Player Watch #10: Aaron Francis

ant555

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Ambrose is the expendable one, yes he is an elite stopper and great 1v1 but we just have to make Hurley accountable and plays the same role instead of chasing uncontested kicks.
No. Hurley defends best when he can read the ball coming in and not when he has to defend a bloke one on one. Ambrose is the key to both Hurley and Hooker being able to do what they do best.
 

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ant555

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Im under no illusions that injury is going to require us to call on McKernan and Brown. And their current output means they are great depth.
McKernan's ability to assist in the ruck and Brown's ability to get back is also quite helpful.

When these guys are depth, we're stronger as a team.
McKernan is more than depth. How good would he be going if we had 2017 Joe in the same forward line and not have to out mark two defenders.
 

ant555

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I am still not 100% sold on Francis. I do not question his skills and ability but I just wonder if he is a tweener. Not quite big enough to play genuine KP at either end. If he can find a spot where he plays flank or a sort of floating defender it may be his go. Right now his marking is not as strong as it has been so it is hard for him to be a forward. I think he is stuck in the middle a bit. Too short to play KP and not quite quick enough or big enough tank to play half back. The plus side is he has been getting second up to spoil a lot and he has a lot more second and third efforts now.
 

Bunk Moreland

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I am still not 100% sold on Francis. I do not question his skills and ability but I just wonder if he is a tweener. Not quite big enough to play genuine KP at either end. If he can find a spot where he plays flank or a sort of floating defender it may be his go. Right now his marking is not as strong as it has been so it is hard for him to be a forward. I think he is stuck in the middle a bit. Too short to play KP and not quite quick enough or big enough tank to play half back. The plus side is he has been getting second up to spoil a lot and he has a lot more second and third efforts now.
He’s 192cm, same as Hurley and a touch taller than Ambrose.

Most key defenders are around the 195/196 mark, with a few taller these days and pushing 200.

He’s on the smaller side, but not by heaps and plenty of others (incl Hurley) have made it work at that height. Hurley is a dual AA.

A lot of it comes down to matchups. Ideally you have a giant if the opposition has a tall bastard you need to specifically counter. That’s always been Hooker for us and beyond him it’ll be Hartley or BZT.

After that your second or third defenders can be a bit smaller and Francis can play there. I think long-term he’s ideally the heir apparent to Hurley, can play one-on-one and is super-competitive, but has a real ability to set up plays out of D50 with his kicking. He’s better in the air than Hurley too (Hurley has those well documented wrist and thumb issues which I think have probably affected his marking).

He’s shown his ability as an interceptor and his kicking skills, I have little doubt the coaches have told him his area for improvement is his one-on-one defence and that’s what he’s been focussed on the last month or so. And he’s done a pretty good job tbf.

It’s a delicate balance and we need to think ahead. People love Ambrose and he does what he does very well but he’s limited beyond that. If Francis continues to up his defensive work he may well squeeze Ambrose out - what you lose with Ambrose as a better negator you gain going the other way. In a couple of years when Hurley is done, that’s when we may see Francis properly loosened up a bit.

People don’t want to hear negatives about Ambrose because he’s so reliable - I get that - but they are there. Firstly he’s one-dimensional, and secondly he’s not totally a long-term planning prospect. He’s 28 in a few weeks and plays like an absolute battering ram which will have an impact on his body. He’s not the long-term play that BZT/Francis/Gleeson are.
 

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McKernan is more than depth. How good would he be going if we had 2017 Joe in the same forward line and not have to out mark two defenders.
I suppose i look at 2 options. And yes, he is more than depth. Which is also good.

Backline with Hooker and no Francis vs Backline with Francis & forward line with no McKernan.

At the moment, it's not really an issue.
Daniher and Hurley are out. If one was to return, you place Hooker based on who (If its Hurley, send Hooker fwd, if it's Daniher you send Hooker back)
 

ant555

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He’s 192cm, same as Hurley and a touch taller than Ambrose.

Most key defenders are around the 195/196 mark, with a few taller these days and pushing 200.

He’s on the smaller side, but not by heaps and plenty of others (incl Hurley) have made it work at that height. Hurley is a dual AA.

A lot of it comes down to matchups. Ideally you have a giant if the opposition has a tall bastard you need to specifically counter. That’s always been Hooker for us and beyond him it’ll be Hartley or BZT.

After that your second or third defenders can be a bit smaller and Francis can play there. I think long-term he’s ideally the heir apparent to Hurley, can play one-on-one and is super-competitive, but has a real ability to set up plays out of D50 with his kicking. He’s better in the air than Hurley too (Hurley has those well documented wrist and thumb issues which I think have probably affected his marking).

He’s shown his ability as an interceptor and his kicking skills, I have little doubt the coaches have told him his area for improvement is his one-on-one defence and that’s what he’s been focussed on the last month or so. And he’s done a pretty good job tbf.

It’s a delicate balance and we need to think ahead. People love Ambrose and he does what he does very well but he’s limited beyond that. If Francis continues to up his defensive work he may well squeeze Ambrose out - what you lose with Ambrose as a better negator you gain going the other way. In a couple of years when Hurley is done, that’s when we may see Francis properly loosened up a bit.

People don’t want to hear negatives about Ambrose because he’s so reliable - I get that - but they are there. Firstly he’s one-dimensional, and secondly he’s not totally a long-term planning prospect. He’s 28 in a few weeks and plays like an absolute battering ram which will have an impact on his body. He’s not the long-term play that BZT/Francis/Gleeson are.
It should be Hartley but at this stage he may not even be on the list.

Back to Francis being compared to Hurley. Francis came through the under 18 Champs as a flanker playing a Brendan Goddard type role. Hurley was an AA full back who always took the number 1 defender. Yes they are around the same height but they played totally different roles even though Hurls is not at his best defending one on one. Francis is a very long way behind where Hurley was as a junior. Hurley would have been number 1 pick in that draft by a mile.

People do not want to here that Ambrose is in the best 22. He may be one dimensional and 28 but he is the best one on one defender we have and Francis will be lucky to get close to his defending level.

It is easy to say "if" Francis improves his one on one defending but it is something he has never had.Not as a junior and not now. His spot in the side will always be third defender / intercept player with good skills. That will mean will will always need an Ambrose (type) in the side. He is not ever going to be a great one on one defender. Lets face it their was the rubbish talk from the club after that he could play some midfield time. He is a flanker and the reason I am not 100% sold is he has struggled to get the fitness and engine to the level needed to suite his strong point due to various reasons. I called him the best player in that draft but his one weak point has progressed at a very slow rate.
 

ant555

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I suppose i look at 2 options. And yes, he is more than depth. Which is also good.

Backline with Hooker and no Francis vs Backline with Francis & forward line with no McKernan.

At the moment, it's not really an issue.
Daniher and Hurley are out. If one was to return, you place Hooker based on who (If its Hurley, send Hooker fwd, if it's Daniher you send Hooker back)
Right now I would take forward line with McKernan.
 

Red Black and Blue

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Does he need to be a kpd? Why can’t he be what he was late last year when he was our best player in rounds 22-23. The good teams are still manufacturing the plus one role that suits him so why can’t we?

Also look at the player Stringer has become. It takes time for the physical monsters to build their tanks but it is worth it.
 

ant555

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I will put my comments into context . I am not saying I want him to go or that he can not become the player he could. I just do not have the same level of expectation now because he has had a lot of soft tissue issues early and is behind where he should be in his development. He is not from an athletic family so it was always going to take time but there is a real risk it will hinder him being what he could be. At the moment it is very 50/50.
 

Gabe251

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I can see him going to Port Adelaide at the end of the season. Not the end of the world though. We do need a high draft pick.
 

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Seagrave_Holmes

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I am still not 100% sold on Francis. I do not question his skills and ability but I just wonder if he is a tweener. Not quite big enough to play genuine KP at either end. If he can find a spot where he plays flank or a sort of floating defender it may be his go. Right now his marking is not as strong as it has been so it is hard for him to be a forward. I think he is stuck in the middle a bit. Too short to play KP and not quite quick enough or big enough tank to play half back. The plus side is he has been getting second up to spoil a lot and he has a lot more second and third efforts now.
Height never stopped Dane Rampe and Josh Gibson playing on KPFs and hopefully it wouldn't stop Aaron either.
 

BrunoV

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Ease up. I love Ridley and reckon he’s a massive part of future years. I’m not hanging s**t on him, just saying he’s badly out of form.

You can’t pick teams on purely conceptual terms.. you have to pick guys in form who can do the job. You’re saying you would rather Ridley in right now and but I reckon dropping Francis for a guy that had two handballs and a kick last weekend is probably pretty rough.

I liked because my comment wasnt heated and I dont like the look of aggro conversations on pages (at least when it wasnt coming from me which is also not to say I thought it was coming from you).

In making my comment I wasnt intending to start a drop Francis for Ridley conversation. You can only do that in context in which performance justifies the decision (which it clearly wouldnt the week after Ridley doing 50% of nothing and Francis playing okay footy).

It was a continuation of the "selection rod for our backs" theme from my post on the page before.

If we think, for example, Brown will be sufficiently ignored by opponents to slink around in finals we're being incredibly optimistic. Like I said post Adelaide, dont waste a tall on Brown if you dont have it. Assign McKay and see if Brown can win the ball. It wont happen.

Laverde is a midsized player being used to keep KPDs busy as the deepest forward when he's consistently showed the ability to play at half forward. He doesnt even get time up the ground. Now he's been replaced with Snelling who is hardly a small forward and who's done virtually nothing of note. Why can't Laverde be freed for a game or two?

Is anyone going to contend that Langford doesnt do what Brown does? It's pretty clear he does. He wins a lot of footy leading to the ball and running toward goal while playing forward.

We've wasted the opportunity to develop Ridley when he's is a superior 1v1 defender (compared to Francis). His high ball body work only marginally inferior but he's much better on leading players than Francis. That he's played a stinker in late-July says nothing about the wisdom of dropping him early in the year.

Selection policy continues to confound me. There is so much inconsistency in terms of the expectations on players. Rigidity has set the development of the team back at least 12 months.

Just look at what Geelong does with its kids while maintaining one of the best win-loss records over a 7 year period going around. They look at the best players and develop a team based on that. They dont stuff around developing their best talents in the VFL.
 
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Kakkle

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The easy thing would be to say the incident that led to him going off and being checked for concussion was the cause, but nah, there was genuinely heinous efforts on his behalf today.
 

Red Black and Blue

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Whipping boy much. A few times where he looked wasted but he and Gleeson were the only ones getting around to support and take the game on. Was one of our best. Should be 15 players you have a go at before the one constantly putting his body on the line.
 

Kakkle

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Whipping boy much. A few times where he looked wasted but he and Gleeson were the only ones getting around to support and take the game on. Was one of our best. Should be 15 players you have a go at before the one constantly putting his body on the line.
Nah, there were several moments where he just stopped dead in his tracks when he should've gone. Like a deer in the headlights.
 

Bunk Moreland

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It should be Hartley but at this stage he may not even be on the list.

Back to Francis being compared to Hurley. Francis came through the under 18 Champs as a flanker playing a Brendan Goddard type role. Hurley was an AA full back who always took the number 1 defender. Yes they are around the same height but they played totally different roles even though Hurls is not at his best defending one on one. Francis is a very long way behind where Hurley was as a junior. Hurley would have been number 1 pick in that draft by a mile.

People do not want to here that Ambrose is in the best 22. He may be one dimensional and 28 but he is the best one on one defender we have and Francis will be lucky to get close to his defending level.

It is easy to say "if" Francis improves his one on one defending but it is something he has never had.Not as a junior and not now. His spot in the side will always be third defender / intercept player with good skills. That will mean will will always need an Ambrose (type) in the side. He is not ever going to be a great one on one defender. Lets face it their was the rubbish talk from the club after that he could play some midfield time. He is a flanker and the reason I am not 100% sold is he has struggled to get the fitness and engine to the level needed to suite his strong point due to various reasons. I called him the best player in that draft but his one weak point has progressed at a very slow rate.
I don’t debate for a second that, all else being equal, Ambrose is best 22. He’s the best stopper we’ve got, easily.

The issue is, of course, that’s all he offers. There’s not many purely one-dimensional players around.

As for Francis... he hasn’t even played 25 games! He’ll never be a great one-on-one defender? Really, that’s a ridiculous statement to say he can’t ever develop that. At the same point in his career Ambrose was a half-forward flanker!

Reckon Francis has actually improved his defensive game this year but obviously has further to go. If he can, he’ll be a better player than Ambrose all-round, who is probably at his ceiling now at 28.
 
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