Essendon has landed the second of their three trade targets this year by sending their 2018 second-round pick to Gold Coast in return for Adam Saad. The halfback requested a trade home to Victoria after spending three years at the Suns and playing 48 games. One of only two devout Muslims – Bachar Houli the other – Saad found his time in QLD difficult without the support of his family nearby as he practised his faith. After touring Essendon’s facilities and meeting with list manager Adrian Dodoro and head coach John Worsfold he nominated the club as his preferred destination and it seemed only a matter of time until the deal got done. Speaking on trade radio on Monday, Saad had nothing but praise for his ex-club in regards to the environment and in particular, it’s support of his faith.
Saad is a line-breaking defender with some serious wheels and will fit right in at Essendon. Despite the club having pacey youngsters in Orazio Fantasia and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, they’ve opted to play the pair in the forward half and that is unlikely to change in 2018. Conor McKenna has played a similar role to that of Saad and will look to work in tandem with the new recruit. Saad will slot into the back six nicely, playing alongside smaller defenders Mark Baguley, Martin Gleeson, Andrew McGrath, and McKenna and could also spend time on the wing for the Bombers. His run-and-carry from the back half of the ground will lay the groundwork for Essendon’s forwards to be very aggressive.
A change in club looks set to help Saad on the SuperCoach front as well. He’ll find the ball in his hands more often at Essendon as the club looks to continue it’s ultra-aggressive approach to the game again next year. With a stronger list around him, the ‘Saady Army’ cheering him on and the expectation to play finals football he’ll develop his game even further in 2018. He might not be a 95 average player, but we should definitely see an uptick in his SuperCoach output next year, making him underpriced and worth a look.
Gold Coast will have a hard time replacing Saad in the long term but have a few immediate options. Jarrod Harbrow can play the role, as can Pearce Hanley and Jack Martin, however, the more exciting opportunities open up for Kade Kolodjashnij should he regain full fitness and find form again and young gun Jack Scrimshaw.
The Essendon backline is growing, not all of their smaller sized defenders will fit in. While Andrew McGrath will likely spend more time in the midfield, Patrick Ambrose, McKenna and the like will be fighting hard for the spot in the team and to get their hands on the ball. Expect McGrath’s SuperCoach output to increase as he learns the midfield craft and expect Gleeson to be freed up a lot more to impact as the intercept defender and third man into the contest.
Given we expect Saad to increase his scoring in 2018, he’ll be underpriced to start the season. Despite that, he’s not expected to become an overnight premium defender, a stepping stone at best or a mid-priced trap at worst. Watch his JLT season with interest but buyer beware. In SuperCoach Draft formats, he’ll provide some value in the later rounds and is definitely worth a selection.