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Still can't understand how soccer has more supporters worldwide than AFL footy.

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And the Tiger forwards showed not just a completely different level of scoring capability, but also a different level of pressure capability.

The Hawks’ defenders in 2012-2015 could generally go sideways or backwards to find a fellow defender who had time and space to deliver precisely. But in 2017, Tiger forwards didn’t allow Crows’ defenders to even go sideways or backwards to find a team-mate in space. There were no team-mates in space.

New York Hawk seems to imply that the game hasn’t changed but it has, and those rebounders with elite foot skills will now need to execute those foot skills with even less time than in 2012-2015.

Richmond's rise sounds the death knell for foot skills, slower players and old blokes

Craig your first paragraph makes perfect sense. The trend towards speed and pressure will continue, particularly in forward lines. And this will require new ways to counter a pressure game style.

Maybe recruit rebounders who can shrug off tackles (a la Dusty), who can accelerate off half back (a la Johanissen), who can kick precisely and creatively with only a fraction of a second (a la Sam Mitchell). Or maybe defenders as a unit need to get even faster at flicking handballs around (to find someone in space) than the Crows’ defenders were.

I think the only thing that will stop the decline in tall forwards in 2018 is not ‘fairer umpiring’ (the GF was well umpired) but perhaps a change in the rules!

Richmond's rise sounds the death knell for foot skills, slower players and old blokes

Yes Liam, it happens every year. And the reason it happens is because all teams next year will be looking to learn from the game plan of the 2017 premiers.

Nobody has said changes are irrevocable but there have been changes. If you think Hawkins is still as valuable today as he was 5 years ago or that no-one will try to emulate some of the Tigers’ strategies in 2018, you may be in a minority.

Richmond's rise sounds the death knell for foot skills, slower players and old blokes

Yes, the Tigers’ game plan was a tweaked version of the Freo and Bulldogs’ game plans.

But if you look not just at the grand finals that Freo and the Bulldogs played in but also their season leading up to the Grand Final, they were far less committed to a 6-man tackling machine forward line. They still rotated several talls through their forward line during the season and they didn’t have a policy of recruiting speed.

In contrast, Richmond traded Vickery at the end of 2016 and had a clear policy of recruiting speedy little tacklers and promoting them even if they were inexperienced. In the grand final, the Tigers also had a key marking target (Riewoldt) who was far better at defensive pressure than Freo’s and the Bulldogs’ key marking targets (Pav and Stringer). In these ways, the Tigers up forward had a more extreme version of what Freo and the Bulldogs had.

Richmond's rise sounds the death knell for foot skills, slower players and old blokes

Thanks Matty. Your comments about Adams, Boyd and Campbell suggest Beveridge may, if given the options, return to more conventional roles (big-bodied full back, power forward, playing talls). It’ll be interesting to see whether he does revert to a more conventional structure, or whether he continues with the smaller brigade that delivered the 2016 premiership, or tries something altogether new.

No doubt other clubs will try to emulate the Bulldogs’ slick handball but It’ll also be interesting to see whether they find a way to negate the Bulldogs’ game plan. Perhaps they’ll try and break the Buldogs’ forward press by loading up on defenders who can kick 60m or can kick accurately through the centre of the ground (they would have noticed that Rampe was the only Swans defender whose disposal caused problems for the Bulldogs).

What Luke Beveridge taught us in 2016

Yes Dougie, I forgot Caleb Daniel. Wonderful kicking skills. Haven’t seen enough of Tory Dickson but will take your word for it.

What Luke Beveridge taught us in 2016

If attitude is a big part of the problem – and recent floggings suggest it indeed is – waiting til the end of the year will just see the club sinking deeper into problems. If there’s a good coach available now, grab him and start the rebuild now. That way, the 2nd half of the season can be used constructively instead of further sinking the Brisbane brand name and further sinking the players’ self-confidence.

Having said that, I can’t see an obvious mid-year replacement. Rats is an obvious contender to replace Leppitsch at the end of 2016 but he’d probably prefer to go elsewhere. Scotty Burns was an up-and-coming coach whose prospects have stalled under Buckley and might be persuaded to switch mid-year but would be more likely to be available only at the end of 2016.

Boards that give ridiculously long coaching contract extensions, with no performance clauses, should also be heavily scrutinised.

Is it time for the Lions to cut Leppitsch loose?

Cam I think there’s room for debate about all four of those players you mentioned. Certainly worth experimenting a bit now that the Tigers are struggling, so playing Riewoldt closer to goals is worth a try.

I wonder whether you’re romanticising a bit about Deledio and Martin a few years ago. A few years ago, they were both pretty inconsistent, even from quarter to quarter. I don’t think Deledio’s any better or worse now. I think, like Hardwick, that he should have a regular run through the midfield but lacks the intensity to be a full-time midfielder. Where do you think he should be play?

As for Martin, his consistency has improved. The only reason he’s not kicking as many goals is because his improved tank means he’s playing upfield more often, so I wouldn’t call that regression. You can put him back up forward but then you’d just get him playing bursts again. I’d prefer the current Martin than the burst player.

I’m sure Deledio, Cotchin and Riewoldt can play better (not sure Rance and Martin). A change of coach may give the team a temporary boost but the key gaps re a bullocking midfielder and a classy rebounder (unless they put Deledio or Martin there) would still be problematic.

Hardwick on his last legs: Release the guns

Saying full forwards generally have greater agility, mobility and endurance than full forwards of yesteryear is a bit like saying midfielders are generally taller. Do we really need to look for stats or can we trust our eyes?

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

Michael I don’t think Tippett or Cloke are worth the money they are being paid as full forwards because they are lumberers but I agree Tippett is doing a great job as a ruck, last abode of the lumberers (as long as they have a work ethic). In fact, you have to admire guys like Jack Riewoldt and Tippett for being able to adjust their game.

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

KtK if we had stats for contested marks inside forward 50, that would help resolve one component of this debate.

If we had stats for % of goals kicked from scooping up ground level balls compared to goals from contested marks, that would help resolve another component of this debate.(I guess these stats would be easy to find and would show a lower % of goals nowadays are being kicked from contested marks).

If we had stats for agility, mobility and endurance of the modern full forward compared to that of 4 or ten years ago, that would help resolve the broader aspect of this debate (though we could probably just use the eye test rather than stats).

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

I’d go for Buddy, Roughead, Cameron, Kennedy, Lynch or Jack Riewoldt up forward. That’s favouring a mobile full forward ahead of a contested marking full forward. I wouldn’t go for Tippett, Cloke, Hawkins, or Petrie because they aren’t mobile enough.

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

Great points KtK, especially about the relative tackle counts.

However the point about defensive pressure was part of a bigger point about mobility and athleticism, and any examination of full forwards over the past four years would reveal that they are becoming more mobile and more athletic. You mention Hogan and Cameron but they are no exception to this rule. Lumbering full forwards (not just Cloke, Hawkins and Tippett but probably also Redpath and Casboult) simply cannot get up and down the ground as fast as is now required. The more one-dimensional they are, the less likely they are to be holding down a regular spot as full forward.

You incorrectly argue that I’ve attributed this change to a single reform of inter change numbers. In fact, I argued that reform of inter change numbers is a key influence (not the only influence) on the rise of Scully and of teams that use space effectively.

You argue that ‘The stats just do not support a major shift away from powerful specialist forwards.’ Let’s look further into my stat about contested marking. The league highest in 2011 was 95, in 2012 it was 73; in 2013 it was 58; in 2014 it was 56; in 2015 it was 51. Don’t you see a pattern?

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

Rob, you’re right. It would have been more accurate for me to say Collingwood have trouble running the ball, particularly out of their backline. They rely very heavily on Sidebottom and Pendlebury to link defence to attack and when Collingwood play well, it’s almost always because the opposition have failed to shut down these two players (as happened in the first half last Saturday).

Tippett, Cloke and the death of the power forward

Yeah I’m surprised Zac Smith, Darcy Lang and Josh Caddy didn’t get more of a mention. Each kicked three goals yet none were forward targets. Geelong have only had B grade rucks since Ottens retired but Smith may finally be on his way to becoming an A-grader.

Overreactions to the first round of footy

Stirling your ratings seem pretty accurate. I’d rate a few West Coast players slightly higher: Gaff was about the only WC player giving them run so I’d put him alongside McGovern as WC’s best. Hill and Sheed both played poorly but ‘3’ is a bit unfair. Hill kicked an important early goal and Sheed’s disposal was OK. Give them 4 or 5.

Priddis disappointed with his disposal and was lucky to get 6, especially given he was the main beneficiary of Natanui’s tap supremacy.

Player ratings from the AFL grand final

If Buddy did experience his current problems at Hawthorn, perhaps he shouldn’t have transferred to a club where he was expected to play such a public, promotional role, which has probably just added to the pressure. Here in Sydney, there are still posters all around town showing Buddy leading the Swans’ finals campaign.

Lay off Lance, says AFL boss

Jamie this is a thoughtful analysis.

Good point about Betts et al becoming better footballers after leaving Carlton, however this doesn’t mean Carlton should have held on to them. It means there’s something wrong with the environment at Carlton – with players not getting the best out of themselves.

Whichever team picks up Yarran is likely to see a dramatic improvement in Yarran’s performances. You also have to wonder whether Bryce Gibbs might have become a better footballer if placed in a different football environment. The environment seems to be a bit like that at Melbourne, where, prior to Roos’ arrival, very few players seemed to grow and thrive.

Bolton is well-credentialled as a strategist but can he change the broader picture of Carlton’s football environment?

Can Carlton cure themselves of their self-inflicted Blues?

Jacobs is certainly playing an important role at North. Since tagging in-and-under footballers like the Swans’ Kennedy is difficult, it’s more likely Jacobs will start on Hannebery.

Ben Jacobs: Making his mark

Pies midfield in 2015 looked far more robust than in 2014 but didn’t look more creative or more skilled. With Taylor Adams and Jack Crisp giving them new robustness, they still need a creative midfielder like the one they lost, Dane Beams, or like Dangerfield. Or maybe Aish or Treloar (or their own Tim Broomhead) could grow into that role in 2016 or 2017.

Plenty of exciting possibilities but just right now, the Pies’ midfield looks a bit gruntish.

Five defining questions ahead of 2016: Collingwood

Agreed. And you need skilled midfielders to rebound effectively after those turnovers.

You could also say that fewer goals are scored from lead-up forwards or contested-marking forwards (remember the era when Lockett dominated in both these facets) and a higher % of goals are now kicked by skilled little guys. Anyone can do the full forward’s job nowadays.

Skill is the key to success, so spend your big money on the skilled players.

List managers beware: Three fallacies that could derail your 2016

Hi Edgar, let’s just test a few of your assertions:

“Without a big man of substance you have nothing.” – Actually, the following teams all made the final 8 without an A-grade tall forward: Dockers (sorry Pav), North, Bulldogs. Two of those have already won a final this year.

“Rarely do you get someone who is a ready made key tall.” Let’s assume you mean key tall forwards, because that’s what we’re discussing. Your assumption was true ten years ago, but ten years ago, tall forwards were required to kick goals. Nowadays they just need to get to enough contests, and youngsters can do that quite well. How many games do you think Jesse Hogan, Josh Bruce, Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy, Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon had played before they cemented their place?

“It’s not like [aggressive footballers] get reported every week… You want a hybrid of netball and touch football?” Are you debating against points that were actually in the article, or just in your imagination?

Hi E.S.,

I agree with your list of A-grade tall forwards, though they probably only average the same number of marks per match and around 1 – 1.5 more goals per match than the B-graders like Cloke etc. The A-grade tall forwards are certainly worth good money but the A-grade smalls are, in my opinion, worth more.

List managers beware: Three fallacies that could derail your 2016

Stewie you left out runners Parker, McVeigh and McGlinn, who were also disappointing, and tagger Craig Bird, who was curiously left to spectate in the green vest. With Goodes now only a bit-player and McVeigh sent down back to prop up the rebounding, the Swans need to develop some midfield leadership. Maybe Parker or Jack could step up this year.

Also, individually, there’ are still a lot of guys that could still actually improve, particularly Rampe, Cunningham, Brandon Jack, Mitchell, Tippett (improving on last year), Parker, and Jones.

They’re a bit hard to predict, but could still contend this year.

Will the Swans sink or swim after their 2014 grand final humiliation?

For 1980s social values, definitely Sam Newman and Brian Taylor.

AFL dinosaurs who'll suit up for the 2015 season

That’d disqualify Kane Cornes, Rhyce Shaw, Dylan Grimes and big Aaron but the three Jacks would remain a good fit! Tyrone, Mitch, Dustin and Clint sound like they come from a cowboy film.

AFL dinosaurs who'll suit up for the 2015 season