Early mail: Door opens for forgotten AFL SuperCoach rookies
There's plenty of KFC SuperCoach news about and most of it centres around the rookies - or lack thereof.
As it stands, more than ten rookies from Round 1 could make way for returning teammates, giving coaches headaches entering the competition restart.
But there are some reinforcements in the wings, albeit ones with chequered injury histories.
Check out all the SuperCoach relevant news with the reboot looming.
BENNELL TRAINING THE HOUSE DOWN
Yep, I saw your eyes light up.
Melbourne recruit Harley Bennell ($123,900, MID) has been training the house down since the Demons have returned.
This should come as no surprise with the talent he possesses.
The question remains: can Bennell string a run of games together without breaking down?
The exciting playmaker has suffered a spate of calf injuries throughout his career, playing just two games in his last four seasons.
If he is selected, wait until he plays a game before taking the punt.
Currently in 47 per cent of teams, Essendon Brandon Zerk-Thatcher appears set to be axed despite a promising pre-season campaign.
Returning talls Cale Hooker (hip) and Patrick Ambrose (PCL), whose setback initially gave BZT the chance to shine, have both recovered from their injuries and loom as automatic Round 2 selections.
"It's always good to have those kind of selection headaches, Essendon assistant coach James Kelly told the Herald Sun.
"We have a lot of talented players, albeit someone will be disappointed and we have to make hard calls."
It shapes as being one of Mason Redman, Aaron Francis and Zerk-Thatcher, with the latter being in the most danger after finishing with 12 touches and 49 points against Fremantle.
NO. 1 CASH COW SUFFERS BLOW, HILL BACK IN TRAINING
As if we needed any more rookie worries.
Fremantle rookie Sam Sturt - the No. 1 rookie target for the competition restart - is in doubt for Round 2 with a back injury that "flared up" while in quarantine.
Sturt has the lowest break-even of any rookie (-53) after his imposing 100-point display in Round 1.
"He's had a little bit of a setback with a little bit of a back injury," Longmuir told reporters last week.
"It's not bad but it will set him back a couple of sessions.
Meanwhile, njury-riddled defender Stephen Hill ($190,600, DEF/FWD) is back in training and a Round 2 return is in sight.
After being managed through the pre-season, Hill suffered yet another soft tissue injury on the eve of Round 1, throwing SuperCoaches plans into chaos.
The West Australian reported that Hill did the bulk of Fremantle's session on Friday, with the Dockers having as many as 44 players available for their second round clash against Brisbane. Hill would be a quick-fix solution for Zerk-Thatcher if he is dropped. It may be worth waiting until he has played a game before taking a punt given he has played 16 senior games since 2018.
Teammate Hayden Young ($180,300, DEF) is another Docker who could surprise at selection after being under an injury cloud during the pre-season.
TWO RUCKS OUT THE WINDOW, KING BUILDING
St Kilda assured us during the pre-season that the Saints would play recruit Paddy Ryder and 2019 SuperCoach revelation Rowan Marshall ($598,700, RUCK) 50/50 in the ruck. But the changing face of footy due to shortened quarters may force the Saints to change their plans, according to coach Brett Ratten.
I think we'll need to be flexible with the combination because of Rowan's ability to stay in the ruck and ruck all day," Ratten said.
Marshall managed 92 points in Round 1 while rucking in tandem with Ryder, compared to his mammoth 110-point average in his breakout year last season.
If he is allowed to ruck solo, he looms as the only ruckman capable of competing with behemoths Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn from a scoring perspective.
Ratten was also impressed by Max King who has developed nicely over the break
WARD AND WILLIAMS FOR GREEN AND CUMMING?
The break has done Zac Williams ($551,700, DEF) and Callan Ward ($511,400, MID) the world of good and both are likely to front up in their Round 2 clash against North Melbourne.
But what does that mean for cheapies Tom Green ($166,800, MID) and Isaac Cumming ($245,000, DEF)?
Green and Cumming only just snuck into the Giants' Round 1 side, with the star pair's absence giving them an opportunity.
Both cash cows failed to pass 50 points against the Cats and it's difficult to see either of them surviving selection.
Green is the most popular of the duo, in a whopping 60 per cent of teams.
Having missed round one, Zac Williams has his eyes firmly on June 14 and taking on the Kangaroos.#NeverSurrender— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) May 30, 2020
HERE COMES CAMERON, PIES CHEAPIES IN TROUBLE
A knee complaint for American Pie Mason Cox has left the door ajar for ruck recruit Darcy Cameron ($123,900, FWD/RUCK) to fill the void.
Cox missed a session last week with the issue, with Buckley saying Cameron has been challenging forwards and arguably the best ruckman in the game at training.
"He has continued to put his hand up and stake his claim," Buckley told reporters last week.
"At the moment he is pushing Brodie Grundy, he is pushing Mason Cox, Brody Mihocek and Ben Reid in key forward positions which is nice."
Hopefully Cameron's groundbreaking 127-point display in the Marsh Series is fresh in Buckley's mind.
Darcy Cameron is currently in more than 55,000 SuperCoach teams.
However, the news is not as positive for rookies John Noble ($215,400, DEF) and Tyler Brown ($123,900, MID) with Jaidyn Stephenson - who missed the opening Round 1 after a limited pre-season - set to return.
Brown appears to be in the most strife, with Noble probably ahead of him and Josh Daicos - also selected in Round 1 - in the pecking order.
WILL CRIPPS GO TO ANOTHER LEVEL IN 2020?
Superstar Patrick Cripps looks primed for his biggest year yet thanks to his improved aerobic capacity.
He revealed in his in-depth chat with Mark Robinson that he has stripped two kilos compared to last season.
Cripps was listed at 95-96 kilograms last season and now tips the scales at 93kg.
He said he worked hard on his fitness during the off-season to improve his tank.
'Being a tall midfielder you're going to have the strength, so it's about finding power to increase the running capacity at the end of games.''
Will this be the year Cripps breaks the 120-point average barrier?
ROOKIE-PRICE CROWS LINE UP FOR VACANT SPOT
With small-forward Tyson Stengle to miss the next four games as a result of a club-imposed suspension, a number of rookie-price Crows put their hand up to take his spot in the club's recent match simulation at West Lakes.
Pre-season fancy Ned McHenry ($123k MID) is back in full training after a number of injury setbacks over summer and is right in the mix for a Round 2 debut.
But Adelaide midfielder Brodie Smith says he's not the only one.
"Benny Keays ($266k FWD) has comeback in great nick, he played some really good footy in our match sim and Benny Crocker ($152k FWD) was very good, too," Smith told The Lowdown Podcast.
"Shane McAdam ($123k FWD) kicked a couple of nice goals, there are a few guys putting their hand up."
In further good news for SuperCoaches, Smith also revealed young ball-winning defender Lachlan Sholl is "really close" to his first senior game.
"He's probably one of the best kicks I've seen. He's putting it on display and his confidence is high so hopefully he can push for some games early on," Smith said.
In just his second appearance at SANFL level last year, the skilful Sholl tallied 33 disposals, eight intercepts and 129 SuperCoach points. - THE PHANTOM
Originally published as Early mail: Door opens for forgotten SuperCoach rookies