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The Age

LEFT HIGH & DRY

Author: ROHAN CONNOLLY
Date: 23/10/1999
Words: 2000
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 21
Several hundred AFL footballers slept a bit easier last night. Yesterday, their clubs lodged final player lists with the league before next weekend's national draft. If a red pen hasn't already gone through their name, they're safe, for the moment.

Safe, but probably still nervous, and none more so than those pushing 200centimetres. While there's nothing unusual about the numbers of players being lopped, it's the big men who seem to have paid the heaviest price.

Collingwood veteran Damian Monkhorst, Geelong's John Barnes and Essendon's Peter Somerville are the highest-profile casualties of the past couple of weeks. All might have been offered as trade bait over the past few years, but their clubs hung on to them, hoping for a form turnaround. Now their collective patience has run out at the same time, all three delisted with no chance of getting anything in return.

But they haven't been the only ruckmen, or part-time ruckmen, to receive the tap on the shoulder. Fremantle's Matthew ``Spider" Burton is gone, the Dockers throwing their lot in with the more mobile Daniel Bandy and Clem Michael. Port Adelaide has off-loaded Brett Chalmers, and the Crows have let Lucas Herbert and Ian Downsborough go. And yesterday, StKilda cut Brett Cook and Glen Coghlan.

Brisbane lost patience with Matthew Clarke, rated the best ruckman in the competition just a couple of years ago, and traded him to the Crows. The more aggressive and multi-dimensional Clark Keating had superseded Clarke's technically adept ruckwork.

Sydney similarly lost patience with Stefan Carey and traded him to Brisbane. West Coast swapped Jason Ball to the Swans. And a host of other ``talls" who might have been considered for at least some type of ruck role have been passed on.

Is it simply coincidence? Or has a new sense of ``height discrimination" pervaded the game? While it appears to be mostly the former, there may be a message in all the axing of tall timber; that clubs are no longer prepared to compromise on the quality of their big men.

``The ruckman is still a key player," says Melbourne's ruck coach of the past two years, the former Essendon champion Simon Madden. ``But you just can't have an average one any more. A good ruckman these days is someone who can do the ruckwork but also has to be able to be played in another position.

``Look at Corey McKernan - he's a ruckman, he's a centre half-forward, he's a full-forward. They don't need to take him off the ground; they can play him in three positions. If you can't play them in at least two positions now, you don't want them. Clarke is either first ruck or on the bench, Barnesy is a first ruckman and not really a forward, Somerville isn't a forward, neither is Monkey or Burton."

One of the men who agonised over the decision about Monkhorst, Collingwood football manager and former Richmond ruckman Neil Balme, thinks the role is still the game's most contentious.

``I think we're probably still a bit confused about it. In one way, we don't want a ruckman who isn't able to run around, but, on the other hand, we still recognise how important it is for a ruckman to get his hand on the ball, and we can't quite differentiate, I suppose."

Sydney coach Rodney Eade, whose No.1 ruckman Greg Stafford has been a key for the Swans but whose absence through injury also enabled Adam Goodes to blossom into the Norwich Rising Star for 1999, might have changed his view a little after the events of the past few months.

``I think they're a little overrated," he concedes. ``They have got to be twofold to be of real value, otherwise you've just got to pick the best of whichever way you like ... either the classic ruckman like a Paul Salmon, who is going to give you first use of the ball, or someone who is going to give you something around the ground, for example, Jeff White at his best. There's not that many that good at both."

The figures from 1999 might have also influenced Eade. With Stafford sidelined, the technically still raw Goodes was comprehensively beaten at times in pure ruck contests, yet was still undeniably value to his team. ``We were the worst in the comp for boundary throw-in hit-outs, yet we were fifth-highest for takeaways from stoppages at throw-ins and ball-ups," he says. ``It means less with the level of planning now. Sides are better at looking at tapes and working out ruck set-ups with strategies to counter.

``Goodes' ruckwork per se is ordinary, but he does a lot of good work around the ground. He got marks, he was mobile, he beat Peter Everitt and Jeff White because he ran around the ground and got the footy."

With ruckwork more susceptible to changes in football fashion than others areas of the ground, you can expect the sensational 1999 form of Carlton's All-Australian ruckman Matthew Allan to have plenty more fall-out for a few ``dinosaurs" yet.

While the Western Bulldogs' ageless Scott Wynd continues to wave the banner for the ``old-fashioned" ruckmen, he no longer can go it alone, the tandem with the more mobile and goalkicking Luke Darcy now the Dogs' way. Similarly, Hawthorn's forward-cum-ruckman Nathan Thompson has assumed plenty of the load once carried entirely by Salmon.

Allan's pure ruck skills have been matched by a preparedness to run and collect plenty of ball midfield, dropping back across the half-back line when necessary, but also chipping in with 19goals for the season.

No surprise that it is becoming the popular model and a big reason, besides the more obvious issue of age, that Collingwood and Monkhorst have parted company is that the Magpies have taken a calculated gamble with the more athletic 21-year-old former Tiger Steven McKee. ``He can mark and run and he's 21. We just haven't got that sort of player," says Balme.

A ruckman who cannot gather his share of possession is going to have to be extraordinarily effective with his tap-outs to justify his place in the side. Carlton's Justin Madden, circa 1995, might have been just about the last ruckman to exert such influence.

But if many clubs have come to the same conclusion, that in ruck terms near enough is no longer good enough, where do they turn now? ``I think you've just got to keep seeking the ideal," Simon Madden says.

An ideal that, as the list of discarded big men will testify, is becoming increasingly hard to find.

AFTER THE DELISTING DEADLING: HOW YOUR CLUB SHAPES UP

ADELAIDE

Delisted

Ian Downsborough, Brodie Atkinson, Daryl Wintle, Lucas Herbert, Clint Kirey

Retired

Rodney Jameson, Matthew Liptak, David Pittman, Simon Tregenza

TRADES

Received

Matthew Clarke (from Brisbane)

Scott Welsh (from Kangaroos)

Traded

Lance Picione (to Hawthorn)

Number on list: 32

Draft Picks (8):

36, 51, 65,, 67, 79, 83, 89, 91.

KANGAROOS

Delisted

Brett Allison, Anthony Mellington, Dion Miles, Paul McMahon, Danny Stevens

Retired

Mark Roberts , John Longmire

TRADES

Received

David Calthorpe (from Brisbane)

Leigh Colbert (from Geelong)

Traded

Cameron Mooney (to Geelong)

Scott Welsh (to Adelaide)

Veterans List

Mick Martyn, Craig Sholl

Number on List: 34 plus two veterans

Draft selections: (6) 53, 61, 74, 77, 81, 87, 18

Number on list 32 plus 2 veterans.

Draft Picks (8): 1, 7, 18, 34, 62, 75, 82, 88

BRISBANE

Delisted

Andy Gowers, Dion Scott, Tate Day

TRADES

Received

Michael Martin (from Western Bulldogs)

Stefan Carey (from Sydney)

Traded

David Calthorpe (to Kangaroos)

Matthew Clarke (to Adelaide)

Trent Bartlett (to Western Bulldogs)

Additions

Father/Son Rule

Will take Jonathon Brown with draft pick 30. Will take Shane Morrison with draft pick 44.

Additions

Trent Knobel promoted from rookies list

Number on list: 37

Draft Picks (3): 6, 30, 44.

MELBOURNE

Delisted

Mark Bradly, Nick Carter, Donald Cockatoo-Collins, Darren Kowal, Craig Smoker

Retired

Glenn Lovett, Garry Lyon, Todd Viney

Veterans List

Steven Febey

TRADES

Received

Stephen Powell (from Western Bulldogs)

Traded

Matthew Bishop (to Port Adelaide)

Troy Longmuir (to Fremantle)

Number on List: 34 plus one veteran

Draft selections: (6) 19, 20, 42, 50, 63, 64

CARLTON

Delisted

Adrian Whitehead, Trent Hoppner, Brad Pearce, Craig Black, Tony Bourke, John Hynes, Damien Lock, Benjamin Thompson

Retired

Matthew Hogg

Veterans List

Craig Bradley, Stephen Silvagni

TRADES

Received

Michael Mansfield (Geelong)

Stephen O'Reilly (Fremantle)

Traded

Number on List 33 plus 2 veterans.

Draft Picks (7): 60, 73, 80, 86, 90, 92, 93.

PORT ADELAIDE

Delisted

Shane Breuer,Tom Carr, Brett Chalmers, Nigel Fiegert, Chris Naish

Retired

Darryl Poole

Veterans List: Darren Mead

Stephen Paxman

TRADES

Received

Brett Montgomery (from Western Bulldogs)

Matthew Bishop (from Melbourne)

Traded

Nathan Eagleton (to Western Bulldogs)

Number on List: 35 plus two veterans

Draft selections: (5) 12, 27, 28, 57, 71

COLLINGWOOD

Delisted

Scott Crow, Brad Fuller, Luke Godden, Damian Monkhorst, Frank Raso, Cameron Venables, Jason Wild

Retired

Alex McDonald, Lee Walker

Veterans List:

Gavin Brown, Gavin Crosisca.

TRADES

Received

Mark Kinnear (Sydney)

Steven McKee (Richmond)

Andrew Ukovic (Essendon)

Traded

Andrew Schauble (to Sydney)

Clinton King (to Richmond)

Father/Son Rule

Will take Rhyce Shaw with draft pick 18

Number on list 32 plus 2 veterans.

Draft Picks (8): 1, 7, 18, 34, 62, 75, 82, 88

RICHMOND

Delisted

Ashley Blurton, Ross Funcke,Paul Greenham, Ben Hollands, Ben Moore, Jason Ramsey

Veterans List: Brendon Gale

TRADES

Received

Clinton King (from Collingwood)

Leon Cameron (from Western Bulldogs)

Traded

Justin Plapp (to St Kilda)

Steven McKee (to Collingwood)

Number on List: 34 plus one veteran

Draft selections: (6) 3, 22, 39, 52, 78, 84

ESSENDON

Delisted:

Peter Somerville, Jordon Doering, Matthew Banks

Retired:

Ben Doolan

Veterans List:

Darren Bewick, Michael Long.

TRADES

Received

Jonathon Robran (from Hawthorn)

Traded

Andrew Ukovic (to Collingwood)

Number on list: 36

Draft picks (4): 40, 45, 59, 72.

ST KILDA

Delisted

Jacob Anstey, Glen Coghlan, Brett Cook, Daniel Healy

Retired

Luke Beveridge

Veterans List: Stewart Loewe

TRADES

Received

Justin Plapp (from Richmond)

Additions: Chad Davis (son of Alan Davis) off the rookie list.

Number on List: 36 plus one veteran

Draft selections: (4) 9, 24, 54, 68

FREMANTLE

Delisted

Stuart Anderson, Chris Bond, Michael Brown, Matthew Burton, Michael Clark, Tony Delaney, Peter Mann, Daniel Parker, Andrew Wills

Retired:

Andrew McGovern.

Veterans List:

Dale Kickett.

TRADES

Received

Troy Cook (from Sydney)

Troy Longmuir ( from Melbourne)

Brendon Fewster (from West Coast)

Traded

Stephen O'Reilly (to Carlton)

Number on List: 34

Draft Picks (6): 2, 4, 5, 46, 49, 76.

SYDNEY

Delisted:

Wade Chapman, Jason McPherson, Brett Rose, Will Sangster

Retired

Tony Lockett

TRADES

Received

Jason Ball (from West Coast)

Andrew Schauble (from Collingwood)

Father/Son Rule: Stephen Doyle to be selected with pick 26

Traded

Troy Crook (to Fremantle)

Mark Kinnear (to Collingwood)

Stefan Carey (to Brisbane)

Number on List: 36

Draft selections: (4) 21, 26, 56, 70

GEELONG

Delisted

John Barnes, Scott Bamford, Leigh Brockman, Brett Spinks, Cameron Roberts, Tim Finocchiaro, Justin Wood

Veterans List

Garry Hocking, Barry Stoneham.

TRADES

Received

Cameron Mooney (from Kangaroos)

Traded

Michael Mansfield (to Carlton)

Leigh Colbert (to Kangaroos)

Additions

Paul Lindsay promoted from rookie list.

Numbr on List: 33

Draft Picks (7): 8, 15, 17, 23, 31, 38, 47.

WEST COAST

Traded

Jason Ball (to Sydney)

Brendon Fewster (to Fremantle)

West Coast - 11, 14, 16, 29, 41, 44, 60, 76, 92 (9)

Retired;

Brett Heady, Chris Mainwaring, Chris Waterman

Veterans List:

Dean Kemp

Peter Matera

Number on List: 35 plus two veterans

Draft selections: (5) 11, 14, 16, 29, 41

HAWTHORN

Delisted

Marcus Baldwin, Hayden Burgiel, Jason Daniltchenko, Matthew Dennis, Jon Hassall, Brad Lloyd, Nathan Turvey

TRADES

Received

Lance Picioane (from Adelaide)

Traded

Jonathon Robran (to Essendon)

Number on List: 33

Draft Picks (7):

10, 25, 33, 48, 55, 69, 85.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Delisted

Anthony Aloi, James Cook, Robert Stevenson, Daniel Wulf

TRADES

Received

Nathan Eagleton (from Port Adelaide)

Trent Bartlett (from Brisbane)

Traded

Brett Montgomery (to Port Adelaide)

Stephen Powell (to Melbourne)

Michael Martin (to Brisbane)

Leon Cameron (to Richmond)

Veterans List: Tony Liberatore, Scott Wynd

Number on List: 33 plus two veterans. Western Bulldogs - (7) 13, 32, 35, 37, 43, 58, 66

THE RUCKSACK
DE-LISTED
Player                  Height
John Barnes (Geel)              193cm
Damian Monkhorst (Coll) 203cm
Peter Somerville (Ess)  195cm
Matthew Burton (Frem)   210cm
Brett Chalmers (Port )  195cm
Lucas Herbert (Adel)    198cm
Brett Spinks (Geel)             194cm
Brett Cook (St K)               194cm
Glen Coghlan (St K)             190cm
Ian Downsborough (Adel) 192cm
TRADED
Player                  Height
Matthew Clarke (Bris)   198cm
Stefan Carey (Syd)              197cm
Jason Ball (WC)         200cm
Jonathon Robran (Haw)   196cm
Brendan Fewster (WC)    193cm
Trent Bartlett (Bris)           190cm
Steve McKee (Rich)      198cm
Matthew Bishop (Melb)   195cm
 
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