Our AFL experts Niall Seewang, Jake Michaels and Matt Walsh dissect all of the main talking points ahead of Round 9.
What is Tim Kelly worth?
NS: In dollar terms, $1 million per year, at least. On the trade table, two early first-round picks. The Bombers paid two first rounders for Dylan Shiel -- with the Giants' second-round pick heading back to the Dons -- so Kelly has to be worth more because he's now one of the top handful of players in the league. If he did seek a return to Western Australia, the Dockers and Eagles should throw everything at this remarkable second-year player.
JM: With every game he plays, Kelly seems to go up in value. If I was in charge of Geelong, West Coast or Fremantle -- or any other club in the league for that matter -- I'd be very comfortable making him a one-million-dollar-per-season-man. Yes, he's already 24, but remember he's only played 31 games and probably has more upside than just about any other player out there. That's really scary!
MW: Whatever a club will pay him is the cop-out answer! In terms of picks, Shiel is the benchmark and any club sniffing around the Cattery will need to be prepared to part with one very high or two first rounders in order to facilitate a trade with the Cats. At his best he is a top five player in the competition and his consistency is getting better in his second season. In terms of cash, $1 million isn't out of the question.
Which Round 8 MRO decision was the biggest injustice?
NS: Nat Fyfe not even getting a fine for his dangerous hit on Richmond's Tom Lynch. The league's Match Review Officer Michael Christian said there was insufficient force in Fyfe's forearm hit, but therein lies the problem - there is far too much emphasis on the outcome of clashes as opposed to the act itself. The AFL has basically said it's OK to swing an elbow or forearm to an opponent's head as long as you get lucky and don't cause serious injury! Ridiculous.
JM: I'm absolutely astounded that Fyfe is free to play this week. What an absolute joke. He clearly didn't go for the ball, raised his elbow and made contact with Lynch's head. If he had have concussed Lynch, Fyfe would be sitting out three or four weeks, but because he didn't he's free to play. Stamp out the action rather than worrying about the result.
MW: Sam Durdin must feel pretty aggrieved considering his textbook shoulder-to-shoulder shepherd resulted in a one-game ban. Unlike the other two (Fyfe and Gary Ablett), Durdin's incident was a football move, and the accidental head clash was an unfortunate by-product. Perhaps if he was a Brownlow medalist, he would have just been let off with a warning...
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Ep. 18 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL pod:
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Is Clayton Oliver underrated?
NS: What he's achieving at 21 is extraordinary. Against the Suns he was monstrous: 38 touches (22 contested), 15 tackles, eight clearances and 536m gained. Only Patrick Cripps is ahead of him as an inside mid and Oliver's stats stand up strongly -- and sometimes exceed -- the star Blue's at the same age. He is a legit gun but doesn't seem to get the love other gun midfielders do (my suspicion is his antagonistic demeanour, and the fact he occasionally accentuates contact, puts him in the 'player you love to hate' category).
JM: No, I think he's rated very fairly. To be honest, his first eight games of 2018 were more impressive than his first eight of 2019 and he's only really getting spoken about after a strong game against Gold Coast. He's a very, very good midfielder, who can be great, but right now he's around the 10-25 mark in terms of best players in the league. That's where most people rate him, right?
MW: He's starting to become underrated. Statistically, and as a 21-year-old, Oliver is progressing (much!) better than Cripps, yet few people seem to talk about the development of these two young bulls in the same way. Oliver needs to start hitting the scoreboard (he is yet to kick a goal in 2019) and become more damaging with ball in hand, but I'm sure in time he will be given the respect he deserves.
Who is Carlton's second-best player?
NS: This is a tough one! There's significant daylight behind Patrick Cripps, which speaks not only of Cripps' standing in the game but of the lack of depth around him at the Blues. When fit, it would be Sam Docherty or Matthew Kreuzer but as it stands, I think it might be Jacob Weitering, who has returned to form strongly after struggling in his second and third seasons.
JM: On his day, Harry McKay looks like he can be a world beater, but he's probably finding consistency real tough in an average side. Maybe it's Kreuzer. The big man is a very underrated ruckman that does it all and makes the Blues a far better side when he's playing. It's just a real shame he misses through injury so often.
MW: It isn't a stretch to suggest that Weitering has quietly become Carlton's second best player. There's a distinct feeling of safety when the ball heads towards Weitering, something that was absent for parts of last year. He's been consistently good so far in 2019 and will only continue to mature and put on size. He's incredibly important and is showing why he was a No. 1 pick.