Thursday, May 31, 2007

Return of the Roo

At $294,800, fit-again Adelaide skipper Mark Ricciuto isn't likely to tempt too many coaches this week but, hey, there are plenty of suckers out there. No doubt Roo will make me eat my words... Rhan Hooper has done. Earlier this week, Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews indicated that Hooper did his dash when he, um, dashed from the Lions den during the pre-season. Well, he's been named along with veteran Chris Johnson who has recovered from a foot injury. You'd think the inclusion of Johnson and Mitchell Clark should give Jonathan Brown a better chance of cracking a century this week.

Adelaide ruckman Jonathan Griffin would of been in many coaches' outboxes after he added insult (-1 points) to injury (ankle) last week. Crows coach Neil Craig may have forced a rethink, however, after deciding to pick the Griff if he gets through a test tomorrow.

Bringing a broad grin to the faces of DT coaches everywhere is news that Geelong forward and veritable DT gun Paul Chapman is set to return from a hamstring injury this week. This bloke goes through DT points faster than Mark Philippousis does "it-girls".

Merv Gray.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Warne Dawgs go straight to the source

We all know how serious this Dream Team business can be. Unhappy with recent performances from his side, Warne Dawgs coach Bobby Child has posted the following letter to all 30 AFL players on his roster. This is not some dumb gag. He actually sent this letter to the players, I shit you not. (PS - if the letter has an impact on his side's DT ranking, I'm getting on the blower to Heath Shaw).

Dear “Warne Dawgs” Dream Team players,

As your Dream Team Coach, I am writing to share with you my disappointment on our season thus far. We are currently sitting in 15th place on the “Outram Street” ladder with our god awful record 1 win, 5 losses. The supporter base was expecting a lot more this season, especially after a positive preseason.

I know early on, we had some devastating losses. First week, we played against destROY, and lost by 24 points – it was a shame we had the 2nd highest score of the competition… but, defenders, please don’t rest on your laurels. We are the 5th worst team defensively… We are scoring enough to come away with wins (bar the last couple of weeks where we had shocking scores of 1621 and 1712) but we are getting too much scored on us. Unlucky I know, so lets up our own individual scores.

Consistency is what I expect from everyone. You are priced at certain values for a reason… you were drafted into the Warne Dawgs because you have roles to fill. That is scoring what your price warrants. Thanks Jed Adcock, Adam Hunter, Alan Toovey, David Rodan, Joel Selwood, Bryce Gibbs, Gary Ablett Jr, Lance Franklin, Alwyn Davey, Xavier Ellis, Shannon Hurn, Lindsay Thomas, Mark Blake, Ben Hudson, Cleve Hughes and Nathan Krakouer for doing your part, going up in value… But don’t rest at this boys… Just learn from Jared Brennan’s mistakes… you know – he was climbing in value, a great pick up by the Warne Dawgs at the start of the season but as coach, I had to sit him on the pine, to have a good hard look at himself, and what does he go and do, gets dropped from the Brisbane team!

Now we all love Sheeds and his insightful comments on the game, but I don’t agree with him about his stance on late withdrawals/injuries. We need to know this (and its not for gambling as Sheeds says), if you are injured, let me know – I wont leak it to the media, etc.. As your coach, I must know these things… I don’t want to be running out there with 21 players because some boofhead rolled their ankle at training and didn’t tell anyone! Thanks Brad Johnson this week – much doubt about whether you would play or not, but you pulled though and got us 97 points.. Well done! I was pumped last week, after having you captain, and looking dodgy at ¾ time, you got enough cheap kicks towards the end to notch up a respectable captains score. Thanks Chad Cornes (captain this week) for pulling through also – my faith is always there with you my man! Put that crap Sydney game behind you…

This also goes for being smart on the ground… with our list of 30, we cant afford injury or suspension! Chris Judd – give yourself an uppercut… You are in the best DT form ever – reliable, and doing all the things I expect… You are a ‘gimmie’ captain when I want, but Juddernaut, that was silly! You are better than that – you still got us 100 points, after starting the game with -3 from that holding the ball against you… So mate, this suspension will hurt… Your mate Shannon Hurn will probably come in, and will definitely need to step up! Make me proud Hurn Dawg!

I would like to bring up the discipline in the team. This week was one of our worst for free kicks against. Don’t work hard and get a kick if you are just going to give it up easily with a free kick against. Is there a culture at Hawthorn? Sam Mitchell and Lance Franklin had shockers on the weekend – Buddy, you have had 17 frees against for the year! That is -51 just from being stupid! Come on Buddy (“My Boy” as my mate Chop calls you – who is the only guy we have beaten in DT this year) you are better than that… a potential Brownlow winner according to Chop, I say Brown-no!

Just some words of advice… we will call them team rules:
- Kick, don’t handball (kicks worth 3pts, handballs worth 2pts)
- Lay tackles… these are worth 4pts, and hey, you might get a free for
- Lead and mark (please hold these – eg. Buddy…)... easy 3pts
- Lindsay Gilbee (or anyone else) – when taking kick outs, kick it to yourself, then it actually counts as a kick in the stats
- Have a look who are on the Warne Dawgs, kick it to them… not anyone else, your first option should be team mates. When it comes to ‘junk time’, get near each other… rack up a few points together. If they are playing on the opposition, let them tackle you (but get a kick away)
- Don't spoil the ball, smother or shepard, although these are all good 1%ers, they get you zero points and therefore, waste of time and effort (and possible injury).
- Don’t bounce the ball! Draw a player and handball around them, then pick up and kick. One of the few time a handball is a good decision.

If we can live up to my expectations of you, then we can finish with 2130pts per round which is even competitive enough to get us the $1000 bonus for the week! The following are expectations from me based on your price and ability:

- 100pt players (get me 100pts and I’m happy…. 80-99pts, I’ll take that, but less than 80pts, not doing your job boys): McPhee, McLeod, Judd, Thompson, Mitchell, Cox, Johnson, Cornes, Ablett, Pavlich, Brown.
- 90pt players (90pts is what I want, 70-89pts good, less than 70pts.. grrr): Gilbee, Adcock, Wirrpanda, Hunter, Sandilands, Franklin.
- 80pt players (80pts will be great, 60-79pts ok, less than 60pts.. hmm.. tackle more): Rodan, Selwood, Gibbs, Davey, Hurn, Hudson, Blake.
- 70pt players (70pts yeah baby, 50-69pts is alright… less than 50pts tho, scab some cheap kicks): Toovey, Brennan, Ellis, Thomas, Krakouer, Hughes.

I don’t like to be public with trade talk, but sorry… people have to be accountable for the side’s bad form. On the chopping block are: Buddy Franklin, Sammy Mitchell, David Wirrpanda, Big Sandilands, Jared Brennan and Herschelle Gibbs. You have 2 weeks… you’re on notice!!

We need 8 wins out of the next 9 games. If you have any advice on the team, please let me know, as you are all in the Warne Dawgs leadership group.

Alright, not much more for me to say than… as Nollsy once sang “you gotta lift”… We are all capable players, a great group of blokes… Train hard this week, have those DT points in your sights, and lets get the Warne Dawgs on the winners list! Go Dawgs!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hooper in the dog house

The guessing game is over for the 918 DT coaches who have kept the faith with runaway Brisbane recruit Rhan Hooper - Lions coach Leigh Matthews looks certain to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

For those who can't recall Hooper (fwd, $158,900), he's the little Lion that went AWOL in the pre-season. Lethal today said: "He's suffering from the fact that he had two months away from preparation. It's probably going to wreck his whole year."

In contrast, Lethal reckons young Irishman Colm Begley is almost certain to regain his place in the Lions team to play Richmond at Telstra Dome on Saturday night after impressing in the reserves.

Merv Gray.

Hot spot special

Richmond forward Nathan Brown (fwd, $235,600) looks set to take a step towards regaining his place in the Tigers line-up by turning out for Coburg this weekend.

That may be bad news for coaches who have brought in enthusiastic but largely ineffective Richmond forwards Jack Riewoldt and Cleve Hughes in recent weeks.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stat of the round: 310

The St Kilda-Hawthorn match last weekend has copped a hiding, with most people other than Sydney chief Paul Roos lambasting it as "ugly" and other nasty things like "a blight on our game".

In DT terms, though, it was the Sydney-Port Adelaide game that was the absolute shocker. The stat of the round, 310, was the total number of DT points produced by Brett Kirk (31), Ryan O'Keefe (37), Chad Cornes (38), Danyle Pearce (48), Brendan Lade (46), Steven Salopek (55) and Shaun Burgoyne (55). Make Geelong terrier Jimmy Bartel captain and he'll go and get you that many points all by himself.

In the rounds leading up to last weekend's game, the aforementioned Sydney and Port players had averaged a combined 603 points. The worst offenders were the Chad (averaged 101 points before his 38) and Captain Kirk (who had averaged 90). Needless to say, some DT coaches got seriously shafted at the SCG on Sunday.

Merv Gray.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

He's The Voice, Try And Understand It

WARNING: The following may be distressing to some West Coast fans.

At a loss to explain the dip in Daniel Kerr's recent Dream Team form, the DT Talk team commissioned a report into the oft-troubled Weagles star.

The investigation found that the reduction in Kerr's points production happened to coincide with the emergence of celebrity singing show It Takes Two. Closer inspection of the programme, in which well-known Australians are paired with established vocal talents, revealed that Kerr has actually been performing as one of the singing stars!

Look at the photos below, of Kerr on AFL game day and during a recent It Takes Two performance, and tell us our findings are flawed.

No wonder his football is suffering. The Weagles are playing second fiddle to Kerr's until-now-secret singing ambitions. Word has it that Kerr instigated his two-match ban to spend more time fine-tuning his pitch. Worsfold in going to be pissed.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Polo pops out

Richmond must this week decide whether to send Dean "did you see my debut?" Polo to the surgeon after his shoulder popped out of its socket again this weekend.

Polo ($244,100, ctr) returned to the field after the dislocation on Friday night, but he suffered the same injury in the pre-season, indicating it could be a long-term problem.

The Tigers are definitely going to lose hit-and-miss-but-mostly-miss forward Matthew Richardson for at least a week, maybe two, after the big guy's eyeball got mashed up in some friendly fire on Friday. Possible replacements include former Geelong forward Kent Kingsley, three-gamer Cleve Hughes or Nick's cousin Jack Riewoldt, who was close to a call-up last week.

Geelong captain Tom Harley, one of the best for the Cats' VFL side on the weekend, has made himself available for selection, while injured teammate Max Rooke also looks set to recover in time for the Cats' clash with Port Adelaide.

Another eyeing a return this week will be Fremantle middie Paul Hasleby (back soreness), while the out box could include names such as Essendon's Andrew Lovett and Brisbane's Cheynee Stiller.

Merv Gray.

Kerr-azy kid burns Brownlow bid

West Coast whiz Dan Kerr has taken his Brownlow Medal bid, ripped it up into little pieces, doused it in petrol and thrown a match in to the mix. You could piss on the pile to put it out, Dan, but let's face it - Charlie's not going home with you this year.

A high front-on bump against Melbourne Do-It-All-Man Cam Bruce has landed Kerr at Tuesday's sitting of the tribunal, where Freo's Michael Johnson was slapped with a four-week ban for a similar hit earlier this year.

You think he'd learn. After finishing runner-up in the Brownlow in 2005, Kerr was again one of the favourites last year until he dealt a low blow to Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell. Kerr was third-favourite this year but is sure to be ineligible after his hip-and-shoulder to Bruce's head.

What does it mean for DT coaches? Wait to see what the tribunal dishes out, but teams with trades to burn may be willing to show Kerr ($320,900 in round 8) the exit door if he attracts a lengthy ban.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ben and Brad beat bans

Blood trickling down Ben Holland's forehead and into his eyes saved the Demons defender at the AFL tribunal tonight*. It seems the blood stopped him seeing straight, causing Holland to high-five Brad Johnson's face. For his part, Johnson was today let off a charge of head-butting Holland.

Now, I'm a fan of the red and the blue, but if Holland had got Johnson suspended this week, subsequently forcing me to insert one of my crappy emergencies into my already-suspect DT forward line, the blood'd be gushing, not trickling, down Holland's face. As DT Talk resident bogan Troy would say: "It'd toughen the cunt up".

Elsewhere, all those brawling Blues and Pies are right to go after the tribunal socked 'em with fines, not suspensions.

Geelong coach Mark Thompson reckons outspoken Cat Paul Chapman will be right to go this week. The player most likely making way appears to be misfiring young gun Tom Hawkins.

Richmond has hinted that Nick Riewoldt's cousin Jack is primed for senior footy. He probably is, but remember the Ricky Petterd Rule: wait until after Thursday night's team announcements before doing anything.

Speaking of Nick Riewoldt, the saintliest Saint looms as a major trade target for coaches across the country this week after a couple of solid performances. Don't think the other coaches in your league didn't notice Jesse Smith's 100-point effort on the weekend either. The $90,000 Roo backman is this week's Rising Star nominee.

Oh, and finally, Melbourne spear-tackler Byron Pickett has been told to spend four weeks with Sandringham after he got pissed on Saturday night and skipped Sunday's game, for which he was an emergency. The only real surprise is that Pickett was the only drunk Demon on Sunday. The rest played like they were hung over.

* Say "tonight" like you're the high-pitched lead singer of a glam-rock band - think Kiss, or The Darkness if you're closer to 13 than 30 - and realise it's impossible to supress a grin. Told you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stat of the round: 21

That was the DT points difference between Hawthorn midfield duo Sam Mitchell (125) and Luke Hodge (104) in round 7. I know because, after an awfully close contest, the winner of this Sunday afternoon intra-club duel looked set to decide whether I won or lost my DT league game.

You see, I had Hodge and my opponent had Mitchell in what proved to be a tight tussle. (I followed it from my computer at work on the excellent FanFooty). Obviously Mitchell, who Hodge has previously admitted to having as captain of his own DT, won by a healthy margin in the end. But the gap between the pair for much of the match was rarely more than a fistful of points.

Other than to relate the tense final-player battle that decided my DT team's fate this week, this stat was chosen to ask coaches out there who they rate as the best midfield pairing in the AFL today. And we're talking DT-wise, of course. A lot of teams have got starting-to-sizzle Judd and gone-cold Kerr. Is old Westie and his apprentice, Dan Cross, a better pick? What about the Burgoyne double act? And, in reality, is there a case to be made for having two or more players from the one club selected across the centre, in defense, up front or in the ruck?


Merv Gray.

The Ricky Petterd Rule

All DT coaches worth their salt abide by this unspoken rule: never dip into your little bag of trades until after the teams are named on Thursday night. Better still, wait until just before lock-out on Friday arvo.

Ricky Petterd wrecked the weekend of a whole bunch of DT coaches who failed to follow this rule and snapped up the Melbourne rookie during the week. Those coaches couldn't resist the $50,000-$60,000 cash increase that Petterd promised after outstanding performances in his first two outings. Of course, hamstring soreness kept Petterd out of the Demons side and the DT coaches who drafted him in before Uncle Neale released his side were left with a big, fat hole in their midfield rotation.

So, coaches, adhere to the Ricky Petterd Rule and hold off on those trades, no matter how safe they seem, until Thursday night at the earliest.

This can, of course, be more difficult for the white-collar DT coach who has all-day access to the internet during office hours. What better way to wile away the afternoons than to scawl through the player lists, searching for the trade that's going to turn your pretenders into contenders?

The temptation to trade early can be overwhelming for these people. But there is a way: get yourself banned from the internet at work. To do this, simply send hugely offensive emails to your fellow employees, and "accidentally" cc management types.

If this doesn't work, download porn. And lots of it. Print some out and leave it lying around the water-cooler. You may be making your trades from the local library from now on, but at least you'll leave them until Friday, right? From this point on you live by the Ricky Petterd Rule: only touch the trade button after the teams are announced on Thursday night.

Merv Gray.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Solomon sinks, Baker bombs

Dream Team coaches who've been basking in the warm glow of Dean Solomon's improved DT form this season will have to bench the Fremantle defender this week after the tribunal ordered him to sit out the Dockers' match against Hawthorn.

The former Essendon player ($218,300, bac) has been rubbed out for kneeing Brisbane's Jason Roe.

Also at the tribunal, St Kilda tagger Steven Baker ($268,200, bac) was suspended for two weeks. The ban, of course, will come as no surprise to those DT coaches who picked the often-booked Baker. Such coaches factor time in the naughty corner into the decision to draft players like Baker. By "players like Baker", I mean those repeat offenders who keep Tuesday nights free for dates with tribunal panelist Wayne Schimmelbusch.

While we're speaking of Schimmelbusch, who has the silliest surname in the AFL today?

I'm betting about 90 per cent of the 21,724 DT coaches who picked West Coast youngster Llane Spaanderman did so soley for his surname.

Nominate players for the Wayne Schimmelbusch Award for Stupid Surnames by hitting the comment button below.

Merv Gray.

Stat of the round: 94

That was the highest individual DT score posted by Adelaide in its clash with Collingwood, making the Crows the only side that failed to crack the 100-point barrier on the weekend. Four other teams (Carlton, Sydney, the Kangaroos and Fremanlte) managed just one player in triple figures, while the club with the most 100-pointers was Essendon, which had seven. Goal-greedy Geelong had six players burst through the 100-point barrier, as did Collingwood and lowly Melbourne.

For the record, Simon Goodwin was the Crow that clocked 94 points. Shame on you, Adelaide, shame on you.