A premiership rise has been sparked by dominance of the premiership quarter by the AFL’s “best coach”.
Plus why North Melbourne, in an 11-game losing skid, doesn’t deserve league help just yet, how a “potential Brownlow medallist” was traded away and more.
The big issues from Round 13 of the 2022 AFL season analysed in Talking Points!
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WOEFUL TRADE WITH ‘FUTURE BROWNLOW MEDALLIST’ NOW LOOKING EVEN WORSE
It was a trade that looked awful at the time. It somehow looks worse in retrospect.
Gold Coast “traded away the potential 2022 Brownlow medallist” in its infamous 2017 deal that saw it swap Pick 2 for Lachie Weller, according to Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes.
That’s because the Dockers nabbed Andrew Brayshaw with that selection, with the young midfielder now emerging as a key component of the side’s charge into premiership contention.
At the time the deal was a shocker, mostly because the Suns had no leverage. Weller was the rare player seeking a trade to the Gold Coast; it came right after Jaeger O’Meara, Dion Prestia and Adam Saad had left, and the year before Steven May and Tom Lynch departed.
As then-Foxfooty.com.au senior AFL writer Jake Niall wrote of the Dockers requesting Pick 2 for Weller, “the view of rival clubs was along the lines of John McEnroe’s most famous utterance: ‘You cannot be serious.’”
But the Suns eventually gave in, and while Weller has been a solid player, Brayshaw has turned into arguably the best player of the 2017 draft – Aaron Naughton, Zac Bailey, Tim Kelly, Sam Taylor and No.1 pick Cam Rayner are the other contenders.
Showing off behind-the-goals vision of Brayshaw running hard to force a turnover during the thrilling win over Hawthorn, Cornes was full of praise for the emerging superstar.
“They’ve traded away the potential 2022 Brownlow medallist,” he said on the Sunday Footy Show.
“He’s getting massive numbers, like 37 disposals again yesterday (against Hawthorn), but his workrate here is why he’s the next captain of Fremantle.
“He had 13 in the last quarter, he’s gonna win the coaches’ votes, he potentially could win the Brownlow, and imagine him in Gold Coast colours.
“Some trades can ruin your club. Not saying it’s ruining Gold Coast, but it’s having a massive impact.”
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd was full of praise for Brayshaw, who he dealt with at a private high school in Melbourne.
“He’s a culture-changer. I was fortunate enough to have Andy at Haileybury, he changed the whole culture of our school football program,” Lloyd said.
“Everyone cared about the NAB League – he said, let’s make it about Haileybury. If you’re good enough you’ll get drafted from anywhere, so if you don’t want to play for Haileybury go, we don’t want you, and that’s also what they’ve (the Suns) lost.
“He’s just an outstanding person.”
THE STAR GWS CAN ‘AFFORD TO LOSE’… AND WHY IT WOULD SPARK A BIDDING FRENZY
He’s one of the most talented on-ballers on the Giants’ list, but there’s a “good chance” Tim Taranto returns to Victoria next season, according to Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph.
And if Taranto is keen to find a new footy home, St Kilda champion Leigh Montagna believes the Giants’ list is so well placed the club could probably afford to lose the gun midfielder.
Taranto, who claimed the Giants’ best and fairest award in their Grand Final year of 2019, is out of contract at season’s end and remains, arguably, the club’s biggest contract priority.
AFL Media reported last month Taranto was keen to get through the early part of the 2022 season before diving into any contract decision, with the Giants keen to step up talks.
But Ralph reported in the Herald Sun last week that Taranto was now likely to hold off on a new deal until late in the season.
That move, no doubt, will pique the interest of multiple Victorian clubs, who’ll no doubt be interested in a player like Taranto, who has the unique mix of being a tough inside ball-winner that can also push forward to hit the scoreboard.
Complicating matters for the Giants is they reportedly can’t afford to re-sign both Taranto and fellow inside mid Jacob Hopper – and the latter is tied to the club until the end of 2023.
Speaking on Fox Footy on Thursday night, Ralph said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Taranto move to a Melbourne-based club next season in a move that could help the Giants rebalance their list and their salary cap.
“I think it’s a likely chance,” Ralph told Fox Footy.
“He’s out of contract … they’re probably a little bit over the salary cap, as most good clubs are.”
Taranto, 24, has been a mainstay of the Giants’ on-ball brigade since being selected by the club with Pick 2 in the 2016 draft.
But Tom Green has emerged as a genuine contested ball player, while Josh Kelly has shown big improvement at the contest and Stephen Coniglio is having his best season in three years.
Asked if the Giants list could withstand a Taranto departure, Montagna told Fox Footy: “I really like their list going forward and I think they can do without him.
“We know he’s a wonderful player, but they’ve got Tom Green and Hopper, Coniglio – who’s getting somewhere back to near his best – and Josh Kelly, who’s a very good inside mid.
“They probably can afford to lose him and just try and fix up their front half.”
Montagna later added: “I think the Giants can surprise a few teams next year with a new coach.”
‘AFL’S BEST COACH’ MASTERMINDS DOMINANCE OF PREMIERSHIP QUARTER
Fremantle’s Justin Longmuir is currently the best coach in the AFL, according to triple-premiership Lion Jonathan Brown – and his side’s dominance of the ‘premiership quarter’ is a sign Brown is right.
Longmuir has led the much-improved Dockers brilliantly in 2022, with the club surging into flag contention to currently sit third on the ladder with a 10-3 record.
It’s impressively come without skipper and dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe for the most part, having only just returned from injury in Saturday’s win over Hawthorn.
Perhaps what’s stood out most with Fremantle though is its reliable system and players buying in to team ethos to allow it to overcome injuries to key stars through stages.
Now in his third year at the helm, Longmuir has helped his side grow in each season as the club and its fans are now daring to dream about what it could accomplish this September.
And while the likes of Carlton’s Michael Voss and Collingwood’s Craig McRae have earned plaudits for the jobs they’ve done in 2022, Brown thinks Longmuir is coaching better than any of his counterparts right now.
“I think Justin Longmuir at the moment is the best coach in the AFL, he’s been fantastic. I know Simon Goodwin won a premiership last year,” the Brisbane great said on Fox Footy.
“The job he’s done is magnificent. We speak to people in the industry, some of the key analysts who know these coaches, who work with them closely. They say he explains the numbers to his team better than anyone. He breaks it down, he explains it.
“He’s on track to be coach of the year.”
Longmuir’s brilliance can be seen in his halftime adjustments, and in how well his charges take those messages and turn them into scoreboard impact.
In three consecutive games Fremantle has trailed at halftime but led by three-quarter-time, most famously against Melbourne.
Dockers’ Q3 turnarounds (margin)
Round 11 v Melbourne: -25 at halftime, +17 at 3QT
Round 12 v Brisbane: -1 at halftime, +17 at 3QT
Round 13 v Hawthorn: -10 at halftime, +14 at 3QT
Of course, the fact the Dockers haven’t led a game at halftime since Round 8 against North Melbourne is a slight concern.
“Glass half-full – if they can fix that up (trailing at halftime), they’re going to be really hard to beat,” Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes said on AFL Media’s The Round So Far.
“You wouldn’t want to rely on that (turnaround ability) later on in the year.”
But if the third quarter really is the ‘premiership quarter’ as the old cliche goes, the Dockers are dominating when it matters.
NORTH DOESN’T DESERVE HELP YET SAYS CLUB CHAMP
Dual premiership Kangaroo David King doesn’t believe his ailing former club deserves a priority pick or AFL assistance just yet.
The Kangaroos’ 49-point loss to GWS on Sunday was their 11th in a row, seeing them move closer to their longest single-season losing streak since 1971, when they lost 15 on the trot.
With their sole win for the season coming against a West Coast side that was forced into 13 changes due to Covid, the Roos have recorded two double-digit losing streaks in the last few seasons, along with a 16-game losing skid across late 2020 and early 2021.
But King would not support North Melbourne putting in a submission for AFL help.
“I don’t. I don’t think you should get a priority pick unless you’re bottom four for, say, four years,” he said on Fox Footy’s Thursday night coverage.
“I don’t think you can, by your own decision-making processes, create your own demise and then put your hand up for a priority pick. There’s got to be sustained failure before the AFL jumps in.
“You’ve got to have it legislated, that there’s no arguing. You can’t have random cases every three years.”
The Kangaroos won 10 games in the 2019 season, finishing 12th, before their current run of bottom-four finishes which looks certain to be extended this year.
HOW DO THE ROOS STACK UP?
Gold Coast 2019 (four picks including Pick 1 that year): 13-53 in previous three seasons, 9 years no finals
Brisbane 2016 (end of first-round pick): 14-52 in previous three seasons, 7 years out of finals
North Melbourne 2022: 8-1-43 in three seasons (so far), 5.5 years out of finals
North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio told Foxfooty.com.au last week: “Like the salary cap and the draft, priority picks have been used as an effective equalisation tool by the AFL, so I understand the interest in us applying for them, especially given the history of picks awarded to several other clubs in similar or better positions to us currently.”
“However, we remain positive and haven’t given up on the prospect of securing some wins.
“I know the players and coaches are working their butts off and we’re looking forward to getting some players back and seeing some development from our talented youngsters in the backhalf.”
‘TREAT ME LIKE A FIRST-GAMER’: RETURNING FYFE’S MESSAGE TO TEAMMATES
Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe made his much anticipated season debut in Saturday’s win over Hawthorn after some 321 days on the sidelines.
It was a successful return from the dual Brownlow medallist, who gathered 22 disposals, had 10 score involvements and booted a memorable goal that sent Dockers fans into raptures at Optus Stadium, splitting his time between midfield and forward as Freo improved to 10-3.
Triple-premiership Lion Jonathan Brown said on Fox Footy’s Best on Ground that Fyfe “worked his way into the game” in the second half, noting it would’ve taken him some time to hit his straps.
It came after there’d been plenty of questions leading into Fyfe’s return about how he would integrate with the much-improved Dockers despite clearly being a champion of the game.
And speaking to Fox Footy post-match, the veteran star revealed he was happy to just play his role for the team wherever required.
“I said to Caleb (Serong) and Andy (Brayshaw) ‘Treat me like a first-gamer, tell me where to go and set me up’,” Fyfe said.
“And they did that. They told me where to set up at stoppages and that was a nice feeling.
“It’s good to be back, it’s been a long time and our young team has really developed in front of us hasn’t it.
“It’s good to see so many fans come out to our games, it’s a cultural experience now and it’s good to be a part of it.”
Indeed a lot has changed since Fyfe’s last AFL game in Round 19 last year, with the Dockers surging into flag contention in 2022 to currently sit third on the ladder.
The 30-year old has undergone shoulder and back operations over the last seven months to stall his season debut, while he even revealed he dislocated his finger during last week’s WAFL return.
But it clearly would’ve taken a lot to deny Fyfe his AFL comeback as the Dockers now enjoy a week off ahead of their Round 14 bye.
Fyfe said he pulled up well after the Hawks game, but admitted he’d soak up the extra recovery time.
“I’m still warm so everything still feels pretty good, I reckon tomorrow morning I’ll be a bit stiff through knees and shoulders, but touch wood I got through OK,” Fyfe said.
“We get four or five days off now, I’ll be in the ice bath for most of that four or five days but it is a good position to be in, we have given ourselves a chance.”
It comes after Fyfe told Fox Footy’s On the Couch during the week he was likely to play predominately forward after a “humbling” 11 months on the sidelines, warning fans it’d take him some time to get up to speed.
And former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley praised Fyfe’s attitude as he moves towards the latter parts of his career.
“He kicked that goal and he had a big smile on his face. He seems like a bloke to me that has been able to smell the roses as he’s gone along, not projected too far (ahead),” Buckley said.
“He’s been able to enjoy his journey, but even more so now with the realisation that it’s not going to last forever.”
St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt added: “When you look your football mortality square in the face… he spoke to On the Couch about the fact that he was broken physically, he couldn’t do the most basic things, he couldn’t go for a run.
“When you think, ‘oh geez this could all end really quickly,’ then the rest of your career becomes a bit of a bonus. He’s playing like it and it looks like it.”