Analysis 2022 List, Game Plan and Best 22?

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Bandicoot

Norm Smith Medallist
Feb 2, 2016
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Hi all.

A couple of things.

1 - Guessing by the likes on the quoted post you guys liked the content. Really pleased to see that, as I pour a fair bit into giving in-depth coverage. It's why I started the site - I reckon it is missing in the legacy media.

2 - I didn't "drag" George Hewett anywhere, anytime. I stated on multiple occasions he would not be with Sydney following 2021 as he could see the writing on the wall with the young talent coming through and the chance to earn good coin elsewhere. Of course, Carlton came to the party - he is a very good player.

3 - Whilst I am appreciative of those who get our articles out there, copying and pasting members-only articles is a really shitty move. Not even linking back to it... same thing. We're not a huge organisation. I run this by myself. This was akin to buying something at a Mum and Pop shop and shoplifting seven other things to hand out to your mates while you're at it. Sure, they're happy they too got something for nothing, but you're ripping off the small business. Leave that to Murdoch and his mates - go nuts with them!

Anyway, don't want to have to much of a whine - been putting in the hard yards for a while, and if this is seen as one of those victimless actions, I understand... only I am the victim, here :)

Caesar88, I'd appreciate if you could take a moment before you decide to do this again. It's a bit of a kick in the guts to someone who is definitely not one of the big boys, trying to make a fist of things writing about AFL...

- HB
Although I agree with the principle that Caesar88 probably should not have copied and pasted your article as it was intended to be read only by those who have paid for it there are some advantages for you.
I assume that if he merely put the link up on the site here, only your members would be able to read it. That being so, I, like many others would not have realised the quality of articles available on The Mungrel Punt site.
Having read the article here, I have now made the decision to become a paid up member of your site whereas I probably would not have otherwise.
 

Kolah

Debutant
Dec 29, 2016
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Hi all.

A couple of things.

1 - Guessing by the likes on the quoted post you guys liked the content. Really pleased to see that, as I pour a fair bit into giving in-depth coverage. It's why I started the site - I reckon it is missing in the legacy media.

2 - I didn't "drag" George Hewett anywhere, anytime. I stated on multiple occasions he would not be with Sydney following 2021 as he could see the writing on the wall with the young talent coming through and the chance to earn good coin elsewhere. Of course, Carlton came to the party - he is a very good player.

3 - Whilst I am appreciative of those who get our articles out there, copying and pasting members-only articles is a really shitty move. Not even linking back to it... same thing. We're not a huge organisation. I run this by myself. This was akin to buying something at a Mum and Pop shop and shoplifting seven other things to hand out to your mates while you're at it. Sure, they're happy they too got something for nothing, but you're ripping off the small business. Leave that to Murdoch and his mates - go nuts with them!

Anyway, don't want to have to much of a whine - been putting in the hard yards for a while, and if this is seen as one of those victimless actions, I understand... only I am the victim, here :)

Caesar88, I'd appreciate if you could take a moment before you decide to do this again. It's a bit of a kick in the guts to someone who is definitely not one of the big boys, trying to make a fist of things writing about AFL...

- HB

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Jewelsbon

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Aug 30, 2016
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Hi all.

A couple of things.

1 - Guessing by the likes on the quoted post you guys liked the content. Really pleased to see that, as I pour a fair bit into giving in-depth coverage. It's why I started the site - I reckon it is missing in the legacy media.

2 - I didn't "drag" George Hewett anywhere, anytime. I stated on multiple occasions he would not be with Sydney following 2021 as he could see the writing on the wall with the young talent coming through and the chance to earn good coin elsewhere. Of course, Carlton came to the party - he is a very good player.

3 - Whilst I am appreciative of those who get our articles out there, copying and pasting members-only articles is a really shitty move. Not even linking back to it... same thing. We're not a huge organisation. I run this by myself. This was akin to buying something at a Mum and Pop shop and shoplifting seven other things to hand out to your mates while you're at it. Sure, they're happy they too got something for nothing, but you're ripping off the small business. Leave that to Murdoch and his mates - go nuts with them!

Anyway, don't want to have to much of a whine - been putting in the hard yards for a while, and if this is seen as one of those victimless actions, I understand... only I am the victim, here :)

Caesar88, I'd appreciate if you could take a moment before you decide to do this again. It's a bit of a kick in the guts to someone who is definitely not one of the big boys, trying to make a fist of things writing about AFL...

- HB
Congrats HB on the brilliant site, BF and MP are now the only sites I bother to read and have found my subscription to MP to be a very worthwhile investment. Your analysis is absolutely top notch and it's so refreshing as a Swans fan, to read articles where the author actually has the knowledge to make calls and pass judgements.
The paid subscription is definitely worth it, I didn't realise how much until I actually signed up as I enjoyed the site immensely before subscribing, but the added value is worth every cent.
Keep up the good work HB, it truly is appreciated.
 

caesar88

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 26, 2016
24,764
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Hi all.

A couple of things.

1 - Guessing by the likes on the quoted post you guys liked the content. Really pleased to see that, as I pour a fair bit into giving in-depth coverage. It's why I started the site - I reckon it is missing in the legacy media.

2 - I didn't "drag" George Hewett anywhere, anytime. I stated on multiple occasions he would not be with Sydney following 2021 as he could see the writing on the wall with the young talent coming through and the chance to earn good coin elsewhere. Of course, Carlton came to the party - he is a very good player.

3 - Whilst I am appreciative of those who get our articles out there, copying and pasting members-only articles is a really shitty move. Not even linking back to it... same thing. We're not a huge organisation. I run this by myself. This was akin to buying something at a Mum and Pop shop and shoplifting seven other things to hand out to your mates while you're at it. Sure, they're happy they too got something for nothing, but you're ripping off the small business. Leave that to Murdoch and his mates - go nuts with them!

Anyway, don't want to have to much of a whine - been putting in the hard yards for a while, and if this is seen as one of those victimless actions, I understand... only I am the victim, here :)

Caesar88, I'd appreciate if you could take a moment before you decide to do this again. It's a bit of a kick in the guts to someone who is definitely not one of the big boys, trying to make a fist of things writing about AFL...

- HB

That is completely fair. I thought I was doing the good folk of this board a solid, and to be truthful, I still did until reading this. So I appreciate you bringing it up, as I hadn't even considered your perspective and/or your rights to your published content. I like to think I am a pretty self-aware and considerate person (many probably disagree), so I have little excuse on this occasion beyond offering an apology and an explanation that my brain just did not function at the time of posting that. I'd hope it's clear that my intentions weren't to undermine your effort or your success - if I wasn't a fan I would not be subscribed in the first place. Sometimes in trying to do the right thing, you can end up doing the exact opposite.

Keep up the good work and feel free to charge me double on my next bill.
 

Kiama Chris

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May 10, 2016
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That is completely fair. I thought I was doing the good folk of this board a solid, and to be truthful, I still did until reading this. So I appreciate you bringing it up, as I hadn't even considered your perspective and/or your rights to your published content. I like to think I am a pretty self-aware and considerate person (many probably disagree), so I have little excuse on this occasion beyond offering an apology and an explanation that my brain just did not function at the time of posting that. I'd hope it's clear that my intentions weren't to undermine your effort or your success - if I wasn't a fan I would not be subscribed in the first place. Sometimes in trying to do the right thing, you can end up doing the exact opposite.

Keep up the good work and feel free to charge me double on my next bill.
Top response.
 

The Mongrel Punt

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The Mongrel Punt
That is completely fair. I thought I was doing the good folk of this board a solid, and to be truthful, I still did until reading this. So I appreciate you bringing it up, as I hadn't even considered your perspective and/or your rights to your published content. I like to think I am a pretty self-aware and considerate person (many probably disagree), so I have little excuse on this occasion beyond offering an apology and an explanation that my brain just did not function at the time of posting that. I'd hope it's clear that my intentions weren't to undermine your effort or your success - if I wasn't a fan I would not be subscribed in the first place. Sometimes in trying to do the right thing, you can end up doing the exact opposite.

Keep up the good work and feel free to charge me double on my next bill.
Classy response. Appreciate it

On SM-G973F using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

Kiama Chris

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Having some thoughts about the flexibility of the side. What will we do if player X is injured or covided or whatever. Some look pretty easy, some less so.
Hickey replaced by Ladhams unless he totally tanks. Let's not assume that!
Ladhams by Amartey better Ruck than McLean.
Buddy by McLean.
Assuming McDonald starts could be either McLean or Amartey depending on form.
Papley or Wicks by Ronke, Sheather or Gulden may depend on opponent and their form.
Heeney or Hayward maybe not replace one for one but reshuffle roles a bit. Might even bring Blakey up.
Defence is interesting. Probably bring in the best form medium (incl Melican if not already playing?) and reshuffling.
Also depends a lot on if we pick up Paddy and where his form is at. He might come in that way.
Mids will probably be similar in that the best performed next cab off the rank will come in. If not in the original team that would most likely be one of Stephens, Campbell, Taylor or Clarke.
I don't see any of the draftees debuting unless there is a real disaster like a COVID event.
Others have suggested that all except maybe Rankin could fill a role in those circumstances.
 

Kiama Chris

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Having some thoughts about the flexibility of the side. What will we do if player X is injured or covided or whatever. Some look pretty easy, some less so.
Hickey replaced by Ladhams unless he totally tanks. Let's not assume that!
Ladhams by Amartey better Ruck than McLean.
Buddy by McLean.
Assuming McDonald starts could be either McLean or Amartey depending on form.
Papley or Wicks by Ronke, Sheather or Gulden may depend on opponent and their form.
Heeney or Hayward maybe not replace one for one but reshuffle roles a bit. Might even bring Blakey up.
Defence is interesting. Probably bring in the best form medium (incl Melican if not already playing?) and reshuffling.
Also depends a lot on if we pick up Paddy and where his form is at. He might come in that way.
Mids will probably be similar in that the best performed next cab off the rank will come in. If not in the original team that would most likely be one of Stephens, Campbell, Taylor or Clarke.
I don't see any of the draftees debuting unless there is a real disaster like a COVID event.
Others have suggested that all except maybe Rankin could fill a role in those circumstances.
Thinking a bit further how the club might want to introduce Paddy McCartin assuming we take him, his fitness and training form warrant a debut.
I imagine they will want to have Rampe nearby if at all possible and may choose not to debut him if Rampe is out. Utilise Fox and Melican in those circumstances.
All going well I can definitely see an opportunity Rd 4 vs North. Larkey is handy but no monster. Paddy could play on him or on the resting second ruck Xerri or maybe Josh Walker if they move him forward, leaving Rampe to mark up on Zurhaar. Not too testing.
 

Nuggetz

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Jan 4, 2021
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Best 22 is spot on apart from Hayward, who i'd have in for Campbell. Great to have depth in the team but some players will be stiff to miss out.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B: Harry Cunningham, Lewis Melican, Dane Rampe

HB: Jake Lloyd, Tom McCartin, Nick Blakey

C: Justin McInerney, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Tom Papley, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Hayden McLean, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Will Hayward, Dylan Stephens, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid
 

Kiama Chris

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Best 22 is spot on apart from Hayward, who i'd have in for Campbell. Great to have depth in the team but some players will be stiff to miss out.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B: Harry Cunningham, Lewis Melican, Dane Rampe

HB: Jake Lloyd, Tom McCartin, Nick Blakey

C: Justin McInerney, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Tom Papley, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Hayden McLean, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Will Hayward, Dylan Stephens, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid
Short a defender. Always need one on the bench. Could use McInerney and run Warner or Campbell on the wing.
McLean vs McDonald hmmm.
As you say Hayward vs Campbell - very different players.
I would position players a lot differently but that's pretty irrelevant.
 

BloodySwan

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 2, 2016
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Best 22 is spot on apart from Hayward, who i'd have in for Campbell. Great to have depth in the team but some players will be stiff to miss out.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B: Harry Cunningham, Lewis Melican, Dane Rampe

HB: Jake Lloyd, Tom McCartin, Nick Blakey

C: Justin McInerney, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Tom Papley, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Hayden McLean, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Will Hayward, Dylan Stephens, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid
I don't believe Melican and McLean would be in our best 22 come round 1. We'd probably play undersized and have Hayward and Stephens in for both.

McLean's stock also drops considerably with Ladhams coming in.

I would imagine it to be closer to this.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B:
Harry Cunningham, Tom McCartin, Jake Lloyd

HB: Justin McInerney, Dane Rampe, Nick Blakey

C: Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Isaac Heeney, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Will Hayward, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Hayden McLean, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid, Angus Sheldrick
 

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Callipygian

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I agree you need a 7th defender. I'd prefer McInerney to play as a winger - I think that's his best position. Add Fox or Gould. Paddy McCartin is competing for Melican's place.

I'm not dropping Hayward.

Some good players - like Stephens, Campbell, Rowbottom - willl have to miss selection if we have a fully healthy list.
 

Nuggetz

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Short a defender. Always need one on the bench. Could use McInerney and run Warner or Campbell on the wing.
McLean vs McDonald hmmm.
As you say Hayward vs Campbell - very different players.
I would position players a lot differently but that's pretty irrelevant.

Yep, it's a tough one but I considered Jmac as our '7th' defender with Warner/Heeney playing wing. Heeney playing more mids/wing means we need another midsized forward & Hayward fits that role well. I also see Campbell as a wing/hb which is an area where we have depth, while our midsized forwards are lacking which means Hayward becomes more vital. It's a bit subjective in where you see players position and team structure, I don't think there is one right or wrong answer. Good thing is it shows we have reliable depth and versatility where we can change things around based on opposition matchups.

I don't believe Melican and McLean would be in our best 22 come round 1. We'd probably play undersized and have Hayward and Stephens in for both.

McLean's stock also drops considerably with Ladhams coming in.

I would imagine it to be closer to this.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B:
Harry Cunningham, Tom McCartin, Jake Lloyd

HB: Justin McInerney, Dane Rampe, Nick Blakey

C: Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Isaac Heeney, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Will Hayward, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Hayden McLean, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid, Angus Sheldrick

For me Melican gets a shot first up, as I want to figure out early in the season if he can be our other key defender. Rampe has regressed in key position matchups imo and I think he would be more damaging as the 3rd defender.

Mclean is difficult, I like him in the side as he provides security incase one of Franklin/Ladhams/Hickey gets injured. It also allows Hickey to rest more with Ladhams taking up ruck duties and Mclean filling in his position as a forward. Mclean position might also be matchup dependent. It's great to have a variety of options, a few clubs would be envious of our list.
 

robbieando

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I don't believe Melican and McLean would be in our best 22 come round 1. We'd probably play undersized and have Hayward and Stephens in for both.

McLean's stock also drops considerably with Ladhams coming in.

I would imagine it to be closer to this.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B:
Harry Cunningham, Tom McCartin, Jake Lloyd

HB: Justin McInerney, Dane Rampe, Nick Blakey

C: Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Isaac Heeney, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Will Hayward, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Hayden McLean, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid, Angus Sheldrick

I would bring in Robbie Fox for Dylan Stephens and allow Jmac to play off the wing if we are going to play that small in defence.
 

rustycrate

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Oct 18, 2018
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Yep, it's a tough one but I considered Jmac as our '7th' defender with Warner/Heeney playing wing. Heeney playing more mids/wing means we need another midsized forward & Hayward fits that role well. I also see Campbell as a wing/hb which is an area where we have depth, while our midsized forwards are lacking which means Hayward becomes more vital. It's a bit subjective in where you see players position and team structure, I don't think there is one right or wrong answer. Good thing is it shows we have reliable depth and versatility where we can change things around based on opposition matchups.



For me Melican gets a shot first up, as I want to figure out early in the season if he can be our other key defender. Rampe has regressed in key position matchups imo and I think he would be more damaging as the 3rd defender.

Mclean is difficult, I like him in the side as he provides security incase one of Franklin/Ladhams/Hickey gets injured. It also allows Hickey to rest more with Ladhams taking up ruck duties and Mclean filling in his position as a forward. Mclean position might also be matchup dependent. It's great to have a variety of options, a few clubs would be envious of our list.
Reid is also being touted as a swing man to defence.
More options for clubs to be envious of.
 

scaryness

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I don't believe Melican and McLean would be in our best 22 come round 1. We'd probably play undersized and have Hayward and Stephens in for both.

McLean's stock also drops considerably with Ladhams coming in.

I would imagine it to be closer to this.

BEST 22 IN ‘22
B:
Harry Cunningham, Tom McCartin, Jake Lloyd

HB: Justin McInerney, Dane Rampe, Nick Blakey

C: Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, Ollie Florent

HF: Isaac Heeney, Peter Ladhams, Errol Gulden

F: Sam Wicks, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley

R: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy

INT: Chad Warner, Will Hayward, James Rowbottom, Braeden Campbell

EMG: Hayden McLean, Logan McDonald, Sam Reid, Angus Sheldrick

Not convinced Ladhams will be a real option to be a 2nd forward. He shouldn't be a lock just cause he is tall. And I don't like him as a 3rd tall because then we are too slow.

Unless Ladhams becomes a way better forward than he was at Port I think one of the two ruckman should be playing VFL by mid-year.

Would rather play McDonald, or if you really need that forward ruck presence then go with McLean who actually has demonstrated some key-forward craft rather than just being a resting ruck.
 

Nuggetz

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Not convinced Ladhams will be a real option to be a 2nd forward. He shouldn't be a lock just cause he is tall. And I don't like him as a 3rd tall because then we are too slow.

Unless Ladhams becomes a way better forward than he was at Port I think one of the two ruckman should be playing VFL by mid-year.

Would rather play McDonald, or if you really need that forward ruck presence then go with McLean who actually has demonstrated some key-forward craft rather than just being a resting ruck.

Mclean was poor as pinch hitting ruck and you definitely need some support for Hickey when he does rest. I would say Amartey showed a bit more in the ruck than McLean and is definitely more mobile if you're worried about our legspeed in the forward half.
 

Kiama Chris

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Not convinced Ladhams will be a real option to be a 2nd forward. He shouldn't be a lock just cause he is tall. And I don't like him as a 3rd tall because then we are too slow.

Unless Ladhams becomes a way better forward than he was at Port I think one of the two ruckman should be playing VFL by mid-year.

Would rather play McDonald, or if you really need that forward ruck presence then go with McLean who actually has demonstrated some key-forward craft rather than just being a resting ruck.
Up until his injury last year Reid was effective as a ruck cut out. After that we used both McLean and Amartey. Arguably McLean was the better forward (selectors thought so) but maybe Amartey the better ruck (certainly vs Nicnat).
In the end we went for the forward McLean and left Amartey and Reid on the sidelines and played with just the two talls.
From what Horse has said I think he wants to play McDonald quite a lot. That would imply playing a third tall who cuts out in the ruck.
So Ladhams, McLean and Amartey will be competing for this spot. Preseason will be vital. Ladhams should be the best ruck. IMO McLean is the most consistent forward but the weakest ruck of the 3.
Observe with interest.
 

Bloods86

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Up until his injury last year Reid was effective as a ruck cut out. After that we used both McLean and Amartey. Arguably McLean was the better forward (selectors thought so) but maybe Amartey the better ruck (certainly vs Nicnat).
In the end we went for the forward McLean and left Amartey and Reid on the sidelines and played with just the two talls.
From what Horse has said I think he wants to play McDonald quite a lot. That would imply playing a third tall who cuts out in the ruck.
So Ladhams, McLean and Amartey will be competing for this spot. Preseason will be vital. Ladhams should be the best ruck. IMO McLean is the most consistent forward but the weakest ruck of the 3.
Observe with interest.
Based on what they've done for their respective clubs so far, Ladhams takes the backup ruck and tall forward spot pretty comfortably over Amartey and McLean IMO. Assuming as you say, McDonald plays a majority of games this year (it won't be all) and Buddy stays fit, it'll be one of those 3 at most.

I'm not even sure that McLean is the better forward option and if so, not by much. 11 games for 11 goals in 2021, his Cats game immense with 4, barely any ruck work in 2021. Ladhams as backup ruck/fwd, including main ruck in 4 or 5 of his 17 games in 2021, for 13 goals. I'd back McLean in a contest, but Ladhams is more mobile (and contested marks is pretty close between them over their careers). I would expect Ladhams to go unsighted less and generally have more impact, more often.
 

Big Blood

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That is completely fair. I thought I was doing the good folk of this board a solid, and to be truthful, I still did until reading this. So I appreciate you bringing it up, as I hadn't even considered your perspective and/or your rights to your published content. I like to think I am a pretty self-aware and considerate person (many probably disagree), so I have little excuse on this occasion beyond offering an apology and an explanation that my brain just did not function at the time of posting that. I'd hope it's clear that my intentions weren't to undermine your effort or your success - if I wasn't a fan I would not be subscribed in the first place. Sometimes in trying to do the right thing, you can end up doing the exact opposite.

Keep up the good work and feel free to charge me double on my next bill.

To see someone graciously admitting a mistake is like a drop kick goal on the run, so rare you have to stop and admire it.
 

Kirkswan

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May 10, 2014
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I see a lot of 'this is his best position, so that's where he should be played' posts on here, or comments deriding Horse' & Co about 'not playing so & so in their best position.'

This is not how a team at this level works, and all these players are aware of it. Once you make a Rep side (let alone get paid to play), it is all about the team. And if it's not, you're done, no matter how good you are. It's where the team needs you most, how best to balance the team. Just ask Nick Smith (mid), Reg (fwd), etc. And these guys just want play, to compete and to win... they don't give a damn where they are playing as long as they are playing, winning their contest, being the best at what they are doing, helping the team to win. And they'll do whatever it takes to get in the team. They train like demons, take advice and direction from their coaches, medicos etc., all in the hope of getting out there and winning...

This is what Horse is talking about when he says so & so's a real competitor. And the Swans typically recruit this type of player...
 

rustycrate

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Oct 18, 2018
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If someone told me Warner had played 15 matches for Sydney and Stephens had 14 I would not believe it.
Warner seems like a lock in the team in the midfield and had played way more games Stephens.
Stephens seems like he needs a big offseason to save himself.
Different perceptions I suppose.
 

caesar88

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If someone told me Warner had played 15 matches for Sydney and Stephens had 14 I would not believe it.
Warner seems like a lock in the team in the midfield and had played way more games Stephens.
Stephens seems like he needs a big offseason to save himself.
Different perceptions I suppose.

Where I think Stephens differs from the rest of our kids is that he is still stuck in the "kid of the team" mentality, while many of the others, including Warner, seem to have the more mature "member of the team" mentality.

I think back to round 1 last year against Brisbane. Warner started on the wing and, save for some inside rotations later in the match, played mostly on the wing. Not entirely familiar territory for a hard nut inside mid, and understandably he didn't play as well as in the weeks that followed when he was moved into the contest more. But was he bad? Absolutely not. There might not've been highlights or a massive stats sheet or POTY votes, but he did a handful of good things and walked away at the end of the night being one of many contributors in a great win. Did he star? No. Did he need to star? No. He just played his role and made the most of playing in a position not 100% suited to him.

Compare that with Stephens. We all know he sees himself on the inside and I really do empathise with him. It must be frustrating not being given the chance to play in his preferred role. But we don't need him to be Isaac Smith or Lewis Jetta on the wing. He doesn't have to be putting in performances that will earn Rising Star nominations like the rest have got. He just has to do enough. To do what's required of him and justify his place in the team in the first place. Instead, every possession seems to look rushed and overthought, and he second-guesses himself physically quite frequently. He seems too focused on trying not to do the wrong thing rather than just doing what is obvious.

It is that teenager mentality, like the kid who knows he's in the team of stars and is letting that dictate his play. It's a contrast to the confidence, maturity and instinct that you see in Warner, and that we've seen with Gulden, McInerney, Rowbottom, McCartin etc. Even Blakey, when his actual footy was shocking (in the wrong positions, it turns out), he never seemed to waver in his belief that he belonged out there in the team. Stephens just needs to believe, and stop letting a fear of failure get in the way of his success.
 

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