With 2004 all but a distant nightmare and the start of the 2005 Premiership only a few weeks away it
is time to have an indepth look at the 2005 Tigers. Who will improve, who's under the pump and what is it that I am most looking
forward to in 2005?
The Class of ...
While a lot has been made of 5 picks in the top 20 of the 2004 National Draft it is the "Class of 2003" we need to look at first.
Brent Hartigan, Tom Roach, Andrew Raines and Daniel Jackson are the main names that spring to mind when talk of the
young players drafted in 2003. However, there were two others picked up in that draft and were the only senior listed players who did not
play senior footy in 2004.
Alex Gilmour was our number one pick in 2003 and struggled throughout the year with injury and form. Gilmour is
still only 18 (not turning 19 until June) and although not "under the pump" as such it is important that Alex play some senior
footy in 2005. It's been pleasing to see that he has increased his size in the off season. His apparent lack of upper body strength in the clinches in his Coburg games
in 2004 was a concern.
Kyle Archibald was the other member of the "Class of 2003" who didn't play senior footy in 2004. Ravaged by a severe case of Osteitis Pubis he managed only 4 games for Coburg
in 2004. Kyle is now fully fit and a chance of making his debut in 2005 at 194cms and close to 90kgs he possesses good speed. His achilles heel is his disposal and
he needs to continue to work on this area.
Of the "Class of 2003" I am expecting Daniel Jackson to be the big improver in 2005. With his VCE comittments complete and a full
pre-season Jackson showed enough in his 6 games in 2004 that he has the makings of a very good footballer. His strengths include being exceptionally
cool under pressure, good at reading the play, good skills and having the ablility to play in a number of positions.
Which brings us to....
The Class of ...
While most of the focus has been on our top two picks in Brett Deledio and Richard Tambling, the Tigers picked up another
5 teenagers in the 2004 National Draft. While you can expect to see both Deledio and Tambling playing a fair amount of senior footy
in 2005 how many games the others play is debatable. How each of them adapts to the rigors of not
only AFL training but also playing in the VFL will obviously determine their chances of playing senior footy.
Danny Meyer could be a chance of senior selction, however weighing in at only
70kgs, like the rest of the teenagers in the class of 2004 he needs to bulk up. I put Dean Polo in the same category
as Meyer - that is: he "could" play senior footy in 2005. A lot will depend on how he develops in the VFL during the year. I would think that Polo could be a
"possible" later in the season.
Interesting to note that the Tigers have pulled their first surprise in 2005 by including Adam Pattison
in squad for the first round of the Wizard Cup. Pattison is considered a long term prospect as a ruckman/key position player.
Although 198cms and tipping the scales at 90kgs he will need to add at least another 10kgs to his frame over the next couple of
seasons to make him as big and as strong as the Tigers current "man mountain" Troy Simmonds
I am of the view that the chances of our other members of the "Class of 2004" playing senior footy in 2005 would be considered slim at best. I see both
Dean Limbach and Luke McGuane as long term project players.
McGuane in particular has only just turned 18 and although posessing good height at 191cms
he weighs in at just 76kgs and he will need to spend a fair amount of time in the gym to increase his size. While acknowledging his good skills
it is important to remember that like Andrew Raines last season he is coming from the QAFL competition which in comparison to say
the VFL is deemed to be of a lower standard and as result he will need to adjust to firstly the VFL and then AFL.
Rounding out our recruits for season 2005 are the three experienced players Troy "the man mountain" Simmonds, Mark Graham and Trent Knobel
expect all three to be in senior 22 every week.
Entering the Twilight....
Wayne Campbell has played 275 games going into this season. He also turns 33 in September this year. The discussions have already started asking
will be 2005 be his final season? I reckon we may just see a rejuvenated Cambo in 2005. Clearly (and rightly) he will not be expected to carry our mid-field,
with coach Terry Wallace already stating that he intends to play Cambo up forward, most probably in the forward pocket.
I see this as a win/win for both the team and the player. Wayne Campbell is excellent at reading the play and a very accurate shot for goal.
As forawrd if Cambo can chime in with 20-30 goals this season and not have to contend with the constant "crash and bang" of being in the mid-field 2005 may not end up
being his final season and he may just get a chance at 300 games in 2006.
Greg Stafford is 30 and managed only 11 games after suspension and injury ruined his 2004 season. He has also had an interrupted pre-season due to knee
and ankle problems. He is another who falls under the "twilight" spotlight only because of his bad run with injury in the last couple of years.
Even taking in consideration the injury problems, Stafford can still be very important to the Tigers in 2005, especially as a permanent
forward. At 203cm and 105kgs he is hard to outmark and is an excellent shot for goal - look for a fit Staffy to be played out of the goal square
There are 5 players who I've picked out as having the spotlight on them or as others may say
as being "under the pump".
1. Rory Hilton: coming off his second knee reconstruction, there was a lot of debate on the
OER forum at the end of 2004 as to whether Hilton should still be on our list. He is and 2005 is shaping as a crucial
year. First and foremost it is important that he doesn't try and come back to early (like Gaspar in 2004) but once able
to play he must make the most of his opprtunities and be consistent. Fifteen kicks and 3-4 goals one week followed
by 5 kicks and no goals is not consistency.
2. Kayne Pettifer: showed what he was capable of when he played down back in the second half of 2004. His 50+ metre
kick ins a standout. Put simply: his time is now.
3. Shane Tuck: some may argue this is a harsh call and it may be. I am Shane Tuck fan and there were times in 2004 when I
could not fathom why he wasn't getting games in the seniors. However, with such a young list and the focus on youth now and in the future,
Shane Tuck at 23 will need to make the most of any opportunity he is given in 2005. I am hoping there will be more opportunities in 2005 than there were in
2004 and I for one will cheering him on every step of the way.
4. Mark Chaffey: perhaps it was just me but in 2004 no player frustrated me more. Whether it was poor disposal or flying for marks when the correct option was to stay
at the foot at the pack with his opponent it seemed to send me grey before my time. Maybe it was a confidence thing? Who knows? But this year
Chaffey has been "tagged" by Terry Wallace to be our number tagger. A clearly more accountable role may just be what he needs.
5. Shane Morrsion: I will never quite understand why he was dropped after round 5 and as result I can honestly say I have never seen a player lose so much confidence over the course of a season. The longer 2004 went the worse it became. It will
be interesting to see what the coaches can do to restore Morrison's confidence because he showed prior to being dropped
that he could be a handy forward or another option at CHB.
18 games in Victoria means we only travel interstate 3 times compared to 5 interstate trips the
last 2 seasons. Plenty of Saturday and Sunday afternoon games means it is a family friendly draw.
One of the downsides of our draw is that we do not play at the MCG after July 16th.
Our last 2 home games in August are at Telstra Dome. We also have to head down the highway to
Geelong for the first time in over 5 years. The reason is "due to a lack of venue availability in
Melbourne" (page 72 AFL 2005 Offical Fixture) - staggering.
So what am I looking forward too in 2005?
Seeing some fast attacking footy
Watching the young guys getting plenty of game time and seeing them develop
Winning more than 4 games
Pretty simple when you think about it!