AFL Power Rankings (Round 1)

Watts wrong with him?

Melbourne passing on Nic Naitanui and selecting the young man from Brighton Grammar, Jack Watts, headlined the 2008 AFL Draft.

Both were scouted as key position players, one a forward and the other a ruckman, who you could possibly build a team around.

One player has wowed the footy world and shows maturity and improvement on nearly a weekly basis. The other stagnated at his key forward post and tossed to the backline as a sweeping halfback.

Some vocal Melbourne supporters and past players, like David Schwarz, tipped Jack Watts to have his most consistent year yet. On Sunday at the MCG he was lethargic and not engaged in the contest. As a halfback flanker, he finished with an unacceptable 7 disposals.

Here lies the problem for Watts and the Melbourne footy club. There is a wealth of effective half back flankers in the AFL and as Richmond has shown with Bachar Houli, they come cheap. For Melbourne to be wasting their number one pick in this position is counterproductive for the team and for Watts.

In his fifth year, it’s time for Watts to move to a key position post where he can pick up the good habits of accountability, responsibility and hard work.

Team of the week: It seems like a long time ago the Bombers knocked off the Crows in the season opener. Facing the aggressive off-field scrutiny, James Hird and Jobe Watson led their troops wonderfully to an impressive road win.

Team of the weak:  No surprises here. Pick whatever adjective you like to describe the Melbourne footy club. To lose by 79 points at home against a lowly interstate team is insipid.


2013 Power Rankings (Round 1)

1. Sydney (–) : Not a bad way for the reigning premiers to ease into the season with the young Giants and then the Suns. Big Mummy (Shane Mumford) looks near his belligerent best with 25 hit outs and 4 scoring shots. Can’t see the Swans falling down the rankings anytime soon.

2. Collingwood (+1): As I noted in the first power rankings, Collingwood has the most depth in the league, and they showed why against the Kangaroos. Dayne Beams and Heath Shaw’s late withdrawals somehow didn’t disrupt the Collingwood machine. No other team truly embodies the “one man goes down, another man steps up” mantra more than the Pies.

3. Geelong (-1): The Cats extend the Kennett curse to 10. Joel Selwood’s play was unconscious in the second half as he burrowed in the packs and froze Hawthorn’s midfield. The so-called “end of an era” down at the cattery is just a myth.

4. Fremantle (+3): Tough, committed, disciplined and top four contenders. Ross Lyon’s Dockers surgically dissected an undermanned West Coast Eagles. Danyle Pearce, one of the underrated recruits of the year, and Stephen Hill roaming the wings is a terrifying sight. Lyon teams just don’t beat themselves.

5. West Coast (-1): Another luckless start to their season campaign. The only obstacle denying the Eagles a top four spot is injuries. Add Mark Lecras (again) and Eric Mackenzie to the injury list with Nic Naitanui, Daniel Kerr and Matt Rosa. Adam Selwood is the ultimate role player as he smothered Hayden Ballantyne (subbed off in the last) into submission.

6. Hawthorn (+2): Hawthorn is the first team since 2001 to lose a match after having 39 first half inside 50s. While the Kennett-curse lingers, the Hawks are nowhere near full strength and shouldn’t be to concerned with a mere loss in round one. Bradley Hill’s first half run and creativity across half-forward and Ryan Schoenmakers’ clutch defensive work were positives.

7. Richmond (+4): The monkey is off the back, just. While the Tigers’ last quarter collapse was worrying and a mirror of the 2012 Tigers, at this time of year, four points is all that matters. It’s the first time in nine tries that the Tigers have won when Jack Riewoldt has been held goalless. The Tigers have two very winnable games coming up against St. Kilda and the Western Bulldogs.

8. North Melbourne (+1): The Scott-Buckley feud has blanketed a disappointing showing by North. If Kieran Harper isn’t finding the ball as the high half-forward and drawing defenders away from his three key forwards than North’s forward line becomes clustered and sometimes stagnant.

9. Carlton (-3): Carlton threw the gauntlet and nearly broke the hearts of Tiger fans in the second half by attacking the corridor and abandoning Mick’s boundary hugging system. Despite a change of senior coach and a fitter list, the Blues’ key forward stocks are still a concern as they move forward.

10. Essendon (+8): The northern press might have included the Bombers in their AFL witch-hunt but Hirdy’s men were big winners in the season opener. Jobe Watson was simply a ball-hunting machine against the Crows and he is the favourite to go back-to-back as the Brownlow Medalist. Brendan Goddard made an understated debut but showed his value with a telling clutch goal.

11. Adelaide (-1): Without the versatile Kurt Tippet, the Crows are one-dimensional in attack. While its been just one game, the winning formula against Adelaide looks dangerously simple- smother Patrick Dangerfield in the middle and collapse your defence on the aspiring caravan owner Tex Walker.

12. Port Adelaide (+2): Ken Hinkley has stripped back the circus act and is drilling the fundamentals into his men. Oliver Wines’ 24 disposals, seven inside 50s and one goal in a winning team on debut should be rewarded with the round one Rising Star Nomination.

13. Western Bulldogs (+4): Get used to hearing these two names in tandem: Liberatore and Wallis. Brett Goodes following the modern footy tradition of mature age recruits proving more valuable than some highly touted first round picks. 19.13.127 is the Bulldog’s highest posted score since round 22, 2011. They only passed 100 points or more twice last season.

14. Gold Coast Suns (+1): Gary Ablett Jr. has put a strong case forward of being the superior player to his champion old man. Jr. is the most complete midfielder of the modern era as he finishes around goal better than Chris Judd in his prime and is more dynamic than the big four of Voss, Buckley, Hird and Harvey. He could kick 50-60 goals this season.

15. Brisbane (-10): No more summer loving for the Lions. They conceded 19 goals to a team that ranked 16th in 2012 for goals scored. Matt Maguire’s succumbs to injury… again.

16. St Kilda (-3): Sometimes the Ablett-show gets all too much but the Saints can only blame themselves for their poor execution. The Saints are not at full strength but at the moment their list is unbalanced for the short-term. Only 10 players on the list are between the age of 23-26 years old and 10 players are in the 29+ bracket. Expect them to regroup and claw their way higher in the rankings in weeks to come.

17. Greater Western Sydney (-5): GWS threatened in bursts against their Harbour City rivals but they just lacked the surety of experienced heads to really scare Sydney. Kevin Sheedy promised after the game that the Giants are a superior and more attacking team than from last year.

18. Melbourne (-2): Things can only get better from here, right? Colin Sylvia still flushing away his talent at Melbourne is as puzzling as first gamer Jack Viney addressing the team after the game. The debutant has Melbourne blood streaming in him and the 138 game veteran seems satisfied by the paycheck.


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