With the trade period over and draft occurring soon, it’s time to try some early speculation about the season ahead.
There has been a lot of negativity in the media over the 2020 season so far over umpiring, complaining coaches, unfair fixtures, players diving, cheap shots, inconsistent match review decisions, low scores, inaccurate kicking and so on and so forth.
Bad news sells, but it also breeds more bad news and then things all get a bit depressing.
So let’s have a look at a good news story from the AFL in 2020 and have a bit of fun with some alternative stats.
Here come the young guns
So far in 2020 72 players have made their AFL debut for a total of 282 games.
Matt Rowell started the season in the centre square for Gold Coast and won a few best on grounds before injuring his shoulder in Round 5. This will be a short-term setback to what looks to be a long and fruitful career.
Other players to impress in their first season include, in no particular order, Will Hamill, Tom Berry, Tyler Brown, Sam Draper, Michael Frederick, Caleb Serong, Izak Rankine, Max King, Tom Green, Jake Riccardi, Will Day, Kysaiah Pickett, Luke Jackson, Jake Aarts and Mitch Georgiades.
All these players look set for a long career in the AFL. No doubt there will be a few more to add to this list by the time the season is done and dusted.
As you would expect, the bottom-placed team, Adelaide, has blooded the most players, debuting nine, while Sydney and Fremantle have both had six debutants for the year so far.
Some of the teams in contention for a flag have had fewer debutants, with Geelong and Richmond just one each, Port Adelaide two and St Kilda and West Coast three apiece.
A total of 51 games have been played by Adelaide’s 2020 debutants. This is almost double the second-highest number of games (26) by Fremantle’s 2020 debutants.
West Coast (4), Geelong (5), Carlton (6), Essendon (8) and Richmond (9) are at the bottom of the list on total number of games played by rookies.
Given these numbers, I think we need to cut Matthew Nicks some slack. Almost 18 per cent of the players he has put on the field in 2020 are playing their first season of footy at the top level compared to 1.5 per cent for West Coast and 1.7 per cent for Geelong.