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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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The one thing that Geelong has on its list and in its locker rooms is a culture that transcends the draft picks, trades and October manoeuverings of the other 17 clubs. 16 players on the list this year were originally from Geelong. Some of them were drafted to the Cats in the conventional way, 3 were father-sons, several were free agents returning to their childhood home and others still were undrafted players that remained in the area and came onto the list as mature agers.

Yattz, there already is a basketball convert on Geelong’s Cat B rookie list named Paul Tsapatolis. Was potentially heading to the Olympics, but Geelong

I am reminded that I am just a pundit whenever Stephen Wells makes list moves, but I am quite baffled by the departures from the Cattery.
Josh Jenkins kicked 25.11 in 8 VFL games
Nathan Kreuger has AFL level talent
Jordan Clark was under contract
Charlie Constable was the future of the midfield
Darcy Fort has to be a better option than 31yo Ceglar
Lachie Henderson has been outstanding in his veteran years
Oscar Brownless was tearing other VFL sides to pieces
Stefan Okunbor is a Cat B rookie!

But what do I know.

Emptying the kitty litter: What does the future hold for Geelong?

It is good to see for once that someone suggesting the Suns move to Tasmania has actually put some thought into your retort instead of just doubling down with the same tired arguments. You are still wrong though and it’s not your fault that Vic Media write endless garbage clickbait articles about moving the club without considering the ramifications and impossibility of such a stupid move.

Queensland is home to over 20% of the Australian population and is the fastest growing state, with interstate migration and international migration set to explode over the next few years after lockdowns end for good and the borders inside and out are lifted. There are already hundreds of thousands of interstate migrants, mostly from Victoria, living in South East Queensland, so it doesn’t matter if they support the Suns as long as they still patronise the game.

The QAFL is a strong feeder competition on the Gold Coast, with all teams contributing players to the national competition though the Suns Academy. Last year, the Suns listed 5 Academy players, with 2 from the Gold Coast area, 1 from Cairns, 1 from Darwin and 1 from Port Moresby. Queensland produced 9 draftees altogether compared to WA’s 10, with the Suns leading the way.

However, you appear to be under the misapprehension that the Suns are getting all this money tipped into a bottomless pit, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The AFL has slashed the Suns funding by $10.6 million and what’s left barely pays the player wages and soft cap for coaching. And in spite of the adversity, not one player out of 50 wanted to leave the club at the end of the season.

Your argument about expansion teams is flawed, just as your whole argument fails to consider all aspects of the issue. Freo haven’t won anything in 27 years and GWS nothing in 10 seasons. It is 23 seasons since Adelaide won the flag and 17 since Port won. It took Brisbane a relocation from the Gold Coast, a merger with a Victorian team and a raft of concessions to sweep the Lions to success 15 years after entering the comp and they’ve had 18 flagless seasons since. Hawthorn didn’t even make finals for 50 years and St Kilda have won one flag in 100 years. Success is found in more facets of a club than how many flags can be won in how short a time.

What you remain deliberately ignorant of throughout this campaign to defecate all over the Suns is that our club has fans and members with an investment in our club’s future success. Financial and emotional investment. You can’t buy that. The club’s membership tipped 20K this year, which isn’t huge but our patron VFL club has 50K and the city has rising 700K residents which is more than all of Tasmania. We were granted a team in 1987 and paid for it through the tough transition to AFL and a corrupt ownership. Brisbane stole our team in 1992 and the AFL repeatedly rejected applications from the Southport Sharks to get a licence.

This is our history and our accomplishments that you $h1t all over with your paraphrasing of Caro Wilson. That our club, which has assurances of permanency from the AFL CEO, Federal Government, State Government and a host of corporate partners, could possibly be disbanded because of onfield performance is laughable. If that were the criteria, then Richmond and St Kilda would have been packed off to Tassie long since and North Melbourne getting the wooden spoon and only playing well in Hobart would have seen them packing their bags as we speak.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

I knew it! Too tight to pay for a beautician, so you get a nurse to do it for free. Can’t imagine they gave you a happy ending with a hernia op though.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

Well said. Recall the media before that game were calling for the club’s licence to be revoked, Dew had to be sacked, the board needed to be replaced, the AFL needed to intercede and the sky was falling.

Richmond weren’t at full strength, but looked to have the legs to enough to win, then the Suns did something that hasn’t been typical in the past and fight back in the final quarter. Then they did it again the following week against GWS.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

They already do. Braydon Preuss, Bailey Scott, Noah Cumberland, Will Martin, to name some recent ones.

The Gold Coast is lousy with ex-AFL players and several of them have their teenagers in the Suns Academy. Jeff White’s boy is coming through. Several others to come.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

Fair enough. It was a big deal because the leading players were asked to give back the biggest chunk, so they banded together and insisted that their sacrifice wasn’t just an excuse to hoard a war chest for another big player grab.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

NT Academy was originally given to the Suns in 2010. That’s how Steven May came to the club. Then it a was as given to GWS, then taken away because they had too much. If the Suns had retained it they’d have Brandon Parfitt and Zac Bailey.

The Suns recruit from SA, Chuck. It is fail safe. They never go home. It may seem as though they’ve gone heavy on Vic Metro, but you can’t argue that King, Rowell and Anderson weren’t the best players available. But have a look at the other major recruits and you’ve got Elijah Hollands, Sam Flanders, Ben Ainsworth and Will Brodie all from Vic Country in the past 5 drafts.

The Suns aren’t afraid of WA either with the only kids from the west who were wantaways being Omeara and Martin, who went to Victoria and not home.

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Such as the Suns trading a future pick in the midteens because a player they highly rated was still on the board at 27? It’s an arbitrary number anyway because 3 bids on club tied players pushed everything back.

What I really like about that pick is that it came from West Coast to Geelong in the Kelly Trade, then Geelong gives it to the Suns, who were on the bad side of a trade gone wrong with the Eagles in 2017, but now here WCE were forced to overpay Geelong, who were then forced to overpay GWS as the Suns picked a WA kid that the Eagles would have picked at the same pick had they kept it.

For once, we agree! The value of the 2019 pick 27 was determined by Jeremy Sharp being left on the board and Geelong named their price for it or else they would have picked him.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

This is where you start to fudge the numbers and leave out critical information to prove your ill-made points. Freo got Brodie, picks 19, 61 and 69. The Suns couldn’t use any of those things. Brodie is good, but the Suns have too many players like him and he isn’t close to the top because he’s a one-position guy. He was also due $600K because he’s a former pick 9 and had a back-ended contract which Freo are now paying. That’s 5% of the Suns salary cap saved and paid forward to resign Rankine, Lukosius and King.

Next, you fudge over the Carlton pick trade with the Suns as if SOS was some sort of wizard and didn’t get fired for incompetance and draft tampering. Carlton’s pick was actually 9, but SOS put in bids for Tom Green and Liam Henry which were both matched, then he had no idea what to do next and panicked by trading back to the Suns, the very same team he refused to trade pick 9 with for weeks so he could sneak Jack Martin through the PSD for $3 million (at 13 touches a game).

The Suns went up to get Sam Flanders because he was one of the most highly rated mids in the draft and they knew they couldn’t get as good a player by waiting. But then you brag that Carlton were dynamic and amazing because they picked Brodie Kemp and Sam Philp. Who? I agree Kemp was good as a junior, but he’s done nothing in 2 years, while Philp was a stretch and probably a bust.

Then you have this selective memory with the Jeremy Sharp trade. Having used 1, 2, 17 and 22, the Suns came in from pick 64 for Geelong’s pick 27 when Jeremy Sharp was still available – double All-Australian U18 with 6 senior WAFL games experience. The trade piece Geelong wanted was the mid-first-round future pick. Not pick 11 in the end, but pick 15. The Suns were going to pick Sharp at 17, so spending a priority pick that ended up being 4 picks later (a year later too, but never mind) was very appealing.

Geelong’s greed in not settling for a future second came back to bite them on the butt when GWS decided it wanted all the Cats’ loot from their aggressive trading with the Eagles and the Suns, so they ended up losing that pick and several other valuable picks from the Tim Kelly trade so they could get Jeremy Cameron. Oh, and that pick 62 from Carlton was ontraded to the Cats as part of the deal, but ultimately passed in.

The Suns came out of the 2019 Draft with Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Sam Flanders, Jeremy Sharp, Jy Farrar, Connor Budarick, Malcolm Rosas, Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh, the first 7 of whom have played 116 games in 2 seasons.

Remind me who won the 2019 trade and draft period?

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

They couldn’t, remember. When they asked all of their players to agree to a 9% pay cut, the players demanded in return that the club wouldn’t then go looking for an expensive player in the trade period.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

No. The Suns didn’t have salary cap issues, although the cap reduction forced the club into making some changes such as moving back salary to this year to get last year’s number at the level it needed to be. The long and short is that you can be way over one year as long as you get way under the next year and balance things out. The Suns also thought they’d have more than one player asking to move for better opportunities, so they ended up getting creative about finding that player a new home.

The minimum salary cap spend is 95% and Brodie’s salary was $600K, which is 5%. If we assume the Suns TPP was as close to 100% as they could manage (there’s hidden costs and extra payments that are impossible to play for to the dollar) then sending pick 3 to Freo means they are close to 95% for 2022, which means there’s $1.2 million on thetable for Rankine, Lukosius and King, who are currently on around $600K, plus Touk is due to get paid and earn Buddy money for a year.

The club has been very forthright. This whole period has gone to plan and they’ve been able to bank future picks. It’s not a fair grading system if a C+ is given to a club that achieved everything it set out to do. All clubs involved in the 3 transactions have done well to meet the Suns needs and got what they wanted: Richmond got pick 38 in FA compo, Collingwood got a buttload of pick points and Freo got a mature midfielder plus a use of a valuable pick and some garbage picks.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

Which of those players are best 22? Not Kemp or Philp.

By Season’s end, the Suns had half of their Best 22 out injured – Witts, Weller, Ellis, Markov, Holman, Bowes, Budarick, Day, Greenwood, Thompson and Hollands. With most of those players back in the team by Round 1, 2022 and the experience of the newly blooded players it’s going to be like a new side.

With Witts coming back into the number one ruck role, Conroy and Moyle will be joined by Chol and Day in the ruck division, plus Murtagh if he makes it through list lodgement. Having a second tall forward to take the pressure off King will also create more opportunities for Ainsworth and Rankine, while Holman, Sexton and Corbett patrol the flanks. Day has been tipped to be tried in defence, allowing Ballard and Collins to zone off more and play a Demons style defence, while Thompson is trying to resurrect his career as one of the toughest lockdown defenders in the comp.

The Suns midfield is still developing its identity, as it has been ever-evolving group since the “give-it-to-Gaz” era started to crumble. Ideally, it would have become the Swallow Crew, but his degenerative knees have made him the gutsy leader while everyone chases after Touk Miller. With Rowell, Anderson, Sharp, Hollands, Davies and this year’s pick 3 (if it’s Callaghan) competing with Fiorini, Ellis, Greenwood, Atkins and Weller for spots, there’s going to be players dropped on performance and promoted to reward form for the first time ever.

My only hope is the Suns get to play Carlton twice so we can bank the 8 points.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

The problem is that the media is reporting the Brodie Trade as the Suns having Salary Cap trouble, which isn’t the case at all. Rather, no players wanted to leave and all 38 primary listed players were under contract and couldn’t simply be delisted to create list space without being re-rookied.

Will Brodie grew up supporting the Dockers and was close with Mick Barlow while he was at the Suns, which was literally playing with and learning from your favourite player. I watched a lot of the two playing together and Mick taught Will how to become an accumulator, where to run in support and when to look to dish off by hand around the stoppages.

The reduction of the Salary Cap has caused these salary dumps, but it’s more of a correction than a desperate bid to get under the cap. Holding over money until 2023 is the only way to be able to keep 3 of the best players from the Superdraft. At that time, similar to what GWS has been forced to do to keep their Ferraris, some Suns bottom 20 players are going to be let go in trades and delistings as attrition is inevitable, but this is a list that wants to stay together.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

Luckily, Dahlhaus turns 30 next year so he’ll get a contract.

Jokes aside, Geelong has 16 players who are from the Geelong area originally. 4 were drafted conventionally, 3 father-sons, 4 mature recruits, 1 basketball convert and the rest came back in free agency or trades. They’ve all come up together aware of each other and competing to one day play for the legendary Geelong side.

If the Suns can ever get their Academy producing as many grads as the Geelong Falcons and those players start to want to come back in free agency then the investment will have been worth it. Suns Academy grad Braydon Preuss is one I’m hoping can be like Max Gawn and really start to make something of himself, then nominate the Suns as his trade destination once Wittsy retires. This year’s Academy group will likely churn out more grads than the Suns can accommodate, so the possibility that the Suns in the 2030s will have 20 or more players from their Academy, both drafted and traded back in and collected in free agency, which is also when father-sons will start comin online.

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

As a kid, I could have gone for any team I wanted. I chose the Bears because I’m a masochist. They had 1 good year in 10 and then the AFL bundled them into a merger with Fitzroy. Then there were 3 years when I woke up every day knowing I followed the best team in the comp. I slept well at night, Mondays in Melbourne with my maroon, blue and gold scarf. Then it was all over in one bad half of footy. The world was grey. For 6 years. And now another 12 years with the Suns.

Why didn’t 10 year old me pick Geelong? Finals every year. Have to go back to the 70s to find the last time the team was crap for any period of time. Do you still watch replays of Darren Milburn murdering Stephen Silvagni? Like I watch Steven May slaughter Stef Martin (with a little nudge from Gaz)?

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

To make it fair, the Bulldogs have to miss out too, having been in 2 of the past 5 GFs. While I agree that we could do without Collingwood, Adelaide, North

The underdogs top 8
Suns
Dockers
Power
Blues
Bombers
Saints
Giants
Demons

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Max Gawn missed 3 games in 2020 and the Dees narrowly missed finals. He missed 9 games in 2017 and the also narrowly missed finals. He played all games in 2018 and 2021 for the club’s best seasons since Neale Daniher was coach.

2019 is the outlier year, but Melbourne had well-documented issues with players coming back underdone, while the club very unsuccessfully tried to play Gawn and Braydon Preuss in the same side for a 1 and 5 record.

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Geelong’s depth issues were highlighted when they kept picking Dahlhaus and he kept playing injured. would he be in the Dogs’ best 22?

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

That was a test. The Students were only in the VFL for 90 games pre-WWI, with a 12 – 78 losing record. However, 6 of those wins and 8 of the losses were against Geelong. The Cats had 2 wooden spoons during the University years and would have to have been the 2nd worst team in that era. Imagine how close they came to being closed down and shifted to Tasmania?!

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Do you still lose sleep over those losses to University in the 30s?

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Chol’s place was opened up by Will Brodie getting traded to Freo. Rory retiring would open a spot and his payout will only be half or less than his full salary, but I kinda hope he completes his comeback.

Players under contract who are put back to the rookie list are still paid the same, it’s just the portion of the salary which exceeds the rookie payment counts towards the cap. Rookies get about $80K, which the club pays for, but if they are veterans then they usually have an extra $100 to $200K on top.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

When were the 2nd oldest club in footy low on the ladder?

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

Troll.

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

No, you are putting words in my mouth, as usual. The Suns identified 4 years ago that they needed to rebuild. To do that they had to delist and trade out players that didn’t want to finish bottom and lose all the time. You can’t rebuild and play finals at the same time.

Geelong Cats season 2021 review: Old heads fail to prevail again

*you’re

You must walk around with your head between your legs. This trade period was full of cases where players asked to be traded for compassionate reasons. It isn’t present in all trades, but it is there for all to see. Bit empathy goes a long way. Will Brodie might become a 100 game player at Freo, then request to be traded back to the Suns when they are winning flags.

The Roar's AFL trade period report card: Every club's performance rated

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