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Thom Roker

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Joined February 2018

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Thom Roker is a podcaster and sportswriter with an abiding interest in the AFL's unwanted and unloved red-haired step-child, the Gold Coast Suns.

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Have a look at the ladder. The Suns have played 6 of the top 9 sides, beating 2 of them. 9 of the remaining 14 games are against teams currently in the bottom half of the ladder. The young Suns outplayed the young Swans yesterday and there are some cracking players coming through the VFL.

Why the Swans have the best young crop in the AFL

Charlie Ballard, Wil Powell, Ben Ainsworth, Jak Lukosius, Matt Rowell, Izak Rankine, Connor Budarick & Mally Rosas say hi.

Why the Swans have the best young crop in the AFL

GWS and the Suns were set up completely differently. GC were given a barren zone, at first with access to Darwin, but the AFL gave that to GWS anyway and only gave it back 3 years ago. GWS got 2 mini-drafts which netted them the equivalent of 5 x #1 Draft picks, whereas, the Suns didn’t get that, rather they gave away their own high draft picks to buy the mini-draft number 1 picks, Jaeger O’Meara & Jack Martin, who didn’t even last to free agency.

I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said. The team is building and the youngsters in the VFL are developing. The window is opening.

Why the Swans have the best young crop in the AFL

Objectively, it is very hard to go past the Suns young division is the most talent packed, but you make a strong argument for the Swans so lets compare the pair. I’m going to set the parameters at 22 given that is the League’s measure.

Last year the Swans had Tom McCartin in the Class of 21 while the Suns had Ben King, Wil Powell & Jack Lukosius. Sydney also had James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney and Errol Gulden in the top 40, while the Suns had Charlie Ballard and Noah Anderson, so it is pretty even on that score. Suns ahead.

The Suns then have Izak Rankine, Matt Rowell, Sam Flanders, Elijah Hollands & Mac Andrew as their early draft picks, which is 5 years from being a devastating midfield on its own. Rankine and Rowell are winning now, Flanders and Hollands are pushing for selection averaging 17 and 21 touches, each playing midfield/forward. Mac Andrew had 23 touches and 8 marks in defence last week and is one of the most exciting yongsters in the comp.

The Suns Academy has produced some talent, if less heralded than Sydney’s because they were not required to be picked at the draft. Pat Murtagh is a powerful KPP swingman, Caleb Graham has carved out 25 AFL games in defence and make-shift ruck, Matt Conroy is the club’s 3rd ruckman, Connor Budarick won a NAB Rising star nomination, Malcolm Rosas kicked 3 goals in the win against Carlton last week, Ace Hewago is a pacy flanker, Joel Jeffrey kicked 9 goals in a VFL match last year, Alex Davies is currently best 22, Rhys Nicholls is a 2nd year defender, Sandy Brock had 10 WAFL games last year and Bodhi Uwland is in rehab but was described by ESPN’s CHris Doerre as the next Luke Hodge.

Other youngsters include MSRD pick 5 Ned Moyle, who is currently leading the hitouts in the VFL and shapes as an heir apparent to Jarrod Witts. Jez McLennan and Jeremy Sharp are the two players the Suns sunk multiple picks into to trade up and grab them early day 2 of their drafts, the former yet to debut while the latter has been in and out of the side. Charlie Constable is still in this group despite having spent 4 seasons at Geelong, which is a pretty handy spare piece to have.

That’s half of the Suns 48 player list. Nobody else has that many or that talented a group of young players. Even if we pushed the age out to 23, which the Suns have none of and the Swans have arguably one of the best groups at that age, things still stack up for the Suns.

Matching of player for player, the Suns list outlasts the Swans.
Florent vs Anderson
Hayward vs Rankine
McLean vs Graham
Bell vs Budarick
Amartey vs King
Wicks vs Powell
McCartin vs Ballard
Blakey vs Lukosius
McAndrew vs Moyle
McInerney vs Rowell
Rowbottom vs Davies
Stephens vs Flanders
Gould vs McLennan
Warner vs Rosas
Campbell vs Sharp
McDonald vs Mac Andrew
Sheather vs Jeffrey
Gulden vs Hollands
Rankin vs Ace
Roberts vs Uwland
Warner2 vs Nicholls
Sheldrick vs Brock
O’Connor vs Murtagh
Ladhams (24) vs Conroy

If we go to 24 and 25, the Suns still compare better.

It’s a close run thing, with the Suns easily leading in draft picks, while the Swans have shown astute recruitment at later picks.

The Academies line up fairly evenly, but the Suns have 543 games out of their home-grown talent to 542 games from the Swan (cheating a bit by including Sexton, Thompson, Chol plus Rampe and Cunningham – all homegrown, but preceeding Academies).

Suns 447 games to Swans 575 games for this cohort shows that Sydney is marginally ahead in blooding this cohort, but the difference is mainly in the fact that the Suns aren’t playing their teenagers and the 23 yos at the Swans.

A quick look at the recent head to head in which many of these players faced each other, it is looking grim for the Swans with the Suns winning 3 to 2 in the Dew era. What is worse for the Swans is that 2 of those losses were at the SCG, which happens to be one of the Suns’ happiest hunting grounds having won 3 of their past 4 games there.

The one thing that demonstrates the main premise of the article is that the Swans are playing more of their youngsters in their AFL side most weeks, however the sample size is too small just yet to see whether that lasts all year.

Bring on Round 8!

Why the Swans have the best young crop in the AFL

Good article until the end where you sunk the boot into the Suns recruitment history. Witts is proving to be a very handy trade, but there have been plenty of others that have worked out just fine. Pearce Hanley, Matt Rosa, Lachie Weller, Jack Hombsch, Anthony Miles, to name a few, have been useful additions to the club.

The Weller trade still carries a lot of the negativity from the time, but getting a ready made player of his quality to come and lead the club has been incredible for the club’s culture, not to mention getting a pick in the bargain that we used on Charlie Ballard.

The Suns traded Harley Bennell, who did nothing for Freo, and got the pick they used on Brayden Fiorini.

They traded Steven May and Kade Kolodjashnij to Melbourne for the pick they used on Ben King.

The Suns may have “lost” talent, but they always claimed fair compensation and the list has been rebuilt using picks from trading Charlie Dixon, Dion Prestia, Jaeger O’Meara etc.

Free Agency has been a bounty for the Suns after losing Tom Lynch for pick 3, bringing in Brandon Ellis, Rory Atkins and Mabior Chol recently, while in the early days they got Nathan Krakouer, Nick Malceski and Michael Barlow.

Every club's best trade of the 21st century: Part 2 - Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong and Gold Coast

Send North to Tasmania. Give Hugh Greenwood a part-time coaching job and let him go play basketball cos he’s useless at footy. But he’s a Tasmanian. So is Aaron Hall. And David Noble. And Scott Clayton. And Tarryn Thomas. And rookies Matthew McGuinness and Patrick Walker.

Rip off the band-aid and get the new Tasmanian Premier to tip some money in. North could still play 7 or 8 games in Melbourne. Victoria is, afterall, a colony of Tasmania’s. Clarko could be the coach. Get it done, Gil.

Why we should be concerned about North Melbourne

Hi sweetheart. Don’t cry, little baby.

ANALYSIS: 'He brings joy'- Smokin' Joe recovers from 'smartarse' brain fade with second-half heroics as Lions snatch win

Port are just not that good this year. It didn’t help them that Cannon McKenzie went off injured after they’d already had injuries to key players, which allowed Brisbane to finish running over the top of them. But they just weren’t playing at their usual intensity or effectiveness.

Brisbane playing at home against a dangerous rival will be relieved, but they weren’t even as good as Port for most of the game. The Gabba crowd showed it is probably worth 3 to 4 goals, which was the difference in the end as Port ran out of soldiers finishing with 64/75 interchanges.

Another way to characterise the difference between the sides was the fact that both of Brisbane’s rucks were better than the solo Scott Lycett. Port are usually the kind of side that plays with 2 ruckmen, so they’ll want to fix that part of their game. Maybe Charlie Dixon is the answer, but Port need to kick goals too.

ANALYSIS: 'He brings joy'- Smokin' Joe recovers from 'smartarse' brain fade with second-half heroics as Lions snatch win

Have you been stalking me again, Kane? It’s really creepy. I’ve made barely 5 comments on this site all week. Wouldn’t be the first time you’ve searched for me across social media.

Blues bombshell: Voss, forward to miss Dogs blockbuster

Kane thinks footy is more important than the health of the vulnerable in the population. Kane probably cheered for Thanos in Avengers. Don’t be like Kane.

Blues bombshell: Voss, forward to miss Dogs blockbuster

Tim, on a day when so many journalists came to Tom Morris’ defence, only to melt away once the recording of his comments about Megan Barnard, you’ve managed to present some evidence that shows he’s not regarded highly at all. Would you still write the same story if you’d heard the leaked recording?

Clearly, this is a case of an ongoing behind the scenes spat with some history to it. Luke Beveridge has come out today and made an unreserved apology. Tom Morris started the day trending on Twitter as journos circled the wagons defending him, and he’s still trending on Twitter for being a homophobic misogynist toward a work colleague. The silence is deafening now. Where are all the blue tick journos joining in the widespread condemnation?

For the Bulldogs' sake - and his own - Luke Beveridge needs to pull his head in

tl;dr

Your Suns review was derivative hash. Why would anyone read an entire article that came from Kane Cornes first?

A perfectly reasonable and sensible prediction of the 2022 AFL season

Midfield is a bit cramped for places at the moment, PTS. To paraphrase Jono Brown when asked what would have happened had the AFL not changed the zoning rules and NIck Riewoldt had been drafted to the Lions, I’m not sure we’d have a spot for him. Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Touk Miller, David Swallow, Brayden Fiorini and Alex Davies look like forming the midfield rotation and it really is hard to see a debutant getting game time where Elijah Hollands and Sam Flanders can’t get a look in while there’s also the reigning Magarey Medallist in Dew’s back pocket, with Jack Bowes and Charlie Constable still to come back from injury. But OK, we’ll have him if you’re trading.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Not a criticism, just an observation. You did your list before them, which is why I offered the comparison.

AFL pre-season power rankings

A lot of them believed me straight up. Others came in little delegations, asking if it was true. Chinese people have a lot of respect for teachers. Eventually, some of the students I taught who knew my sense of humour came and said they didn’t believe any of it. By I’d told half of them I meant gay = happy and the other half that they were all homosexual. I’ve never had more fun in my life. Eventually, Buddy, Silk and Roughy got their shit together and torched the Dees, and we all left singing a camp version of “we’re a happy team at Hawthorn”.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Nice first effort, Chuck. Compared to Fox Footy, you have the same bottom 5 with a different order, and 6 of the same top 8. Fox had Geelong 5th and the Bombers 8th, with GWS and the Swans in no-man’s land.

AFL pre-season power rankings

Well, the roadmap to Tassie getting an AFL licence before Covid included them fielding a VFL team. 2022, still no Tasmanian VFL team. It costs about a million for a licence, but the Tasmanians don’t appear ready to put their money where their mouths are.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

I once took a group of 50 Chinese students to a Hawks vs Demons game. This was before either was any good and the AFL was literally giving away tickets for free. They were so grateful that I could mobilise 50 people that they were like, can you get more?

Anyway, we get into the ground and I’d only been able to pre-teach anything about the game to my own class of about 18, so I started a game of Chinese whispers. It’s a real thing and absolutely hilarious when you have 50 actual Chinese people to play it with.

So, after explaining the teams, colours, mascots and some rules, I told my chief interpreters that Hawthorn were the AFL’s only 100% gay team. This was supported by the Home team’s incessant playing of their club song, which I taught to the students “We’re a happy team at Hawthorn” and had all of them singing it. Gay = happy, right teacher? Yes, sure!

2011 Hawks were pretty boys and used so much hair product that some of the students were questioning me about whether I meant happy or the other meaning. I pretended not to understand. It certainly made the game more interesting because neither side was playing good football.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Yep, West Hobart Wombats are go for 2027.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Seems like a signing this big has been getting leaked all over the place. Articles in all the MSM saying he’d all but signed, rumours going around social media and now Fish has scooped his own best source before the club is prepared to announce their big signing.

Stuart Dew was granted AFL life membership last night and today was supposed to be a day for the club to honour him. With Ben King in early recovery from him knee reconstruction, this announcement is a bit trashy by the AFL’s media arm.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

2 years is fine. 3 years would have put him a year out from free agency, which is Jack Martin territory. 4 years would have put him in free agency, in Tom Lynch kind of talks. Even 5 years would have put him potentially in a Steven May scenario where he asked to be traded year early.

He’ll be getting very good money for the next 2 years, which is why Lukosius has had to wait. He will be next, then Rankine. That will be the order in the size of their deals and I would not be surprised if one or both gets 2 years so their contracts don’t come up at the same time as Rowell and Anderson.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Maybe step off the Clarko narrative. He is very close friends with Stuart Dew and would never dog him like that. You won’t like it when people start speculating about Leon Cameron being replaced by Clarko.

Suns young gun Ben King makes decision on future

Interesting to read another account of how well the Suns are travelling heading into the season proper.

A performance that was even better considering a few starters were held out and the Suns played most of the second half with Witts, Collins, Lukosius and Chol sitting on the bench. Flanders, Sexton and Thompson didn’t come on until the 3rd quarter, which was when the game still hung in the balance.

The Suns injury list isn’t at all dire aside from the obvious outs, with King out and Bowes still 6 weeks.

AFL pre-season: Top picks shine as Suns shock Geelong, but don't go writing the Cats off yet

You will find that all of the other finals teams had much more success than the Bombers.

Can Essendon make the leap to premiership contenders in one year?

You’re high!

'Force to be reckoned with': Suns unveil new game plan that will embarrass their critics

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