The 2021 AFL season is well and truly underway, and our experts tackle some of the burning questions ahead of Round 3.
Should every club use a tagger every single week?
Rohan Connolly: No. It depends totally upon the circumstances of a particular game. Who knows if Geelong would have even used Mark O'Connor on Lachie Neale last week had they had Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan and Sam Menegola available? The more "guns" on hand, the more you back yourself to do your own damage. One admittedly effective tagging job on a star doesn't mean it's suddenly non-negotiable for everyone.
Jake Michaels: As effective as O'Connor was at nullifying the influence of Neale, I do agree with Rohan that clubs need to pick their moments to implement the tagger. But having said that, we should see it used far more often than we currently do. After all, we've seen time and time again that you can basically take the opposition's best player out of a game, if done correctly.
Matt Walsh: I'm a big fan of the tagger and I think just about every team has one player you'd love to nullify. That's not to say you go full 'Ross the boss' and clamp down and make defence your priority, but if one player out of 22 is dedicated to trying to stop the most influential player on the other side, I think it's a no-brainer to do it every week.
Jarryd Barca: Horses for courses. There are certainly times where a tagger can be deployed effectively. The problem is these days, your more damaging players are the powerful hybrid types, guys like Dustin Martin, Dangerfield and Marcus Bontempelli, to name a few, can all genuinely play as a full forward as well, which makes the job of tagging in the modern game far more arduous than it perhaps once was.
What will be the main storyline to come out of Melbourne-GWS?
RC: It will be that the Giants are in a major spot of bother. I was worried about them pre-season and more so now after that listless, flat effort against Fremantle. Their list is just average these days, there's an unhealthy dependence on Toby Greene, and after watching the "Making Their Mark" documentary, I'm not sure the players are that tight with coach Leon Cameron, either.
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JM: The headlines will read 'is Leon Cameron's time up?' It's no secret the Giants coach is under extreme pressure, despite signing a contract extension last season. GWS has been awful in the first two games and really should have lost to the Dockers by 10+ goals. Another outing which lacks any sort of spark will only raise more questions about Cameron's future at the club. Honestly, I can't seem him coaching the year out.
MW: I think the Dees win this and go 3-0, which will probably get lost in the doom and gloom surrounding the Giants. After all, we in the media much prefer a negative story that a positive one, right? If Melbourne win, they're a pretty good chance at making finals, as they'll have beaten three teams around them (Freo, Saints and Giants), and given there only seem to be one or two spots up for grabs not taken by last year's finalists, that's bad news for other teams.
JB: The door's that way, Leon. The underwhelming Giants will be 0-3 after this weekend and the Demons -- with best 22 personnel still missing -- will carry on with their head start in the 2021 finals race. Although, It would also be so very 'Melbourney' if the Dees drop this game. They couldn't, could they?
Can Taylor Walker win the Coleman Medal?
RC: Oh, I get it, this is Jake's attempt to get at least one call on "Tex" correct after saying last week he wouldn't kick five goals again this year, right? Very transparent, Jake. Anyway, no he won't, simply because Adelaide won't kick enough goals, and better and higher-scoring teams have key forwards who will capitalise. Jack Riewoldt, Tom Lynch and Tom Hawkins for example. I wouldn't discount a guy called Franklin, either.
JM: Okay, okay. You've all whacked me on the podcast, and now I'm copping it here, too! I'll admit me radar was a little off last week but I'm comfortable saying Taylor Walker and Coleman Medal shouldn't be in the same sentance. Sure, he's had a great start to the season but don't forget this is the same guy that kicked just 15 goals in 2020! I can't see him maintaining this level for much longer.
MW: Good one, Jake. That podcast clip is WELL worth a listen if you want a good chuckle. I'm going to be predictable here and say he can win it, but he won't. His output won't be that consistent, the Crows won't be that consistent, and I think there are at least a handful of players who will finish higher come the end of the year.
JB: If he keeps this form up he's a shoe-in! Honestly, though, who would have thought after two rounds that 30-year-old Tex would have 11 majors to his name? What's most impressive is his goal tally has been built on the back of inspired defensive efforts and forward 50 pressure. He's more than responding to the vicious criticism that has been hurled his way the past two seasons.
Which bump was worse: Dangerfield's on Kelly or Reid's on Fyfe?
RC: I think probably Dangerfield's, which it appears the judiciary agrees with, given he got a three-game suspension compared to Reid's two. But Dangerfield was in space, ran at Kelly and left the ground. I felt that Reid really just held his ground and Fyfe ran into him. That's more defendable as a starting point than what Danger did, in my view.
JM: Call me crazy but Reid's hit on Fyfe appeared worse. Don't try and tell me he just braced for contact, Rohan; your forearm doesn't raise like that when you're bracing. I'm not saying there was nothing in Dangerfield's, there was, but at least Kelly had been in possession of the ball. Fyfe was never in possession! If you told me one incident would get three weeks and one would get two, I would have been convinced it was the other way around.
MW: You are crazy, Jake. Dangerfield lined Kelly up, while Fyfe was moving towards Reid, who (wrongly) raised his elbow and shoulder. I think that says enough doesn't it?
JB: Fyfe didn't see the collision coming, was defenseless and without possession of the footy, but I still do think Dangerfield's bump was worse. With Fyfe moving towards the same potential 'drop zone' from the contest, Reid had every right to try and hold his ground. Danger targeted Kelly from a mile away and had time to assess his situation. For as long as our game is a contact sport, these incidents will continue to happen, unfortunately.