Nick Daicos is bound for the Rising Star, with Collingwood cashing in on an AFL draft night slide that looked bad then and even worse now.
Plus a surprising suspension questioned, the fair price for Franklin and why the Magpies are both lucky and good.
The big issues from Round 18 of the 2022 AFL season analysed in Talking Points!
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WHY PIES SCORED FATHER-SON GUN AT DISCOUNTED PRICE
Three goals from 40 disposals and 10 intercepts — numbers you would normally associate with a star player in the prime of their football career.
But that stat line on Saturday belonged to Nick Daicos — a 19-year-old in just his 17th AFL game.
And, somehow, the Pies snapped him up at Pick 4 last year.
The classy defender has surged into Rising Star favouritism thanks to incredibly consistent and efficient performances across 2022, averaging 26.6 disposals, 5.2 intercepts and 403m gained.
The evidence is now too compelling to shun: Daicos is putting together arguably the best season by a first-year player in the modern AFL era. There’s been some pushback to that suggestion from some fans and commentators — they’d argue he’s not being tagged and winning a stack of uncontested ball — but any other half-back with Daicos’ return would be in the All-Australian conversation.
“It just seems to be going to another level,” Pies coach Craig McRae said of Daicos post-game on Saturday.
“I haven’t seen (a first year like it) and he’s just doing it in different ways too.”
With Jason Horne-Francis (Pick 1) struggling for consistency at North Melbourne, Sam Darcy (Pick 2) still waiting for an AFL debut at the Bulldogs and Finn Callaghan (Pick 3) getting a glimpse of senior action at the Giants before being sidelined with a foot injury, some fans would consider it robbery the Pies weren’t forced to match a bid (Gold Coast’s) on Daicos until Pick 4 in last year’s draft. At one stage, the Pies were even preparing for a rival club to launch a bid on their father-son gun at Pick 1.
The intention of the bidding system for father-son and Academy prospects was to make clubs earn, or pay the right price for, the star players already tied to them at the draft.
So if Daicos was considered the best prospect of last year’s draft — and LOTS of draft-watchers did — why did it take four picks for a rival to bid on him?
Some recruiters contacted by Foxfooty.com.au this weekend said they understood why both the Kangaroos and Giants overlooked Daicos.
They pointed out Horne-Francis had put together a mighty draft campaign — including standout performances at SANFL league level — while Daicos barely played any footy due to Covid-enforced restrictions in Victoria. North also clearly rated the South Australian as the best player in the draft, so perhaps bidding on Daicos before Horne-Francis would’ve made the latter feel somewhat slighted.
The Giants, who had Pick 2, initially indicated they were interested in drafting a key-position player with their first pick, so the fact they forced the Bulldogs to match a bid on Darcy was unsurprising. But then they used Pick 3 to select classy, Bontempelli-like midfielder Finn Callaghan, who had a big fan in former coach Leon Cameron.
Plus that Giants selection was tied to Collingwood’s 2021 finishing position — thanks to a trade between the two clubs 12 months earlier — so some rival recruiters suspect the Giants did the Pies a favour by not bidding on Daicos with the Pies’ own pick.
So, ultimately, the Roos and Giants were never going to get Daicos and Daicos was always going to Collingwood. Yet considering how highly touted and rated he was, other recruiters remain flabbergasted he didn’t attract a bid until Pick 4. One told Foxfooty.com.au Daicos was “clearly the best player in last year’s draft and it wasn’t even close”.
And because the Pies didn’t have to burn as many draft picks as initially anticipated, they were able to select another three players in the backend of the draft.
Daicos always knew he’d end up at Collingwood, but the fact he didn’t attract an earlier bid from either the Roos or Giants did irk him somewhat. He told 3AW’s Sportsday pre-draft: “I’ve worked really hard to hopefully be recognised as a top pick, so I would’ve loved to have been picked a little bit higher … But I guess the lower I’m picked, the better it is for the club.”
And aren’t both Daicos and Collingwood benefiting big time.
‘DISGRACE’ AS ‘PERFECT TACKLE’ COPS BIG BAN
Carlton’s Will Hayes has been slapped with a two-match ban for the tackle that left Cat Sam Menegola concussed at the MCG.
Hayes pinned 30-year-old’s arm in the tackle in the opening quarter on Saturday night, with the back of Menegola’s head hitting the turf.
The AFL determined Hayes’ tackle to be dangerous and assessed the incident as careless, high impact and high contact.
Under the AFL’s rules, one factor to be considered is whether the player being tackled was put “in a vulnerable position (eg arm/s pinned) with little opportunity to protect himself”.
Fairfax reporter Andrew Wu said the “vulnerable position” interpretation was the big issue for Hayes.
Wu said the two-match penalty “seems harsh” but questioned how more players aren’t punished for similar tackles where arms are pinned.
But the decision to suspend Hayes is controversial, with former Saint/Bomber Brendon Goddard labelling it a “perfect tackle”.
“Another player suspended based on the outcome, not the ACTION!” he posted on social media.
“Disgrace, perfect tackle, unfortunate outcome for Sam and Geelong.”
Nathan Buckley said the tackle looked “nondescript” but conceded the impact was what could land Hayes in hot water.
“It was quite a heavy hit,” he said on Best on Ground.
Menegola was assisted from the field and did not return for the match.
The Cats midfielder has already missed matches in 2022 under the AFL’s concussion protocols after copping a head knock in the VFL back in April.
WHAT’S A FAIR PRICE FOR FRANKLIN?
Reports that Sydney presented Lance Franklin a “lowball offer” that could see the superstar finish 2022 in retirement shocked the competition this week.
It was reported Franklin was being offered a hefty pay cut to play on in 2023, with a one-year deal for $500,000.
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson said Franklin could retire or even consider a third AFL club if the Swans didn’t increase their offer.
Franklin is coming to the end of his historic nine-year, $10 million deal with Sydney in 2022.
The man behind that deal, Liam Pickering, said he believes Franklin should demand around $700,000 to play on next year.
“I think $700,000 is the right number,” he said on SEN.
“I don’t think $500,000 is a lowball figure and it’s still a lot of money, but ($700,000) is what I would ask for.
“I have no doubt he’s playing at the Swans and they’ll get there. He’s not going to leave on $100,000 (difference).
“I think he’s worth $700,000; Sydney needs to work out whether they can fit him into the salary cap.
“I can understand this from both sides, at $500-700,000 you are getting the deal done at this range.”
Former number one draft pick Brendon Goddard did not agree with the $700,000 figure for Franklin and said it was time for the AFL great to “step aside”.
“He’s probably worth that much ($700,000) to someone else, but the team he’s in and how much he’s been paid in previous years by Sydney, I think it’s time to take a step aside,” Goddard said on Nine.
“We understand what he’s done as a footballer on the field and promoting the game, but at the same time, you’ve just come off a $10.5 million deal over 10 years and it is your time now to step aside.”
Franklin refused to be drawn into contract talks after his side’s win over Fremantle in Perth on Saturday night.
When asked directly by Fox Footy’s Matthew Pavlich if he liked the “red and the white”, Franklin chuckled as he shook Pavlich’s hands and walked off.
“Too clever for Pav,” Jason Dunstall jibed after.
“He just brushed that one,” Adam Papalia added.
Franklin said he was “used to” commentary around his playing future after 18 years in the AFL.
On 1030 goals, the star sits just one behind fifth-placed Gary Ablett Senior (1031) on the VFL-AFL all-time goalkicking chart, and 28 behind Doug Wade in fourth.
LUCKY AND GOOD: TRUTH BEHIND PIES’ LUCKY 57-YEAR RECORD
They did it again.
Collingwood’s 91-86 win over Adelaide was, remarkably, their seventh win by two goals or less this season. They are 7-1 in close games.
After we wrote in this column last week about how they were lucky to be 6-1 in those tight finishes, Taylor Adams responded on RSN radio, saying “A journalist said it was luck. To me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
There’s no doubt the Magpies have practised performing well in close games, and the ice-cold influence of Scott Pendlebury was yet again crucial as they held on against Adelaide.
But the fact is, there is no proof that any team has ever held the skill of winning so many close games. Good teams are expected to win slightly more close games, because they win more games period – over the past decade or so, sides like Geelong and Hawthorn have won a bit under 60% of the close ones.
Overall, though, most teams hang around average because close games simply are quite dependent on luck. And we know this because the biggest outliers always revert back to the mean.
We’ve previously discussed Port Adelaide (5-0 in close games in 2021, but 2-5 this year). But in each of the last seven seasons, the best team in close games has always been worse the next year.
That includes Brisbane (5-0 in 2020, 1-2 the next year), St Kilda (5-2 in 2019, 1-4 the next year), Hawthorn (6-2 in 2018, 2-3 the next year), Geelong (5-0 in 2017, 3-4 the next year), Hawthorn (6-0 in 2016, 4-2 the next year) and Fremantle (5-1 in 2015, 0-1 the next year).
And it works the other way too, with the worst teams in close games always improving the next year.
Just look at Collingwood (1-5 in 2021, 7-1 this year), North Melbourne (1-4 in 2020, 3-0 the next year), Adelaide (1-4 in 2019, 1-2 the next year), Melbourne (0-5 in 2018, 3-3 the next year), North Melbourne (1-5 in 2017, 3-4 the next year), Carlton (2-5 in 2016, 3-3 the next year) and Collingwood (1-6 in 2015, 2-2 the next year).
This is the most obvious example of statistical outliers reverting to the mean that could possibly exist.
When you are such a statistical outlier, you will always revert to the mean the next season. And Collingwood’s turnaround has led to a historic record.
As Twitter stats guru Swamp pointed out, Collingwood’s total winning margin over its eight-game winning streak of 98 points is the fourth-smallest in VFL-AFL history.
Not since Melbourne won eight consecutive games by a combined 92 points across the 1964-65 seasons has a team continued to sneak by its opponents.
That Demons streak actually started in a 1964 Grand Final win over Collingwood by four points, for all those playing at home.
They then started the 1965 season 8-0, winning games by two, three, four, six, eight, 14 and 51 points… before finishing the season 2-8. (It’s as if those close wins showed they weren’t as good as their win-loss record suggested…)
Let’s just explain one more thing. Saying Collingwood has been lucky to win so many close games does not mean they’re not good, nor that overall they did not deserve to win most of them.
As St Kilda champion Leigh Montagna explained on First Crack on Sunday night, the Magpies should’ve been winning most of those games by more, based on Champion Data’s expected score metric.
Close games that shouldn’t have been that close
Round 11 v Carlton: Real margin +4, expected margin +30
Round 12 v Hawthorn: Real margin +4, expected margin +14
Round 15 v GWS: Real margin +11, expected margin +39
Round 16 v Gold Coast: Real margin +5, expected margin +13
Round 17 v North Melbourne: Real margin +7, expected margin +16
Round 18 v Adelaide: Real margin +5, expected margin -2
So Collingwood was the better team in five of those wins, but goalkicking – either their own poor kicking, or their opponents’ straight kicking – made things even closer.
Two things are going on here: the Magpies deserved to win most of those games, but they’re fortunate that the real-life close margins have all gone their way.
Those things may sound mutually exclusive but they’re not. One is an assessment of their underlying quality; the other is about the randomness of actual results.
As the cliche goes, it’s better to be lucky than good. But Collingwood is both.