambling to find highscoring forwards in the mid-priced/fallen premo price bracket.
I see Bird as definitely in the Swans best 22, and barring injury see no reason he can’t continue his progression into the ranks of rotating mids/half forwards.
Bird was the starting sub in 3 games last year which is always a horrible result for your supposed ‘secret weapon’. Nothing is worse than sitting down, opening that first cold frothy on a Saturday arvo and flicking on the TV to see your man wearing green and heading to the pine.
He occasionally gets the forward tagging role which can result in some poor scoring games, and his disposal isn’t not elite so I doubt he would be the ‘first choice’ handball receive.
Bird is capable of some low scores – unsubbed returns of 42, 45 and 47 in 2012 illustrate this and I will be monitoring his role very close after the first 4 rounds.
With the aging Swans on ball brigade of ROK and Bolton surely having to slow down soon, I see Bird joining the likes of Hannebery, Jack, JPK etc in the midfield this year on a more regular basis. I see a bit of Scooter Selwood in the way Bird has been handled to this stage, and will not be surprised to see him freed up more often this year. He averages over 4 tackles per game which is a handy 16 point start so once he concentrates on finding space a bit more he should take more marks and provide more link-ups between defence and attack.
Bird has also increased his DT average every year since he debuted 5 years ago which is another tick in the pick me column in my book!
I am hoping for a 100 point average over the first 3 weeks and will assess after that – I believe an 80+ point season average is certainly achievable in 2013 and he may end up proving a great F7/M9.
I don’t think it is any secret St Kilda and Sydney have very friendly starts to the year with GWS and Gold Coast games, and I am looking to maximise my chances to gain points and cash with under-priced forward and mid players from those clubs.
So there you have it – the second of Lefty’s leftfielders. Hope it makes you at least consider Birdy for your starting squad, once again I reckon the 2 trades per week rule makes a guy like this a lot more appealing than in previous years.