Fingers crossed for Will Kelly.
Which side of the fence do we sit on when it comes to some of the AFL’s biggest match-ups?
For arguments sake, we will judge players that are like-for-like both in regards to their position and their seniority within their respective teams. We will determine who will have a stronger season, and subsequently who in turn will have a bigger impact on their team in 2020.
The story between two of the best key forwards in the competition looks set to be painted among two of the teams destined for the top end of the ladder in 2020.
Both players began their careers as prized recruits to expansion clubs, and both are now similarly placed in terms of their footballing maturity and ability with the duo approaching the prime of their careers as the new season approaches.
Cameron, 26, and Lynch, 27, squared off at the MCG in the 2019 grand final. Cameron won the Coleman last year. Lynch, the eventual premier of said grand final, looks poised to contend for said Coleman this year.
Cameron (3.1 goals per game) is the lone key-position star in the Giants forward line.
Due to the way that GWS play, if Cameron ever goes down injured, the whole forward system for the Giants needs to be re-jigged on the fly. Elliott Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson – who in their own right are solid and ever-developing players – will need to bear the brunt of the forward line.
This problem is further exacerbated with the departures of Rory Lobb and Jon Patton.
Cameron is pivotal to how GWS put points on the board.
Meanwhile, Lynch (2.5 goals per game) shares his spoils with Jack Riewoldt. The two-prong approach means that Lynch doesn’t need to star for the Tigers to be successful – evident with the Tigers 2017 triumph where Lynch wasn’t a part of the team.
Although Lynch does not need to be firing for Richmond to be strong. It is obvious though that when Lynch is in form and scoring it helps Richmond … crazy theory right?
Yes, I am about to illustrate the basic impact forwards scoring goals have on their team. Champion Data, if you’re reading this then look no further than I for a vacant analyst position.
Lynch in Richmond losses – 1.8 goals per game. Lynch in Richmond wins – 2.7 goals per game.
Who will have the bigger impact on their team?
A fit Lynch versus an in-form Cameron is something that will cause salivation come Round 7. We were lucky enough to see a snippet of it in their second game of the Marsh Community Series for their respective teams.
Cameron will continue his strong run of form and again propel the Giants forward more-so than Lynch would the Tigers. The reigning Coleman medallist is just too important to the way that the GWS forward line operates and remains the linchpin (pardon the pun) to their September aspirations.
The ever reliable platform for public opinion, Twitter, tends to agree. Our Twitter poll showed that 64 per cent of voters also believed Cameron will have a stronger performing season than Lynch.
One of these players has just been named the sole-captain of the club he loves, the other one has just signed a seven-year deal and has been elevated into the leadership group for the first time.
Max Gawn has described his appointment as captain for the Dees as “a dream come true,” while Brodie Grundy has been described as a “great lieutenant” for Scott Pendlebury by Nathan Buckley on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.
These two players seemingly ooze authority and influence among their peers, which is a far-cry contradiction to what has generally been perceived from ruckman in the past when it comes to team leadership.
Gawn, 28, enters season 2020 with a chip on his shoulder. How can he resurrect the disaster that was 2019 for the Demons? On the surface it looks as though he is ready mentally to metaphorically put Melbourne on his back and attempt to drag his team to another finals berth.
Grundy, 25, looks set to repay the several years’ worth of favour that has been instilled in him courtesy of the powers that be at the Pies. Will Grundy will continue to be that extra midfielder around the contest?
Gawn (42.6 hitouts per game) needs to continue to liven up the Demons somewhat dull midfield and spur them into action. The club needs more contested possessions won and distributed cleanly from Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney.
The club desperately needs more tidiness heading into their attacking 50 with help from new recruits Adam Tomlinson and Ed Langdon.
The common denominator in both situations? Quality ruck tap-work and around the ground assistance to his midfielders from Gawn. Gawn needs to provide his counterparts with world-class service in order for the club to become relevant again in 2019.
This is something Dees fans are clamouring for and will no doubt allow them to rubber stamp Gawn as a successful captain.
The success of Melbourne is intrinsically linked with how Gawn gets the most out of his teammates on and off the field.
Grundy (39.5 hitouts per game) will look to quash the memories of a shock preliminary loss to the Giants in 2019.
Grundy plays in a manner which lends itself more to he being classed as a ruck-mid hybrid. Grundy sets the blue-print of what all new ruckman should be, specifically with superior field kicking and solid endurance gut-running.
Grundy sets the example for young Tim English and Reilly O’Brien which will hold them in good stead moving forward, should they continue to play according to said blue-print.
Grundy is going to be in the black and white stripes for a long time – and looks to be the one non-midfield player most likely to contend for a Brownlow over the next few years, similar to Dean Cox in 2011.
This is mainly due to how Grundy’s ruck-mid play style affects his stat lines in a positive way and due to the fact that he is right under (or over) the umpire’s nose at most stoppages.
However, it’s not just a Brownlow that Grundy wants. Grundy like all players, plays for a premiership medal. And if the feelings of 2018’s grand final and 2019 preliminary final doesn’t stir up a fire in your belly, then nothing will.
Who will have the bigger impact on their team?
If it were only a case of who has more to prove, then an argument could be made for both players.
Gawn needs to prove himself as an effective captain and captivating role-model, while Grundy needs to materially prove that he is worth the risk a seven-year investment can bring.
There is little doubt that Grundy isn’t a better all-round player than Gawn. Grundy can simply do more that Gawn cannot. Grundy will likely have the stronger performing season, however Max Gawn is more important to the Melbourne Football Club.
Without Gawn performing in his usual manner it is hard to see Melbourne take any steps closer to September success.