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Why the Suns’ list will actually be better without Hugh Greenwood

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Roar Guru
19th November, 2021
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1560 Reads

North Melbourne snaffled Hugh Greenwood after the Suns delisted him with the intent of re-drafting him. These are the seven stages of coping with this incident from the view of a Suns supporter.

Stage 1: Shock and denial
This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings. What?! Hugh Greenwood has gone to North? But he just tweeted saying he was staying put on the Gold Coast. He said he was fine with being delisted and redrafted. Was he lying? What the actual #^*%?

AFL discussion forums exploded with the news, with the media taking a particularly vehement line that the Suns had grossly mismanaged the situation. Suns fans were volcanic and unloaded on the club. Internet trolls set to with glee, dredging up old bad trades and suddenly the most boring week in AFL had a major news story to relieve the monotony.

Hugh Greenwood had done a Hugh Greenwood. In 2015, on his return from US college basketball success after just failing to get onto an NBA roster, he signed a three-year deal with the Perth Wildcats, only to turn around and accept an offer to go onto the Adelaide Crows category B rookie list and play a year in the SANFL.

Four years and a losing grand final later (not to mention an infamous camp), Greenwood blindsided the Crows and demanded a trade to the Suns for a packet of chips and a can of Diet Coke. And now he’d done it to us.

Hugh Greenwood is tackled.

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Stage 2: Pain and guilt
Why does this always happen to us? It’s our own fault that we just gave away a player who was playing an important role in making our midfield more competitive.

Why do we always get to the end of the season and tell one of our good players that they might not be best 22 anymore and then let them walk for nothing? We did it with Jarryd Lyons. We did it with Jack Martin. We pretty much did it with Will Brodie.

The trade period can be a fraught and anxious time for Suns fans because the rebuild has been a particularly difficult time to trade players. We got unders for Aaron Hall, unders for Jack Scrimshaw, nothing for Jarryd Lyons, unders for Callum Ah Chee, nothing for Jack Martin, unders for Peter Wright, nothing for Will Brodie and now this.

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Stage 3: Anger and bargaining
How can the AFL let this happen? First, they give the Suns a longer list in order to develop young players and then they cut that list by four places.

Why? What’s the point of this stupid picking three players rule anyway? We had one pick and 38 contracted players, so surely we were in the strongest position in the comp having already pre-listed a pair of academy players.

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There was anger in those hours after the news broke as fans sought answers. Hugh Greenwood was a liar. Greenwood was a traitor. No, Greenwood was the victim. Greenwood was doing what was best for his family. Hugh Greenwood was a mercenary. North were the real bastards. Isn’t there an unspoken agreement to leave delisted players marked for re-drafting alone? They’ve broken the code!

David Noble was the common denominator here. He brought players from Adelaide, where he’d been list manager and head of footy until 2016, to Brisbane such as Charlie Cameron and Cam Ellis-Yolmen.

He lured Jarryd Lyons, who he’d drafted to the Crows and drafted his younger brother to the Lions, then he lured Callum Ah Chee away from the Suns. Now he’d charmed Hugh Greenwood into reneging on the Suns to join North Melbourne, who have more money than they can spend in the salary cap.

New Kangaroos coach David Noble poses

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Stage 4: Depression
That’s it, I’m cancelling my membership. We are going to come last. Time and time again this club does this to us. We are never making finals. Just sack Mark Evans, Craig Cameron and Stuart Dew. Oh yeah, and thanks for nothing, Wayne Campbell.

Suns fans copped it on social media. Even from each other. Some, like me, cycled through the stages pretty quickly, but most were stuck in the first three stages and even those who made it to this point were at their lowest ebb.

This is supposed to be the safest time for Suns fans where nothing can go wrong. But it had and this time it was breaking the resolve of some fans.

Stage 5: The upward turn
The Suns brought forward the announcement that Touk Miller had extended his contract for five years until 2027. Sun for life! Oh, happy days.

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We are still going to come bottom six, but with Miller as captain our future looks pretty good. Miller loves this club and he’ll keep the group together as best he can.

After seven seasons, Miller had his best year to date, gaining recognition across the competition that he has become one of the elite players. At the end of 2022 he could have walked into free agency and left us with another compensation pick to get an 18-year-old. But he didn’t, and his video shows that he is excited about our future.

The Suns turned the PR disaster around with Mark Evans providing a timeline and Craig Cameron giving his confession that he didn’t plan for things to go this way even though he did have a contingency plan in place.

The extra money is a boon and the club’s depth is at an all-time high. Another fillip was the news that Jack Bowes is training with the midfield, while Elijah Hollands, Alex Davies and Sam Flanders are fighting along with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson to join incumbents David Swallow, Touk Miller and Lachie Weller in what has to be an A-grade midfield in the making with the only player from the group not to have been picked in the first round a current member of the All Australian best 22.

Matthew Rowell of the Suns celebrates a goal

(Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

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Stage 6: Reconstruction and working through
Is our list management as bad as they all say? Will losing Hugh Greenwood be all that bad? Was he going to play 22 games in the best 22 anyway? Who will replace him?

Actually, looking at his stats, Greenwood is below average across the board. He’s just tough at the contest and good at defensive pressure, but we’ve got heaps of guys like that. Dodged a bullet, maybe?

Craig Cameron is an elite operator when it comes to list management. He was in charge of the Melbourne Demons’ list for the Neale Daniher years, then had five years at Richmond as general manager of football during which he helped formulate and plot their now famous ten-year plan to win three flags by 2020. He spent two fruitful years as the list manager at GWS before joining the Suns four years ago to replace the outgoing Scott Clayton.

Under Cameron, the Suns have completely rebuilt their list, with only the solid core of committed players from the early years remaining. His drafting in 2018 has been a triumph, with Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Ben King from what is being acknowledged as a super draft.

He also recruited Sam Collins and Josh Corbett from Werribee and Chris Burgess from West Adelaide. In 2019, he excelled again, drafting Matthew Rowell, Noah Anderson, Sam Flanders, Jeremy Sharp, Connor Budarick (all regulars in the side) and getting Brandon Ellis in free agency.

Since then he’s secured Elijah Hollands, Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey, Ned Moyle, Bodhi Uwland and Sandy Brock, recruiting more Tigers in Oleg Markov (the second fastest player in the AFL) and Mabior Chol.

Mabior Chol

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Far from sack him, the Suns should extend him to continue the job until the team is entrenched in the top eight, then make him CEO while Mark Evans goes to Melbourne to take over from Gillon MacLachlan.

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Stage 7: Acceptance and hope
Hugh Greenwood is gone. The club has saved $400,000 and has more list flexibility with the extra primary list spot. Maybe if one of our academy players gets a bid after pick 40 we can just match it with pick 82.

There might be a really good player right at the end of the draft who is a steal at the pick. Maybe we can get some veterans in the rookie draft, or maybe one of those academy prospects we’ve nominated will be given a chance.

The Suns traded Will Brodie and lost Hugh Greenwood, but gained $1 million in salary cap space that can be moved around to front-end existing deals and build a war chest to extend deals past 2022.

What’s happened has happened and with an otherwise successful trade period the club is set up for 2022. Any hangovers from the past affecting the total player payments have now been ameliorated thoroughly and once the draft plays out, the list will be better than it has ever been.

Goodbye, Hugh. We hardly knew you.

P.S. Please Suns, give Greenwood’s vacated number one jumper to ‘Ace’ (AKA Hewago Oea), it’s his destiny.

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