Geel+GC Suns 2011


Brief Summary:  No longer top 4 certs but 14 wins and 4th.  More rigorous 2011 pre season may help.    (actual at end of season = 19 wins and 2nd  before the finals)



More Detail:   The easy analysis days of plonking the Cats first or second have gone. It’s still possible for them to finish that high, but it is no longer a dead cert.  First, the bad news.  They were flogged by the Pies in last year’s prelim and now have lost Ablett, Thompson and McCartney.  Their draw is worse this year with an extra road trip (6 including 2 to Perth this year vs 5 and 2 to Perth on 2010).  And they have plenty of players injured or underdone to begin 2011.  That reads like a reason to drop out of the eight.  But there are positives and these should ensure that the regular season is not a tale of woe.  Firstly, Mark Thompson trialled an elongated rest for his team after the 2009 Grand Final win.  It appeared to be working for most of the season but the Cats but their form tapered off in the second half of 2010.  That said, they finished 2010 home and away with the best percentage of ~ 148 (compared to Pies 142, Dogs 125 and Saints 122). The late start to the 2010 pre season will probably serve them well for 2011.  The risk is for them to get their best players back of the park soon enough.  If they can recover quickly, a final 4 spot looms and a likely qualifying final in Melbourne.  But any more bad news and they could slip to the 5 – 8 range.

Definitely missing round 1 (from best 22):              Chapman, Ling, Podsiadly

May miss round 1 or be underdone (from best 22):          Byrnes, Joel Corey, Mooney


Look for improvement from:           Varcoe – looked very polished vs Blues R4 NAB Challenge match (incorrect, but very good in the grand final)

Don’t expect too much from:           High Draft pick Billy Smedts.  He wasn’t sighted at all during the NAB matches (correct)

Likely to get a game R1:                   Duncan appears to have grabbed the spot vacated by Ablett, Brown


Keys for the club:      Managing the transition from Mark Thompson and Brendan McCartney to Chris Scott (who wants to merely tinker with the game style).  The loss of Ablett will hurt, but the real challenge comes with the big man department.  Mooney is getting old and his likely replacement, Brown, needs to get game time.  Likewise, they need a good year from Ottens as well as some help from Blake or other developing ruckmen.  And a big year from Hawkins would be a boost.

Important Rounds:   Rounds 11 -17.  They begin with matches against highly rated Dogs, Hawks and Saints, then rounds 14 – 16 give them 2 x 6 days breaks vs Crows, Dons, Eagles away and then a second long road trip to play the Lions.  They must avoid being worn down by talent rounds 11-13 and stress rounds 14 – 17.


Post Season Review (added 04 Jan 2012)

The analysis was better than average.  It is hard to imagine now, but the Cats began the year at 5th in line according to the experts.  They outperformed almost everyone’s expectations.  Player load management seemed to help.  Also some players emerged from the VFL team to show great promise.  Christensen was that standout, but Vardy and Brown (both were injured prior to the finals) showed signs while West took the second ruck duties in the finals.  They also had a fairly light injury run with Menzel being the only walk-up start player not available for the Grand Final.



Gold Coast

Brief Summary:        Very hard to assess, but 4 wins and the spoon.          (actual at end of season = 3 wins and won the spoon when Port beat the Dees in R24)


More Detail:   It is generally an easy task to select a best 22 for any team.  Not so for the Suns!

Taking the “best 22” from two separate sources on the web (thanks but cannot remember names of both at present), we come up with:

B: Tape Coad Hunt

HB: Harbrow Bock Krakouer

C: Swallow Rischitelli Brennan

HF: Matera Dixon Stanley

F: Brown Day Bennell

R: Fraser Ablett Harris

I: Iles Weller Prestia McKenzie

Toy      Lock    Caddy  Patrick


How does one assess such a team?  To make it tougher, the NAB matches have been shrouded in mystery with many of the best not playing and news on the injury front has to be gleaned rather than merely read on the AFL website.  The underlined players above are the regulat AFL players they have picked up from other clubs.  The pink ones are the cream of the young crop according to reports; the red ones are those “others” born before 1990.

As an exercise, if we take the underlined tried and tested AFL players and then add the red ones (who should be relatively reliabale), we get a list of 13 players. 

Add to this draft picks 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13.  Namely (bold ones are currently rated in the best 26 for 2011): Swallow, Bennell, Day, Caddy, Prestia, Gorringe, Lynch and Tape.


What should we expect from these?  To forecast their effectiveness, consider that these picks a year earlier were:            Scully, Jack Trengove, Martin, Shephard, Andrew Moore, Melksham, Gysberts, Talia.  Three of these players had significant impacts last year while Shephard, Melksham and Gysberts showed promise.  One year further back, it was Watts, Naitanui, Hill, Rich Ziebell, Davis, Sidebottom, Tom Lynch.  Of these, Hill, Rich, Ziebell and Sidebottom made an immediate impact with most of the others showing potential.

In summary, you end up with a competitive team.  This was the AFL’s aim – especially in light of the Bears’ early years with a team of relative rejects. 


More recent history of new teams:  Port 1997 –   10 ½ wins 11 losses.  Lost first 2 games heavily then won 4 in a row.

Freo 1995 – won 8 lost 14.  Won 3 of first 6 and 3 losses of < 2 goalsBears 1987 -  6 wins 16 losses.  Won 3 of first 5.  Won round 22 to avoid the wooden spoon.

Crows 1991 –  10 wins 12 losses.  Won 3 of first 6 including a round 1 86 point thumping of the Hawks in Adelaide.  Asked to explain the magnitude of the win, a Kenny Rogers fan explained: Many years of hate were bottled up inside them;

They wasn’t holdin’ nothing back; they let Hawks have it all….


Eagles – 1987 –  11 wins 11 losses.  Won 3 of first 6 and relatively consistent throughout the year.


Putting it all together:  The Suns have been focussed on round 2 for about 2 years now.  It is important that they start well (IE competitive and not getting flogged by 20 goals each week).  Given that finals are not expected, they can afford to build for a flat out start to the season without too much concern about young players hitting the wall mid season.  With that in mind, the rounds between their 2 byes in rounds 1 and 9 should yield their best form and the majority of their wins.  Their homes games in that time area against Blues Dees and Lions.  Away games against the Dogs and Crows will be tough assignments and they may prefer to have a crack at away games vs Port and Dons. With the rider that this is a very inexact science, the 4 wins for the year would be made up of 2 wins in the 7 games between the byes and another 2 wins from rounds 10 to 24.  Their homes games in rounds 10 – 24 are against Cats, Roos, Dogs, Swans, Pies, Saints, Crows and Hawks.  Sadly for the Suns fans, they miss out on home games against the Tigers, Port, Dons, Eagles and Freo.  Almost the worst draw possible!

Their form will be watched with great interest!


Definitely missing round 1 (from best 22):              nobody

May miss round 1 or be underdone (from best 22):          Ablett, Brennan, Brown, Caddy

Look for improvement from:           Most of the team!  Stanley (once on Pies’ list) has done well!

Don’t expect too much from:           Nathan Ablett – injuries have dogged his build-up and he is probably a year off his 2007 form (correct, and now at Werribee)

Likely to get a game R1:       see above


Keys for the club:      To get a few early wins and build momentum.  And to get the mix between game time for potential stars and playing the best available team

Important Rounds:   2 – 8 as explained above.

Post Season Review (added 04 Jan 2012)

They were difficult to assess and very happy to get within 1 win of the target.  They did have a few injuries at various times and were also rotating players in and out of the team in order to see who was going to make it into 2012.  David Swallow, Trent McKenzie and Zac Smith look the best of their swag of high draft picks.