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CHANGES 2022 by The Oracle


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Part 1: The year we stood still (or did we?). 

Premiership coach David Parkin who  coincidentally turned 80 yesterday, famously used to say that even a premiership team needs to bring at least five new players into the fold in order to advance from year to year and therefore, if this adage remains true, then the Melbourne Football Club really did stand still in 2022. 

Of the players recruited after the club’s premiership in September, 2021, only Luke Dunstan (5 games) managed to provide service at AFL level. In addition, defender Daniel Turner who was picked up in the Mid Season Draft in June 2021, saw action for less than a half before he was injured against Collingwood in the last Queens Birthday game for a while — the only genuine debutant in terms of AFL games for the year are concerned. 

None of this is necessarily a criticism of either the coaching or the recruiting people at the club. That’s how it happened in 2022 when the playing list was strong enough to finish second on the ladder in the wake of a particularly tough draw. It all broke down in the finals but, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “it is what it is” and there’s a silver lining there in that the club moves towards the next phase with a number of players who have yet to be tested at senior AFL level and can therefore be considered recruits for 2023. They are — 

•    Blake Howes Now here’s a player who is versatile; he can play as a tallish winger or as forward who wasn’t far off senior selection before he injured his foot early in the season. Will benefit from a full pre season.

•    Bailey Laurie He has now spent two seasons at the club and was also close to stepping up for senior selection, particularly after one outstanding 30+ possession game at GMHBA Stadium for Casey against the Cats. Hoping for a breakthrough in 2023.

•    Fraser Rosman Another two year player with height, pace, a good engine and versatility. Unlucky with injuries.

•    Jacob Van Rooyen  We’re all waiting with bated breath to see how this 194cm key forward with vice like marking grip, the strongest 18 year old Tom McDonald’s ever seen and boundless enthusiasm goes when he finally gets a senior call up.

•    Taj Woewodin Son of a club Brownlow Medallist and an emerging midfield talent.

•     Judd McVee Rookie from WA who spent most of his time in defence at Casey.

•    Deakyn Smith Another rookie with two seasons behind him, learning the back pocket ropes (mentored last year by Neville Jetta).

•    Daniel Turner I’m including him here because the dashing defender is virtually a recruit having spent not much more than half an hour in AFL ranks (and it was an impressive half hour).

•    Andy Moniz-Wakefield A Next Generation Academy player from the NT who the Demons managed to capture and who has plenty of flair and X Factor. Fingers crossed but he could be very, very good.

And there you have it!

Even before the club’s National Recruiting Manager Jason Taylor, List Manager Tim Lamb and their recruiting staff begin to roll up their sleeves and get to work, there are nine names who are in contention for new places in the team. Some won’t make it and, based on the percentages, it’s likely that the majority will not.

However, if three or four of them can become regular performers at the highest level, then it’s a bonus for the club. Which is just as well because at this point in time, Melbourne’s first pick in the November Draft is a late second rounder at number 34. 

Let’s take a step back to earlier in the year when the club sat out the Pre-season supplemental selection period and the Mid Season Draft. With all those untried players already at the club there was no need for further picks. Melbourne’s player list looked like this in early June:— 

PRIMARY LIST: —

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Jake Bowey Angus Brayshaw Ben Brown Luke Dunstan Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn James Harmes Michael Hibberd Blake Howes Jayden Hunt Luke Jackson James Jordon Ed Langdon Bailey Laurie Jake Lever Tom McDonald Steven May Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Kysaiah Kropinyeri Pickett Trent Rivers Fraser Rosman Christian Salem Joel Smith Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow Adam Tomlinson Jacob Van Rooyen Jack Viney Sam Weideman Taj Woewodin 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Mitch Brown Kade Chandler Majak Daw Judd McVee Deakyn Smith Daniel Turner 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Andy Moniz-Wakefield 

A few weeks later, there might have been some regrets about the inactivity when Majak Daw retired, leaving the club a little light on for ruckmen.

Things changed again today when Luke Jackson formally asked to be traded to his home state of Western Australia. This has already sparked speculation as to what Melbourne will ask in return for the former number 3 draft pick who became a premiership star for the club. And by way of a replacement, the Demons have already held talks with Magpie big man Brodie Grundy.

So folks, relax, sit down, get yourselves a big bag of popcorn at the ready and enjoy the hectic trade, free agency and draft period that awaits us.

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