Choosing a mid-priced ruckman is always fraught with danger. ‘Returning from injury’ is a scary phrase considering the big guys seem to get injury more than the smaller guys.
So, my word of advice is to be very careful when selecting any of the following players. They might seem sweet and cheap from the outside, but a couple of bad weeks or an injury reoccurrence can make this a very sour experience.
Jon Giles (Essendon) -$396,600
Up side: a new club and a fresh start away from Mummy. Averaged an impressive 93 ppg in 2012. Has a very good hitout-to-advantage percentage of 29%, which will suit the new rules.
Down side: Lack of presence around the ground, highlighted last year when he averaged less than one mark per game and just over eight disposals. Likely to share ruck duties with Tom Bellchambers – ideally we want someone to be the sole proprietor.
Scott Lycett (West Coast) – $418,400
Up side: The retirement of Cox means that Lycett can walk straight into the 2nd ruck spot behind Nic Naitanui. Averaged an impressive 97 in matches he played without Cox last season, although when all three rucks played he was stuck up forward. DPP is very handy.
Down side: Choosing a break-out contender is the hard gig in the game. Has a poor hitout-to-advantage percentage of below 20% so will have to get points around the ground. Might be spending a fair bit of time up forward to start the season.
Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton) – $370,900
UPDATE – Kreuzer ruled out of the first month of the season with foot injury.
Up side: He is a very good scorer when in full flight, averaging in the 90s in 2012 & 2013. He is a very mobile ruckman, always averaging over ten possessions per match, and is hitout-to-advantage percentage is consistently on the improve. Down side: No more Matthew Waite at the Blues means that we might be seeing Kreuzer spend a lot of time up forward, as Malthouse has hinted he may. Can he get through a full season? He’s played every game just once in his seven year career, so durability is a huge concern.
Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane) – $358,000
Up side: From 42 matches in 2011 & 2013, he averaged 102 and 97 respectively. When fit he’s a good scorer and would certainly increase in value at his current price.
Down side: Just 94 games in eight years. For someone touted as the next Dean Cox, it’s been a huge disappointment. His hitouts are rate below average, which won’t be helped but the new ruck points distribution. Finally the big-time arrival of Stef Martin last year as a premium and reliable ruckman might affect his impact, or if he plays at all.
Tom Bellchambers (Essendon) – $302,500
Up side: His DPP makes him a possibly handy link between the two positions. Averaged a strong 86 from 16 games in 2012 and kicked 28 goals in 2013.
Down side: Ankle surgery delayed his start to 2014 and averaged only 56 from eight games. Has never averaged above 90 for an entire season and Giles arriving won’t help a quest for more ruck time.
Zac Smith (Gold Coast) – $409,600
Up side: Another one trying to breakout after four seasons of averaging in the 70s. He’s a very agile athlete and has no problem covering good ground, which his double-figure disposal averages prove. Came top three in the Suns’ 2k time trial this pre-season.
Down side: Has been plagued with knee and ankle injuries his entire career. Tom Nicholls has become a very popular and consistent performer in his absence. How will they perform together? They’ve never played in the same side so it’s another unknown.
Are you taking the gamble with any of these boys? Let me know below.