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Thom Roker

Roar Guru

Joined February 2018

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Thom Roker is an avid AFL fan. He has been writing and podcasting Gold Coast Suns content since 2017, with a focus on Academy players, VFL games, list management and player profiles, as well as the inaugural season of the Suns AFLW team. He has followed the Southport Sharks since they joined the QAFL.

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I don’t think GWS’ mediocrity lately has been with recruitment. It has partly injury and partly stale coaching. They are very good at getting unsexy workhorses. Matt De Boer, Lachie Keeffe, Jesse Hogan and Braydon Preuss are the most recent, none of whom were best 22 at the previous clubs or expensive to draft.

Interesting to see how they spend their picks. On current form they could end up going into September and Collingwood could pinch another place or 2 as well. The media is making out GWS will have 5 and 7, but if it winds up being both picks being traded to move higher then a club like Hawthorn would be mad not to go for that, while GWS could maximise instead of choose outside of the elite prospects.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

NGA is a great program that has been very poorly implemented from the very beginning. After the Northern Academies were created (Suns last of course), the AFL brought forward the NGA, but they never really thought it through or funded it properly. It has all been a series of chain reactions and panic by the AFL.

First, they gave GWS access to an awesome zone in the Riverina which was South of the Barassi Line and gave the Giants some brilliant players with which to keep or on trade. They’ve since taken that away, yet GWS have NGA access in the Riverina still gives them access to bright talent for cheap.

For the other 3 Northern Clubs, they have no access to NGA funding despite having a huge ATSI and migrant population. 4 current Suns players would have been eligible for NGA because 2 are indigenous and the others have a parent from overseas, yet all they got was pissy Academy funding with none of the kind of intercultural understanding of the NGA program.

The fact of the matter is that clubs should able to have access to players they develop. Letting the market decide only allowed clubs that didn’t invest highly in NGA to vote down its advatages, including the Northern Clubs that don’t have it, yet everybody agreed that father-son and the Northern Academies should be retained.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Simon, I’m an AFL and NRL fan. I even bought myself some Balmain Tigers shorts at Best and Less yesterday so I could do an impression of Reg Reagan for my brother and daughter this morning. When it comes to comparing the two codes I think the whole thing can get fairly tiresome because it is a false dichotomy.

For starters, the NRL has an International team competing in its domestic comp, which has to be a drain on resources. But the AFL has been going into hubs sooner and more safely the entire time regardless of the cost, whereas, the NRL keeps insisting on playing games during outbreaks in hotspots.

Not only can you not compare the two financially, each has a very different set of governments to deal with. The NRL has New Zealand say keep out, but this year they haven’t had the same issues with Victoria and they’ve been supported by the QLD government throughout. Conversely, the AFL frequently needs to remain agile with governments from the NT, WA, SA and Tassie going into snap lockdowns and border closures.

I think what we have here is a situation where the AFL is dealing with 6 state and 2 territory governments to keep their season going without placing undue risk on the clubs or communities, whereas, the NRL has just proceeded through outbreak after outbreak in order to preserve a tiny surplus.

Both competitions have different circumstances, but the elephant in the room is that NSW has been lax and permissive in allowing games to go ahead as long as they have and now Sydney is in an ever-spiralling hell of pandemic that its government has failed to contain and the NRL has been operating in this environment all along. I am fairly disgusted with the QLD government proceeding with this weekend’s NRL fixtures because I live here and the AFL had the decency to cancel and clear out. In fact, ALL sports in South East Queensland have been cancelled EXCEPT the NRL, which is the kind of entitlement that got Sydney into the mess it is in and now Brisbane is being dragged into it.

But I maintain that comparisons here can’t be made objectively because of the wildly different circumstances each code is working in. We are watching an Olympic Games with no crowds being conducted in a fashion that neither the NRL nor AFL would ever sanction, so clearly both are trying to act responsibly.

What it comes down to in the end is that the AFL can have their Grand Final in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane, but the NRL’s options are diminishing daily. In a plus for the NRL, they’ve scheduled several bush games so that games can have crowds. But I have a sinking feeling that Brisbane will lockdown for longer than 3 days and that if things worsen to Sydney levels the NRL season will be in dire straits.

AFL teams flee Queensland lockdown while the NRL pushes on

I personally think that the AFL has gone too American in their mission to get away from local zones and such for clubs. Father-sons on the fringe should be able to be stuffed into a VFL rookie position for a couple of years. Same with NGA and Northern Academy. Obviously, elite players will get drafted, but kids like the Wests and Macphersons clearly need more time. I mean, Footscray has actually launched some careers, so it isn’t as though they aren’t aware that their existence is in part to groom AFL players.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

My intial reply to this got lost in mobile phone cyberspace, but I’ll summarise. The Suns replaced Steven May with Sam Collins, who has turned out to be a terrific key defender and has really brought the development of Charlie Ballard along. The team has gone with Chris Burgess in defence this week, with Jack Lukosius officially going up the wing and covering down back when Burger drops off to chop out in the ruck (although Burgess will most likely just play on Luke Jackson all day. This creates the type of zone defence that allows all three talls to intercept and spoil all day – they are ranked 8th in points conceded and other aspects of defence are very good. These 3 are all top notch spoilers, Chucky and Collo are 23rd and 7th in the league for spoiling.

Rory Thompson is a 100 gamer who should be a 200 gamer. He has had both knees reconstructed and is being put through the rehabilitation program of his life to get back to 100%. If he isn’t looking ready for a pre-season by October, they are going to have to look at getting rid of him. Caleb Graham is being groomed to replace him and has performed admirably, but for now he looks to be a depth player who can be relied on to cover injury. I don’t think there is an A-Grade key defender to be had or if it is in the best interests of Suns strategy.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Chanon, you know full well that the Dogs don’t always go with their father-sons. In 2015, the Dogs had a fairly good draft, with Josh Dunkley, Marcus Adams and Bailey Williams, but whiffed on Kieran Collins and Brad Lynch when they could have picked Darcy Macpherson, who didn’t go until pick 21 in the Rookie draft. He has flourished at the Suns, even if he is fringe best 22, but I bet he watched the 2016 granny wishing he was there. Then last year, the Dogs passed over Ewan Macpherson, although with Covid and his form this year they will likely take another look.

BTW, Scott has a new Mrs West and I didn’t realise that he has also been bagging the club for their selection policy. Not the brightest move when you’re hoping to have all three of your boys drafted.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Clarko’s son is finishing year 12 next year, so it would be hard to envisage that happening over the Summer. However, it is just the kind of role that would suit Clarko and with his history with Dew they’d be quite dynamic. The fact is is that the coaching merry-go-round often doesn’t stop where and when you want. The club would likely move on from Dew if he delivered another bottom six performance, so then it comes down to how many clubs are in the market for Clarko. Suns got burned when they though Roos was coming and they got Eade. But yeah, quietly hoping a shift into a specialised role would appeal.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Furthermore, GWS really just traded up their 2nd round pick and it has gone further up the board as Collingwood dropped. They go to the draft with Collingwood’s first rounder and their own pick in the first third and fourth rounds. If I was their list manager I’d be happy to bring in a top 10 pick, Josh Fahey and match a late bid on Josh Green (brother of Tom). There might be another late pick for them and there’s going to be a number of spots they’ll want to fill.

However, GWS are always active in the trade period and there’s a lot of role playing dead wood clogging up their list. They won’t necessarily be looking to bring players in, although they will if they can do it cheaply, especially in the rookie draft. In 2020, GWS got hammered in free agency, but they managed to get picks 10, 13, 15, 20 and 31 for Aiden Corr, Zach Williams, Jye Caldwell and Jeremy Cameron. Trading Zac Langdon for pick 54 and then sending that pick for Jesse Hogan was a big risk for big reward, while getting Braydon Preuss for 31 was maybe their best trade. The Giants were involved in 9 trades overall and walked away having upgraded their 2021 2nd rounder for Collingwood’s 1st.

In 2021, they’ll be dealing from a position of strength rather than facing a hiding to nothing.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

If the ladder finished today, GWS has picks 5 and 11, but more likely to be 7 and 13 or so due to the father-sons predicted to go very early.

I have a little extra inside knowledge here because a young GWS Academy kid shifted to the Gold Coast last year and played for the Suns named Josh Fahey. The Giants lured him back with a scholarship to finish Year 12 and he’s an exceptional talent.

If Fahey finishes the season strongly then the chances of GWS getting away both early picks is diminished. If they trade up or out or both the they can get one pick inside a bid for Fahey. Moving their higher pick upwards and trading out of their own pick to gather enough picks to match Fahey and then trade in again to claim a 3rd puck in the top 20 to 30.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

If the Dogs had to slip a few spots in the 2022 draft they won’t care about a deficit. What they will care about is having first rounders in this draft and the next being wiped out.

Getting points for their first rounder and selling a player or two really transforms the Dogs draft for 2 years. How far is Sam Power willing to go?

That’s why I look for connections with trade potential. Ballard and Young playing for Sturt and SA is a big connection. Cal Coleman-Jones was Captain of their SA U18s team. SA boys LOVE the Gold Coast.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Would you part with Josh Bruce for points to get Sam Darcy now that you’ve got so many tall forward prospects? Pretty sure you’d want to hold onto the Astronaught, JUH, Tim English and Stef Martin, while Josh Schache won’t move north again and the Suns already recruited Alex Keath but he chose to play a different sport instead. Mitch Wallis has reached unrestricted free agency and I can’t imagine he will demand much. Lin Jong could be similar.

Lewis Young is from Sturt and came up with Charlie Ballard, so he’d be on the shopping list.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

If the AFL Commission decides the Suns have had enough help, those picks being stockpiled will be used on Academy players and trading for talent. In that scenario, it’s hard to see the Suns trading many picks before the Draft because their Academy players could attract bids anywhere from the second round to the fifth.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

GWS started out with more high draft picks than the Suns. Starting up both clubs at the same time also meant that the Suns lost their second consecutive number one draft pick and necessary concessions, while GWS enjoyed extra concessions such as the two mini-drafts, $3 million more in COLA and a much longer list size for longer to fit in mature players to bring the young fellows up to standard.

There’s a gulf in comparison, hence the concessions now and continued embarrassment of riches for GWS, who will again have 2 picks inside the top 10 to 12.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

From a Suns perspective, IF the concessions remain, getting both the Dogs first rounder and a willing player is worth the points.

Scenario 1: Suns start of 2nd = 800 points, Suns own 2nd 700 points, Suns 3rds 700 points, Suns 4ths 300 points = 2500 points

In exchange for Dogs first round pick plus Ed Richards or Patrick Lipinski or a willing player.

Caveats include possible future picks being swapped and Suns players perhaps going the other way.

Scenario 2: If the Suns can’t use their early 2nd priority pick, then the Dogs could simply look at trading a player for points and keep their first rounder. 1000 to 1700 points ought to cover most fring players.

Scenario 3: The Dogs have a full set of future picks and the Suns have almost 4000 points in this draft. There are plenty of win-win trades to be made that could get the Dogs the requisite points.

Scenario 4: A third trade partner could be necessary if player trades become part of the deal. The mind boggles as to how that might work, but go back to 2018 where Adelaide, Carlton and Sydney shifted around Mitch McGovern, Shane McAdam and a similar amount of draft points to make for a 3 way trade .

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

The Suns access to Darwin talent is interesting. They had the Darwin zone until GWS came along and took it. However, the NT is broken up into several zones, so it is incorrect to say that the Suns have complete access because they don’t. We are talking about one player per year as well as a game year in the top end.

The Suns have a very large academy in terms of distance, stretching from Northern NSW to the Logan River, yet the AFL is still establishing the game in QLD and creating boys and girls pathways

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Equity in the AFL is never going to be perfect, which is why they’ve made priority picks so much harder to tank for and put a review process in place for each year the Suns are deemed to need support.

GWS and the Suns were set up vastly differently, with the Giants getting more early priority picks, a massive talent pool filled with A-Graders, $3 million more in COLA, 2 mini-drafts and a host of other advantages. It is almost as though they saw from the start badly the Suns was set up and over compensated by giving the Giants the world.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Fair points again, but if you’re going to judge the Suns equity to all other teams, at what point do you look at the list build at GWS compared to the Suns? I can promise you they were NOT created equally.

I could understand the Suns having their start of second round priority pick taken, but losing the pre-drafting of Academy players and list size is unnecessary as it is meant to be a way for the club to nurture local talent. Having to actually draft them will mean giving up list spots instead of rookie listing them if they are bid upon. This year’s Academy group is very strong.

What the Suns need to do this year is bring in some veterans and only add local youth. Do it properly and there will never be a need for further concessions.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

The Dogs have come out and said they’re prepared to go into deficit, but there’s also a looming cap crunch so I’m thinking a combo of their first and a player. Darcy MacPherson would just be steak knives to make room for the player.

Mitch Wallis, Lin Jong and Tommy Liberatore are all unrestricted free agents. Mrs West isn’t too happy with Bevo, so maybe you Rhylee is due a change of scenery?

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

I respect your opinion and you’ve made your points very well, however, I feel that you have overstated the concessions that Suns have received. In 2018, the club was given the chance to pre-list 3 tier-2 players, which they did in the form of Sam Collins, Chris Burgess and Josh Corbett (all of whom are currently in the side). They had pick 2 for finishing 17th, pick 3 as compo for Tom Lynch walking in free agency and pick 6 in exchange for Steven May.

The priority picks have only brought in Noah Anderson, half of Sam Flanders and most of Jeremy Sharp. There are 5 extra Academy players who have come through the pre-drafting concession, 2 who have played AFL and 1 of the other 3 is debuting tomorrow. The third and final instalment means a few more Academy kids get on the rookie list and the draft picks mentioned in the article can be used as currency to trade for mature players and complete the list rebuild..

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Jack Lukosius isn’t playing CHB. He’s playing on the wing and apart from hopeless goalkicking he’s getting the offence into some terrific scoring situations.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

Chuck, Stephen Dank started out at the Suns in 2010 and was sacked just before the first ever game in 2011. Long before he ever haunted Windy Hill.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

The current Suns list has 50 on it. If the AFL extends lists back to 2020 sizes, player movement through delisted free agency will be limited as clubs go to the draft, with the Suns in particular going back to 53.

Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch appear to have had their tickets stamped, while Zac Smith and Jarrod Harbrow could be joining them. Rory Thompson hasn’t played footy for 3 years and is 31 next March, so he might be shaping to retire having rehabilitated ACL reconstructions on both knees. The first 4 are rookies, which would clear 3 spaces for pre-listing Academy players.

Should pre-listing no longer be an option, the club then needs to delist several players on the main list and re-sign them to the rookie list. Jez McLennan may be demoted to the rookie list as he hasn’t played AFL yet. Such player movements will become clearer as the season draws to a close.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

My overall point is that the Suns need to bring in 3 to 5 Academy players AND go after talent which will require high draft picks. Mabior Chol, Callum Coleman-Jones, Luke Dunstan, George Hewitt are all players who would be starting 22.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

I watched him over the weekend and he was kicking goals in every way you want a forward to play. High marking, excellent leading patterns, goals from tight angles, goals from set shots, goals from chaos balls, goals roving the packs. He’s clean with the ball and didn’t even look close to missing. Would have had 10 goals if he didn’t cramp up badly in the final quarter. Actually, he very unselfishly dished off what could have been his 10th.

His Dad played 50 games of VFL for St Kilda and the Bears. Real shame he coulodn’t have debuted in Darwin in front of his mob on country.

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

I think the AFL were well aware of the flow on effect of the concessions in terms of adding picks that could be advantageous for opposing clubs to trade for.

There may be a third solution too

Will the Suns keep their third year of draft concessions?

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