At the start of trade period, it was outlined that we as a club were after speed. We wanted to play an attacking style of play, switching at will and attacking relentlessly to shove the ball down the throat of our three pronged key forward set-up. We were just missing some speed to do it.
Did we succeed in our mission?
Let’s break down each deal we’ve made this trade period and I’ll give some words on how I feel about the whole shebang.
Zac williams (fa)
IN: Zac Williams
OUT: Money (roughly $750k-$850k, reports vary).
I am absolutely over the moon about this one. Not only is it cathartic to FINALLY get a free agent we’ve been in the hunt for, but Zac fills a need and brings a new dynamic to our side.
Although his home has been running off of half-back for most of his career, it’s looking like Zac will be deployed mostly as a midfielder for us going forward, which is what excites me most. After his electric performance last season for GWS as a midfielder during their finals campaign, I always wanted GWS to at least rotate him through there every now and again, as his breakaway speed and elite disposal provide a real point of difference at the coalface.
Alas, GWS just had too many Ferrari’s in the engine room, and just ignored what was right in front of them: a guided missile.
Zac’s quick burst allows him to play as an elite inside/outside mid, which is something we are screaming out for as Murph is on his last legs, and Dow hasn’t come on quite as quick as we would have liked. He can use his quickness and agility to either be first to the ball and quickly hand it off to someone on the outside/take it for himself and run, or he can be that first option running on the outside for Crippa to release to when he inevitably gets his 20th contested possession and 12th clearance for the quarter.
I haven’t even mentioned how his speed and aggressiveness allow him excel defensively in the guts as well, which again is something we need.
The strengths he brings to the table are the weaknesses of our current midfield, which is a huge boon to our finals chances.
It’s like when you go to a gatho and you’re told to bring some snacks, so you bring a classic, BBQ Shapes. You can’t go wrong with BBQ Shapes. But then you rock up to the party, and shit, everyone else has brought BBQ Shapes! You’re not that upset, since BBQ Shapes are awesome, but you really feel like something else, maybe something not so savoury.
Then your mate arrives, and praise the lord! He’s brought a family-size bag of Natural Confectionary Party Mix. The party is saved, there’s some variety!
(For those of you who are lost, our 2020 midfield are the Shapes and Williams is the Party Mix.)
The only knock on him as a midfielder is that he has only played a small amount of games there in admittedly a vastly more talented midfield unit, and there’s questions surrounding his tank and being able to play a full game there. However, after a pre-season under AR I think he’ll be fine in that department.
As for the deal itself, if he reaches the potential I think he can in the midfield (I actually think he could get to AA level if he hits his straps), the price is very, very fair. If he’s merely good, it’s a bit of an overpay, but that’s the price you pay for FA’s.
I also think 6 years is a bit long, that’s nearly locking him in for life, but I like the confidence the club have in him.
Overall, huge fan of this transaction.
IN: Saad, Pick 48, Pick 78
OUT: Pick 8, Pick 87
We needed speed, so we went out and got one of the fastest half backs in the league. Although I think we overpaid a liiiiiitle, I think it was well worth it, as Saad’s inclusion transforms our backline. Seriously, this guy has more speed than the sketchy looking guy leaned up against the wall at Revs at 4 in the morning.
Saad, like Williams, provides a real point of difference in our back line due to his acceleration and ability to take the game on. Our small defenders this year, Doch, Newman, SPS, Simmo and Plow, are all good distributors and smart players, but none of them are quick. Willo is the only one in the backline that has real speed, but he hasn’t quite figured out the nuance of when to take the game on and can run himself into trouble every now and again, and I prefer him on a wing next year (which funnily enough the Saad trade opens up.)
To put it simply, instead of Doch switching the pill to SPS or Plow to then have them stay put and maybe find an option, imagine him switching to Saad who then goes for a jog through the middle, options aplenty thanks to the chaos. It’ll take some time for everything to click and gel, but once it gets there, whew lad it’ll be a thing of beauty.
But enough about Saad’s offensive output, let’s talk about defence! Because he’s also an incredible small lockdown defender, another thing we don’t really have! Plow tries his absolute best and I love him to bits, but there are certain matchups that just don’t favour him, i.e Charles Cameron, Stephenson etc. I’ll be able to sleep much better knowing that it’ll be Saad matching up on these quicker types instead of Plow.
Also, let’s just throw success and gameplan stuff out of the window, and just appreciate how much fun it’s gonna be to watch him work next year, because at the end of the day it’s enjoyable to watch a man run real good.
As for the deal itself, I’m pretty miffed that we didn’t split 8 for two firsts with Geelong or Brisbane, but Austin, although fresh out of the womb compared to most list managers, isn’t stupid, so he definitely explored this option and for whatever reason decided it wasn’t viable. At the end of the day I think 8 with change was overs, but when you have an instant top 10 player and borderline AA request a trade to you, you pay a little bit overs to get him.
IN: Fogarty, Pick 38
OUT: Pick 30, Pick 51
I like this trade a lot, low risk, high reward. We basically gave up a pick we probably weren’t going to use due to list sizes, and moved back 8 spots to get a potential best 22 player.
I like what I’ve seen of Fog so far, although he’s not as quick, he has a lot of Zac Fisher qualities where he can bob and weave out of traffic, and has great vision for handball releases. His kicking isn’t good but we can work on that… I think…
His injury history does concern me a little, but AR knows his stuff so I trust he’ll be better sooner rather than later.
My only concern is that all of the media I’ve seen from the club keep referring to him as a small forward, which is not what he is, at this stage anyway. From what I’ve seen he is quick and provides really good pressure, but I haven’t seen much goalsense from him at this stage. Who knows, a season with Eddie might change that, but I see him more as midfield depth than a small forward at this stage.
So jury is still out on this one to see where on the spectrum it falls between Lang and Newman/Pittonet for unexpected cheap trades of recent. I’m leaning towards Newman/Pittonet if he can get his body right.
Also adding another Lachie to the team can only make us stronger going forward as a unit.
Really happy with our trade period. Thought we overpaid a little for Saad and I wish we had a bit more of a sniff around a true small forward, as well as George Hewett since he was apparently up for trade, but other than that I’m over the moon. We set a goal for our recruiting team and we smashed it out of the park without giving up a whole lot.
Where to from here?
Like I said earlier, we still need a true small forward, which we should be able to get a pretty good one late-ish in the draft, unless the list management are backing in Owies/Honey to explode next year.
We also need another ruckman, since if Pitto goes down I don’t trust TDK to be a full-time no. 1 just yet (but oh boy look out when he’s ready), and if Pitto and TDK go down then we’re boned. Possibly looking at Henry Walsh later in the draft?
I am also of the opinion that NOW is when we should draft our Jones replacement, since when Jones retires the kid we draft this year will nearly be ready to take over. This is why I really wanted to split 8 so we could use a mid-late first on some of the really good KPD players like Cox or Reid, but there should be some good talent still in the 30’s when we have our first pick.
All in all, our list is starting to really take shape, and if we’re close to full strength (depending on how much the Footy Gods want to punish Charlie Curnow) anything but finals will be a disappointment.