Round 5: The Wash-Up

LET’S BEGIN this week’s agenda by discussing Chris Judd. Was he right to play? If not, why was he the sub? Did he come on too early or too late? Is this the end of one of the game’s greats? The questions kept coming on Sunday night, despite Carlton’s stirring 28-point victory over the Western Bulldogs.

The former captain didn’t even last five minutes before his hamstring went. Despite the club and Judd himself saying he’ll be back, the reality is the clock is ticking on his career and retirement is most certainly closer given the timing of this injury.

Critics say he may have been rushed back, given the different ways opposition bring back players similar to the situation Carlton had with Judd. In recent years, Hawthorn has brought Luke Hodge and Brian Lake through the VFL while the Swans nursed Kurt Tippett through the NEAFL last weekend. I’d expect them to do the same with Adam Goodes as well.

In hindsight the Blues probably should’ve taken the more conservative approach given that their former captain will now miss somewhere between 4-6 weeks as the curtains close on one of the most decorated AFL careers we have witnessed.

Having said that, the Blues were mighty stiff and unlucky to lose Judd the way they did. The Blues boast the oldest list in the competition and have the fewest 23 year olds in the league right now, which is cause for concern. A rebuild of the list is inevitable and now is the perfect time for Malthouse to play the youngsters and find out who can play.

Geelong continue to haunt Hawthorn

What a rivalry this has become. The Cats have beaten the Hawks 12 of the last 13 encounters, with last year’s preliminary final the only exception. Monday’s 19-point victory was emphatic with the Cats’ big names standing up. Steve Johnson loves to perform on the big stage and showed just that, but skipper Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel and Tom Hawkins (5 goals) were just as iconic.

The mental toughness of Hawthorn is tested to the maximum in these big clashes, and its clear Geelong remain the benchmark for Alastair Clarkson and his outfit. The Hawks were missing Brian Lake and Ryan Schoenmakers, who potentially could’ve curtailed the dominance of Hawkins, who was too good for Kyle Cheney.

A number of key Hawks weren’t at their best – Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli and Josh Gibson – among them.

The Cats have a belief that they can beat anyone on their day, particularly Hawthorn, a belief that expresses their best is undeniably good. Even more impressive is that Caddy, Motlop and Christensen are on the sidelines, along with Vardy and Menzel, who still remain a big part of their future.

The confidence to move on experienced clubmen Paul Chapman, James Podsiadly, Josh Hunt and Joel Corey, and instil belief in the youngsters to step up is impressive. The Cats are a proud club with rich history and a rock solid culture that opposition clubs should take notice of, more so then perhaps they already recognise.

Saints on the right track

St Kilda should be applauded. They took on an Essendon side I expected to win well, yet the boys from Seaford got the chocolates.

Strong players and teams just get on with the job, and thats exactly what the Saints did. After an 86-point belting at the hands of the Crows last round, they needed to refocus and put all their energies into combating an in-form Bombers outfit.

Nick Riewoldt is in career-best form in his latter years, leading a new generation of young Saints with experienced pair Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna. How lucky are the likes of Billings, Dunstan, Curren, Saunders, Newnes and Webster?

Alan Richardson has shown in a very short space of time how good of a coach he really is. He has missed out on several senior coaching jobs but his highly decorated CV as a developer of talent is shining through.

He has the Saints on the right track and they can only improve under his tenure. Its a much brighter future now then it was this time last year under former coach Scott Watters.

Are the pieces coming together for Collingwood?

Yes, bit by bit. It helps when the Magpie engine room is in full swing like they are at the moment.

Nathan Buckley made bold moves on his list at the end of last year with Heath Shaw (GWS), Dale Thomas (Carlton) and Darren Jolly among the departures, stamping his name on the Pies of today. It wasn’t popular but we can start to see those changes kicking into gear for the better.

Turning Alex Fasolo into a running half-back flanker has proved an inspired move, while the recruitment of ex-Swan Jesse White has proved more beneficial than what Quentin Lynch was able to offer last year.

And on the weekend against the Roos, Travis Cloke got back to form with four goals next to his name by half time.

Dane Swan got back to better form, combining well with captain Scott Pendlebury and I like Steele Sidebottom as a permanent midfielder.

Also pleasing to the coach would be the stability of the back half, despite injuries. Lachie Keefe and Jack Frost are showing plenty of promise in the key posts and are improving by the week, and Nick Maxwell is in career-best form.

With Nathan Brown and Ben Reid closing in on their returns, the coach will have selection dilemmas in the coming weeks. And for the first time in a while, Reid could become a permanent forward given the defence is holding its own right now.

On top of that, Brodie Grundy is performing admirably as the no.1 ruckman with Jarrod Witts as back up. The Pies are slowly building but things are looking good.

Time to ditch the score review system

Its a big call but its time to remove the score review system. The current technology isn’t great, with the SD replays making the vision for a clear decision inconclusive. The time it wastes during games is also another issue.

The case was proven on Sunday when James Frawley shot on goal was given the six points, when it was clearly touched by Suns’ defenders Steven May and Rory Thompson.

Its time to remove a flawed system that isn’t doing what it was designed for.

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