Dave Cardamone takes a look at what to expect around the league on the eve of Round 16.
There is no doubt that over the last few weeks that the holding the ball interpretation has changed. There has been a clear concession made by umpires that they have one of two choices: pay a free kick every single time the ball comes out without a legal disposal, stopping play and creating more congestion; or they let play continue unless it is deemed the player had significant prior opportunity. Players now genuinely don’t have time to correctly dispose of the football; teams are so well structured around the football that it becomes chaotic; and if a player does fail to make a legal disposal then generally the opposition side has enough numbers around to win the football back anyway. It’s a change in the interpretation for the better, bringing consistency across the game without fans having to plot this free kick situation against that free kick and continue to get frustrated.
How great is it that all the talk about the end of season trade period has been about the tall timber? Last year it was Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara thrown in Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis in the end. Just over half way through the season and all the talk has been about Sam Reid, Kurt Tippett, Levi Casboult and the recently signed Brisbane Lion Josh Schache. Of course Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly have been the marquee players gaining a lot of the attention, but with Melbourne’s two biggest clubs Richmond and Collingwood requiring structure up front, there will be a frenzy to acquire key tall talent come October.
Let’s be frank, Collingwood aren’t actually that far off and under Nathan Buckley’s control have made list management decisions each year that have significantly affected their ability to gel on field. They’ve relied on players to improve rapidly over the course of the off-season, with Darcy Moore left to take the key forward mantel following the departure of Travis Cloke. But the reality is that he simply needs more time. True, their end of season recruitment of Daniel Wells and Chris Mayne were probably Collingwood’s worst in a while considering their pay packages, but the midfield core is there. They just have to clean up the skills and get the bookends right. Jesse White isn’t good enough; Mason Cox will continue to develop but isn’t agile enough; and Mayne is struggling at VFL level. Ben Reid needs to play every week, while maybe it’s time Howe had a run up forward to support.
Back in the side on the weekend, North Melbourne supporters must continue to ask why on earth they said goodbye to Brent Harvey last year yet kept the 29-year old Thomas on their list. What role does the number 12 play in the side that Brent Harvey couldn’t have done this year? Everyone saw the leadership and on field coaching provided by Luke Hodge over the weekend and there’s no doubt Harvey would’ve continued to provide the same direction whilst performing more consistently than Lindsay Thomas. Yes at his best Thomas was one of the best small forwards going around, but the game has gone past him and he’s too late in his career to develop new tricks. Another hard list management call will need to be made on North senior player at years end.
Ali Fahour made a mistake, has copped his right whack and should be commended for assessing the situation at hand and deciding to step down from his position at the AFL as the Diversity Manager. Suspended for 14 games from his local football league, Fahour will never work in the AFL again after exceeding the total of 16 weeks suspension. Which is interesting in itself – how many people actually know that 16 games is the suspension mark to receive de-registration from any football league in Australia?