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Herald Sun Rates the Dees Players


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Jon Ralph and Peter McFarlane pose some intriguing questions about the Demons in their article in today’s Herald Sun. 

Apart from the obvious ones about a couple of our players under a cloud for 2024, the main one might well be whether Melbourne is “going to brutalise Max Gawn by the time we get to September?”

Here are their assessments of the leading contenders for a place in the team:-

92 Christian Petracca

Joins Brownlow Medallists Nathan Fyfe and Patrick Dangerfield as future Hall of Famers who are slightly marked down by periods where their kicking drops away. It was another massive season for best-and-fairest winner in 2023. Had he converted a little better than 28.34 in front of the sticks, it could have been one of footy’s greatest individual seasons. Instead it was unrequited with a straight-sets exit. Petracca needs a second flag to join the greats of the modern era.

89 Max Gawn

The skipper will start the season as a 32-year-old, but remains footy’s most dangerous ruckman despite the disastrous Brodie Grundy experiment which cost him a seventh All-Australian jumper. He will need all of his leadership skills to bring together these Demons given their issues, but his form when playing one-out in the final 10 weeks of last year shows his football powers have barely diminished despite his veteran status.

88 Jack Viney

Gets a rating this high given his stellar 2023 season — beaten by only Petracca in the best-and-fairest — but also his importance given the question marks over Clayton Oliver’s future. He stood up in Oliver’s absence last year, averaging five clearances and 5.9 tackles as well as racking up big possession tallies. At times he’s underrated, but few Demons are more important.

87 Jake Lever

The defender missed the All-Australian side but was third in the Keith “Bluey” Truscott Medal for a 24-game season across which he averaged three intercept marks a game. His intercept game remained strong, although he polled coaches votes in only five matches. He’s about to turn 28, but should believe he has 100 elite games left in him. 

86 Steven May

Remains one of footy’s defensive forces and was a finals colossus against Carlton and not far short of it with a 12-spoil qualifying final against the Pies. May rated elite for disposals and metres gained in 2023 — and above average for everything else that matters. The only slight query is his age as he starts the new season as a 32-year-old.

80 Angus Brayshaw

His finals exit after the brutal collision with Brayden Maynard took the gloss off an exceptional home-and-away season, with Brayshaw averaging 23 possessions and 3.3 clearances. Oliver might return to the midfield, but if Brayshaw isn’t repurposed to the half back line could he add goalkicking to his repertoire? He only kicked two goals and had 15 goal assists in 2023. 

78 Kysaiah Pickett

What a talent. What a game-turner. But also what a frustration in that finals flame-out to Carlton as he gave away needless free kicks with misplaced aggression and then nearly turned the game playing one-out as a dangerous forward in the second half. He must learn those lessons, but after 37 goals last season look for him to dominate with a consistent year that elevates him into the elite bracket.

78 Bayley Fritsch

Look for a huge bounce-back year from Fritsch, who will compete with multiple forwards to be an inside-50 target but will also get more favourable match-ups after the Demons drafted and traded to improve their forward line. He still eked out 38 goals last season, despite battling foot issues late in the year. He’d be looking for 60 goals in 2024.

77 Clayton Oliver

His football resume is incredible as a premiership player, three-time All Australian and four-time best-and-fairest winner at only 26. However, his desire to knuckle down and maximise his career is up for grabs. Until he proves he can toe the line, his football future is one giant question mark. His rating could start with a nine, but instead gets downgraded.

76 Christian Salem

Battled a thyroid injury and then missed months with a knee injury in 2023, so a 16-game season averaging 19 possessions and 79 ranking points was a reasonable return. But he needs to elevate to a new level at half back if the Demons are to flourish, which would also release players including Rivers into the midfield.

75 Trent Rivers 

The premiership half back enjoyed a season of huge gains in 2023, with a top-ten best and fairest finish and an elite rating for intercepts. The Demons believe he’s capable of serious midfield time. Is it in 2024? He is still only 22. Expect 250 games from this Demons tyro.

73 Harrison Petty

Melbourne has grand plans for Petty as one of its twin towers in attack alongside Jacob Van Rooyen. He is something of an unlikely spearhead, given the full back had been trialled in attack earlier last year. He was then sent back, only to switch again and kick six goals against Richmond in round 20. Petty injured his foot a week later and it likely cost the Demons a finals win given their forward struggles thereafter. But at his best he leads hard, marks strongly and kicks like a dream (12.1 in 2023). 

72 Jacob Van Rooyen

The Demons’ next big thing has the cult hero status and the appetite for the contest after 28 goals from the first 20 games of his career in 2023. He was silly to miss the semi-final trying to play tough guy and bumping Collingwood’s Dan McStay. Of greater concern is whether he can handle the bevy of No. 1 defenders who might come his way from round 1 onwards. He could be special but it wouldn’t surprise if it took him time to become a regular 40-goal forward. 

71 Ed Langdon

The wingman enjoyed a solid but not outstanding 2023 season, averaging 19 possessions as he missed a top-10 spot in the best and fairest and polled coaches votes only twice. He only kicked five goals for the year but averaged a strong 2.2 tackles. Will be one of many Demons who believe they can squeeze out more improvement if this side is to win another flag.

70 Shane McAdam

We could end up with egg smeared across the face, but we predict big things for McAdam in 2024. In 50 career games across four completed seasons he has averaged 0.9, 1.7, 1.5 and 1.7 goals a game. He hasn’t been a senior mainstay so he has flaws in his game, but kicking goals isn’t one of them. McAdam could be a canny Moneyball selection for a player ranked elite for goals, accuracy and forward 50 marks at Adelaide in 2023.

69 Alex Neal-Bullen 

Might have put together a career-best season in 2023 as he finished sixth in the best-and-fairest, booted 19 goals and averaged 4.7 tackles a game. While the Demons have drafted to add potency to their midfield, the elite-running half forward will remain one of the first picked given his unique skill set. 

68 Judd McVee 

What a spectacular breakthrough season for the lanky defender, who finished top-10 in the best-and-fairest. Like many Demons, he ended the year with a nasty taste in the mouth, failing to contain or body-line Sam Docherty in the decisive patch of play in a semi-final loss to Carlton. But it should not besmirch a year in which he was virtually impassable in one-on-one contests on talls and smalls. 

66 Lachie Hunter

Played 24 games as a hard-running wingman in his first season for the Demons after crossing from the Bulldogs. While he missed the top 10 in the best-and-fairest and polled only five coaches votes, he averaged 22 possessions and 390 metres gained. Hunter could hurt more with his disposal, after going at only 56 per cent efficiency in 2023.

65 Tom Sparrow

A bustling, busy midfielder, Sparrow should only get more chances this year given James Jordon and James Harmes have departed for rival clubs. The 23-year-old might need an established strength to go to the next level — he averaged 17 touches, 58 per cent efficiency, 2.6 clearances, 3.5 tackles in 2023. All are solid but not elite. Is he capable of one day reaching elite status? We might find out in 2024.

64 Jake Bowey

Flew under the radar with a far-from-flashy but consistent 2023 season, playing 23 games and averaging 16 possessions as a small close-checking defender. Since his debut in the premiership year of 2021 he has churned out 47 games with very few flat spots. At 21, he has so much room to improve.

60 Caleb Windsor

The suspicion is the Demons drafted elite-running wingman Windsor at pick 7 last November as a plug-and-play option who could immediately improve their ball use given his penchant for hitting the right option at the right time. 

58 Charlie Spargo

Mixed seven VFL games with his 14 AFL matches last season, but managed only 11 goals in his senior action. Can he find a new wind, after also averaging only 10 possessions? He will need to as a buzzy energetic half forward if he is to retain his spot in the side.

55 Kade Chandler

Should be commended for finally breaking out and winning a new deal after a 23-goal season in 2023. However, he managed only 10 majors from his last 15 games in a stretch where he went goalless nine times — including in both finals. Now that the attention has come for him, can he build on a season where he also averaged 1.2 score assists and 4.7 score involvements?

More to follow.

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  • Demonland changed the title to Herald Sun Rates the Dees Players

The rest of the list:-

52 Koltyn Tholstrup

An intriguing prospect for Simon Goodwin, the brash Tholstrup was taken at pick 13 as an energetic and bold forward prospect with elite finishing skills. The 186cm forward from Western Australia was a needs-based selection, so don’t be surprised if he gets early chances in the senior side after playing plenty of senior WAFL football last year.

51 Tom McDonald 

The veteran never quite got going in 2023 given form and injury issues, kicking four goals against easybeats West Coast but only five majors from his other seven games. At his best he is an athletic beast who draws the footy. But the Demons could start round 1 with Harrison Petty, Jacob Van Rooyen, Shane McAdam and Bayley Fritsch forward. Therefore, McDonald needs to prove himself again — at 31 years of age.

49 Jack Billings

An unknown quantity at the Demons, but he was a canny acquisition for a club looking for more class on the outside. The question is whether he can eke out a meaningful role at a club that will hope to have a vastly improved run with injuries and has also drafted Koltyn Tholstrup and Caleb Windsor as half-forwards and wingmen.

48 Adam Tomlinson

Has played wing and key defence at the Demons since moving from GWS as a free agent, but never quite locked down a spot. If Petty is to play forward, he could play as the third tall behind Lever and May. But he needs to seize the moment as an uncontracted tall.

44 Tom Fullarton

Ex-Brisbane key forward Fullarton was identified as the Brodie Grundy replacement, even though he played little ruck in the VFL for the Lions in 2023. The athletic tall had only 50 total hit-outs across 19 senior games, so he’s an unlikely choice given he will need to provide Max Gawn with regular chop-outs to keep the skipper fresh for finals.

40 Ben Brown

A premiership hero in 2021, but his badly damaged knees might have put paid to his career. He will play out the final season of his contract, hopeful he can add a late burst to his games tally with the Demons in the flag window. However, he only managed seven AFL games for four goals and eight VFL games for 11 goals in 2023. Let’s hope his body allows him to make a final charge.

39 Marty Hore

Resuscitated his Demons career after a brilliant stint in the VFL, averaging 122 ranking points, 22 disposals and an amazing 5.5 intercept marks for Williamstown in 2023. At only 190cm he might not quite play as the third tall, but an injury or two will pave the way for him to add to his 14 games for the Demons in 2019.

38 Jake Melksham

Comes into the season off an ACL tear, but with his form almost career-best before his knee buckled last August. With the Demons having drafted a pair of forwards and secured Shane McAdam, he will need to work his way back through the VFL. But he will believe he can be a finals difference-maker. 

36 Taj Woewodin

The midfielder-forward is highly regarded at the Demons and after impressive VFL form he won four straight AFL games from rounds 17-20, averaging nine possessions. It was a solid grounding which the 20-year-old son of Shane will be desperate to build on.

35 Bailey Laurie

Played five senior games in 2023 — including the qualifying final against the Magpies — as a 179cm forward, but for little impact. The 21-year-old was the No. 22 pick in the 2020 draft so will be given chances as an elusive and clever small forward in 2024.

34 Jed Adams

The 196cm key defender spent his first year in the VFL after being taken at pick 38 in the 2022 national draft. There he won 1.5 intercept marks a game across 20 matches in a solid year, adding experience playing against men.

33 Blake Howes 

The club’s No. 39 pick in the 2021 national draft emerged as a likely type in 2023 after a 2022 season decimated by a foot injury. Playing 14 VFL games, the former junior forward averaged an impressive 93 ranking points and 23 disposals. Watch this space.

33 Josh Schache

Was contentiously preferred to Brodie Grundy as a finals sub given his capacity to ruck and play in attack. But despite an excellent VFL season, he had only 10 possessions in limited game time across three AFL games. Won another single-season deal, but is surely up against it for senior chances.

32 Kynan Brown

The father-son was selected in last November’s rookie draft as a tough inside midfielder who thrives on tackling and contested ball. The son of former dogged defender Nathan will take time to build his tank and experience in the VFL.

31 Matthew Jefferson

A 195cm key forward who was drafted at pick 15 in the 2022 national draft. One day he will be a serious prospect, but he is likely to need another year in the VFL. He had a solid 2023 season with Casey, averaging 1.3 contested marks and kicking 23 goals across 20 games. 

30 Andy Moniz-Wakefield

The NGA prospect had a solid season as a clever small forward in the VFL, kicking 20 goals from 19 contests splitting his time between the midfield and attacking half. He also averaged 1.8 clearances and 3.6 tackles. There’s plenty to like. But for 2024? Maybe not.

28 Will Verrall

The mid-season draftee is an impressive ruck prospect and played nine VFL games last season, averaging 10 touches and 16 hit-outs as well as laying 10 tackles in a match against Williamstown. He’s a future prospect, but given the Demons’ thin ruck stocks it would only take injury to thrust him forward. 

28 Oliver Sestan

A medium-sized athletic forward who kicked 12 goals in 16 VFL games and was given another deal after missing the back-end of the year with injury. Still only 19 years of age.

18 Kyah Farris-White

The former basketballer signed a new one-year deal as a category B rookie who in his first year mixed time with Dandenong in the Coates League and the Casey in the VFL. He averaged 2.5 disposals and 6.5 hit-outs in his eight VFL games, so he’s some way off.

15 Joel Smith 

We docked Smith almost 50 ratings points for stupidity. A player who kicked three goals as an unlikely semi-final target was subsequently nabbed by authorities for a cocaine positive detected on match-day from a previous contest. He is facing a two-year drug ban so who would know if he will play at all in 2024. But he will be pushing his case to downgrade it to three months.

POSTSCRIPT: As Whispering Jack pointed out below Daniel Turner was inadvertently left out. If the article is updated with his inclusion, I’ll do a re-edit.

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Glad Marty Hore is back. Although as far as back lines are concerned it's going to be pretty tough breaking into it.

Hopefully Rivers gets more time in the middle.

Tx for posting this Dland.

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1 minute ago, Whispering_Jack said:

A couple of points here:-

Daniel Turner would be entitled to be upset at being left out. 

Will Verrall was not a mid-season draftee. He was taken with pick No.14 in the 2022 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

Christian SalemBattled a thyroid injury

injury????

Also wouldn't have thought Tholstrup was a needs based selection

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The methodology for the ratings is actually very funny: “we docked Joel Smith 50 points”… not 40, not 60, but 50.

this is now my 2nd favourite article of the pre-season - just behind “what every AFL coach should be paid” by Kane Corn

Edited by The Jackson FIX
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I'm hoping Fritsch and Petty can be seen as far too low by the end of the year. 

Bowser is definitely too low.

And I'm hoping Howes and Laurie are more in the 40's and 50's as guys worthy of games if they get the chance.

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Do we need 2 journos to confirm that we've got a lot of good players?  Didn't we already know that?

Seems to me that we haven't lost a good player going into 2024 but we may well have added 2 to 4 good players in the upcoming season (maybe not immediately, but short or long term) 

In the last 3 seasons we've won 17.5, 16 & 16 games in the season proper and given a decent run with injuries, we'll be thereabouts again. 

Why?  Talent levels.  Gone are the days when we only had a handful of good players

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5 hours ago, Demonland said:

73 Harrison Petty

Melbourne has grand plans for Petty as one of its twin towers in attack alongside Jacob Van Rooyen. He is something of an unlikely spearhead, given the full back had been trialled in attack earlier last year. He was then sent back, only to switch again and kick six goals against Richmond in round 20. Petty injured his foot a week later and it likely cost the Demons a finals win given their forward struggles thereafter. But at his best he leads hard, marks strongly and kicks like a dream (12.1 in 2023). 

Didn't realise he kicked 12.1 last year. We could have done with that level of accuracy in the finals.

Hoping and praying he can stay fit in 2024. 

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4 hours ago, BDA said:

Didn't realise he kicked 12.1 last year. We could have done with that level of accuracy in the finals.

Hoping and praying he can stay fit in 2024. 

I might be slightly wrong here but from memory he kicked the 13 goals over 3 games, the first and last of which he was injured in the first half.  Effectively kicked 1.5 goals per quarter he played on the ground as a forward.

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4 hours ago, BDA said:

Didn't realise he kicked 12.1 last year. We could have done with that level of accuracy in the finals.

Hoping and praying he can stay fit in 2024. 

He needs to get fit first! Can't even make it through a training session at this stage 😢

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I see Dwayne has nominated his best 25 forwards

Kozzie at 22 but no Fritsch.  Bayley missed a big chunk of games, but if the 25 is projecting forward, surely Fritsch gets in the top 15 or 20? 

When quizzed about Fritsch's omission, Dwayne was a bit sheepish as if he'd overlooked him

Dwayne Russell Best 25 Forwards

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I read this article earlier today and dismissed it as meaningless column filler.

It's The Herald Sin FFS !! The eminent publication that has Slo bbo as it's chief footy writer and Andrew Dolt as a regular opinion writer.

[censored]! Absolute [censored] publication.

 

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18 minutes ago, Bitter but optimistic said:

I read this article earlier today and dismissed it as meaningless column filler.

It's The Herald Sin FFS !! The eminent publication that has Slo bbo as it's chief footy writer and Andrew Dolt as a regular opinion writer.

[censored]! Absolute [censored] publication.

 

I'll quadruple that.

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The media are a joke. They are all locked in on a Pies Blues GF and anything else will ruin their lives.

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12 hours ago, Demonland said:

40 Ben Brown

A premiership hero in 2021, but his badly damaged knees might have put paid to his career. He will play out the final season of his contract, hopeful he can add a late burst to his games tally with the Demons in the flag window. However, he only managed seven AFL games for four goals in each of his two first outings of the season before going down with an unrelated back injury and eight VFL games for 21 shots on goals while playing partially in the ruck at Cyclone Casey. Let’s hope his body allows him to make a final charge.

 

 Hi Herald Sun. I've included some edits in bold above free of charge.  

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11 hours ago, Dee Viney Intervention said:

Maybe we could do a Dees supporters rate Herald Sun Journalists

Wouldn't get past the Demonland profanity filters!

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    Monday, 1st April 2024

    Our man on the spot Bendigo Demon traveled to Adelaide for our back to back games in the City of Churches and brings you his observations from the Demon's training session at Hisense Stadium ... READ MORE

    Demonland | April 01

  • Training  

    Monday, 25th March 2024

    Demonland Trackwatchers Demon Dynasty & Kev Martin were trackside at Gosch's Paddock today to bring you their observations from training ... READ MORE

    Demonland | March 25

  • Latest Podcast  

    PODCAST: Koltyn Tholstrup Interview

    I interview the Melbourne Football Club’s newest recruit Koltyn Tholstrup to have a chat about his journey from the farm to the Demons, his first few weeks of preseason training, which Dees have impressed him on the track and his aspirations of playing Round 1 ... LISTEN

    Demonland | December 14

  • Latest Podcast  

    PODCAST: Jason Taylor Interview

    I interview the Melbourne Football Club's National Recruitment Manager Jason Taylor to have a chat about our Trade and Draft period, our newest recruits, our recent recruits who have yet to debut as well as those father son prospects on the horizon ... LISTEN

    Demonland | November 27

  • Next Match 

    .

    Round 07

       vs   

    Wednesday 24th April 2024
    @ 07:25pm (MCG)

  • MFC Forum  

  • Match Previews & Reports  

  • Training Forum  

  • AFLW Forum  

  • 2024 Player Sponsorship

  • Topics

  • Injury List  


      PLAYER INJURY LENGTH
    Daniel Turner Hip Available
    Shane McAdam Hamstring 2-3 Weeks
    Marty Hore Thumb 2-3 Weeks
    Charlie Spargo Achilles 4 Weeks
    Jake Bowey Shoulder 5-6 Weeks
    Jake Melksham ACL 10-12 Weeks
    Joel Smith Suspension TBA

  • Player of the Year  


        PLAYER VOTES
    1 Christian Petracca 55
    2 Max Gawn 49
    3 Steven May 34
    4 Alex Neal-Bullen 27
    5 Jack Viney 24
    6 Clayton Oliver 22
    7 Bayley Fritsch 19
    8 Judd McVee 15
    9 Christian Salem 12
    10 Blake Howes 11

        FULL TABLE
  • Demonland Interviews 



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