Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dream Team watch: ups and downs - AFL

Dream Team watch: ups and downs -

Daniel Rich was the sixth most popular selection in Dream Team

* Bumpy start set Cornes' road to 200
Thu, Apr 02, 09
* Hislop and King to add some hardness
Thu, Apr 02, 09
* Key inclusions as teams shape for round two
Thu, Apr 02, 09


By Michael Rogers 7:21 AM Thu 02 April, 2009
IN THE cut-throat world of Toyota AFL Dream Team, you’re only as strong as the bottom five players in your squad.

And if the bottom five players in your squad this week included Hayden Skipworth, Daniel Rich, Shaun Higgins and Matthew Kreuzer, you were dead-set laughing.

None of that quartet cost more than $250,000 and all produced scores in excess of 100 points in round one – exactly what you want to see as a Dream Team mentor.

Kreuzer, at $241,200, was a key player with an even 100 points in his first outing.

But the season opener wasn’t so funny for coaches who selected Tigers flanker Andrew Raines – which was just about everyone.  suffered a knee injury that required surgery.

Four weeks is a near eternity in Dream Team circles and there will be plenty of mentors wondering whether to offload their $188,100 recruit, who finished with 68 points.

The news was better for fans of Shaun Higgins, the Bulldogs’ small forward. After an injury-plagued 2008 he produced a 107-point effort against Fremantle to reward the faith of coaches who backed him.

Meanwhile, new Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss spent most of the summer making sure that young gun Rich didn’t say anything to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

It was clearly a self-serving strategy from the first-year coach to bump up his own chances of taking out the Dream Team crown by keeping Rich out of as many squads as possible.

But Vossy, we’re (almost) sorry to say it didn’t work.

The $126,600 Rich was the sixth most popular selection and he justified the hype by sticking it up the club he loved as a kid with an 83-point game against West Coast.

Out at Windy Hill, Skipworth is everybody’s favourite recycled Adelaide Crow after delivering on his pre-season form with Essendon.

A 124-point return for an outlay of less than $200,000 is a windfall that the late, great punter Kerry Packer wouldn’t have sneezed at.

Finally, a rousing golf clap for two of North Melbourne’s unexpected heroes against the Demons.

Hamish McIntosh delivered a best-on-ground effort in his first game after being unsuccessfully shopped around by coach Dean Laidley during trade week.

At a tick under $300,000, McIntosh’s 121-point game was a stellar return that had 21,630 Dream Team coaches celebrating and several club recruiters no doubt scratching their heads.

And at $292,800, teammate Leigh Harding defied just about everyone’s expectations – except maybe his own – by topping the Dream Team tally with 150 points.

But remember: Harding and his fellow bargain buys won’t be cheap for much longer, as all players will be revalued according to their performances after round three. Then, Dream Team coaches will really start getting what they pay for – and paying for what they get.

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