PLAYER BY PLAYER ANALYSIS
1. Alex Fasolo
Reminds me of a young Dayne Beams. A specialist half forward with nice skills who at some stage could step up into the midfield. I see him being a part of the 2013 midfield rotations, but still playing a key part in the forward line. He’s a finisher & has the potential to be a big improver in 2013.
2. Jordan Russell
Effectively a bonus player as he was basically swapped for Tom Young. If he can establish himself as someone who can play on opposition small forwards & also provide run I believe he can be of value. This is not beyond the realms of possibility, he did finish 2nd in Carltanks B &F in 2010. Also impressive in his first few NAB hitouts for the club.
3. Brent Macaffer
Interesting year for the Caff. As we know he is coming off a knee reco. Was more than handy in our 2010 premiership year, but can he ever be more than a role player? Will be in the mix, but will need some good early season form to force his way into the side.
4. Alan Didak
The mercurial Didak can do anything, as we know. Has been cruelled by injuries over the last couple of years, and is near the end of his journey. If Didak can stay fit, his class & uncanny ability to sniff out a goal could be the cream that we were so desperately crying out for in 2012. Although it’s probably wishful thinking, I’m sincerely hoping Dids has one more All Australian type season in him, or at very least a consistent season where he is a valuable contributor.
5. Nick Maxwell (captain)
The skipper had his best season in 2012 from a statistical point of view. Is constantly hammered by opposition supporters, but at his best provides immense drive & leadership from the half back line. In what is most likely his last season as skipper, will be looking for a big year.
6. Tyson Goldsack
In 2012, the Sack finally got what he’s been crying out for all of his career – a coach who believes in him. Played more games than he ever has before, and his versatility is vital to our setup. Provided a valuable option forward last year, but is equally adept playing down back, not to mention the mooted role on the wing that never eventuated last year. One of those unsung hero types that shouldn’t be taken for granted, the Sack never shirks a contest.
7. Andrew Krakeour
Did brilliantly to recover from a knee reco & make it back in 2012. To his credit was even good enough to have an impact in the finals. From all reports he was flying early in the pre-season, but worryingly recent reports state that he has missed some session and is not fit enough. Is extremely clever & reads a pack as well as anyone else in the AFL. Fingers crossed for a big year.
8. Harry O’Brien
An interesting year for Harry. At his best, his ability to run & create from the backline is second to none. There is no better sight than Harry baulking around a couple of opposition players & bursting clear to propel us forward. But he has been identified by opposition clubs as being suspect 1 on 1, which they have successfully exploited on more than one occasion over the past couple of seasons. Additionally, he can be ugly by foot. The question for Bucks is whether his attacking prowess outweighs his defensive deficiencies. I am guessing that Bucks will be looking for H to improve his defensive efforts in 2013, whilst not curbing his natural attacking flair. Jordan Russell is a clear threat to Harry’s position.
9. Martin Clarke
Another player set for an interesting 2013. Started his comeback year in fine form, but drifted away throughout the season & was eventually dropped. Another full pre-season means it’s almost make or break for Marty. He either has to turn himself into that tagger that we need, or somehow find the form that he had in the 2007 finals series (against Geelong in the prelim in particular). The tagging option seems more likely.
10. Scott Pendlebury (vice – captain)
Up until he was injured last year, was the best player in the completion (in my opinion). So much time, so much class, if he can keep himself injury free he may be ready to dominate the competition. The natural selection as our next captain.
11. Jarryd Blair
Had a breakout season in 2012 playing in the midfield. Was considered too small as a junior even though he won the Morrish Medal, hence why he slipped through to the rookie draft. Ideally will take another step in 2013, but it isn’t always that easy. If he can be a regular 20-25 possession getter in the midfield he would be more than justify his position. More goals would be an added bonus.
12. Luke Ball (joint deputy vice – captain)
Another coming off a full knee reconstruction, Luke has shown how valuable he can be throughout the 2010 finals series & also 2011 (one more big thank you to Rossy Lyon). Almost the heartbeat of the midfield, will allow the likes of Pendles & Beamsy to benefit from his hard inside work. A massive bonus to have him back, quite simply the bloke you’d like your daughter to marry! BALLY
13. Dale Thomas
Announced himself as a serious player in the 2010 finals series, and was probably our best player over the two GF’s. Unfairly maligned as soft by opposition supporters, no-one contests the ball harder when he’s fit & firing. 2012 was a year beset by injuries, & unfortunately an ankle injury has impacted his 2013 pre-season. I am hoping he can regain full fitness, and it would be even better if he starts firing in the second half of the season. His run, hardness & ability to snag a goal is vital.
14. Clinton Young
I’m genuinely excited by what Young can bring to our side. A long accurate left foot kick, who is an elite runner & can kick long goals should fit very nicely into our setup. I was surprised he left the Hawks, but this is the type of player that they have in spades, and we certainly don’t have a lot of. Expecting him to play a lot of games for us, & I can see him quickly becoming a fan favourite.
15. Jarrod Witts
A monster of a young man at 208 cms and 113 kgs (according to the club website). There are very high hopes for him, but I feel we should be prepared to wait a little longer for him to have an impact. Did not come from a football background, and talls always take time to develop. If he can play more than a few games it will be a bonus, and will also mean he’s adapted to senior football very well. Wittsy is an exciting prospect, very agile for his size, and should play many games for the Pies. The only question is when does he assert himself as a genuine first team selection?
16. Nathan Brown
Poor old Browny has had no luck with injuries. Plenty of ability & with a bit of luck should be able to hold down the full-back spot. His job on Riewoldt in both 2010 GF’s should never be forgotten. The main question mark hanging over Browny is his agility. Occasionally looked a little slow last year, which was no doubt as a result of his knee injuries. Fingers crossed he can have a good run in the team.
17. Dayne Beams (joint deputy vice – captain)
Not much needs to be said, more of the same thanks Beamsy. Brilliant 2012, & based on his elevation to the leadership group, there’s no reason not to expect more of the same (or even better) in 2013.
18. Darren Jolly
The recruitment of 33 year old Ben Hudson, and hopefully the development of Witts (& Grundy if we’re lucky) should allow us to nurse Jolls through the season. If we can keep the big man fit & fresh for when it matters, we would have done a very good job.
19. Jamie Elliot
Jamie is no doubt an exciting young talent. Can do the spectacular, and also has the ability to apply pressure through tackling & chasing. Hasn’t found that consistent level just yet, but an interesting prospect nonetheless. Showed plenty in the NAB cup, and it looks like he may be ready to step up to either cement a permanent position in the first 22, or at very least put pressure on those who are there.
20. Ben Reid
Gun! I believe he is currently unchallenged as the best Centre Half Back in the game, and the most exciting thing is that his best is yet to come. Was hampered by injuries last year, but his marking, whether one on one or uncontested due to his superior reading of the play, and distribution of the ball with his raking accurate left foot kicking is almost peerless in the AFL. Probably along with Travis Cloke our most vital player to our structure, and we must keep him injury free. GUN! (Man Crush Alert!)
21. Quinten Lynch
Loved the contest he was able to provide in his first couple of NAB cup hitouts. Surely the big Q will provide us with a better 2nd forward/ruck option than what Dawes has been able to provide over the last two seasons. As an added bonus, he will allow Jackson Paine further time to develop. If he can kick around 35-40 goals & provide support in the ruck, he will have been an extremely valuable addition to our list.
22. Steele Sidebottom
Up until the mid year break last year was nearly on par with Dayne Beams as our most improved, but unfortunately petered out as the season drew to a close. His challenge in 2013 will be to sustain that improved form over most, if not all of the season. Has time, and is highly skilled on either foot. One criticism I have of him is that his kicks occasionally lack penetration and sometimes land at the feet of leading forwards. Can sneak forward & kick a goal. Could go either way, could end up being a good solid contributor (to be harsh a Tarkyn Lockyer type), but also has the ability to be elite if he desires. Your call Steelo.
23. Lachlan Keeffe
The big lad was maligned by many during his development stint in the ressies, with “experts” on various forums stating that he wasn’t up to it. Silenced everyone with his performance in our team as a key back early in 2012, even at times playing as our sole key defender. A break out performance from Lachlan until he added himself to our extensive list of knee casualties. I hope he regains full confidence & fitness & picks up where he left off. The only question I have is whether he will be a regular key back, or if he’ll end up a swingman as he would seem to have the potential to pinch-hit in the ruck & also provide an option forward.
24. Josh Thomas
Simply make or break for Josh. Has plenty of admirers, but his first few seasons with the club have led to one injury after another. A genuine hard nut with a touch of class, hopefully he at least gets a chance to show us what he’s got. If not this year, it is unlikely Josh will get further chances at the Pies. Did show some promising signs in the NAB Cup.
25. Ben Hudson
Heard a bit of criticism when we picked him up, but I was always very happy with his selection. Besides Jolly our two other ruck options are Witts & Grundy (taking back-up options out of the equation). Therefore I believe it is a very astute pick. He will be able to play when Jolly needs a rest, as well as being an experienced mentor to bring the young fellas on. I would imagine the club has planned on him playing 6-8 games all going well, and if so his selection would be worthwhile.
26. Ben Johnson
I love BJ, he’s unfashionable, and the best exponent of a helicopter kick that I have ever seen. But the young man from Preston has been an enormous contributor to the cause over his 230 odd games. He was probably on the precipice of being delisted last year, but thankfully the club showed faith in him to give him one more season. He showed us all that he could still provide value as a running defender, but with O’Brien, Shaw, Young & Russell competition will be stiff. Still think he can play a role, but please, no more kicking out from full-back!
27. Ben Kennedy
Saw him in the Under 18’s championships last year. Shifter Sheehan referred to him as a new age Tony McGuinness, and I couldn’t help but agree. A short, solidly built but quick penetrating kicking left footer, I’m excited by what he brings to the table. Formed a great partnership with Brodie Grundy in the U/18s championships for SA, similar to a Lade/Burgoyne type arrangement. Will pretty happy if that understanding continues through to senior level in the coming seasons.
28. Ben Sinclair
Another interesting player, Sinclair has shown some glimpses as a running half forward type. The test will be if he can step up & become a consistent player with the ability to provide a midfield chop-out. Another one who has shown some promising signs so far in our NAB Cup campaign.
29. Tim Broomhead
To be honest, I know very little about “the sweeper” other than he is apparently a running midfielder who is one of Derek Hine’s smokies, so to comment further would be purely self-indulgence. Now on the long-term injury list.
31. Jackson Ramsay
Again, I know very little about Jackson, other than he is a 183cm defender. ANother one who wasn’t tipped to go as early as we picked him, but as usual, in Hine we Trust!
32. Travis Cloke
Quite simply Travis is our most important player. Almost felt like he held the team & the entire supporter base to ransom last year with the protracted contract saga. But with him now finally signed for five years, we should expect a relaxed, confident & at peace Cloke to dominate this year. Is probably the best “Power-forward” in the competition. Simply, Travis is absolutely vital to our premiership chances.
33. Jackson Paine
Yet another interesting prospect on our list. If Jackson can stand up this season & at least provide a viable option as a third tall, we may just have one of the most dangerous forward lines in the AFL. As we currently don’t have a huge amount of young key position prospect s forward of centre, his development is key to our progress over the next few years.
34. Alan Toovey
Tooves is tooooooooooves, will always do a job for us. Maybe an option for that midfield tagger that has been identified as a weakness of ours, but he does such a good shutdown job on whatever opposition forward he is playing on, any midfield deployment may actually weaken us. From my point of view all I can ask is more of the same.
35. Brodie Grundy
Many draft watchers were in absolute shock that Grundy fell to the Pies in the national draft. Was hyped as the next big thing during the Under 18s championship, it appears that the less successful teams hunger for quality midfielders allowed us an absolute steal with Grundy. Extremely mobile for his height & with an already-impressive frame, Grundy could be absolutely anything. Hopefully we will avoid the mistakes made with Josh Fraser & not throw him in too early.
36. Dane Swan
Not sure what is meant to be written about Swanny besides what has already been written. An absolute A-grader who keeps producing regardless of speculation of his private life. Happy to hear that he is apparently flying, but regardless I still expect the high level of output we almost take for granted from our tattooed gun.
39. Heath Shaw
His run & carry & (usually) pinpoint delivery off the half-back line is completely underrated by most. Has the ability to play on the wing, but IMO is most valuable when providing drive off half back. No matter what happens in the rest of his career, will always be remembered fondly by Pies supporters for the “Smother of the Century”.
40. Paul Seedsman
Has shown some good signs in preseason thus far. At his best is a running player who delivers the football in a stylish manner, at his worst can lack awareness & be a turnover merchant. If he can turn himself into a solid consistent footballer it will be a bonus for all concerned. Loved his game against the WCE in the NAB Cup, especially the 2nd quarter. More of that please Seeds!
44. Corey Gault
A young developing key forward, I haven’t seen enough of him to be sure whether Corey is going to make it. Saw him a couple of times in the VFL, took a couple of nice grabs but looked like he needed a fair bit of development. Was a late draft pick, so it will be an added bonus if he can provide some value to us.
45. Jack Frost
A massive unit for a 21 year old after developing in the VFL, Frost was recently elevated to our senior list. Showed enough in the NAB Cup to suggest he is more than capable of providing a back-up option as a key defender. Following Tarrant’s retirement, the reliance on the injury prone Reid & Brown, as well as the returning Keeffe potentially left us short in this area, so Frost may yet have a key role to play.
46. Marley Williams
Showed a bit of dash & a penetrating left foot in his few games for the Pies last year. Definitely has potential, but hopefully he can keep his personal issues out of the limelight as we do not need any more troublemakers.
NOTE: I was going to do the rookies as well, but the above list took me long enough to do (and if I’m honest, most of it was done when I was drunk early on a Saturday morning). For what it’s worth I’m interested to see what Yaggers & the two VFL recruits (Dwyer & Martin) can add to our list. I see them potentially being able to play some useful roles (if needed) during the year.
MY BEST TEAM
However irrelevant they are these days, I have used traditional positions to pick the team. This was a harder exercise than I thought it would be (which is a good thing). I suppose I have tended to pick the tried & true, but I’m sure many others who missed this team will play important roles for us this year. I have listed a few who will be able to provide immediate depth below.
Players who offer immediate depth - Clarke, Hudson, Witts, MacAffer, Thomas, Sinclair, Paine, Seedsman, Frost, Williams.
I am genuinely excited about our prospects this year. The exercise of trying to pick our best 22 was so tough that it convinced me of our depth, and along with the strong showings of some of our youngsters in the 2013 NAB Cup I believe I have very good reason to be confident. Of course a lot of it comes down to injuries, which we’ve had more of our fair share in the last 2 seasons. The worst case scenario would be season ending injuries to Cloke & Reid. The best case scenario is that we get some overdue luck and only have minimal injuries which we can recover, and the youngsters on our list place pressure on our established stars.
Overall, we have an excellent backline , a promising forward line centred around Cloke, Lynch & an exciting band of small forwards, and an almost un-paralleled midfield full of class, endurance & depth.
Time to get excited! GO PIES!