Joe Daniher has dominated the rumour mills of the Australian Football League community for the past nine months.
It is the classic ‘will he or won’t he’ scenario, where Essendon are confronted with the possibility of a key player leaving for the sunshine and relative anonymity of Sydney.
While much can be made of the medical management of Joe, we are here to talk about the issues pertaining to Daniher’s new deal and how that fits in with the Bombers’ wider list management paradigm.
Daniher is a key player at Essendon. At his best, he can turn games on their head, as evidenced by his 65-goal, All Australian, best-and-fairest season in 2017.
Additionally favouring Essendon’s tactics is the relatively long amount of time it takes for key forwards and ruckmen to develop – a replacement for Daniher is not readily available on the Dons’ list nor was it available in the first round of last year’s draft.
Essendon made the best of a bad situation signing two key position prospects in the 2019 draft – Henry Crauford in the supplemental selection period and trading for Andrew Phillips from Carlton – but neither are readymade replacements for Daniher.
The Bombers chose to prioritise short-term gain over the possibility of taking a stronger hand into the draft.
The last three years, the Bombers have recruited for their needs with Adam Saad, Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel. They’ve made the best of their relatively poor draft-hand, signing players that could be projected to develop into superstars.
Adrian Dodoro has made his fair share of mistakes in drafting and trading, he has gathered far too much power in his role, but for every dud he has drafted there is a gem he has discovered – for every David Myers or Kyle Langford, there has been an Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti or Mason Redman.
Additionally, Dodoro was explicit about what a trade would require from Sydney and they refused to meet him. As such, the blame rests on the shoulders of the head of their football department, Tom Harley. He met with Daniher in August of 2019 when the problems began arising in the contract renegotiation process and then failed to finalise the deal to get Daniher.
Harley overpromised and underdelivered.