AFL’s big men, big contracts – but little return
Ben Stratton of the Hawks and Travis Cloke of the Magpies in action during the AFL Round 17 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG, Melbourne. (Slattery Images)
Richmond and Collingwood have a problem; the only difference is Collingwood need to fix the problem now, while they have the most talented midfield in the league.
The problem is that they have a forward line that relies on two forwards who are not worth the money they are paid.
I have sat back and laughed over the last few months at the contract discussions that Travis Cloke is going through.
Freo offering $1million per year, Pies offering $700k and all the others in between. Travis Cloke is not worth the money!
Here is a guy that tries hard and occasionally has a good game where he kicks a bag, but he is not going to take the Pies to premiership glory again.
Why do clubs like Richmond and Collingwood offer enigmatic, average forwards such as Cloke and Riewoldt massive contracts at the expense of signing other, less glorified players?
Cloke and Riewoldt are ‘old school’ forwards, lead up the ground and work their opposition into the ground through gut running. This doesn’t work in the AFL any more. One trick ponies don’t survive in the modern game!
It is rare that in a game of football you will get a one on one match-up all day, or actually play on the one player for longer than a quarter to have the ability to ‘blow them up’.
These guys are holding their clubs back both with their limited talent and poor attitudes on field.
Travis Cloke should be kicking five goals week in, week out. He has the best delivery from the best midfield in the competition and still cannot get the job done, so how does anyone think he can go to Freo or Melbourne and have an impact?
This is a guy who has been maligned his whole career and managed to play one – yes one – good season! That season was also the breakout year of Jarryd Blair, Sharrod Wellingham and Chris Dawes who spread the Pies forward line to open up Cloke. This isn’t happening now and won’t in the future.
Guys like Matthew Richardson must sit back and despise Cloke. he gets the delivery and opportunity that ‘Richo’ could only dream about! Put Richo in the current Pies team and he kicks 100+ goals for the year.
Big Jack Riewoldt has been a disappointment and what is more disappointing is he actually has the talent, he just doesn’t have the mental aptitude to do anything with his talent.
He doesn’t find his own ball, he seems to want to try and take from-behind marks rather than working in front of his man and his on-field attitude is poor.
Jack has the chance to change his game – he has age, talent and an up and coming team around him that can take him out of his funk.
He needs to sit down over the summer, get all of his cousin Nick’s game tapes and take notes. Learn to work hard for your own benefit and your teammates. Learn that you can play like Buddy on the ground if you just stick your head over the ball. Learn from Cotchin, Martin and Deledio and look at their work rate and passion to play in the AFL.
Nick changed his career and will go down as one of the game’s best players, Jack needs to do the same and quickly!
Richmond have a good backline, great midfield but need Jack and co. to start performing up forward.
The Pies need to let Travis Cloke go. Cut their losses, not buy into the hype that surrounds Cloke and move on. All Cloke is going to give you is headaches and poor performances over the next contract and he is definitely not worth losing a Ben Reid, Wellingham or Goldsack over. All of these players will give you something Cloke does not have – heart!
The Pies are good, real good! But if they want to have any chance for more premierships during this premiership window they have to get rid of Cloke and trade for some good young kids like Rhys Stanley or Jack Gunston and build a multi-prong forward line.
All of these will provide a better option than Cloke.
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