Why Stevie J shouldn’t have been dropped

Conor Roar Guru

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    Imagine this scenario. The Giants trail by one point entering the final minute of the qualifying final against Adelaide.

    Phil Davis has marked inside defensive 50, kicks to Heath Shaw, and they’re out. However, their most experienced player is taking it out of defensive 50, and their only other 200-gamer playing, Brett Deledio, is on the bench, therefore meaning they don’t have as much experience and leadership to direct traffic and get their formation going.

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    Callan Ward is directing all this traffic, Shaw kicking up the wing to Jacob Hopper, then handballing over the top to Tom Scully in space. Scully goes for a bit of a run into their forward half, then finding Lachie Whitfield on the hands who is bursting into forward 70 with many options ahead.

    However, their most experienced head in their forward 50 is Matt de Boer, who hasn’t directed traffic quick enough. Their young players are under immediate pressure. Whitfield kicks to Jeremy Cameron quickly inside the final 35 seconds, but Hartigan goes back with the flight, reading the play well and taking an intercept mark.

    The Adelaide Crows start to slow the play down, making it incredibly tricky for the Giants to win from there.

    Phil Davis GWS Giants AFL 2017

    (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

    Now, let’s replay that situation with Steve Johnson inside forward 50 and his experience in finals knowing how to effectively direct the traffic and formations. It’s all the same up until the Whitfield kick, however, Stevie J has made sure there’s no loose men, with Lobb or Patton manned up on Hartigan, preventing him going back with the flight.

    Jeremy Cameron marks the ball inside 50 with 35 seconds left. He takes the full 30 seconds to take his kick, and kicks the winning goal for the Giants with under ten seconds to play. The Giants are into their second consecutive preliminary final.

    That could be the difference between Steve Johnson being in the Giants team. They’re ins of Matt de Boer (150 games) and Harrison Himmelberg (13 games) for Devon Smith (109 games) and Steve Johnson (291 games) means a lot less experience, 237 games less experience to be exact.

    De Boer has played in finals before, having played in ten finals before, however he has only notched 20 or more disposals in two of those finals, and only kicked one goal in those ten finals, proving he doesn’t seem to be a big game player.

    Harrison Himmelberg has never played a final, and being young, may falter under pressure. Devon Smith was a forced out due to a knee injury, but notched more than 20 disposals in one of the two finals he played in last year, and kicking at least a goal in each of those finals, with inaccuracy costing him from having big games.

    Stevie J has shown his ability to perform in big games, having played 24 finals, having reached 20 plus disposals in 14 of those finals and kicking 38 goals in those 24 finals.

    He is also a three-time premiership player, and knows what is takes to play finals and how to guide traffic. Had Stevie J been playing last year in the preliminary final, the Giants may well have won the premiership last year.

    He did have a bad game against Geelong, but is an experienced player and a September specialist, having been playing on the final day of September four times throughout his career, and you would expect him to rebound.

    What are your thoughts on Stevie J being dropped? Do you agree that he should be playing, or is it fair?

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