Unique of the Week – Michael Barlow

Michael Barlow

Price: $533,200
Position: Midfielder
2015 Average: 93.6
2016 Average: 98
Bye Round: Round 9
Ownership: 1.97%

His path to AFL wasn’t the smoothest, training with different clubs before being one of eight VFL players to be rookie-listed ahead of the 2010 AFL season. Currently, he’s in just under 2% of SuperCoach teams, a stat which beggars belief.

He was awarded the best first-year player by the AFLPA in his debut season despite missing eight home and away games after breaking his leg. Fast-forward to 2016, seven seasons later and Michael Barlow found himself needing a new club to continue his AFL journey with.

Whilst in the SuperCoach circles his up and down performances haven’t pleased his owners previously, at 29-year-old, he still has some good footy left in him. Evidently, this was most recently seen in his three JLT performances, playing every game for new club Gold Coast.

The ready-made midfielder should slot right into the Suns side that has struggled on-field. With the additional of a few experienced players, Gold Coast would be looking to step it up in 2017.

Their JLT Series finished with two wins and a loss to the reigning premiers. With wins against Essendon and Brisbane, improvement will only be small – but it would still be an improvement.

For Barlow, he picked up 19 touches at 78.9% disposal efficiency against Brisbane – Gold Coast’s first opponent in the Home and Away season. The following week saw Barlow collect 31 disposals, going at 67.7% efficiency, with five marks and five tackles – while spending only 70% time on ground.

The Suns final game finished with Barlow picking up the leather 29 times after the warmup, with his disposal efficiency sitting at 89.7%. He also had nine marks and a goal for his 83% game time.

Barlow’s JLT Series SuperCoach numbers were all triple figures, with 106 against Brisbane, 116 versus Essendon and 108 in his game against the Western Bulldogs – an equal third-highest score, with only Lynch and Stringer managing higher.

Despite not playing a full season in 2016, his stats do speak for themselves with nine out of 13 games seeing Barlow register a SuperCoach score above 80 – with a highest score of 168. This game also saw him collect 43 touches and lay eight tackles in a three-point thriller against Port Adelaide.

Across the season, he averaged 24.5 disposals, preferring to handball more than kick – which is something SuperCoaches don’t like to hear. He collected 79 tackles for the year, leaving him with an average above six per game.

Heading into 2017, the Gold Coast recruit will be looking to increase his disposal efficiency from 70% as he looks to hopefully push into the ‘elite’ category for his owners.

Whilst it remains to be seen how 2017 will pan out, the opponents for Gold Coasts first six games are clubs whom Barlow averages above 100 SuperCoach points against, except for GWS, whom he averages 96.7.

At $533,200 – it is a case of buyer beware. In saying that, he isn’t in many teams, which is important to keep in mind when looking to set your team apart from the rest. New club = new Barlow?

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