31. Jackson Ramsay
Was instantly impressive when he first took the field at VFL level, finding the ball at will within the first quarter before breaking his wrist and missing the next two months of football. When he did return, he was solid once more and whilst it became apparent that he needs to clean up his kicking, he shows a genuine taste for the physical stuff and has a healthy dose of pace to round his game out.
Fortunately, his kicking issues appear to be founded more in decision making that technique. I’m hopeful that once he settles some more, the options will become more readily apparent. Prior to drafting he was quite professional in his preparation, doing the extra hards at the gym to accelerate his physical development. This no doubt played a part in getting him drafted, but like all first year players he needs more size and a boost of strength through the hips.
He won’t die wondering, as he hits every contest hard and with intent. When a paddock opens he’s willing to use it, but the next step in his development would be to start creating his own space. Given what I saw in year one, I’m reasonably confident that we’ll see Ramsay debut at some stage next year if he maintains his current course. If Heath Shaw departs, many we’ll be looking expectantly in Ramsay’s direction.
32. Travis Cloke
After all the drama of last year, Travis enjoyed one of his best seasons at the club despite how our team fared overall. To date his best year came in 2011, but he bounced back after a poor year this season to fall just short of his goal tally in 2011, despite generating more scoring shots. As much as we grew frustrated and impatient with Cloke last year, his importance to the team is clear in any given contest.
It has to be said that Trav suffered for lack of a genuine sidekick for much of the season. When things broke down further up the ground or the opposition got on top, Trav found himself sitting under high balls with three opponents hanging off him. Despite how difficult it was for him at times, his work rate remained admirable and even when things weren’t clicking, he often created goals for others.
Given his inaccuracy and the fact that he’s also an aerobic beast despite being one of the more formidable forwards in the league, I wouldn’t mind seeing us release him to work his man over a little more. This can have some drawbacks, as Cloke isn’t the best user of the ball when marking along the wings, but even if we use him to generate some give-and-go we might be able to create some genuine one out chances for our other forwards.
There’s also the possibility of Cloke working over his man and doubling back, a method that Riewoldt has used to great effect throughout his career. All of this depends of course on who is going to form the one-two punch with Trav next year.
If we can get our forward structure settled, then Cloke is the first person who stands to benefit. Despite his wayward kicking – which won’t improve by much at this stage – he remains one of the best key forwards in the league and would have walked away with the Coleman had he just converted a few more routine opportunities.
33. Jackson Paine
I honestly don’t quite know what to make of Jackson at this point in time, nor where he sits in the grand scheme of things at the Westpac Centre. As mentioned previously, I felt he was more than a little unlucky not to have been given another shot at senior level early in the year, after putting together a solid month of goal kicking football at the lesser grade. He was overlooked and whilst he picked up other areas of his game as the season progressed, his goal kicking dried up.
There has been continual discussion regarding just how tall Paine is since he arrived at the club, ranging from 191 to a seemingly confirmed 194cm earlier in the year. Watching him play, you wouldn’t rank him among the more imposing big men, yet he also isn’t the quickest across the park. In a sense, Paine seems to fall somewhere between the cracks: he’s a very solid mark, but doesn’t have the size or reach advantage that would make AFL quality key defenders sweat; on the other hand, he doesn’t have the agility or pace to compensate on the deck or get separation on the lead.
He lets himself down at times by not being clean enough when collecting off the deck, although he has suffered from some poor delivery since joining the club. Even though we improved significantly at VFL level this year, our last kick inside 50 remained an issue.
Not to sell him short, as he does some very good things and at times, even looks a rung above VFL level. He times his leads reasonably well and always presents with intent, crunching packs if he’s unable to mark. One out he’s always more than half a chance to pluck the mark and if he does have to resort to gathering the ball off the deck, he generally sums up his surroundings quite well and often demonstrate excellent vision to setup others.
By no means am I writing him off, as my preference would actually be to keep him since we’re currently shallow in the key forward stakes. Of course, this may change during the off-season and I suspect that Paine’s future is tied to who we are confident of bringing to the club. I wouldn’t mind seeing Paine drop some size and slim out a tad, just to see if that can improve his mobility. When drafted, I was hoping he might become our own version of Jack Darling, but he’s just short of the mobility and probably and a helping of talent. He could still potentially fill this role, just in a more blue collar manner.
If he was to depart, we shouldn’t move him lightly as there are bound to be a few clubs out there who could use a player of his ilk.
34. Alan Toovey
As with some others, there’s not too much to report on Toovey as his season ended on ANZAC Day. Up to that point however, he was one of our most consistent performers and as part of a defensive outfit that was often exposed – individually and as a unit – he was about the only member not to have his lowers coloured.
Many hailed the loss of Toovey as disastrous, and they were absolutely right. The player who I was once convinced would never make it; the gangly possum-eyed utility whose presence at senior level had me questioning Malthouse’s sanity for a while there; is now well and truly one of our most important players.
A difficult year was made a little brighter when Tooves put pen to paper and extended his contract.
35. Brodie Grundy
Speaking of silver linings, do they come any brighter than Brodie Grundy?
When we brought Witts to the club via the scholarship scheme and he turned a few heads – including my own – with some promising performances at VFL level, most who had watched him gave thanks to whoever hands out the ruck fortune above. Not in our wildest dreams did we imagine that, in no time at all, another youngster would emerge to overtake both he and Jolly.
Having spent the first half of the year recovering from stress fractures in his back, most had put a pencil through our first draft selection of last year. I mean, who wouldn’t? Big men take time and we were talking about an 18 year old on the comeback trail from a back injury, without a proper preseason under his belt. It didn’t take long however for Grundy to start making some noise on suburban grounds.
Once he debuted in round 18 against the GWS Giants, he never left the team and even kept Jolly out of the side, the youngster in some part stamping the papers of our premiership ruckman. “Happy Birthday Collingwood” was the live commentary during the draft when Hine damn near fell over himself trying to read out Grundy’s name and after just seven games, I understand why.
In Grundy we’ve got a ruck who looks a natural with his tapwork – despite needing some refinement like all young rucks – and follows up his ruck work with not only aggression, but an ability to win the ball cleanly and use it constructively. From all reports he’s a bit of a different cat, but what impresses me most is that he’s clearly a thinking footballer and has, like Pendlebury, benefitted from his basketball background.
There were a few times in his handful of games where he delayed a handpass, or weighted it perfectly into the space that a teammate was going to run into. He looks composed and didn’t need too long to get comfortable with the tempo, being prepared to hold onto the ball in traffic to see how things unfold. Most players hang off ruckmen in order to force them to use it, but the glimpses of creativity by hand that we’ve seen from Grundy thus far might just make the opposition reconsider.
Above all else though, it is the fact that Grundy held his own – even got on top – against some quality ruckmen. He wasn’t gifted an easy run home, facing off against all of Cox, Bellchambers, Mumford, Ryder and Goldstein. Goldstein was probably the only one to get a hold of Grundy, and that only occurred in the second half when the young man tired. After another preseason, he’ll stay in the game for longer.
Grundy was by far one of the best things to come out of 2013 and could very well go down as one of the best draft coups we’ve ever had. He’s already cult hero material and he’ll give the rising star award a shake next year if he avoids injury.
36. Dane Swan
I was extremely critical of Swan in the first half of the year, as he just looked well off the pace and most critically of all, didn’t look to be holding up his end defensively. As the season progressed however, he improved from week to week to recapture his best form and once more give the Brownlow one hell of a shake. The end of the season saw Swan disclose his need for a wrist reconstruction, explaining some of his struggles throughout the year and once again reminding supporters – namely me in this case – that things aren’t always as they appear.
Bung wrist or not, Swan finished the year strongly and held up his end against some quality opposition. He was a rare winner in our loss against Port, sparking our comeback in the third quarter and causing headaches for Hinkley playing out of the forward line.
Swan is a deceptive footballer and we’re unlikely to ever encounter another player like him. He never looks super trim, yet you would back him to overpower, outsprint or simply outwork most of his counterparts. The fleetest of foot will have him for pace but be shaded by his strength; the benchpress kings would get outpointed and left for dead once the contest spilled. He’s not the most fashionable player, he doesn’t glide and his kicking is mallet-to-melon stuff rather than poetry in motion, but the sum of all his parts makes him unstoppable at best and an extremely difficult match-up at worst.
At both VFL and AFL level our interchange rotations have been out of sync and this is the one area that Swan benefits from the most. We need to put in a lot of work and get this right during the preseason and early next year, for the benefit of all of our players and Swan in particular.
The move of Swan to the forward line looks like it could prolong his career for a few more years, if he has the desire to keep going. As much as I like this move, I did feel that we left him out of the action a little too long at times. He was a little suspect defensively at times, which played some part in the move, but I think Buckley can perfect the balance a little better heading forward.
37. Kyle Martin
Broke into the senior team in round 10, playing four games on the trot before a quiet outing against Port Adelaide – in which he wasn’t alone – saw him dropped back to the VFL. Acknowledging the murmurs coming out of the club about him needing to work on aspects of his game, by the end of the year I felt the selectors got it wrong by not giving him more senior opportunity.
I personally would have brought him into the side for Blair at stages this year, since Blair was persisted with throughout some lengthy form slumps. I felt Martin could have performed a similar role as a part time midfielder/forward and may have just given us a little more than Blair did in both roles. I can say with confidence that he is comfortably a better finisher.
His performances throughout the year at VFL level were exceptional, occasionally returning the sort of numbers that were mind boggling. During the first half of the year, he was bursting through the 30 disposal barrier whilst usually kicking multiple goals. There is a decent balance in his game, as he’s capable of getting in-and-under and notching up contested ball and tackles, but also knows how to link up and is especially adept at slipping forward at the perfect time.
He’s also a breath of fresh air when lining up the big sticks, just about a sure thing from a set shot and not too shabby when hooking around his body on the move.
The second half of the year saw Martin get increasingly tagged, with his frustrations beginning to spill over a little during our elimination final loss to Port Melbourne. Even though his numbers dipped as a result of the close attention, he was able to give us something when playing out of the forward line or simply by bobbing up whenever we needed a goal. His disposal count dropped, but he remained a factor near goal and is also a reliable ‘tackle grunt.’
There has been some unconfirmed word circulating that Adelaide – shut out of the upcoming national draft – have offered Martin a three year deal. I could understand if K-Mart was a little frustrated with the lack of opportunity that came his way this year, but I sincerely hope we keep him at the club.
38. Peter Yagmoor
I was critical of Yagmoor for much of last year and his demotion of sorts to the rookie list was expected by most. He showed plenty of promise early and his left boot was particularly impressive, but after being overawed in his debut against Hawthorn in 2012, he returned to the VFL for most of the season, looking timid a lot of the time.
By the end of last year, I didn’t hold out much hope for Yagmoor, but I have to admit to being reasonably pleased with the progress he has made this year.
I wouldn’t declare him a certainty to stay on the list, since being dropped to the rookie list and given the performance of our latest crop of rookies, he finds himself in a very precarious situation. His form over the year wasn’t dominant enough to guarantee his future at Collingwood, but he did appear to make some important inroads.
He doesn’t lack for courage – as he competes willingly in the air – but aggression doesn’t appear to come naturally to Yags. This holds him back a little, since mongrel is often the difference between whether a defender makes it or not at AFL level. Although he has a worrying tendency to send at least one out on the full each game, his kicking can still be a real asset and he looked to find a little more composure this year.
Last year for instance, you would have been forgiven for thinking that his kicking was possibly his biggest weakness, as despite his potential range he was missing targets all over the shop.
I thought he looked good during the small amount of game time he was given during the NAB Cup and when he is striking his kicks nicely, he is conspicuous amongst a playing list that lacks kicking prowess. I felt he was one of our better players in our final against Port Melbourne, being possibly our most prominent defender when repelling Port’s forward thrusts. He wasn’t super constructive with the ball, but he did well to buy us plenty of territory when the wind was at his back.
I remain completely oblivious as to what direction we’re going to take with Yagmoor. The draft is apparently fairly shallow this year, which could work in his favour. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving him one more year on the rookie list, where he’ll hopefully grab the opportunity with both hands. If he comes good, he could be a real weapon coming off half-back.
39. Heath Shaw
Along with Thomas, Heater ranks as the most talked about Pie in the immediate aftermath of our season. As each day passes, it is looking increasingly likely that Shaw will follow his brother’s footsteps and finish his career elsewhere. Much has been made about Shaw’s shortcomings during our loss to Port Adelaide, but when considering the entire year, it is the fact that his first quarter incident with Monfries was not an isolated incident that has resulted in the current situation more than anything else.
He has selfishly given up goals to the opposition in many games due to poor discipline. The one I remember most vividly was the free kick he gifted to Jordan Lewis in our first clash with Hawthorn, at a time when we were on top and monopolising the ball.
It wasn’t all terrible for Heater though, as he enjoyed some very good games including a brilliant twilight effort against the Bulldogs. Heater intercepted just about everything in that game, providing plenty of drive going the other way.
When at his best, he is a brilliant footballer and one you can rely upon to turn the tide or spark his teammates with the sort of efforts that only a loose cannon like Shaw can conjure. At his worst, he is incredibly frustrating. He suffered from our structure breaking down and simply doesn’t have the maturity or temperament to handle the opposition getting into his face or making him accountable, especially on the last line.
Buckley released Shaw a fair bit in 2012 but didn’t have the same luxury in 2013 after losing Toovey. Buckley needs to shoulder some responsibility for not utilising Heater to the best possible advantage, I remain of the opinion that Heater needs to take ownership of the bulk of his struggles this year.
I don’t take the possibility of Shaw leaving lightly, since you know that he’ll be an asset to any team currently within a premiership window. Since he is still contracted, if he does leave we absolutely must get top dollar.
And no matter how we’re compensated, it will be a sad day all the same.
40. Paul Seedsman
I’ve been on the Seedsman bandwagon since about his third or fourth VFL game, when he showed the sort of moxie that boded well for a creative player. On the back of some of his better moments during the NAB Cup – namely his first half against West Coast – 2013 looked like it was going to be a breakout year for Seedy.
Unfortunately, by the end of it he probably fell just shy of meeting the expectations – some of them admittedly lofty – that we had on him. I was hoping that by this stage he would be an undeniable lock in the senior side, but he’s still operating within the fringes for mine. His ability by foot certainly elevates his chances, as I would persist with him across half-back above the likes of Sinclair for example, but he does need to round out his game.
When he returned to the side against West Coast a fortnight out from the finals, he played with a desperation that stood out above even his kicking ability. He looked like a player hungry to cement his spot and taste finals, carrying that form somewhat into the following week against North where he was less notable, but stood under a couple of high balls to take some good grabs whilst receiving contact.
Against Port, he was disappointing and like a few of our youngsters, was overwhelmed by the occasion. This isn’t disastrous, since plenty of players – including one Dayne Beams – have bounced back from poor performances in finals, but the experience and disappointment needs to remain the most vivid source of motivation for Seedsman over the coming preseason.
His best game was his mid-year performance against Brisbane, where he not only found plenty of it and used it exceptionally well, but also took quite a few important grabs down back. He stands at a good height (189cm) and whilst we know that he can carry the ball and be damaging with his ball use, if he can continue to work on his aerial game he’ll become even more important to our team.
Even though not everything came together for Seedsman this year, he still made some good progress and looks to be heading in the right direction at least. If he can maintain the required intensity from week to week, bridging the gap some more between style and substance, he’ll find himself firmly entrenched in the senior side in 2014.