Our Midfield

How do we improve it?

Feels like we’ve been asking ourselves this question for well over a decade which is an indictment on recruiting and player development.

We lack the toughness, size and even footskills of the better midfield units in the comp.

A ruckman who the on-ballers can remotely rely upon to win a tap occasionally would be a nice start. Hopefully Draper is our man there but that will take a couple of years.

Of our current crop, who can you build around to form the right nucleus?

Merrett, Hepp & Shiel can be good mids but they need help on the inside as this is not their natural strength. Langford has the body but not the nous or willingness, Stringer will find it hard to have the tank to transition into a predominant midfielder if he hasn’t already after 7 or 8 years in the system. The rest are ankle biters. Despite his stature, Dev Smith is the one who tackles with most intent on our list and at least gives us some presence in there. So he will be a welcome addition.

What type of players from other clubs do we need to add to give us the extra grunt and better footskills?

Give me a ruck that can compete.

I understand that Bellchambers didn’t have the fitness base last night, bit he’s never been a consistent performer, then we added a backup who is possibly the most easily pushed around ruckman in the country.

The loss of Draper was massive this year, but we had also completely neglected the position for years and it continues to affect us.

A massive leader who sets the tone for the rest of the list will be massive for our midfield


This is the biggest issue as far as I’m concerned.
Bellchambers is competitive in the taps most of the time, but as soon as the ball hits the deck he’s a liability.

A better ruckman an mids that can kick consistently well. Not so many midgets would help but that’s the way we recruit now

Agree - it was quite embarrassing last night to see him in the background looking non competitive.

You guys honestly think a ruck is our main concern?

Draper should have played last year no doubt but he’s not the one kicking the ball to our forwards.

You don’t necessarily need an A grade ruckman.

You just need one who doesn’t regularly get his absolute ■■■■ handed to him.

A fit TBell is a damn decent ruckman. But, the more common 'underdone / carrying something" TBell is prone to getting smashed by a decent ruck.

And I reckon it’s very hard to win when your ruckman gets smashed.


It’s not the main one, but it’s an issue.

I agree Belly is a huge concern.

Always been overrated on here but having guys like Heppell, Shiel and Merrett getting the ball over 25 times a game is our issue. They hand the ball back far to often.

We need to increase the responsibility of players like Parish, Langford and McKenna. Players that make better decisions and can execute.

It’s the uncompetitive-ness when carrying something, or when not switched on, or whatever, that I hate. I know people liked Hille, but he was also pretty uncompetitive at some big moments as well. And when getting beaten neither of them have seemed able to implement anything physically that changes the momentum. Getting smashed…where is your ruck craft or your physical presence to change the contest. Rolling over and just conceding sets the tone for the rest of the midfield and in 10 minutes a game that we were in is lost, or a game that we were dominating is now a 50/50

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Ruck is a massive issue and we seem to lack any sort of plan or cohesion. Just bomb it out of the square, no quick handball to get the ball going outside.

And our mids are not fit at all, nowhere near the level it needs to be at for AFL.

Ruck and poor skills in the midfield.

We said it last year and the year before.

Need an inside bull to complement our runner. We need someone like a Ward of GWS or a Douglas.
Our ruckman is fine, you’re all forgetting Bellcho at his best and judging him in his injured state (right now).

Outside players are fine when it’s clerances but in stoppages thats we’re we get hurt.

Too many nice guys who want to dash and kick long. Not enough hard nosed competitive guys who are happy to win the footy and move it with a handball or short pass.

We lack any form of competitive intensity.

We won the clearances 33 - 31 last night so that clearly wasn’t the issue.

Around the ground Belly has always been useless except that one year where he was taking big grabs.

I would be more curious about our setups around stoppages because the Eagles scored a lot of goals that started from clearances.

Players that can kick on both sides.

Players that move at contests

Players that defend.

Thanks to Worsfold, I got some learnings out of that game.

While down on hitouts, we broke even on hitouts to advantage and were only down on clearances by 2. That’s not where the main problem was !!! However, TBell is not going to last more than half a season, if that because his mobility and agility are just not good enough in the modern game.

Its general midfield play between the arcs where we were destroyed. Post clearance possession/turnovers killed us.
Quality of clearances was poor under pressure and we continually bombed long to inside 50.

We were continually beaten to the ball and outspread and even in a final our workrate was way off the required level.

The Worsfold game plan is not sustainable and is a major part of the problem. The mids leave the backs to rebound, and that’s just playing into the hands of agile and pressure type forwards.

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Ruck was the issue.

In fact our big men in general were diabolical.

Hooker, Brown Smack, Hurley, Stringer, Bell.

They all gave nothing or were completely torched by their opponent.

The small blokes werent too bad. But some more composure and a tad more mongrel tackling would have been good.


Especially with the 6-6-6 rule.

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Winning a ruck contest is where we lose it most… turnovers also … no forward pressure … no midfield pressure … from there our backs struggle because of the easy delivery forward… last night none of our mids were in site while they had like 3-4 mids coast down the ground… we need pace and some smooth skills like a rioli … sheuy/ Gaff and co are top notch… hard to match