Player name: Eric MacKenzie
Current club: West Coast Eagles
Potential club: MacKenzie was originally linked to the Eagles cross-town rivals Fremantle. More recently, Essendon is also rumoured to be an interested party, especially with MacKenzie’s old coach John Worsfold now at the helm.
The original price: MacKenzie was selected by the Eagles at pick 29 in the 2006 National Draft.
The Good: When in peak form Eric MacKenzie was one of the best key defenders in the league. His 2014 season was superb, where he averaged career highs in disposals and marks, taking a number of big scalps along the way. He defeated Brownlow Medallist Matt Priddis in the Eagles’ Best and Fairest that year, despite missing All-Australian selection. He was the protégé of Darren Glass who he learnt a lot from, and he really stepped up to the plate when the former club captain was showing signs of decline.
The Bad: MacKenzie underwent a knee reconstruction in the preseason of 2015, which ruled him out for the whole of last year. In his absence, the West Coast coaching staff came up with the famed “Weagles Web” which focused more on team defence, flexible players and clean ball movement. When fit again in 2016, MacKenzie struggled to adapt to the new system. The emergence of Jeremy McGovern as a defender in 2015 and the rise of Tom Barrass this season saw Mackenzie in a shootout for the third key tall berth with Will Schofield, who Adam Simpson is a big fan of. For all of MacKenzie’s strengths, kicking has always been one of his weaker points and he struggled again with this facet of the game. He seemed like he had lost a yard of pace and struggled on the mobile key forwards with Collingwood’s Darcy Moore being a prime example of this in their Round 19 clash. After that game, he didn’t play for the Eagles again in 2016.
What his club wants: Eagles coach Adam Simpson has said on numerous times that MacKenzie is a required player and valued extremely highly at the club and also has a year to run on his contract. The Eagles are publicy keen to retain him, so would likely demand overs if he was to depart.
What he’s worth: MacKenzie’s value has dropped this season due to the fact that he played a number of games in the WAFL. Before 2015, durability was one of his main assets as he had only missed four games in the previous three seasons. He did stay fit for the whole of this season, playing a full component of 22 games (13 Eagles/9 East Perth), and it’s unlikely that a player goes from club champion to a dud in two seasons. The old adage is that it takes around a year to mentally recover from a reconstruction, especially for key position players. If he was five years younger, he would be worth a borderline first/second round pick, so age counts again him in this regard. Ultimately, however, there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be the player he was two years ago, and he’s really only ever produced one season at that truly elite level.
What we’d pay
An early fourth-round pick.
Possible trade scenarios:
- West Coast trade Eric MacKenzie to Fremantle for Hayden Ballantyne.
- Essendon trade pick 37 and pick 56 to West Coast for Eric MacKenzie and pick 48.
- Fremantle trade Zac Clarke and pick 57 to West Coast for Eric Mackenzie.
The Verdict:. Even though MacKenzie has a year to go on his contract, the 28-year old may request a trade to a club where he gets a game every week. 2017 will be fascinating to see whether he can return to a consistent form level, but he is a very determined person so you would think he would be back to something approaching his best. MacKenzie is in his element as a stay at home key defender and won’t overcomplicate things too much. Definitely worth a punt for a club wanting a bit of experience around the side.
Star rating: 2/5