Analysis Where the Ruck are we?

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dogwatch

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I've been meaning to post something on our ruck situation for a long while and Boyd oh Boyd 's excellent post yesterday helped kick things along.

There are two timelines to consider in looking at our ruck strategy - (1) the 2021 season, and (2) 2022 and beyond, say to 2026 (anything further than that is even wilder speculation than usual.)

Early in 2020 I was fairly buoyant about Tim English as a ruck. Despite his modest performances against big bodied rucks (especially Grundy) his numbers were pretty comparable to the likes of Grundy, Goldstein and Gawn at a similar age.

However as the season progressed those parallels became a bit strained. Tim's obvious strengths are his around-the-ground efforts where his height, mobility, endurance and athleticism mean he can cover lots of ground and become an intercept marker in defence, a marking target in attack and a transition player in the midfield when we need someone to mark the kick up the line out of the D50.

His weaknesses however were his inexperience, lack of strength and maybe a consequential lack of confidence in the hit-outs, especially at stoppages. This was compounded by the lack of support given by Bevo/MC to Timmy. As the season progressed there was clearly an accumulation of fatigue, something I think he acknowledged himself recently. This just made the situation worse. The normally agile English could hardly run or jump at times.

I haven't rechecked this but I think someone said we have gone well over a season without winning the hitouts. That's probably some sort of unenviable record.

In fairness to Bevo (and Sam Power) the lack of support for English was not a deliberate tactic, nor was it for want of trying. Apparently we had been scouting out options for ruck support for a season or two but without success. That has now changed with Stef Martin arriving at the kennel for what I assume will be a 1 or 2 year stint. Obviously we weren't prepared to accept any old ruck as evidenced by our unwillingness to give Jordon Sweet a game despite being named as emergency many times. Such is the pressure of the modern game that Bevo deemed it better to lose in the ruck and have an extra running player. This resulted in the ongoing farce of Dunkley and occasionally other midfielders doing stints there. The most effective (least ineffectual?) option seemed to be running Josh Bruce through the ruck but that was surely sacrificing his supposed strengths and the reason we recruited him in the first place. Yes I appreciate Bruce had a poor season as a KPF but I don't think he arrived thinking he was going to be a ruckman. We need to get him back doing what he's been good at throughout his career - taking marks i50 and kicking goals.

2021
So I think we're now all feeling better about our ruck situation for 2021. Martin will share the load, maybe even be the starting ruck. He will also be doing some coaching / mentoring of Timmy and Sweet through the year.

That should be really valuable. It's the stuff of nightmares remembering how Timmy was contesting boundary throw-ins and ball-ups last year, looking at his opponent rather than the ball, anticipating he was going to get monstered. Now I've never played ruck but I reckon if you have reasonable body mass, excellent height and good athleticism you should be able to use that athleticism to win a reasonable share of hit outs. But when you're preoccupied with getting pushed aside you're not going to win too many.

The other good news for 2021 is that Timmy appears to have bulked up a bit more, but we've been saying that for the last three years so I'm not going to get too buoyant on that until I see how it affects the contest.

Of course if Martin is injured things may change and look a bit more like 2020 but that's a prospect all clubs face. A bulked up Tim English and a more developed Jordon Sweet are probably better options than we had in 2020. And there's always Josh Bruce if things get dire.

What we don't know is how the reduced interchange cap will affect us (90 down to 75) and how Bevo will choose to respond. I'm pretty confident that Timmy can play 90%+ game time if he's spending a fair bit of time either as a forward target or hovering a kick behind the play in defence. Maybe the bench rotations will feature Martin more than English.

Boyd oh Boyd raised an interesting point about hitouts not being correlated with clearances and only a weak correlation with wins. I don't have a full response to that and would like to hear others' views on it.

My take is that we have such a strong midfield that we managed to win the clearances quite often in spite of losing the taps, so how much better would we be if we can start winning the taps overall? The same argument applies to the hit-outs to match wins weak positive correlation. Crikey if there's even a weak correlation and we haven't won the hitouts for maybe two years and yet still played finals both years how good will we be when we start winning the hit-outs consistently? The optimistic interpretation is that a slight shift in dominance in the hit-outs (even just squaring them) could have a very significant effect on our W-L ratio.

BoB's other point is his concern that a running player or perhaps a small forward will miss out by playing two rucks. It's a legitimate question and one that was pretty clearly behind Bevo's team structures in 2020. Maybe he was justified because the best option for a second ruck (Sweet) wasn't really ready. But surely things are different with Martin in the RW&B in 2021. If selecting these two gives us ruck and midfield dominance with abundant and swift delivery i50 then it's easily worth sacrificing a Cavarra, a Lipinski or a Hannan IMO. Not only that, but playing English as an occasional tall forward will perhaps deliver as many goals as that medium-small forward was going to score anyway (probably about 0.5-1.0 goal a game). Defensive forward pressure is another matter, but then for some players like Lipinski that hasn't been a strength anyway.

2022 and Beyond
This is really important and it does affect our 2021 strategy somewhat.
I'll come back to it a bit later. This post is already long enough.
 
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Virgin Dog

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I think our biggest problem is that, assuming English is the long term number 1 ruck, we are absolutely bare in terms of 2nd string options. So many other clubs either play two rucks, or have a player who can competently play ruck along with their primary role. To throw out examples for the latter - Geelong have Blicavs, Fremantle have Lobb, Carlton have Casboult. We can't assume Martin stays any longer than 2021 as a player, and even then we'd be lucky if he plays even 15 games this year.

Not many clubs would be running with guys as bad in the ruck as Bruce (2nd for the club with 18 HO), Dunkley (12), Macrae (6), Cordy (4), etc.
My take is that we have such a strong midfield that we managed to win the clearances quite often in spite of losing the taps, so how much better would we be if we can start winning the taps overall? The same argument applies to the hit-outs to match wins weak positive correlation. Crikey if there's even a weak correlation and we haven't won the hitouts for maybe two years and yet still played finals both years how good will we be when we start winning the hit-outs consistently? The optimistic interpretation is that a slight shift in dominance in the hit-outs (even just squaring them) could have a very significant effect on our W-L ratio.
Absolutely understand what you're saying, but at the same time one could argue that a big component of our game plan is having the hyper mobile English functioning as an additional tall midfielder. Running with a more tap-focused ruckman would likely lead to us winning first ball more often, but could come at the expense of the ability to intercept or offer a forward target.

I'm most interested in having a competent ruck option in multiple areas of the ground. To bring up the Casboult example again - the guy is far from a star, but considering his role he is vital to Carlton's structure. He offers a competent forward target (his 16.8 for the year would have been good enough for 2nd in our goalkicking, ahead of Naughton, plus his 30 contested marks easily beat Naughton's 20, although he did play 5 more games). He's also got a better record of winning hitouts (34.8% vs. English with 28.6%). Only thing English does better is securing hitouts to advantage when he does get his hands on the ball (30.3% hitout to advantage rate vs. Casboult with 24.4%) but that's not necessarily our primary concern when it comes to a 2nd ruck. We just need a body in the ruck who won't enable the opposition ruck to drive the ball down the throat of a passing midfielder.

English is fine as our number 1 ruck long term, but our overall structure of the spine is not. I firmly believe we need a competent 2nd ruck option rather than an elite ruck, although I wouldn't be disappointed if we got the interest of a quality number 1 ruck and had English play 2nd.

I know this discussion has been done to death, but I wouldn't mind seeing us move Naughton to defence (solving the KPD concerns), having English play the KPF/2nd ruck role and recruiting for a number 1 ruck, although we may be robbing Peter to pay Paul there since we'd be losing Naughton the KPF.
 

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Boyd oh Boyd

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Just to expand on this point a little more

Boyd oh Boyd raised an interesting point about hitouts not being correlated with clearances and only a weak correlation with wins. I don't have a full response to that and would like to hear others' views on it.
I've heard this mentioned many times in different forums talking about hitouts so I've repeated the viewpoint, but I haven't looked too deep into it myself. My main sources were this 2013 article, that correlated a bunch of different statistics with ladder position. Worth noting that only a few statistics would be classified as strong and they're fairly obvious ones in goals, inside 50s, marks inside 50s and behinds. The correlation between hitouts and ladder position at .18 sounds weak and it is, but it's not much lower than pretty important stats like goal accuracy (.23), disposals (.19) disposal efficiency (.19) stoppage clearances (.24) or total clearances (.27). Pretty important to note that my first point, that hitouts aren't well correlated with wins, doesn't support my second point, that hitouts aren't well correlated with clearances, because the same data only shows a .27 correlation between clearances and wins. I've placed an importance on clearances that at best is only moderately supported by the data, and this is a flaw.

The second article was this 2014 one that looked at clearance differential and margin. Yes it does say that hitouts aren't correlated with clearances, and it also says hitouts aren't correlated with margin, both of which support the data from the previous article, but it also says clearances aren't correlated with margin either. So together these articles are saying hitouts will only help a little in winning in clearances, and clearances will help a little more in winning, but neither hitouts or clearances will help in winning by bigger margins. I didn't fully represent the data as I should have in my original post as that's a pretty important distinction, but as wins are more important than margin so the point still stands.

HOWEVER

Some time after posting I wondered what about hitouts to advantage, as obviously that's a more important stat. I just assumed there wouldn't be much because HTAs are rarely talked about in depth, but there's some stuff. I sort of touched on it but usually a ruckman provides enough of a contest that the other ruck can't get easy HTAs. English doesn't, and honestly this changes the argument a bit. Now it's not just does a ruck help us, but exactly how much does not stopping HTAs hurt us?

This 2018 article focuses on Grundy and Gawn's dominance from that year. It finds that the correlation between Gawn winning HTAs and Melbourne's margin is pretty strong. Grundy's is a negative correlation, I'd say because he's just not a tap ruck. For the league it's a weak correlation but it's there. So maybe winning hitouts won't help us win clearances, but it'll certainly help some opposition teams when they play us.

This 2019 article is mostly unimportant, except for tha part that states there is a 61.1% correlation between HTAs and clearances. Not strong but it's there, so very similar to the last article. However it states that in 2019 the side that wins HTAs looses 55.4% of the time. Is that an extension on the Grundy/Gawn data, that when a ruck that isn't great at taps (which is most rucks) wins HTAs it doesn't really matter?

And finally this article doesn't mention any statistics, but does say champion data has not found any correlation between hitouts and success in recent years. Honestly I was a bit worried my original argument was before the ban of third man up and would be outdated. I'm going to say, overall, the weak correlation between hitouts and clearances extends to hitouts to advantage and clearances, same as hitouts/margin and hitouts to advantage/margin.
 

ScragCity

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Tim English's neck is noticeably thicker than it was last year. I reckon he might be on Bevidge's weights program which mostly involves neck lifts. There's a significant correlation between thickness of the neck and winning the hitouts so I think this will be the year English takes the throne as the best ruck in the league.

s-l400.jpg
 

dogwatch

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Little known fact: it took many years and failed projects after the invention of the wheel before it was actually used for ox carts, chariots and the like.

This is a fantastic illustration of one of the early applications that turned out to be dead-end. Which museum did you find it in?
 

Mofra

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I think our biggest problem is that, assuming English is the long term number 1 ruck, we are absolutely bare in terms of 2nd string options. So many other clubs either play two rucks, or have a player who can competently play ruck along with their primary role. To throw out examples for the latter - Geelong have Blicavs, Fremantle have Lobb, Carlton have Casboult. We can't assume Martin stays any longer than 2021 as a player, and even then we'd be lucky if he plays even 15 games this year.
If only we had a young 197cm tall who jumps like Jordan, is flexible and wants to play KPF then all over the paddock...

I hope Martin stays on next year as a part-time ruck coach - heck, I'd rookie him as a back up so he's not included in the soft cap as I'm certain Timmy & Sweet will benefit from having a strong, experienced ruck to learn from.
 

X_box_X

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Tim English's neck is noticeably thicker than it was last year. I reckon he might be on Bevidge's weights program which mostly involves neck lifts. There's a significant correlation between thickness of the neck and winning the hitouts so I think this will be the year English takes the throne as the best ruck in the league.

View attachment 1055661
Don't take the piss out of this image. I train my neck and it allows me to do this:

 

X_box_X

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I like to use Sandilands as an example of how important hitouts to advantage is. He's probably the best ruckman (in terms of actual ruck work) in the past 20 years. His success rate in ruck contests speaks volumes and he was an integral part to Freo's team. He was probably their most important player for years due to his height and strength.

W/L records:
2018:
Sandilands 5-6 (45.5%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2017:
Sandilands 6-4 (60%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2016:
Sandilands 1-4 (20%)
Fremantle 4-18 (18.2%)

2015:
Sandilands 18-5 (78.3%)
Fremantle 17-5 (77.3%)

2014:
Sandilands 16-7 (69.6%)
Fremantle 16-6 (72.7%)

2013:
Sandilands 8-2 (80%)
Fremantle 16-1-5 (75%)

2012:
Sandilands 9-5 (64.3%)
Fremantle 14-8 (63.6%)

2011:
Sandilands 6-7 (46.2%)
Fremantle 9-13 (40.9%)

2010:
Sandilands 14-7 (66.7%)
Fremantle 13-9 (59.1%)
 

dogwatch

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I like to use Sandilands as an example of how important hitouts to advantage is. He's probably the best ruckman (in terms of actual ruck work) in the past 20 years. His success rate in ruck contests speaks volumes and he was an integral part to Freo's team. He was probably their most important player for years due to his height and strength.

W/L records:
2018:
Sandilands 5-6 (45.5%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2017:
Sandilands 6-4 (60%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2016:
Sandilands 1-4 (20%)
Fremantle 4-18 (18.2%)

2015:
Sandilands 18-5 (78.3%)
Fremantle 17-5 (77.3%)

2014:
Sandilands 16-7 (69.6%)
Fremantle 16-6 (72.7%)

2013:
Sandilands 8-2 (80%)
Fremantle 16-1-5 (75%)

2012:
Sandilands 9-5 (64.3%)
Fremantle 14-8 (63.6%)

2011:
Sandilands 6-7 (46.2%)
Fremantle 9-13 (40.9%)

2010:
Sandilands 14-7 (66.7%)
Fremantle 13-9 (59.1%)
Interesting.
What do the numbers represent? Season average HOs to Adv (F/A)? Club W/L?
 

X_box_X

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His game win/loss record or his HO win/loss record?
Either way, I'm a bit confused because in 2014 and 2015 he appears to have played more games than Freo!
It's his game win loss record.

Yeah it appears you're right. That's weird. I got this straight from AFL Tables and for some reason Freo's yearly win loss record doesn't include finals whereas finals are included for Sandi's games win loss record.
 

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Deadly Dunkley

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We need Sam Hayes. We have many core players entering the 26-27-28 year old category and we simply can’t afford to draft our own new ruck at the point as the development time lag would make it an exercise in futility to strengthen a good list in the chase for a flag. I can’t think of a plan B better than Sweet unless a primary ruck playing for a bottom 6 club this year decides they want a crack at a flag in 2022.
 

ScragCity

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I like to use Sandilands as an example of how important hitouts to advantage is. He's probably the best ruckman (in terms of actual ruck work) in the past 20 years. His success rate in ruck contests speaks volumes and he was an integral part to Freo's team. He was probably their most important player for years due to his height and strength.

W/L records:
2018:
Sandilands 5-6 (45.5%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2017:
Sandilands 6-4 (60%)
Fremantle 8-14 (36.4%)

2016:
Sandilands 1-4 (20%)
Fremantle 4-18 (18.2%)

2015:
Sandilands 18-5 (78.3%)
Fremantle 17-5 (77.3%)

2014:
Sandilands 16-7 (69.6%)
Fremantle 16-6 (72.7%)

2013:
Sandilands 8-2 (80%)
Fremantle 16-1-5 (75%)

2012:
Sandilands 9-5 (64.3%)
Fremantle 14-8 (63.6%)

2011:
Sandilands 6-7 (46.2%)
Fremantle 9-13 (40.9%)

2010:
Sandilands 14-7 (66.7%)
Fremantle 13-9 (59.1%)
I don't see a lot of value in this data when trying to determine how important ruck wins are to team wins. If Sandilands wins the ruck 6 games out of 10 and Freo also win 6 games out of 10, then it only implies a causal relationship if they were the same 6 games in which the ruck contest and the match were both won. If four of those games had Sandilands winning the ruck but Freo loses the match then it actually implies that ruck contests aren't that important even though both have a 60% win rate.
 

Northernsoul74

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We need Sam Hayes. We have many core players entering the 26-27-28 year old category and we simply can’t afford to draft our own new ruck at the point as the development time lag would make it an exercise in futility to strengthen a good list in the chase for a flag. I can’t think of a plan B better than Sweet unless a primary ruck playing for a bottom 6 club this year decides they want a crack at a flag in 2022.
There’s a couple of young GWS rucks that haven’t had any opportunity as well. I don’t think anyone is suggesting drafting one.
 

BEaston

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Sandi's win loss record is superior to Fremantle's win loss record, highlighting the importance a good tap ruck provides to their team.
This correlation would generally apply to any good player in a team, so it doesn't say anything about the importance of a tap ruckman or hitouts.
 

Virgin Dog

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I don't see a lot of value in this data when trying to determine how important ruck wins are to team wins. If Sandilands wins the ruck 6 games out of 10 and Freo also win 6 games out of 10, then it only implies a causal relationship if they were the same 6 games in which the ruck contest and the match were both won. If four of those games had Sandilands winning the ruck but Freo loses the match then it actually implies that ruck contests aren't that important even though both have a 60% win rate.
Even if all those wins came in games Sandi won the ruck, it still doesn't necessarily tell you anything about how much of a deciding factor it was. If you're a finals quality side coming up against cellar dwellers, you'd expect to win most areas of the ground. Sandi could be dominating because his team are running all over the opposition, rather than them flogging the opposition because of Sandi's dominance.
 

dogwatch

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2022 and Beyond
Our bigger problem is not how we run the rucks in 2021 but what happens after that. At 34 years old Stefan Martin is surely only here for a year or two of playing football and even if he plays into a second or third year we should his expect his contributions to diminish. In short, he's a capable stop gap but we need to wean ourselves off him.

So who and what fills the void? And how do we plan for it?

We need to consider several questions:
  1. What does Bevo - or any club for that matter - expect out of the ruckmen in modern footy, taking into account significant rule changes (nominated rucks/no 3MU, reduced interchange cap, measures to speed up ball movement and increase attacking play, etc)?
  2. Can Tim English deliver against this expectation?
  3. Can one specialist ruckman handle the load? If not, how can it be shared effectively without depriving the side of other required skills/attributes?
  4. In the absence of Stefan Martin where are the gaps?
  5. How do we fill those gaps? Recruitment, development, tactical adaptation or just keep trying for all three until we find a satisfactory balance?
1. Role of the ruckman in the modern game.

Top of the list has to be competitiveness in the two areas most associated with rucks: tapwork and around-the-ground marking. However taking the AFL rules-tinkerers into account the ruckman also has to be more mobile, smarter and have better endurance than the rucks of a generation ago. We saw for ourselves in 2020 what happens when we have a good around the ground ruck but one who can't win the hitouts. There's still an argument that winning the taps is not all that important, but I disagree. At a minimum we must not be dominated. Breaking even is an option. On the other hand there is no place IMO for a ruckman who can win a million taps but does little else. If there was we might still have Big Tom Campbell on our list.

Another desirable attribute for a ruck is to be able to drift or rest forward and clunk the occasional mark inside 50. Any ruck who can average 0.5 goals a game is clearly making a valuable contribution. Nic Naitanui does that (0.58) and so does Goldstein (0.50) while Gawn is a little off that pace (0.44). Tim English is at 0.36 and Grundy is 0.30.

I'm less excited about the ruckman who can drift back and take Dempsey-like marks in the last line of defence. It's not to be sneezed at but I'm not sure it's a key role, unless there's a clear policy of a side playing two rucks with one taking the forward half of the ground and the other taking the back half. Defences are organised differently to the way they were in the 70s or 90s. Players zone off and protect space rather than mind opponents. We look for medium-tall intercept markers to help execute this strategy. Players like McGovern, Wood or Naughton (once upon a time). Drifting back to clunk a few is handy if we're undersized in defence and losing the midfield clearances big time.

Endurance will be critical, especially if the tactic is to go with two nominal ruckmen. You can't afford to have one or the other on the bench for a cumulative 50% game time. That's taking away rotations from the hard running medium sized players who are in more need of the break. And if you're staying on the ground for longer then you have to be more mobile, especially if the game does happen to speed up.

2. How does Tim English measure up?

  • Tapwork - not yet. Has a fair way to go, maybe linked to physical development but also to technique. I hope Stef can help here.
  • Around the ground marking - very good.
  • Mobility, smarts and endurance - very good. He still has many of the characteristics of a midfielder (which is what he was before he grew).
  • Goal scoring - getting there. Definitely shows promise. The fact that he has rucked alone for long stretches has probably limited his scoring opportunities.

So the big question is whether he can develop into a middling-to-good tap ruckman. He's not that yet. I'm hoping he gets there this year.

3. Can one specialist ruck handle the load?

Probably not IMO. It pretty much killed Timmy in 2020. Also Bevo and Power have been trying to find a suitable partner/backup ruck for Tim for a couple of years so it seems they don't think so either.

Maybe an English/Bruce type combo could work. Working on a 65/35 load share, roughly. The other player would have to be a mobile, versatile tall. Someone like Bruce or Schache or Young ... yes, I know all have their shortcomings as rucks but you get the idea.

4. Where are the gaps when Martin's not playing?

Well obviously tap work for a start. English has to step up.

Then there's the partner role. Sweet hasn't yet done enough to earn a spot in Bevo's view. Is he too one-dimensional (like BTC)? Can he perform around the ground or fill a role when not rucking? I don't know but the signs aren't great. He's still developing though so it's a possibility.

That leaves us with players like Bruce or Young to be the ruck partner. That's not an ideal solution in the longer term. I think both are better suited to a KPP role if they are going to make it at the kennel and the best we can expect from them in the ruck is a containment role in my view. I'd rather not contemplate putting Marra in there either. Especially not as a 19yo.

So for me the more worrying gap is who the second ruck option is. It needs to be someone who can step up when English is injured too, so not just a casual fill-in.

5. How do we fill those gaps?

Apart from the ongoing challenge of developing Timmy's tap work, the answer has to be in recruitment. We need to start looking now if it's an 18yo as they will take a few years to be ready. Is Sam Darcy a legitimate prospect? This is his draft year. Who else is on the radar in the draft, perhaps in the pick 25-40 range?

An alternative is to wait for someone handy to fall off - or be prised off - another AFL list (like we've seen with players such as McEvoy, Ryder, etc). That can be a long wait though. The ideal sort of player we would be looking for is in high demand.

In the absence of any trades/recruits we are left with tactical adaptation which is where we've been the last few years.

If we can get a decent versatile ruckman from somewhere one option I'd consider in the longer term would be for Tim English to spend more time as a forward target and only say 40% in the ruck. That's probably a luxury we'll never be able to afford though. Except perhaps while we have Stef Martin playing?
 
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Boyd oh Boyd

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1. Role of the ruckman in the modern game.

Top of the list has to be competitiveness in the two areas most associated with rucks: tapwork and around-the-ground marking. However taking the AFL rules-tinkerers into account the ruckman also has to be more mobile, smarter and have better endurance than the rucks of a generation ago. We saw for ourselves in 2020 what happens when we have a good around the ground ruck but one who can't win the hitouts. There's still an argument that winning the taps is not all that important, but I disagree. At a minimum we must not be dominated. Breaking even is an option. On the other hand there is no place IMO for a ruckman who can win a million taps but does little else. If there was we might still have Big Tom Campbell on our list.

Another desirable attribute for a ruck is to be able to drift or rest forward and clunk the occasional mark inside 50. Any ruck who can average 0.5 goals a game is clearly making a valuable contribution. Nic Naitanui does that (0.58) and so does Goldstein (0.50) while Gawn is a little off that pace (0.44). Tim English is at 0.36 and Grundy is 0.30.

I'm less excited about the ruckman who can drift back and take Dempsey-like marks in the last line of defence. It's not to be sneezed at but I'm not sure it's a key role, unless there's a clear policy of a side playing two rucks with one taking the forward half of the ground and the other taking the back half. Defences are organised differently to the way they were in the 70s or 90s. Players zone off and protect space rather than mind opponents. We look for medium-tall intercept markers to help execute this strategy. Players like McGovern, Wood or Naughton (once upon a time). Drifting back to clunk a few is handy if we're undersized in defence and losing the midfield clearances big time.

Endurance will be critical, especially if the tactic is to go with two nominal ruckmen. You can't afford to have one or the other on the bench for a cumulative 50% game time. That's taking away rotations from the hard running medium sized players who are in more need of the break. And if you're staying on the ground for longer then you have to be more mobile, especially if the game does happen to speed up.
Here's an interesting thing. When English took 5+ marks in 2020 we were 5-2. The losses were against Geelong (11 points) and St Kilda (3 points) and both were very winnable games. We also won the 3 games where English only got 2 marks so this probably doesn't say anything, but for a while there I was convinced that English taking marks around the ground was crucial to us winning.

English took 11 of his 13 marks inside 50 in games we won; so do we win games when English can get forward and mark or does English get forward and mark when we're winning games? All 8 of his goals were in wins and 8 of his 11 behinds were in wins. We only won 2 games where English didn't have a shot at goal at all. I'm not certain, but I think it's more that it's easier for English to drift forward against bad sides. He kicked 1.4 against Adelaide alone, although that was the Dunkley ruck game so it doesn't mean much.

9 of his 14 rebounds for the year were also in winning games. This one is a little easier to answer. We won 6 from 10 where he didn't get a rebound, and won 4 from 8 where he did so this means nothing. He averaged 1.4 intercept marks which is the same as Williams, less than Wood, more than Keath, Cordy, Gardner, Crozier, Duryea, JJ and Daniel. So it seems like he was a help on some level. Tim wasn't great 1v1 though, only winning 1 of the 5 defensive one-on-ones.

None of this necessarily means anything as I could spin all kinds of coincidences to sound like they're important, but I do find it interesting. The only thing is I think the intercepts tells me that Bevo wanted him to go back to help defend rather than go forward. I'm looking forward to seeing how we look with English as a more attacking option this year.
 

doggies ftw

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 22, 2008
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Here's an interesting thing. When English took 5+ marks in 2020 we were 5-2. The losses were against Geelong (11 points) and St Kilda (3 points) and both were very winnable games. We also won the 3 games where English only got 2 marks so this probably doesn't say anything, but for a while there I was convinced that English taking marks around the ground was crucial to us winning.

English took 11 of his 13 marks inside 50 in games we won; so do we win games when English can get forward and mark or does English get forward and mark when we're winning games? All 8 of his goals were in wins and 8 of his 11 behinds were in wins. We only won 2 games where English didn't have a shot at goal at all. I'm not certain, but I think it's more that it's easier for English to drift forward against bad sides. He kicked 1.4 against Adelaide alone, although that was the Dunkley ruck game so it doesn't mean much.

9 of his 14 rebounds for the year were also in winning games. This one is a little easier to answer. We won 6 from 10 where he didn't get a rebound, and won 4 from 8 where he did so this means nothing. He averaged 1.4 intercept marks which is the same as Williams, less than Wood, more than Keath, Cordy, Gardner, Crozier, Duryea, JJ and Daniel. So it seems like he was a help on some level. Tim wasn't great 1v1 though, only winning 1 of the 5 defensive one-on-ones.

None of this necessarily means anything as I could spin all kinds of coincidences to sound like they're important, but I do find it interesting. The only thing is I think the intercepts tells me that Bevo wanted him to go back to help defend rather than go forward. I'm looking forward to seeing how we look with English as a more attacking option this year.
Thanks for the stats, interesting read. For mine they confirm what I’d already thought, that Timmys biggest help to the team is when he’s getting back and forward, taking marks at either end of the ground, rather than his work in the ruck.

The question is whether he can be as effective at either end of the ground if he’s not playing as the ruck and pushing back/forward loose. I think playing him as a dedicated forward (or defender) will not suit him, I’ve seen it mentioned a few times to go in with him as one of the key posts. I think he’ll find it a lot harder to be effective when he has the number one or two defender sitting on him.

This is why I think we just let him roam as a utility. Play two key forwards, two key backs and let Timmy roam. Drop him in the hole down back when we’re under fire, push him forward to stretch the defence when we’re peppering the forward 50. Use him as a roaming get out option up and down the middle of the ground. Use him as a link up option through the middle too because he’s so skilful. Obviously goes into the ruck as a chop out too. He’s got the tank and the smarts to do it all effectively imo.

It’s a pretty exciting prospect to have someone like that on the list. Will he ever be a top 5 number 1 ruck in the league, personally I can’t see it because I don’t think his ruck craft is good enough, and while some don’t I really value that in a ruck still in the modern game. Maybe when he’s absolutely peak of his ability’s in 3-5 years (ruckmen tend to be at their best a little later, 28 or so). But could he be the best 2nd ruck/utility/swingman in the comp, I think he will be by round 10 next year if we play him alongside Martin. And I think he’ll be a weapon no one else has, or no one even has an answer for, in that role.

So simple answer for mine is we find a Martin replacement. That player for mine doesn’t have to be a superstar, but my ideal prototype for that role is a workhorse who goes and goes, good around stoppages, good ruckcraft and will hold his own against most rucks in the comp, and takes a few contested marks. Nank, McEvoy, Oreily, etc as similar types
 

Deadly Dunkley

Club Legend
Dec 18, 2015
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Thanks for the stats, interesting read. For mine they confirm what I’d already thought, that Timmys biggest help to the team is when he’s getting back and forward, taking marks at either end of the ground, rather than his work in the ruck.

The question is whether he can be as effective at either end of the ground if he’s not playing as the ruck and pushing back/forward loose. I think playing him as a dedicated forward (or defender) will not suit him, I’ve seen it mentioned a few times to go in with him as one of the key posts. I think he’ll find it a lot harder to be effective when he has the number one or two defender sitting on him.

This is why I think we just let him roam as a utility. Play two key forwards, two key backs and let Timmy roam. Drop him in the hole down back when we’re under fire, push him forward to stretch the defence when we’re peppering the forward 50. Use him as a roaming get out option up and down the middle of the ground. Use him as a link up option through the middle too because he’s so skilful. Obviously goes into the ruck as a chop out too. He’s got the tank and the smarts to do it all effectively imo.

It’s a pretty exciting prospect to have someone like that on the list. Will he ever be a top 5 number 1 ruck in the league, personally I can’t see it because I don’t think his ruck craft is good enough, and while some don’t I really value that in a ruck still in the modern game. Maybe when he’s absolutely peak of his ability’s in 3-5 years (ruckmen tend to be at their best a little later, 28 or so). But could he be the best 2nd ruck/utility/swingman in the comp, I think he will be by round 10 next year if we play him alongside Martin. And I think he’ll be a weapon no one else has, or no one even has an answer for, in that role.

So simple answer for mine is we find a Martin replacement. That player for mine doesn’t have to be a superstar, but my ideal prototype for that role is a workhorse who goes and goes, good around stoppages, good ruckcraft and will hold his own against most rucks in the comp, and takes a few contested marks. Nank, McEvoy, Oreily, etc as similar types
This post could have come directly out of my head except you have expressed it better than I would have. Well written sir!
 

doggies ftw

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 22, 2008
15,972
13,700
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Anyone know what English's listed height and weight is for 2021?
Absolutely monstered Stef Martin (199cm, 105kg) during the intra club
Not sure if that’s good news for dogs fans meaning English has improved, or bad news considering we got Martin to help out because English was getting butchered 😂

Any more info from the intra club mate?
 

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