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I like Peter Ryan. He's a solid contributor. What are people's thoughts on the correlation between these stats and success? He mounts a good argument. There's no doubt that players gain confidence when they're continually selected to play at the highest level. As long as the feedback they are receiving each week is constructive, IMO it's only a matter of time before they respond. And that's usually a short amount of time. Exhibit A - Rohan Bail. http://www.afl.com.au/news/2014-05-29/stability-breeds-success AFTER Melbourne lost to the Sydney Swans in round six, the heat was again being applied to Jack Watts after a performance where his efforts had been sub-standard and he'd been caught ball-watching. Although Watts had been a contributor in the early weeks of the season, form appeared to have deserted him. At Monday's media conference that week, Paul Roos was asked whether Watts might need to return to the VFL. The coach immediately knocked the prospect on the head. "I would think he would be playing this week. I'd be surprised if he wasn't," Roos said. Roos then made no change to the team that had lost to the Swans for the game against the Crows in Adelaide, the second time he’d picked an unchanged line-up. To the surprise of most, the settled Demons pulled off an upset win over the Crows after establishing a winning lead in a stunning first half. That Roos chose to back Watts rather than demoting him after an ordinary game comes as little surprise. Famously, while coaching the Sydney Swans, he made just one change after round 19 (Paul Bevan in for Luke Vogels) as the team made its way to the 2005 Grand Final, the settled line-up doing enough to win the club's first premiership for 71 years. He appears to be applying the same philosophy at Melbourne in his first year in the top job. Statistics from Champion Data reveal Melbourne averaged just 1.63 changes per week during the first eight rounds of 2014, making it the most settled team (alongside Gold Coast and the Sydney Swans) over that period. The only other teams to average fewer than two changes per week in that time were Port Adelaide and Geelong. Apart from Melbourne, those four teams currently make up the top five spots on the ladder with the other, Hawthorn – a club cruelled by injury – averaging 2.63 changes a week. Fourteen Melbourne players have played every game this season; only Gold Coast (15) have more. The numbers show Melbourne to be the biggest outliers on a table that generally reflects ladder position. Gold Coast's progress can be tracked through the declining number of changes it has made each week since 2011. The Suns have gone from 4.10 (2011), 3.43 (2012), 2.90 (2013) to 1.63 in the first eight rounds this season. Roos understands some players aren't developed enough to play well every week, but lessons can be learned. He also demands that players be picked only if they display consistent good form at a lower level. Expectations have stayed high behind closed doors, while much of the discussions about standards expected of players have been private, not public. And the Demons' players have responded. "There are a lot of different issues that go into [selection]," Roos said. "Obviously every team wants their best team on the field. Probably part of what we're trying to do is work out what our best team is. "The players have, for the majority of the time, done what we have asked the [players] to do and we have continued to improve. "Medically the team has been really good … the big part of football now is getting your best team on the ground." The Demons have still used 33 players, but the improvement is obvious when a comparison is made between the team that played in round one and the one that beat Richmond in round nine. Melbourne's team for the win over the Tigers included Jack Viney, Colin Garland, Mark Jamar, Chris Dawes, Max Gawn, Christian Salem and Aidan Riley for Shannon Byrnes, Jack Fitzpatrick, Alex Georgiou, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer, James Frawley and Jack Trengove. Trengove and Frawley would be the only automatic inclusions of those outs, while those included have either proved themselves at AFL level or are highly-rated youngsters. Of course there is more than one way to skin a cat, as Geelong showed in 2011 when it rested players and tried youngsters to average the second-most changes in the competition (3.67 per week) but still won the flag. But for a club that experienced so much upheaval in recent seasons, Melbourne is benefitting from the opportunity to go into battle each week with a familiar line-up. Average changes by club, rounds 1-8, 2014 Melbourne 1.63Gold Coast 1.63Sydney Swans 1.63Port Adelaide 1.75Geelong 1.88Collingwood 2.00North Melbourne 2.00Adelaide 2.13Fremantle 2.38Essendon 2.50Richmond 2.50Hawthorn 2.63St Kilda 2.63WCE 3.00Western Bulldogs 3.13Brisbane Lions 3.25Carlton 3.38GWS 3.50