Tag: paul licuria

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights

OUR next All-Star Team battle makes for another intriguing quarter final clash, set to play out between Victorian regions, in the Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were current Collingwood star, Steele Sidebottom (Murray) and the AFL’s games record holder, Brent Harvey (Northern).

These clubs are seeded fourth (Murray) and fifth (Northern) respectively, as the gap closes to its narrowest margin yet in our overall draw. The proposed Bushrangers squad outvoted Sturt and the Oakleigh Chargers, while Northern’s path to this stage came through Norwood and Swan Districts. The winner will qualify for the semi finals, set to face either East Fremantle or the Sandringham Dragons.

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TALKING POINTS

THE REBOUNDERS:

Both defences are stacked, as one would come to expect at this stage of the draw, with rebounding quality a clear strength across either back six. The Stingrays are well stocked in the running department, as flankers Jack Crisp and Jarrod Harbrow are supported by Joel Smith and Zac Williams on the last line. While Harbrow and Williams possess pure pace to break the lines, Smith and Crisp are reliable users by foot who can create in transition. Add the endurance of Sidebottom and power of Brett Deledio up on either wing, and there threatens to be some serious force behind Murray’s attacking play.

But the Knights are also well stocked, with the Shaw brothers – Rhyce and Heath – both sure to generate some forward momentum out of defensive 50. Fellow former Magpie Ben Johnson has a weaponous left peg, while Chris Johnson provides a good balance to the back six alongside Dylan Grimes, and Nick Vlaustin off the bench. Further afield, the likes of Leigh Montagna, David Zaharakis, and Brent Stanton will run all day between the arcs, with Paul Licuria another who accumulates with ease.

Ultimately, it’s clear both sides have serious run in their legs, particularly in defence. But given Northern’s elite runners further afield allow for a greater balance in the defensive setup, we give the Knights a big tick in that third of the ground.

THE KEY POSITION STOCKS:

Northern’s spine has an ominous look about it, propped up by four formidable key position starters. Collingwood fans would get a good hit of nostalgia seeing Simon Prestigiacomo and Anthony Rocca line up at opposite ends, accompanied by Michael Hurley and Lance Whitnall respectively. In terms of starting stocks, particularly in defence, the Knights arguably have Murray covered. Jarrad Waite and Barry Hall stack up well inside forward 50, with Ben Reid and Alipate Carlile up the other end for the Bushrangers.

However, the country region seems to gain an edge in terms of depth, laying claim to some high level bench depth. Ben McEvoy and Justin Koschitzke, who can both rotate through the ruck or at either end of the ground, make for sound back-up, along with Fraser Gehrig hidden in the forward pocket. The ruck duel between Murray’s Steven King and Northern’s Matthew Kreuzer is difficult to split, so it seems Murray has the greater weight of options in the tall department.

THE DEEP MIDFIELDS:

As is the case with almost every side seeded in the top 10, the midfields run deep. Northern’s centre bounce starters jump off the page, with Adam Simpson at the core alongside Trent Cotchin and Marcus Bontempelli. Murray’s selection of David Mundy, Clayton Oliver, and Tom Rockliff is solid in its own right, but doesn’t quite compare to what the Knights have to offer. On the outer, Sidebottom and Deledio ensure Northern’s Montagna and Licuria will be in for a tough day at the office, while the options of Jack Ziebell and Steve Johnson linger up forward. Northern also has options, with Harvey and Josh Caddy among those able to add a spark when required. This is a tough one given Murray’s range of options once again, compared to the weight of elite talent on Northern’s side.

SUMMARY:

As the rankings would suggest, there is hardly anything to split these two sides. Northern was a prolific talent region throughout the 90s and early-2000s, hence why so many of their All-Stars are already household names. Murray has long been a hotbed of talent as far as regional areas go, and it clearly shows in its well-balanced, well-stocked side. In a flip of the coin, and given the areas touched on above, I am taking Northern.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
Murray Bushrangers
Northern Knights
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Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Northern Knights vs. Swan Districts

OUR next All-Star Team battle is the final one of the Round of 16 between a Victorian club and a West Australian club, in the Northern Knights and Swan Districts. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were AFL games record holder, Brent Harvey (Northern Knights) and Richmond full-back, Alex Rance (Swan Districts).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded fifth (Northern Knights) and 12th (Swan Districts) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the Murray Bushrangers/Oakleigh Chargers.

STRENGTHS:

The Knights have a really underrated squad when it comes to this series simply because there are not too many weaknesses. The Knights’ spine is A-grade quality from the key defenders in Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley, to the key forwards in Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall. Though that is not to take anything away from the midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, Trent Cotchin and Adam Simpson a really well balanced core with different strengths.

For the Swans, they have an elite starting midfield. Nic Naitanui in the ruck, with Stephen Coniglio, Michael Walters and Andrew Embley at the stoppages, you would back them in to win the midfield battle. Up forward, the likes of Charlie Cameron and Jeff Garlett would create havoc at the feet of their key forwards, while Lewis Jetta‘s elite kicking and Rance’s intercepting ability means they have some strong players across the field.

WEAKNESSES:

There are not really any weaknesses with the Knights. If you had to be picky you could argue the lack of wingers, given Leigh Montagna and Paul Licuria are more inside ball winners, and while both Blake Caracella and David Zaharakis could play on the wing, it leaves the forward line a little short. Overall though, the depth is pretty sound.

For the Swans, it is that depth and little pockets in different parts of the field where they just fall short. They could match it with the Knights in the midfield, but outside of that, they would be stretched in different areas of the field.

SUMMARY:

The Knights would be favoured in this one for a bit more balance across the ground. Swan Districts has an elite midfield, and some star talent around the ground, but the depth of the Knights would be a bit too much.

Who would you pick?
Northern Knights
Swan Districts
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Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Northern Knights vs. Norwood Redlegs

OUR next All-Star Team battle is one between a Victorian club and a South Australian club, in the Northern Knights and Norwood. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Brent Harvey (Northern Knights) and Tom Harley (Norwood).

TEAMS:

These two sides have some of the best key defender stocks in the All-Star Team series, with the fifth seed Northern Knights expected to win the vote against the 28th seed Norwood outfit. Though in saying that, there are still some quality players running around for the Redlegs.

STRENGTHS:

The Knights have a really underrated squad when it comes to this series simply because there are not too many weaknesses. The Knights’ spine is A-grade quality from the key defenders in Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley, to the key forwards in Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall. Though that is not to take anything away from the midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, Trent Cotchin and Adam Simpson a really well balanced core with different strengths.

Norwood just has a team of really strong players, and they would make it difficult for you to beat them. Most of the full squad will make opposition sides earn every touch, and with Scott Burns, Tony Francis, Roger James, Trent Dumont and Adam Heuskus through the middle. Matthew Primus rucking will be a strength, while the key defensive combo of Tom Harley and Heath Grundy, along with Tom Jonas and Nathan Bassett makes for a really strong back six.

WEAKNESSES:

There are not really any weaknesses with the Knights. If you had to be picky you could argue the lack of wingers, given Leigh Montagna and Paul Licuria are more inside ball winners, and while both Blake Caracella and David Zaharakis could play on the wing, it leaves the forward line a little short. Overall though, the depth is pretty sound.

For the Redlegs it is definitely the lack of a quality key forward, with Ryan Schoenmakers and Matthew Robran not the strongest of combinations in this series. The depth trails off a little at the end, but is overall pretty solid, though they might just have a few too may defensively-minded players more so than offensively-minded ones.

SUMMARY

It is anticipated that Northern Knights would win the clash given the overall strength of the side, but one can imagine Norwood might make life difficult for them, and make them earn every touch on the field.

Which All-Star Team would you pick?
Northern Knights
Norwood
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Draft Central All-Star Team: Northern Knights

NORTHERN KNIGHTS have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain and VFL/AFL games record holder Brent Harvey.

THE TEAM:

The Knights have a well balanced side with some quality talls, an elite midfield and plenty of hardened players who could roost the football and impact on the big stage.

DEFENCE:

The balance of offensive and negating defenders is healthy within the Knights defence, led by key talls, Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley. The pair could not be more different with ‘Presti’ being one of the best negating defenders of the modern era, though he also rarely reached double-figure disposals. Hurley on the other hand could be an offensive weapon racking up plenty of disposals and rebounds for the Bombers, having made the All-Australian team twice.

A third tall included in the back six is Richmond premiership defender Dylan Grimes, an All-Australian in his own right. Surrounding the talls are some quality smalls with Brisbane legend and two-time All-Australian Chris Johnson, and Collingwood premiership player, Ben Johnson, as well as Sydney premiership player and now North Melbourne coach, Rhyce Shaw. With the exception of Grimes, the other five players are 200-plus game players. On the bench, Nick Vlastuin could easily slot in as a rebounding defender.

MIDFIELD:

The midfield has a relative mix of current and past players. Its onball brigade of Marcus Bontempelli and Trent Cotchin shows a couple of the elite players in the AFL, as the pair have a Brownlow, three All-Australians, six best and fairests and three flags between them. Leading the ruck division is the incredibly talented Matthew Kreuzer who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, but still played almost 200 games.

Through the centre line, North Melbourne 300-gamer Adam Simpson stands out, having won an All-Australian and best and fairest to go with his two flags in the 90s. He is flanked on either wing by another couple of talented midfielders in 287-gamer Leigh Montagna (two All-Australians) and two-time best and fairest Magpie, Paul Licuria. The core five would be a difficult midfield to stop, with a hardened attack on the ball and one that could use tagging to effect.

On the bench, the midfield runs deep with Nick Stevens, Brent Stanton, John Barker and Daniel Harford all capable of running through the middle.

FORWARD:

Up forward, there is a nice balance between the talls and smalls, with strong marking key forwards, Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall providing some big marking targets. Rocca booted 415 goals in 242 games, renowned as one of the ‘super boots’ of the competition, often launching goals from 70 metres out. Whitnall managed 348 goals in 216 games, but also earned an All-Australian place and a best and fairest in his time with the Navy Blues.

Jarrod Molloy was best known for his work with the Lions before critically being traded in a huge deal for Mal Michael. As history would have it, Molloy missed out on a flag as Michael established himself in the three-peat Lions outfit. Still, Molloy booted 200 goals in 169 games as a really strong forward. The biggest name inside 50 is VFL/AFL games record holder, Harvey with the small forward booting 581 majors in 432 games, winning five best and fairests and four All-Australians in his time. Blake Caracella (187 games, 218 goals) and David Zaharakis (207 games, 125 goals) round out the front six.

Josh Caddy and Harford are among those on the pine who could come on and have an impact in the team if given the opportunity.

DEPTH:

Whilst the 24-player team itself is pretty strong, Northern Knights have a number of players just outside that core group who could understandably make it. Of the 100-game club not in the side, Angelo Lekkas (180), Jack Newnes (155) and Daniel Wheatley (135) are the next three highest in terms of games played, whilst Shane Clayton (117), Ricky Dyson (114), Anthony Franchina (105) and Jack Grimes (100) all reached the triple-figure milestone.

High-flyer Gary Moorcroft (98 games) went close to squeezing in despite falling just short of the ton, whilst Kane Lambert (95) – though drafted out of the VFL as a mature-ager – Aidan Corr, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham and Darcy MacPherson are among other modern day players who could squeeze into the All-Star side in the coming years.