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Bobby McKenzie

TOUGHNESS Versus SKILL

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On our lengthy discussion on JW a few posters asked how Norm Smith would have been coaching Jack Watts. Smith coached  teams in our golden years beautifully balanced with toughness and skill.

The tough hard at it guys were Ron Barassi, Peter Marquis, Noel McMahen ( fearsome) Laurie Mithen ( tough and skilful) Clyde Laidlaw and John Lord to name a few.

On the skilled side were  Don Williams, Athol Webb, Ian McLean, Bob McKenzie ,Geoff Tunbridge, Ian Ridley and Ken Melville. Some might argue about Tunbridge as being skilled but was he skilled when shooting for goal on the run! Wobbly old punt kicks but so accurate.  

So basically Jack would fit into the second category and IMO Smithy would want him in his team.

Edited by Bobby McKenzie
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We'll never know. Norm was gifted some magnificent playing lists in the 50s, his time with Fitzroy and later with post Barassi teams it was a different story. Fire and brimstone less effective. Norm's genius with Barassi was finding a unique onfield playing position (ruckrover) where Barassi's eccentric talents could become effective. So I would see Watts becoming some kind of lead up/ decoy forward who the midfield would PASS to. Let the opposition worry when Watts was the go to man or the Norm Smith decoy. Watts would get his bags if 4 and 5 in his good days because Watts is a dead eye dick. Smith would be smart enough to know when Watts was having an off day and move him back to a wing where he could play his link man role setting up the forwards. Good luck to him at his new club and Jesse learn to kick.

Edited by bush demon
Left a bit out

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Not sure about Norm Smith approach, but a simple underlying basic principle has always existed in football ......

'you have to get the ball before you can use the ball' 

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I thought there would be a poll. Toughness. As the AFL slowly drifts toward rolling mauls. Can't hurt with skill if you can't win the ball.

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I thought this must have something to do with Todd Viney v Andrew Obst after the great man compared them on Thursday night.

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I have no doubt poor development and over exposure early on has hurt jacks development. Along with other players. 

My inpression has always been with Jack Watts that footy was a job and not a lifestyle. 

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Ron, a protege of Norm, has often said he doesn't give any plaudits for natural ability.  His attitude is that you didn't earn it, it was gifted to you by your parents.  He wanted players that would make the most of themselves.

Ron was also famously toughest on his most talented players.

I don't think Jack would have made it through half a season under either Norm or Ron.

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1 hour ago, ProDee said:

Ron, a protege of Norm, has often said he doesn't give any plaudits for natural ability.  His attitude is that you didn't earn it, it was gifted to you by your parents.  He wanted players that would make the most of themselves.

Ron was also famously toughest on his most talented players.

I don't think Jack would have made it through half a season under either Norm or Ron.

David Cordner was a poor mans Jack Watts and was there for all but the first year of Barassi’s tenure.  

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I think you want toughness and skill.

But the toughness or, more to the point, competitiveness, is a non-negotiable. Every player needs it. You just need to find competitive players that have skill too.

Having skilled players that don't compete is no good.

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15 hours ago, Skuit said:

I thought there would be a poll. Toughness. As the AFL slowly drifts toward rolling mauls. Can't hurt with skill if you can't win the ball.

The last time AFL looked like becoming a rolling maul (Swans defensive "flood"; Hawks "rolling zone") it got picked apart first by the Cats and to a lesser extent the Dogs by rapid ball movement and precision foot skills. So much so that Clarko saw that this was a far more effective way to play and changed the Hawks style accordingly.

These things can change within the course of a season, and if you get caught out with last year's game style, which other teams have worked hard to counter, you can end up holding a ticket for a bus that left long ago. The trick, as Clarko realised when he had the cattle, is to develop next year's game style.

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5 hours ago, Akum said:

The last time AFL looked like becoming a rolling maul (Swans defensive "flood"; Hawks "rolling zone") it got picked apart first by the Cats and to a lesser extent the Dogs by rapid ball movement and precision foot skills. So much so that Clarko saw that this was a far more effective way to play and changed the Hawks style accordingly.

These things can change within the course of a season, and if you get caught out with last year's game style, which other teams have worked hard to counter, you can end up holding a ticket for a bus that left long ago. The trick, as Clarko realised when he had the cattle, is to develop next year's game style.

That's all good and fair, except most of what I said was empty platitudes. The Hawks were certainly exceptionally skilled with their kicking, but no one would doubt their toughness for one second. Of course, you would prefer both, but that would make for a rather boring poll.

I personally think our lack of skill is overstated - primarily because Goodwin is attempting what you proscribed; trying to get a step ahead of the game with a super high-risk run-n-carry game-style (which at times oddly strikes me as rugby-league-ish - or maybe more so Ultimate Frisbee). I have no idea if it will work. But it's not Mark Neeld a year behind the curve, and it's exciting and unstoppable when we're on.

I think we're lacking some finishing skill in front as the biggest issue. We're not capitalising enough on our i-50 entries, high press, and momentum. Delivery inside is an issue. And people will naturally point to the Jack trade. But for me, at the risk of making a contentious statement, it's the lack of marking and scrap from our two star KPF's which were the problem last year (when they were on the park, or not having an alternative when they were not available).

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Toughness gets you in the conversation both as a player and a team, and skill puts you above your peers.

I know this thread was created to decry to the supposed reason for removing a player, but there is a third driver for players and teams and that is commitment. I will not make any judgement of JW here but another, more powerful, recent event - the Tigers wining the flag.

The commitment that their list (their VFL did some damage too) showed to their defensive frenzy of pressure all over the ground was what won them a flag. There is no toughness or skill required - you just pressure and trust your teammates to do the same.

Commitment to a game plan is too readily overlooked in my opinion and I have been impressed with our best 15-18 players commitment to what Goodwin wants them to do. Less impressed with the execution of those competing for the bottom 6 (Salem, Wagner, Hannan, et al). We are so close to that full devotion, if it clicks next year - we will be top 4.

Edited by rpfc
Misspelled Latin
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What Norm Smith would have done with Jack Watts is a hypothetical zombie topic. Please stop.

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Watts and toughness are two  exclusive subjects.

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Watts was a pea heart, pure and simple.

 

He could have been a very good player, but was soft in the air, tackled with his arms, treated training like it was one big excuse to laugh, showed little to no intensity and yet it was always someone else’s fault.

 

But hey, he was a nice guy....

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21 hours ago, Rod Grinter Riot Squad said:

Watts was a pea heart, pure and simple.

 

He could have been a very good player, but was soft in the air, tackled with his arms, treated training like it was one big excuse to laugh, showed little to no intensity and yet it was always someone else’s fault.

 

But hey, he was a nice guy....

Wow. That is a fair cook.

Wouldn’t go that far, but would agree that on more than one occasion that his problems tended to be blamed on everyone but Jack.

A bit of levity to proceedings can be beneficial, but there is a time and place. 

You just knew in your guts that the rumor about the Storm blokes having no respect for the Demon players arseing around in the gym probably revolved around Jack.

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As next season proceeds, we will be having this conversation more and more......

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On 21/10/2017 at 2:49 AM, Bobby McKenzie said:

 

So basically Jack would fit into the second category and IMO Smithy would want him in his team.

No he wouldn't.  No coach wanted him, only Port were stupid enough to take the punt.

Lazy, soft, unaccountable, poor trainer.

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To be an effective AFL player you need to reach a good standard for both. Throw in pure physical fitness as a third category. Hell, you could even divide that the same way, into stamina/durability versus athletic ability.

If you were trying to build a metric for 'player value' based on skill v toughness, you wouldn't just add them and compare, you would multiply the two together to get your result.

(Caveat - I fully understand that trying to put standardised metrics on this stuff is absurd, I am just using it to illustrate the relationship)

For example;

Fred Keiserkopf is highly skilled (8/10) but a bit of a damp newspaper (2/10), 8x2 = 16.

Geoff McAverageish is just ok at everything, with 5/5 for both, 5x5 = 25.

So you put McAverageish on the field because his effectiveness overall is a half-again Keiserkopf. But you might still draft Keiserkopf in the hope that you can push that toughness up a bit, because even 3x8 puts him at around the same value.

 

Of course, the most recent big example of a coach trying to recruit and organise their team in separate 'streams' of toughness and skill is Terry Wallace at Richmond. That produced a string of highly skilled and quick draft picks who were never forced to develop their toughness and thus never made it as effective AFL players, and a progression of tough-nut players who could win the ball but frankly there wasn't much point them having it.

I think Goodwin &co have learnt the first part of that lesson, but I still have doubts about the second part.

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7 hours ago, Colin B. Flaubert said:

Wow. That is a fair cook.

Wouldn’t go that far, but would agree that on more than one occasion that his problems tended to be blamed on everyone but Jack.

A bit of levity to proceedings can be beneficial, but there is a time and place. 

You just knew in your guts that the rumor about the Storm blokes having no respect for the Demon players arseing around in the gym probably revolved around Jack.

It is a fair cook, but I think fair.

 

I must make it clear, he is a genuinely good guy, I will Be forever grateful to him for how wonderful he was with my kids each and every time he saw them. I desperately wanted him to succeed, I just he desperately wanted to succeed.

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What I do know is that there are many people who have great potential. True in life as in sport. But very few make it to the lofty levels that we regard as characterizing greatness.

We have all known kids and young men who have the skill however choose not to utilize it. 

Some consciously choose not to do so because of relationships, alternative careers and interests. Some make an effort but the effort falls short of what is required.

The one's that make it may not be the most gifted but they have a single minded determination to succeed. A focus and determination greater than others.

They work hard. Harder than those who don't make it to the level expected. 

They are tough. That is, they have tough attitudes to what they need to do to succeed. And again, they train hard, train consistently and don't use social life or holidays as an excuse to have a break. Continuity is the key, which can be a problem when continuity is interrupted by injury.  However, their attitude to injury and recovery is just as single-minded and thorough as every other part of their training and preparation.  

They also bring an incredibly high level of competitiveness to competition.

They hate to be beaten and will always get as much out of themselves as they physically and mentally can. Run through walls, run to the point of sickness and collapse. 

They don't accept excuses for themselves.

They are single minded and don't usually need other people including coaches to motivate them.

They are self-starters. 

And at the end of their career they can usually sit back and say "well I gave it everything and have no excuses". 

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On 21/10/2017 at 7:23 AM, Axis of Bob said:

I think you want toughness and skill.

But the toughness or, more to the point, competitiveness, is a non-negotiable. Every player needs it. You just need to find competitive players that have skill too.

Having skilled players that don't compete is no good.

You have picked the right word: toughness is by some equivalent to thuggery, which is not what we need.  We need good players who are super competitive rather than unskilled thugs or soft hearted gazelles.  If the gazelle is also competitive then all the better  

Goodwin and the recruiting and development team have that challenge: find, develop and maintain the blend. 

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