Season 2020 may prove to be the end of an era of Shaw family involvement with the departure of Rhyce Shaw as the senior coach at North Melbourne, and the departure of younger brother Heath Shaw as a player at Greater Western Sydney.
With footy finally back, I took full advantage watching most games throughout the weekend, here are five of my biggest takeaways from Round 2.
1.A compromised Brownlow?
With shortened quarters it was obvious players weren’t going to accumulate the same stats, however the drop off has been enormous.
In the 19 games that have been played so far this season, only on seven occasions has a player had 30 or more disposals, this means that averaging anything close to 30 this year will be a tough ask.
So does this mean the Brownlow medallist will have an asterisk next to their name?
Not necessarily as every player this season is under the same restrictions, however when compared to any other season the numbers will look out of place. But with midfielders unable to rack up their normal stats does this give an opportunity for a different position to win it?
If Brodie Grundy or Max Gawn are able to replicate their normal numbers then it would be hard to argue against them being in contention for the Brownlow, or if a forward is able to kick around the 60 goal mark then would they also have a shot?
Hypothetically what is more impressive, star midfielders putting up what would normally be conceived as average to good stats or a ruckman/forward still being able to have the same output despite 20 per cent less game time?
2.Raise the age?
During the long break from Round 1 to Round 2 one of the biggest debates was if the draft age should be raised. Why this is even a debate puzzles me.
‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is a golden philosophy that the AFL needs to follow more – often because my god was this round proof that the draft age doesn’t need to be raised.
At only 18 years old, Matt Rowell cleaned up on the weekend with 26 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency, two goals and six score involvements.
To do this against a mediocre side would be impressive, to put these numbers up against a premiership contender with one of if not the best midfields in the competition is out of this world.
To put it into prospective Rowell outplayed Norm Smith medallist Luke Shuey, 2018 best and fairest winner Elliot Yeo, and All Australian midfielders Tim Kelly and Andrew Gaff.
Along with Rowell, 2019 rising star winner Sam Walsh didn’t look at all to be out of place last season. So why is raising the draft age even in question?
3.Cameron Zurhaar deserves more attention
During North Melbourne’s Round 2 clash with GWS, Zurhaar was commanding in the forward line, reaching the same levels as Jordan De Goey and Dustin Martin do when they go forward.
Yesterday Zurhaar may have only collected 11 disposals however in his limited chances he was able to have seven score involvements along with three of his own goals. He was also running at 81 per cent disposal efficiency and managed to draw four free kicks.
Originally picked number 11 in the 2016 rookie draft, Zurhaar is already shaping up to be one of the best out the entire draft class, and having only recently turned 22, Zurhaar will be one for the future.
However it is time for the media to pay him more respect. Realistically if he was playing for a Richmond or Collingwood he would be talked about at least on a weekly basis, and now North Melbourne are putting up the results it’s only fair Zurhaar gets some attention.
4.It’s about (extra) time for a change
After waiting for months on end for footy to return we were promised a mouth-watering clash between two heavyweight teams. Although the game overall didn’t deliver exactly what we were expecting at least there was a dramatic ending, albeit an extremely anticlimactic one.
Just by the flat expressions from players on both teams it’s clear that no one likes a draw, so why hasn’t the AFL added extra time into every game?
All that’s required would be two five-minute halves where each side swaps ends (in order to be fair with match conditions) and suddenly you get a result. If after extra time the scores are still level then have the game be a draw much like what the NRL does.
This at least gives the teams a chance to break the tie, along with ten more minutes of exciting football for fans to enjoying.
5.Fake crowd, real distraction
As bad as it sounded when the idea of using fake crowd noises was first raised, the results in my opinion were successful.
Unlike Round 1 the fake noises really make you forget about the emptiness of the grounds and also add to the intensity of the close games.
Of course like everything in life it wasn’t without its faults.
For starters a crowd cheering at the end of a draw is just something that will never happen unless you’re watching a soccer match, so why Channel 7 decided to raise the volume of the fake crowd at the end of the Tigers versus Pies game is beyond me.
To make it easier the fake crowd doesn’t need to be as authentic as a real crowd, meaning every time a tackle is made the audio really doesn’t need to be raised.
The fake crowd noises would best be used as a flat line sound in the background in order to distract viewers from the empty stands, with the occasional raise for goals and in the last two minutes in close games, much like what real crowds do.