Every so often there’ll be a single theme through the weekly Notebook.
Today is one of those days. With so many key forwards catching my eye over the weekend, let’s start with Jye Amiss and go right through to Charlie Curnow.
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It’s rare to see a first game key forward with such a lovely set shot technique, but no wonder Amiss’ nickname is ‘Nev’.
51.15 in colts football last year flowed into 9.3 in three Peel appearances this year, and culminated in 2.0 on Fremantle debut.
In slowing down the set shot for his long range goal from the third quarter, everything looks pure. There’s very little which can go wrong in this process:
Alongside Amiss’ set shots, what impressed me was how the 18-year-old stayed in the play.
Often it takes key position players some time to come up to speed with the, um, speed of the game.
Here Amiss dishes a handball and after it always knows where he is in relation to the ball. He’s rewarded with a mark:
Obviously Amiss is far from the finished product and it’ll be a while before he commands a regular spot in Fremantle’s forward setup, but there were so many promising signs in game one.
For those who have missed any posts/podcast appearances over the last week or so, here are links to catch up with:
Jeremy Cameron & Tom Hawkins
In 2014, North Melbourne were preparing to play West Coast in Perth, and I was absent-mindedly clicking around in the back end of Champion Data’s program, looking for anything to stand out in helping with website previews.
By complete chance, I stumbled across the heat maps of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and the resting ruckman (Nic Naitanui/Dean Cox) showing how they each ran distinct patterns in forward 50. I wish I kept the screenshots because of how striking it was, and how – with a bit of research – it could potentially make a defender’s job a touch easier.
Ever since then I’ve loved watching how key forwards work in tandem, working with each other to make the best use of space.
Which is why it struck me how, so often, both Cameron and Hawkins had similar starting positions against GWS, but still managed to work hand in hand seamlessly.
It was such a departure from previous weeks as well. Going back and comparing heat maps back up the eye test. Sometimes it’s Hawkins covering more ground (Round 6), sometimes it’s Cameron (Round 7).
There’s no clear preference or ‘my-turn-your-turn’ type behaviour which back up week after week:
It makes it so hard to plan against, because there’s an unpredictability to how Cameron and Hawkins move.
Cameron’s injury-affected 2021 meant it took a while for the partnership to fully form, but we’re seeing the best of it now.
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A quote from the six-goal man post-game on Saturday night stood out:
“There was a bit of a plan to take (Jack Frost) up the ground because he likes to play a lot deeper. See if he would go with me and then we were going to manipulate a few matchups from there.”
To me it stood out for two reasons:
a) The confidence in Essendon’s coaches to task Wright with a potentially complicated role for a key forward in an undermanned outfit
b) The progress in Wright’s game to be able to complete the task so well, throwing Hawthorn’s defensive structure out of balance
Wright’s first season at Essendon was much the same as his 66-game career at Gold Coast – flashes of brilliance interspersed with periods of anonymity: goalless in 10 of 21 games last year, but also a couple of dominant games and a handful more quarters here and there.
This year, Cale Hooker’s retirement and the absence of Harry Jones has forced Wright to lead the line and it’s a task he’s relishing.
23 goals in eight games, and more importantly only one below par performance in those eight. Wright’s in career best form and from a big picture point of view, if he can continue this it unlocks options for Essendon.
It allows Jones, when he returns from his latest injury, to continue developing under less immediate pressure.
The extra attention opposition defenders have to pay to Wright means the resting ruckman – assuming Essendon continue with the Sam Draper-Nick Bryan tandem for now – will receive the second or third defender, allowing the potential for mismatches.
And perhaps most importantly, having Wright as a reliable fulcrum should mean the ground level forwards have a consistent sense of whose feet to get to. It means they can threaten offensively, while also – ideally – providing a base to start their defensive work from, which still needs to improve significantly.
I have nothing particularly insightful to say here except for: I like watching Charlie Curnow play football. Consider this stat line:
– 21 disposals (20 kicks)
– 10 marks (4 contested)
– 7 inside 50s
– 15 score involvements (9 his own, 6 more)
First he traumatised Billy Frampton, then it was Tom Doedee. They’ll be hoping for someone else to take the role in the reverse matchup at Adelaide Oval.
Which leaves one more thing…
The last four forwards mentioned in this Notebook – Curnow, Cameron, Hawkins, Wright – make up second through fifth in the Coleman Medal.
Out front is Tom Lynch. Is it one of the above four who provide the biggest threat to Lynch? Or is it Max King and Harry McKay, lurking not far behind? We could have a ding-dong Coleman battle going all the way to Round 23 at this rate.