(Last year finished 7th)
Predicted Average: 1670
The Barbs received one of the softest draws in 2016 especially in the first half of the year which helped them finish 7th. They have improved their side overall but Naitanui is a tough loss to cover and Outlaws and Gators have leapfrogged them in the order so I’ve got them tipped to slide slightly. The Barbs had a relatively quiet preseason compared to 2016 where they were involved in only a single trade and would take two picks at the draft. The back end of 2016 saw them make a big play for Hogan and Jack Martin and despite earning defender status Martin remains anchored in their forward line for 2017. Ditto for Taylor Adams and Jake Lloyd.
Breakout Player – Jack Steele
Steele’s NEAFL average is fairly outrageous even for NEAFL: 119 across 11 games in 2015 and 156(!) across 10 games in 2016. Unfortunately the GWS midfield is deeper than the Mariana Trench and Steele didn’t see much time in the guts when he was able to crack the side. A trade to the Saints should present Steel with more opportunities and an average of 93 from 63% TOG @ 1.44ppm across the JLT series indicates that he’s ready to translate his NEAFL form into AFL form.
Time to Slide – Shaun Burgoyne
The evergreen and big game defender will be the victim of the mini rebuild taking place at Hawthorn if injury doesn’t get him first. Expect to see Burgoyne given less responsibility on field as Clarkson takes a long term view to the list. He should still have his moments through 2017 but he won’t continue the barnstorming end he had to 2016.
Make or Break – Richmond
The unabashed Richmond supporter unsurprisingly has a few Tigers in his team but so far none of them have developed while under Barbarian tutelage. There’s a bit of a reshuffle taking place at Tigerland and the Barbs will be hoping it benefits Vlastuin, Menadue and McIntosh. Nobody should be better place in the league to make the call on whether to hang onto these players or move them on. Lots of question marks remain but one thing for certain is that a premiership Barbarian outfit will not be able to carry these Richmond players with their current output.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
There was probably no bolder nor eyebrow raising pick than Bailey Williams – defender at 14 on draft day. Some digging revealed very little about the 19 year old because Williams missed out on the SA U18 side and wasn’t involved in the TAC Cup due to being outside of Victoria. Williams played for Glenelg in SA in 2015 which was highlighted anecdotally by a 56 touch game. Pick #48 in the 2015 draft averaged 78 across 8 games for Footscray in the VFL last year and 50 across 6 games for the Bulldogs. These are hardly inspiring figures but Bulldogs and Barbarians have a history of nailing obscure picks.
The Barbarians have some of the absolute gems of the competition locked away including Treloar, Wines, Grundy, Merrett (fwd) and Adams (fwd). Barbs continue to build a war chest of young players that could all be stars of the competition if they aren’t already. The fact that Barbs opted not to break the forward anchors of Lloyd, Adams and Martin show that they are planning for long term success. The Barbarians could have had a much stronger 2017 team overall had they swung those players into defence but Naitanui’s ACL was probably the catalyst for another year of development for the baby Barbs.