Home » Trade gamble that could land superstar; ‘masterstroke’ behind AFL ‘revelation’; Talking Pts

Trade gamble that could land superstar; ‘masterstroke’ behind AFL ‘revelation’; Talking Pts

Trade gamble that could land superstar; ‘masterstroke’ behind AFL ‘revelation’; Talking Pts

Debate is raging around a longstanding Rising Star rule that will prevent the league’s best young player from taking out the prestigious honour.

Plus, the temperature has been turned up on the character of Alastair Clarkson, the league’s new giant killers and more!

The big issues from Round 12 of the 2024 AFL season analysed in Talking Points!

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Does Clarko need to change his ways?Source: Getty Images


Alastair Clarkson made headlines for the wrong reasons again this week after using inappropriate language during North Melbourne’s clash with Port Adelaide in Tasmania.

While Clarkson avoided sanction after the AFL was unable to determine if his language was directed at officials, it’s led to questions on whether the 56-year old is fit to still be coaching an AFL side, or if he’s become a liability to the winless Roos as the rebuilding club looks to dig itself out of its current hole.

Of course, while the four-time premiership coach is one of the greatest of the modern era, Clarkson also has a growing rap sheet of slip ups becoming harder to ignore, including a homophonic sledge towards St Kilda players in the pre-season following Jimmy Webster’s hit on Jy Simpkin.

So will the ultra competitive Clarkson, who will now coach from the coaches box instead of the sidelines, be able to change his ways?

Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall, who first appointed Clarkson at the Hawks in 2004, acknowledged the veteran coach was clearly “frustrated” with the current situation he finds himself in at Arden Street.

“There’s no doubt he’s frustrated, things aren’t going well at North and maybe it’s become a bigger challenge he thought it might be,” Dunstall said on Fox Footy.

“But I don’t think you turn into an ordinary coach overnight. He’ll realign his focus and do what he has to do.

“There’s not a lot to work with at North at the moment.”

Port piles on more pain for Kangaroos | 00:55

The Kangaroos get an opportunity to reset this week with their bye before they travel to Perth to play West Coast next week in search of their first win.

Former Hawthorn and Geelong star Isaac Smith, who played under Clarkson during the Hawks’ premiership golden era, believes his ex-coach simply allows his emotions to boil over sometimes because of how much he cares.

“He’s an emotional coach, he played on the edge and coached on the end,” Smith said on Triple M.

“He absolutely loves his players and his club and gets very frustrated at times and sometimes goes over the top.”

Meanwhile North Melbourne legend David King took issue with “disrespectful” comments this week from Australian Football Hall of Famer Paul Roos regarding Clarkson.

Roos, who was recently working in a consultancy role at North Melbourne, suggested Clarkson’s salary should be impacted if he can’t fulfil his coaching duties from the interchange.

King responded on SEN: “I don’t understand that at all and I think that’s incredibly disrespectful to say he can’t do the same job up there (in the coaches box).

“It was OK for ‘Roosy’ to get money when he was in Hawaii – and that’s a fair way from the bench to the box. I think we should operate on the same standard.”

What is Melbourne’s method right now? | 02:59


The suspension of young gun Harley Reid has suddenly left the race for the Rising Star award wide open, after a sling tackle on fellow nominee Darcy Wilson sees the Eagle suspended for two weeks.

Unique to other sports, a player is deemed ineligible for the Rising Star award if they are suspended by the AFL for an indiscretion – much like the Brownlow Medal.

Incredibly, Western Bulldogs key forward Sam Darcy, who was hotly tipped as the Reid’s biggest rival for the award, was also disqualified from winning the award just days ago, after his bump on Brayden Maynard saw him rubbed out for the same time period.

The instance will be a first in 30 years, with Corey McKernan the last favourite to become ineligible for the award due to suspension.

Amid a first in the modern era, there have been strong calls to scrap the ruling that has stood since the award’s establishment.

The “best and fairest” element of the award has often gone unnoticed with the Rising Star award; contrary to the Brownlow Medal.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show, Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes pushed the question that has suddenly been brought to light.

“Do we need to remove the fairness element of the Rising Star? Particularly with so many tiggy touchwood suspensions that we are getting that we wouldn’t have got 5-6 years ago,” Cornes said.

“These two players (Reid and Darcy) ineligible, it’s going to be a bit farcical on the night because of a suspension.

“Whether we need to remove that and have a threshold (before losing the award) – maybe if you’ve been suspended for four weeks, then that triggers the threshold.”

Fellow panellist and AFL.com.au journalist Damien Barrett added his take on the ruling, and referenced McKernan’s suspension as an unfortunate precedent for the scenario.

“I think it’s a conversation the industry should have, and it’s one I had with Corey McKernan – who in 1994 suffered the same fate,” Barrett said.

“He lost that year’s Rising Star to Chris Scott when he was found guilty … he has endorsed what you have put up there in the conversation.”

West Coast coach Adam Simpson failed to see any significance in the Saturday evening act, despite his limited comments post-game.

“You want to free up the restrictions around comments about tribunal and umpires then we can have a good conversation, but I’m restricted a little,” Simpson said.

“So, I thought there was nothing in it, is what I’ll say.”

The discretion now leaves North Melbourne’s Colby McKercher and George Wardlaw as favourites for the award.

And ironically, not far behind them will be Darcy Wilson – the player Reid tackled to receive his suspension.

The AFL is yet to publicly comment on a potential tweak to the criteria in future years, as the outcry for change grows.

Simmo not worried about Harley tackle | 08:23


Ex-Hawks star Ben Dixon on Saturday night joked his side was “torching” their early draft pick chances due to their recent hot form.

But Hawthorn fans have been patient enough and are finally seeing glimpses of light at the end of the rebuild tunnel.

And as Melbourne champion Garry Lyon declared on Saturday, you “don’t want to play Hawthorn” in the back-half of this season, as they’re quickly gaining a ‘giant killers’ reputation.

After Round 7 this season, the Hawks were 1-6 and sitting in 17th spot on the ladder. They had an alarming percentage of 69.9 after conceding 93 or more points in five of their first seven games.

But Sam Mitchell’s troops have flipped the script dramatically in the past five weeks, winning four matches — it should’ve been five after a late capitulation against Port Adelaide — to creep up to 12th on the ladder.

The Hawks, in that streak, have beaten the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, Brisbane and, most recently, Adelaide — four clubs that either made finals last year or were in the finals hunt late.

After all four matches, the media narrative naturally focused on the shock result for the losing teams.

But there’s enough evidence now to suggest the Hawks can no longer be underestimated.

“They’ve got boundless energy and enthusiasm, they’re a bit unpredictable when they go forward – not really knowing who they’re going to go through – they’ve got a clearance team that’s pretty stacked … there’s so much to look forward to,” Lyon said in Fox Footy commentary on Saturday.

“The proverbial green shoots are there now and what they can add to it will be interesting.

If you’re a Hawthorn fan, you’re going along to the footy every week thinking you’re a chance – and that hasn’t always been the case in recent years.

“When you know where Hawthorn have been – gone down to rock bottom, deliberately – what you want to see is development and improvement and a next step and a next step. It’s becoming really obvious now that Sam Mitchell has got this group on the upward trend.

“What you see here is a Hawthorn team that clearly understands what’s expected of them … and it’s serving them really well at this stage.”

A huge reason behind the Hawks’ turnaround in recent weeks has been their ability to lock the ball in their front half more often in games.

“This is forward-half football. This is modern-day football here from this football club,” triple premiership Tiger Jack Riewoldt told Fox Footy.

“They have just evolved over this season and they are so aggressive in the way they press up.”

Riewoldt added that on top of their drafting, the Hawks had traded shrewdly, with the likes of Jarman Impey and Karl Amon superbly complimenting their game plan.

“Clearly the picture and the side that can hopefully win their next premiership for Hawthorn is starting to build and they’re starting to put those pieces together,” Riewoldt said.

The Hawks have well and truly exceeded expectations in the last month, and taken plenty of scalps with them (Photo by Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Star duo Jack Gunston and Dylan Moore were asked on Fox Footy after Saturday’s win over Adelaide why the Hawks had turned their fortunes around so quickly in the past five weeks.

Gunston said they’d “gone back to basics” to focus on pressure and contest, while Moore believed it was improved team chemistry.

“I think it’s a bit of trust,” Moore told Fox Footy. “We’ve now got a similar team playing each week and we know what each other’s going to do.

“We knew coming into this year it was going to take some time to gel, so to gel this quick has been good.

“To be able to replicate these performances week in week out now, the club is heading in the right direction.

The Hawks have been on the receiving end of a few beltings in recent years. Now they’re a team rivals should be wary of.

And, dare we say it, can Hawks fans dream of September again? They play the Giants in Tassie, Richmond at the MCG and West Coast at Optus Stadium in their next three games.

It’d be a minor miracle if they made it. But we’re in an AFL era where momentum is king …

Positive start for newest rule change | 00:39


If you can fathom it, the Blues might have another dangerous forward axe to wield in the second half of the season.

As if twin towers Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, a roaming Tom De Koning and the electric Matt Owies weren’t enough for opposition defenders to contend with, another layer of icing appears to have been added to Carlton’s forward-line cake.

Zac Williams was trending towards liability status as a defender in Michael Voss’ Carlton side, but a “masterstroke” by the third-year Blues mentor has unveiled yet another goalkicking threat.

Williams booted four goals from 15 disposals in last Saturday’s win over Gold Coast and substantiated that effort with three more majors from five scoring shots and five marks against Port Adelaide on Thursday night.

Not only can the ex-Giant threaten the goal-face, but, with a long-time defensive pedigree, Williams can play on opposition star stoppers as an accountable negator.

Dual premiership player and Fox Footy analyst David King voiced his thoughts on SEN Breakfast about Zac Williams’ fruitful switch.

“I think the move of Williams out of the backline (to go) forward has been a masterstroke for ‘Vossy’,” King declared on Friday.

“What’s he kicked, seven (goals) in the last two weeks? (He) looked really dangerous, particularly deep forward.

“I know we send those mid-sized players forward and sometimes (they) struggle to find a home. ‘Am I a crumber? Am I putting on pressure?’ He’s actually there as a drop-of-ball, make-some-magic type (of) forward.

“I think he’s been a revelation.”

Considering the recent valid concerns about the 147-gamer in the defensive half, the ‘revelation’ King speaks of has come at the perfect time for the 29-year-old — whose versatility may end up prolonging his AFL career.

It also places an emphasis on an intriguing subplot involving Carlton’s bevy of smaller forwards.

If Williams has indeed snaffled a cosy spot in Voss’ attacking unit, it creates genuine small-forward selection integrity at Princes Park, challenging the club’s remaining forward-50 crumbing types.

AFL Media journalist Riley Beveridge recently reported that rival teams were monitoring Matt Owies’ situation this year — what chance is he of departing at year’s end?

Owies was omitted by Voss ahead of Carlton’s preliminary final meeting with Brisbane last year.

Then there’s Orazio Fantasia, who only arrived at Royal Parade at the start of this year.

The former Essendon and Port Adelaide forward was tactically substituted out of Thursday’s win and hasn’t been able to record more than 10 disposals in any of his 10 games thus far in 2024.

Pressuring crumbers Lachie Fogarty and Corey Durdin, as well as Jesse Motlop, are also currently vying for spots in Voss’ attack.

Meanwhile, the sidelined Matt Cottrell, David Cuningham and Jack Martin would be challenging for senior spots if they were available.

This is all to say that there were already many mouths to feed before Williams made his promising transition. When the whips are cracking come September, who will put their best foot forward?

And, pending finals-time selection calls, will it prompt one or more of the aforementioned attackers to consider their AFL future?

Port Adelaide’s new defence not working? | 03:07


Port Adelaide’s defensive credentials are diminishing by the week, and it’s fuelling external criticism of the club amid its inability to consistently beat marquee opponents.

The Power’s premiership candidacy has come under serious scrutiny following another disappointing loss to a fellow top-four fancy — Carlton on Thursday night — with Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall going as far as to label the Alberton dwellers a “fake top four team”.

Port has now fallen to three top-eight teams in the Blues, Magpies and Demons, having beaten just Geelong and the second-placed Bombers — before they started a seven-game unbeaten run — in 2024.

Ken Hinkley’s Power were obliterated at stoppage by a Patrick Cripps-led Carlton in the final quarter of Thursday’s 36-point loss on home soil, prompting terse post-game criticism.

Specifically, the Power’s defensive performance was berated after they conceded 7.1 (43) from stoppages in the final term alone.

“The Port defenders, to be brutally honest, were horrible in one-on-ones,” Dunstall observed.

“You could see the pressure they were facing; (Brandon) Zerk-Thatcher had a pretty dirty night.

“(The Blues) pretty much did as they liked, and they probably would reflect on this game and think: ‘(we) probably could’ve kicked four or five (more goals), it could’ve been a better night’.”

Two-time North Melbourne premiership player David King said that while Port’s situation wasn’t “terminal”, it’s by no means ideal — despite their retained top-four standing at the end of Round 12.

“Port Adelaide, at home, supposed to be legit in ‘24 — uh-uh,” King told Fox Footy’s post-game coverage on Thursday.

“In the end, it’s not terminal for Port Adelaide, but it happens a lot in moments that matter.

“They’re only (off) a metre here and a metre there, but it’s the same players. That’s what worries me.

“(Ollie) Wines is consistently in there, (Jason) Horne-Francis is a young player, still learning, so we’re not going to go too hard at Jason, but we’ve told this story before.”

King wasn’t even willing to pencil in the fourth-placed Power for a finals berth this year, questioning the productivity of the club’s key-defending recruits Zerk-Thatcher and Esava Ratugolea.

“We’re not signing off on anything at this stage,” King continued.

“They’ve got some problems. We continually talk about what the best (teams) in the competition do, and they’re just a fraction off it — and it’s been that way for a little while.

“Have their off-season acquisitions really propelled them forward? Have they made the change they thought they’d make? I think that’s open for debate and discussion.

“Does their game plan really suit those guys they’ve got down back? The ball comes at such speed at those three deep defenders that the press doesn’t really suit the way they want to defend.

“So, I think that’s a little bit clunky — that needs addressing for me.

“And their midfielders regularly get caught one step that way when they should be one step (on the) defensive side.”

The Power’s defence has been exposed.Source: Getty Images

On Wednesday’s AFL 360 Watch List, Fox Footy analyst Leigh Montagna exposed Port Adelaide’s recent one-on-one struggles.

“The last six weeks, they’ve been in the most-one-on-one contests — so they’re getting caught out more one-on-one — and they are losing the third-most in the competition; they’ve dropped to 16th,” the 287-gamer said.

“What I’ve noticed (is) that these three are isolated a lot. Teams are separating them and pulling them apart, and they’re not able to support each other, maybe like they were more early in the year (to) get across and help out.”

Between Rounds 6-11, the Power dropped to 10th in the AFL for points against and 15th for conceding points from turnovers.

Post-game on Thursday evening, Montagna explained the familiar story at Alberton in recent years.

“For me, I think it’s still the same as what we’ve seen for the last three or four years,” he said.

“They’re a good team, they’ll win a lot of home and away games, but when they come up against teams that are as talented as them — or better than them — can they find a way to win?

“We’ve just seen at the end of (last) year they (weren’t) able to do it, and, at the moment, there’s nothing that’s changed my mind that it’s not going to be any different this year.”

AFL midyear trades favour Vic? | 02:53


Amid growing uncertainty around Bailey Smith’s future at the Western Bulldogs, an AFL great believes it should be a no-brainer for Geelong to hand over its first-round pick to land the gun midfielder.

Reports have stated Smith is set to embark on a trip to Europe as he looks to freshen up mentally in his recovery from an ACL injury that’s wiped his 2024 season.

Out of contract at the end of the year, it’s possible the 23-year old has played his last game for the Dogs as rival clubs circle.

They include Collingwood, Hawthorn and Geelong, who, like Smith, are sponsored by Cotton On, while the Cats are in desperate need of adding more star power to their midfield.

Dual premiership Kangaroo David King believes Geelong should be prepared to deal its first pick in this year’s draft for a known quantity in Smith.

King also suggested the club’s relaxed environment could make it the ideal fit for Smith in helping the former Pick 7 fulfil his potential.

“I think there’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting rather than the mystery of Pick 10 (which was in line with Geelong’s ladder position at the time) in the National Draft – could be anything or anyone,” he said on Fox Footy on Thursday night.

“I’d do that, I think you’d sign off on that (trading Pick 10 for Smith).

“And just hope to get him right and in a happy place. Everyone that goes down there seems to love the environment and relaxed coaching approach.

“Hopefully he blossoms.”

As Smith isn’t yet eligible for free agency, he’d need to be acquired via trade. SEN reports he’s had a two-year deal on the table from the Dogs since March.

Dogs coach Luke Beveridge this week said he hoped the mulleted star would remain at the Kennel in 2024.

“I wouldn’t say ‘expect’ (him to be). He’s got a lot to work through. We haven’t got our head in the sand, we know there (are) a number of clubs who Bailey appeals to,” Beveridge said on Channel 7.

“I know he feels like he’s a significant part of the football club. It’s just, in the market, in the short space of time the playing group have to work within, if there’s a club, or two, or three that come (to) him with an astronomical deal, he may not be able to knock it back.

“There (are) obviously stories about players sacrificing some of that (financial reward) to stay in an environment, and we’ll work with him on his thought processes around that.”