Versus Series

David Swallow vs Jaeger O’Meara

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Our SuperCoach forefathers have warned us that indulging in too many mid-priced players – ‘mid-priced madness’ as it is known to some – is just that. Utter madness. Especially with those that are injury prone.

Will these ancient and all-knowing folk be angered by a midfield featuring both David Swallow and Jaeger O’Meara? Should we be forced to choose between the two? Or will some SuperCoachers dare to disregard the status quo and go with neither?

Here is the case.

David Swallow

Price: $280,200
Position: MID
2015 SuperCoach Average: 85.8 (6 games)
2016 SuperCoach Average: N/A

David Swallow has hardly put a foot wrong in his 2017 SuperCoach preparation.

Having only played six games since winning the Suns Best and Fairest and averaging 104 points per game in 2014, getting through the pre-season unscathed was crucial for Swallow.

We heard that he was burning up the track in its early stages and at the price of $280,200 he was locked into many SuperCoach sides from day 1.

Then, it was on to watch his NAB Challenge – uh I mean, his JLT Community Series. Hard to believe players are still calling it the wrong name, who doesn’t know what ‘JLT’ do…?

The first half of his return was a promising one indeed, scoring 57 SuperCoach points and moving well around the ground playing in the midfield. His end-game total of 80 points doesn’t sound too crash-hot, but considering he racked up these points while he was on the field just 53% of the time, his score is significant.

The irresistibly tanned specimen wasn’t rested much for last weekend’s hit-out against the Bombers, spending 70% of the game on the ground. His 82-point total was not as exciting as his effort the week before – especially due to his five disposal first half – but it was a decent score nonetheless. Swallow’s 19 disposals were flawless, going at 100% efficiency, winning eight contested possessions and two clearances.

Take these results with a grain of salt though, as it is extremely unlikely that Swallow is going to average 80 points per game in 2017 – his talent and history suggests 90+ is very achievable. If anything, it was his free-flowing movement around the ground and the fact that he got through these two games that was most satisfying.

We know that Dion Prestia and Jaeger O’Meara (who we’ll get to a bit later) have left the Suns midfield – despite not being a part of it for the majority of 2016 due to injury. The Suns recruited Pearce Hanley and Michael Barlow over the off-season – the latter who has shown quite a bit in the JLT.

Earlier this week, Rodney Eade also said that Gary Ablett Jnr will have to earn his midfield spot, planning to start him forward against the Bulldogs.

It is a bit of a broken record when the media say the little master will play forward more often every pre-season, but if this is the case in 2017, it is even better for Swallow’s prospects.

My only real concern (other than injury) at this point in time is that Swallow hasn’t attended a hell of a lot of centre bounces. This may be just part of managing him, but he has come off a wing more often from what I have seen in the JLT. Food for thought.

A strong showing in his third and final JLT matchup and a clean bill of health makes him extremely difficult to ignore, especially considering a 90 point average for Swallow would give him roughly a $140k increase by Round 9 – making him a perfect stepping stone to a premium. Not to mention the lack of midfield rookies.

At Swallow’s best, he can average over 100, as we saw in 2014.

If you recall this last full season, he posted eight tons and averaged 110 points in the first 10 rounds…

Continue to touch wood, SuperCoachers.

Jaeger O’Meara

Price: $318,900
Position: MID
2014 SuperCoach Average: 97.7 (22 games, last playing season)

A month or so ago, the majority of us had Jaeger O’Meara scratched off our watch lists.

Hearing the former Sun was unlikely to debut in Hawks colours until Round 4 at the earliest, JOM was nothing more than an afterthought.

Then it emerged that he had kicked a goal and gathered a decent amount of ball in a Hawthorn intra-club match. After this, footage was released by the Hawks of an EXCLUSIVE ‘Jaeger Cam’, showing JOM sluggishly running about the training back at 75% at best.

Next, it was announced that Jaeger would play JLT 1. We watched eagerly as he scored an encouraging 44 points in what was 47% game-time, he rested for the entirety of the second half

While the intra-club and JLT hitout raised our hopes, it was his first half display on Sunday afternoon that had many SuperCoachers stifling their trousers.

A Jaeger bomb went off at Arden Street.

All in all, Jaeger O’Meara’s performance gave a bit of an ‘up yours’ to those who had said he wasn’t worth pick 10 and a future second round selection, racking up 22 disposals and booting a goal against the Roos. It was his first half of this game that was most impressive, ending the second quarter on 61 points – the top score on the ground at that point.

His final total of 90 points certainly wasn’t as outstanding, but his first half was enough for many – including myself – to plonk him in our sides out of excitement (at least for a moment). This was because his display for a player coming back from injury was emphatic, claiming seven clearances and imposing himself as an integral part of the Hawthorn midfield alongside Tom Mitchell.

This is the notable thing about O’Meara – his status in the Hawthorn midfield. From the outset on Sunday afternoon, JOM was arguably the Hawks’ most important on-baller, given licence to follow the footy wherever it went.

Alastair Clarkson is the best coach in the business, and recruits with purpose. With Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell out the door, he brought in ‘next generation’ midfielders in Mitchell and O’Meara. Consequently, you can have confidence in Jaeger attending plenty of centre bounces and racking up a lot of midfield minutes as a vital member of the Hawthorn midfield.

We must remember that the former mini-draft selection has not graced the turf in an AFL game for two seasons, though, making his selection a risk given his well-documented injury history.

His last season (2014) yielded an average of 97.7 points from 22 games, in a midfield including Ablett, Prestia and Swallow. This was also just his second year in the competition.

If JOM could average nearly 100 points as Gold Coast’s fourth midfielder in 2014, there is nothing stopping him from hitting a 105-point average in 2017.

However, this logical thinking may be nothing more than wishful thinking, given the fickle nature of this game.

Above all, he has played just the one full game this pre-season. Granted, he is a tantalising prospect for our sides at a bargain-basement $318k, and he has said himself that his knee feels good.

Like Swallow, he has the potential to be a stepping stone. A 95-point average will give him a $140k increase by Round 9. But he also could step up to that very next level as a 22-year-old and well and truly break out.

In saying all this, he could also succumb to another injury setback. He remains a temptation nonetheless.

Verdict

If we are forced to choose one of the two it becomes a real Twilight situation. We are put into the position of Bella Swan, choosing either Edward Cullen (Swallow) or Jacob Black (JOM, Jacob Black’s lookalike).

That’s about the extent of my Twilight knowledge, but pretty much these are two players we would love to have in our sides.

Who’s to say we can’t have both, though?

With the shortage of midfield rookies this season, chucking JOM and Swallow at M6 and M7 respectively might not be a bad idea. If they play every game up to Round 9, worst case scenario they will accumulate around $130k each, acting as extra cash generation in a sense. Sam Powell-Pepper/Will Brodie would be our only on-field rookie, and we would acquire cash along with the possibility of a 100 point average from both mid-pricers.

However, you would need to consider your risk profile for your whole side. If you have the monolithic Aaron Sandilands as well as Jarryd Roughead, it may be too many mid-priced risks all up. You should also weigh up Nat Fyfe’s durability considering he spent most of 2017 on the sidelines as well.

The decision of Swallow vs JOM heats up even more with the return of Dayne Beams for Brisbane’s second JLT hitout and his announcement as Brisbane’s captain. Priced at just $432k, strong showings from him may make him impossible to ignore – even with his injury history – and consequently, make us choose between two of him, Swallow and JOM.

For the record, I had both of Swallow and JOM until Beams was named this weekend.

Having all of Beams, Swallow and JOM in the one midfield is very risky business considering all three have a checkered injury history. But isn’t SuperCoach a game of risk?

In this ‘Versus Series’, Swallow appears to be the safer option, but JOM signals more risk/reward due to his status in the Hawthorn midfield.

I recommend keeping a close eye on these two as well as Beams throughout the next two weekends.

As a final verdict (for today at least), I have gone with Swallow and Beams. This will likely change if JOM impresses on the weekend, though.

If you are one of those ‘safety first’ types who is thinking of picking neither of Swallow or JOM, think again. The two are gifts from the SuperCoach Gods after the deplorable forward line and lack of mid rookies they dished up for season 2017, and ignoring them will likely set you back from the very start.

Dan finished 746th in SC 2017 as Batten Hiscox

 

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