What an immature and unoriginal title. Don’t encourage that.
Before we could all say “How about those Swans?” BJ had officially POQ to the Bombers, but I dare say most of us had been expecting that for a long time.
I think the thing that sticks about this one regardless is that he’s gone to a cross-town rival. Often when a player of high stature changes club it’s due to bigger factors, such as wanting to go home (Judd) or a unique, new challenge in a totally new environment (Ablett; and I don’t mean to grade BJ up there with either of those two). Fans of those players’ first clubs won’t have to deal too much with the presence of those players throughout the season, considering the press in their respective states typically won’t go bananas about the Blues and the Suns. With BJ, however, it’s similar to the Luke Ball situation that’s still fresh in our minds: he’s left because he’d rather be at another club and he’s still right here in the heartland of the game. We’ll be seeing plenty of him in red and black, on game day and through every week of the season.
His heart obviously wasn’t in it at the Saints, and if it’s only going to take lax trade conditions to be the catalyst for you to leave then you really can POQ IMO FWIW. His loss isn’t going to cost us a premiership – that time has been and gone. (Although I do think had he stayed he’d probably be the only current senior player that was a realistic chance of being there the next time the Saints got close to the summit.)
Of course, that was easy to say going into the trade period. These were the heady days when we had pick 12 and were simply waiting to get 13 too as compensation. Idealistically, from a pool of talent that’s supposed to comprise a “super draft” the compensation pick alone could easily have given us another star for a decade – effectively meaning the number one pick in the 2002 draft was worth two very high picks spanning 20 years.
However, the recruiters went looking to balance the side’s age profile before anything else, trying to make amends for the several wasted drafts in the back end of the aughts (Sweeney, Howard, Heyne, Smith, etc.). Watters, via Pelchen and Bains, definitely stuck to the ethos of remaining competitive whilst rejuvenating the list.
Firstly, 21 year-old Tom Lee became the co-messiah alongside Rhys Stanley, by virtue of being a tall forward who is appropriately fair-haired. Of course, as per everything in the Watters era, he’s Western Australian. With Cripps leaving Swat needed to restore the balance and picked up Rich’s namesake after the appointment of Tony Micale in the coaching ranks. Then he grabbed his old Subiaco mate Trent Dennis-Lane just to be sure.
Tommy Lee came at the expense of pick 12, or, as it’s now described the Saints “flipped” pick 12 for picks 24 and 43 and got a young, mature-bodied forward who has seriously impressed in a premiership winning side in a quality state league. It also meant we’d taken a star forward from Claremont for the second season in a row, who by now must be pretty annoyed given the Saints took their 2011 premiership coach, too.
Which left us with pick 13 once the AFL got around to officially announcing it, after a week in which trading basically stopped as everyone was waiting for, you know, things to do stuff with. There’s not much point having that surplus week floating in there when clubs don’t even know for sure what players or picks they’re dealing with. A lot of people think that compensation picks shouldn’t even be there, and I assume we’ll be talking about altering the trade period as we do about the interchange structure for the next few years so get up and about for that debate.
We didn’t land the main target of a key backman after the Eagles played hard/annoying ball, but I feel there’s been a little undue criticism of Pelchen and co. from some supporters. And by “from some supporters”, I mean “on Saintsational”. There was effectively one key backman that was anywhere near the trade table, and the Eagles refused to put him on it. It’s not as if key backmen were lumbering around the Concrete Dome trying to the get the attention of the recruiting parties, and the club was well and truly offering overs for Brown too as part of the proposed Cale Hooker deal – the Bomber might have actually helped the Saints out on that one by backing out.
Missing out on Caddy hurt a little too, but again there was only one player of his potential like him floating around and the Cats had the Gaz compensation pick, which the Suns could hold off using until 2014. Again, there weren’t a whole lot of them on offer, and Ben Jacobs by all reports is a [deleted by legal department].
On top of Tom Lee, what the Saints did get was a very exciting ruck prospect, and another Tom to go with the new (co-)messiah, Simpkin, Ledger and Curren. Tom Hickey really could give Big Ben a run for his money for the number one ruck spot over the next few years and the wider footy community (i.e. BigFooty) didn’t seem to mind the Saints giving up a first round pick for him.
The acquisitions mean there’s now all of My Favourite Hair in the AFL, The Last Man to Have Captained the Saints to a Premiership of Any Kind, Big Rhys, Big Beau, Big Ben, Big Tom Hickey and Big Tom Lee legitimately pushing more selection in the side. (We’ll be waiting a bit longer for Big Jay Lever; hopefully he’s not another Big Blake McGrath or Big Barry Brooks.)
But they’re not really meant to be in the same side in 2013. These picks had a view to the next five-to-ten years, to fill that gap between the very senior players and the 19-20 year-olds who are still getting used to the bigger bodies and pace of the AFL. That doesn’t necessarily mean the new or younger guys are the ones being squeezed out – they’re also there to put pressure on spots in the side, an element the club was really lacking in until this past season.
Roo, Big Ben and Stanley – given, as Swat has said, the latter is arguably the structurally most important player in the side – would be the closest to locks for Round 1, 2013 at this early point in time.
Fitting Hickey into the same side as those three would be a tall order (OMG get it?), although increasingly I think Stanley is best suited to roaming the front half of the ground as a forward and only occasionally hanging out in the ruck.
This leaves out Kosi, but now that there’s an abundance of talls filling the ruck and forward spots if he can’t improve on his 2012 form, sadly, it’s hard to justify his place in the side given his age.
And back to Roo, he isn’t going to be around forever. If his knees keep giving him grief we might even be seeing him in the backline at times in the twilight of his career. Which brings us to using a first round selection on Lee.
If all goes to plan, Kosi and Wilkes will be depth players in 2013 and Lee will continue where he left off in the WAFL. He’s the one with more upside either way; if he finds himself in the team it would be great for his development, and if not then we simply have to remember he’s only 21 and by all accounts a different player to the one that got drafted by Adelaide four years ago, and use the magic words “young” and “potential”,
Questions of the dynamic of the forward line were brought up again with the late recruitment of TDL, which seemed to bemuse some given that there’s already Milne, Schneider, Terry and Ahmed buzzing around.
The forward line is very much split between the talls and smalls, with My Favourite Player Siposs the only senior-listed player who plays as a medium-sized forward. There’s every chance he’ll be playing as a utility through his career given his size, great hands and excellent disposal which leaves the rookie-listed Dunell (who certainly showed good signs when he was called up to the top level) as the only other likely medium-sized forward. However, with Gram’s dismissal yesterday, there’s immediately more scope for Siposs to play off half-back, and opens up a spot on the senior list the club might consider using to upgrade Dunell or the Jackson Ferguson, who has already spent a couple of years impressing at Sandy.
You could mention Wilkes too, who doesn’t play as a traditional tall at all times and could theoretically be used down back to free up a rebounding defender. But we’ve all seen that his form down back has been entirely ineffectual and he’s there to do the heavyweight stuff up forward.
So four smalls would seem like more than enough, but again, there’s a plan for a smooth succession in place. Milne and Schneider might only have one or two years left each, but TDL and Terry are both 24 and have experience at the top level and, if they continue to develop will be ready to take over. Likewise Ahmed, but like Lee amongst the talls has the upside of (more) youth.
Losing Cripps was something the club had no control over. It’s disappointing to lose a first round pick in those circumstances, but like BJ he obviously didn’t want to be there. His insistence that he only be traded to the Eagles, despite saying that he was leaving to go back home to WA, was very frustrating and prompted my brother to call him a little [deleted by legal department].
We got picks 41 and 44 for him, so considering the Eagles weren’t going to let Brown go unless they really got something out of it (which they didn’t consider Cripps to be) I was glad we managed to get two picks in the early 40s from them for an uncontracted player that had already moved back to Perth before a deal had been done.
St Kilda goes into the draft with picks 25, 26, 41, 44, and 77. There’s also the delisted players’ free agency period upon us, and the we might yet make a play for Tom Gillies from the Cats to fill that spot in defence. The failure to get Brown wasn’tgoing to make or break the fortunes of a 2013 premiership tilt – we should acknowledge that was unlikely either way. For now, we look to the strategic selections of Lee and Hickey, and further to the national draft, for the faces that we hope will take over the reigns of a competitive St Kilda side in the coming years.