My 2017 players to watch in review: Collingwood Magpies to Fremantle Dockers

Anna Pavlou Roar Rookie

By Anna Pavlou, Anna Pavlou is a Roar Rookie

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    In the 2017 pre-season I picked a handful of players per club to preview for the upcoming season – now I’m looking back at how they did, and grading their performance. Today I’m looking at the Collingwood Magpies, Essendon Bombers and Fremantle Dockers.

    Collingwood Magpies

    What I said: Matthew Scharenberg is on the verge of a full return to AFL, showing off his skills throughout the preseason, playing across half back. When fit, he is a ready-made footballer, a polished mover in heavy contests. His mix of height and pace will prove a winner as he can become a more versatile addition to the lineup. He’s flexible and precise by foot which will be handy.

    How he really performed: With an average of 20.2 disposals, the best of his career, Scharenberg played his role across half back in a struggling side.

    Scharenburgs ability and injuries were questioned at the start of the season, but he built up strength to finish the season as a vital player in the Pies best 22.

    Played his role when he could but should be expected to regain confidence to demolish forwards in 2018 and beyond.

    Rating: C

    What I said: Josh Daicos, son of club legend Peter has been working through his preseason with Jamie Elliott as a small forward.

    A player who has been praised for his poise, his debut season will hopefully cement him as a strong forward player. His kicking style is unique, and he reads the play well.

    Collingwood will look to Daicos to bring speed and steady their forward line after the loss of power forward Travis Cloke to the Bulldogs.

    How he really performed: Daicos played just two games in 2017 and kicked one goal. His highlight was laying ten tackles in Round 22.

    His talent is still left on a cliffhanger as 2017 ends, but with a massive pre-season, Daicos can craft some magic in the forward line in 2018.

    Rating: C

    Josh Daicos Collingwood Magpies AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    What I said: Jordan De Goey, a versatile midfielder who is electric on the field. Can be used as a forward when needed, as he showed off his impressive goal kicking skills throughout 2016. He plays at a high intensity and can play as a rotating medium forward and midfielder.

    A strong and quick decision maker, always one step ahead of his opponent. De Goey is fearless and will put his body on the line in 2017.

    How he really performed: Kicked 14 goals in 14 matches and played his role somewhat to his best ability. However paid the price for initially lying to his club about how he broke his hand, by being suspended for six weeks.

    His recovery for the second half of the season saw him average 25 disposals. Surgery on his hip ended his season and closed what was a year to rebuild from.

    Rating: D

    Essendon Bombers

    What I said: Andrew McGrath, the number one draft pick will have a lot to prove in his 2017 season. Has been noted as a future leader who will bring some class to the Bombers young list. Will play as a midfielder who can move to halfback.

    He has line breaking speed and is willing to take risks in contests and one on one. Known to read the play extremely well, this skill will be a necessity to intercept opposition forward line entry. There will be no surprise if McGrath’s 2017 season is one to remember.

    How he really performed: McGrath had a brilliant debut this season, fitting in perfectly to his new side. Played with a defensive mindset, averaging three tackles a game and seamlessly shutting down fast opponents. Worked best when on the wing.

    McGrath also won the 2017 NAB Rising Star award, progressing astoundingly quickly as a mature footballer. Just signed a two-year deal so will be ready to take on the bright future ahead.

    Rating: A+

    Andrew McGrath Essendon Bombers AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    What I said: Young gun Zach Merrett had a fantastic 2016 season. He showed his capabilities in his attacking style and pressure applied consistently.

    Confident in the midfield, Merrett can tackle ferociously, break through packs at high speed and has the ability to anticipate next movements. A sharp left footer with valuable speed, he has plenty to continually offer.

    Merrett will now step up as vice-captain and will have to show well-earned responsibility and leadership.

    How he really performed: An outstanding season from Merrett secured his spot in the All-Australian midfield. His precise left foot and ferocity through the middle saw him notch up a 29.9 disposal average. He lived up to the expectations and was able to keep ahead of play.

    Took his Bombers into the finals and should be proud of his leadership achievements too.

    Rating: A+

    What I said: Cale Hooker, who was named vice-captain, will come back into the Bombers side and pick up from where he left off. A reliable backman, he can shut down key forwards regularly.

    He should return to his form fairly quickly. Can be used in the forward line as he has shown the ability to kick goals. Has propensity to dominate the competition with his contested marking.

    How he really performed: Kicked 41 goals in season 2017, proving his versatility to be moved up forward as a key target.

    In a fantastic year for the younger Bomber side, Hooker lead from the front, working alongside Joe Daniher up forward. His contested marking and unforgiving burst secured his spot after a year away from football.

    Rating: A

    Fremantle Dockers

    What I said: After an injury-ridden 2016, Garrick Ibbotson will look to cement his spot in the Dockers best 22. The defender will use his speed and height to his advantage to hold down power forwards.

    Ibbotson is versatile playing across half back and also occasionally up forward. He should be looking to use his interception ability to his power in 2017.

    How he really performed: After a 177-game career, Ibbotson has called it quits after at the end of 2017.

    Played his rebounding and intercept defence role as best he could, attempting to halt scoreboard pressure from opposition. Only played the first ten rounds of the 2017 season, but averaged 14.4 disposals from the backline.

    Not the picture perfect end to his career and Ibbotson struggled with the retirement decision, but should be commended for his endurance to keep bring throughout.

    Rating: C

    What I said: Michael Walters is hard at it this pre-season. The super-skilled small forward will stay at an elite level and step up as a leader.

    Walters doesn’t need much time or space to devastate his opponents with his clean and fast left foot. His confidence to kick long goals or hit targets in pressure situations shows Walters is able to carry himself in the right manner.

    A good decision maker, be sure to watch for another powerful year where he can kick at least 30 goals.

    How he really performed: Averaged 19.2 disposals – the highest of his career and did what he could to keep his team afloat. Kicked 22 goals and lead his team of the best of his ability. His best game was against Richmond, where he notched up 38 disposals.

    His fierce and unbeaten speed assisted his run on and made him a key target up forward. 2018 should see him lead once again and hopefully apply scoreboard pressure to the opposition.

    Rating: B

    Michael Walters Fremantle Dockers AFL 2014

    (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    What I said: Hamling was the fourth-choice defender for the Western Bulldogs in the 2016 season. After the collapse of numerous Dogs due to injury, Hamling was last man standing and ended up playing a key role as part of the Dogs 2016 premiership side. Now at his third club, is Hamling the real deal, or was he just in the right place at the right time?

    How he really performed: Struggled big time to fire up at his new hometown club. Recruited to fill the defensive lack, Hamling was required to become a key defender against some of the game’s biggest names.

    Along with his club, he lacked intensity and defensive pressure, averaging only 1.9 tackles per game. Needs to step up and become the key feature in a backline and a team that needs a fresh start.

    Rating: E+

    What I said: Shane Kersten a tall mobile forward who has headed back to his home town for 2017 and beyond. A second tall forward option to Tom Hawkins previously at Geelong, Kersten lost his place late in 2016 and did not play finals.

    This year, Kersten will be able to become a main target up forward. His confidence needs to improve so he can show how important and efficient he really is.

    How he really performed: Kersten did not exceed or achieve any expectations this season, seeming lost in the forward line.

    Averaging less than 10 touches as a key forward, the ex-Geelong recruit did not step up to the plate in 2017 and must review his season extensively.

    Rating: E

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • December 13th 2017 @ 10:26am
      Don Freo said | December 13th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Wow! Your reading of Joel Hamling is weird. He was excellent. He reliably held his position and conceded very few goals to his direct key forward.

      Are you sure you have the right player? You are on the money with Kersten.

      What did you say last year about Blakely, Brad Hill or Liam Ryan?

      • Roar Guru

        December 13th 2017 @ 11:48am
        Dalgety Carrington said | December 13th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        I thought it was a bit harsh on all of Walters, Hamling and Kersten.

        Walters was in AA reckoning up until his season was curtailed by his PCL, I think he had the highest (or one of) individual ranked games of the year when he kicked 6 goals and had 32 disposals against the Saints.

        Hamling didn’t have a perfect year, but always fought it out and had plenty of excellent games.

        While obviously Kersten was doing something right aligned with the coaches expectations, finishing top 10 in the B&F.

        • Roar Guru

          December 13th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          Col from Brissie said | December 13th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          I didn’t watch a lot of Freo games but those I did Walters showed how good he is. A B rating is definitely too low.

          • December 13th 2017 @ 1:58pm
            Don Freo said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

            Yes. 22 goals in half a season is definitely on target for the predicted 30 in a season, especially since much of it was spent driving the midfield.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 1:57pm
        Don Freo said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

        Whoops…Luke Ryan.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 12:53pm
      Joe said | December 13th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

      Couldn’t be further off the mark with Hamling. Was scared he was going to be Dawson v2.0 but was far from it.
      Walters would’ve won the b&f if he hadn’t done his PCL.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 1:04pm
      Mattician6x6 said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

      Very harsh on hamling to the point I’m wondering if its a practical joke just to get ppl posting

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2017 @ 10:30am
        AdelaideDocker said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Ha! Well, it’s definitely worked!

    • December 13th 2017 @ 1:30pm
      Mattyb said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      I have no idea about what’s going on with Hamlings rating,I would have thought he had an excellent season,possibly even an A or possibly a B.
      I’ve seen a lot of Hamling at the Dogs and thought he took his game to a whole new level at Freo,massive mistake not trying harder to retain his services,and he has steadily improved with every year in the system. I actually thought Hamling was the recruit of the year.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 3:07pm
        Jon boy said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

        Could not agree more Matty 100% right !

    • Roar Guru

      December 14th 2017 @ 10:29am
      AdelaideDocker said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      Bit late to this one, but I’ll join the chorus: that is unbelievably harsh on Hamling. He didn’t have the perfect year, sure, but he was solid for most of it and had some really good games.

      I’d probably – albeit reluctantly – agree with your other rankings. Others have said Walters could be higher, but a B grade would probably fit, whilst I’d agree with the other two. Kersten was definitely a disappointment, and Ibbotson was, well, just old and at the end of his career.

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