It is an interesting moment in time to be a citizen of the world. Millions upon millions across the planet are spending more time than ever braving the elements, whilst staring into their various smartphone screens. Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, with even the creators apparently being unaware of just how much of a hit this new addition would be to the gaming sphere. Much like Pokemon Go, over the next seven weeks an unknown entity will stand up to be ever so desirable. Last campaign we had the likes of Aaron Hall, Sam Gray and Mitch Robinson, just a few amongst many, who went from average to out and out guns. Why did this happen? Will this happen again? Can we make a guess at who might this be? Three questions that most certainly need some deliberation. As we discussed on the midweek podcast, there’ll be an assortment of names to adjourn the much publicised top slots of each positions. Finding the one that know one has is the difficult task.
The first question to address comes with a certain level of required prior understanding. Why did this happen? Using the three names at our disposal, Hall, Gray and Robinson, there is a clear commonality between the trio. Hall received opportunity in the midfield after playing the first three and a half seasons of his career as a livewire small forward. From the outer football world, this was largely unforeseeable given all previous outings, although Aaron did get amongst it at NEAFL level (as many do). Gray took a similar path. Having played as a lead up, pressure type half forward, with the odd stint in the guts, Sam suddenly became an inside mid that the Power relied upon to dish it out to the more noteworthy users. As discussed very early in the season, the difference between Gray and Hall is that of ball use, something which has clearly stunted Gray’s longevity in the midfield. Ball use is a factor that has not hurt the third component of the trio, Mitch Robinson. Spending most of his time as the half forward pack crasher, Mitch was again released into the midfield late in the season when the Lions midfield became scarce in able bodies. The common theme is clear, more opportunities through the highest scoring zone. This was due either to injuries or a side attempting to discover qualities of the whole playing group when the games became meaningless.
The next question is perhaps the easiest question to answer of all. Will this happen again? Yes, yes it will. This may happen in a variety of forms, but there is an unlikelihood bordering or non-existent that coaches will not try to find new cogs in their lacking machines. Notice with the three prior names that they all missed out on September action. Whilst a change in fortunes can happen for any individual, I suspect our ability to find a proposition is more likely to come from those out of contention. This thus provides us with an array of differing quantities to consider. 10 in fact! With the knowledge that 3 games separate 8th from 9th, it’d be a fair assumption that we have our finals contenders picked already. Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Richmond, Carlton, Gold Coast, Fremantle, Brisbane and Essendon should all be giving opportunities to those both untried and performing well in a position they have never been handed at AFL level. Those that falter will be delisted (the pressure that Aaron Hall was under) and others will embed the coaches ideas of where they can and can’t play. Others may have been in the AFL side for sometime, but have yet to be played in their favoured role.
The final question, and the question of most consequence, is the one many fantasy coaches will be left pondering. Who might this player be? The answer to that question is perhaps worth the prize money of all major competitions, whether you’re within striking distance or not. As difficult a question as this is to answer, there is an air of clarity that can be provided. Who is likely to give opportunities through the midfield? The first name to jump out at me is the Suns. Decimated by injury once more, and this time straight through the heart of their side. Ablett down. Rischitelli down. Prestia touch and go. Not to mention the issues that they’ve already faced with the likes of O’Meara and Swallow still yet to make a return to the senior side. Someone will have to pick up the slack. It shall be very interesting to see who lines up at the first centre bounce this weekend. Fremantle and Brisbane are two other sides who are in that stage of ‘seeing what they’ve got’, so to speak. Again, it’s very difficult to produce names, but these names will show themselves over the weekend or ensuing weekends. Continue to watch closely over the injury list from here on in. Surprisingly it may just prove to be your best friend.
The world is full of surprises. If it weren’t, why bother with anything? Sport continues to throw up the most unknown heroes (Marcus Willis is a recent prime example). Can we benefit from a continuum of randomisation? We’ll never know if we don’t try. For those still trying to make ground and with a trade or two up your sleeve, it may be worthwhile attempting to pick out the Sam Gray of 2016. Today’s article has hopefully laid down some sort of pattern, and hopefully we can benefit off the pattern detected. Best of luck with your choices!
As always I’m up for a chat on the Coaches Panel Facebook page or alternatively on twitter @b_gogos. Best of luck with your sides over what’ll hopefully prove to be an exciting weekend of footy!