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  1. #1
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    We need to change how we think about Tim English



    We need to change how we think about Tim English

    The “ruck merry-go-round” became the calling card of the player exchange period, with six of the seven ruckmen to pursue a move finding new homes.

    Mabior Chol, Callum Coleman-Jones, Darcy Fort, Jonathon Ceglar, Max Lynch and Peter Ladhams will each wear new colours next season.

    It was speculated that the Western Bulldogs would be in the market, but the vanquished Grand Finalists did not put their hands up.

    After list manager Sam Power lured experienced Hawthorn tall Tim O’Brien to Whitten Oval, with coach Luke Beveridge promising minutes behind the ball, the Dogs were done.

    Power fended off interest from West Coast to pin down rookie ruckman Jordon Sweet until 2023, while Channel Seven’s Mitch Cleary has reported 34-year-old Stefan Martin will go around again.

    This inaction has almost certainly consigned the Dogs to another season of having each loss explained away by relative inexperience in the ruck.

    Tim English will likely reprise his role as the lightning rod, having been appraised as timid and too skinny to take the top ruck mantle permanently.

    It is a narrative worthy of closer examination.

    How was English deployed over the course of the season just past?


    Late in the home-and-away season and early in the finals, Beveridge put English in the forward line and selected fringe tall Lewis Young to take the ruck contests.

    It is said this illustrates a lack of trust in English, but the truth is that the 24-year-old was on ruck duties for three months, up until Josh Bruce ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

    From Rounds 12 to 21, English averaged 23.2 hitouts, 4.2 marks and booted six goals, matching established players such as Sean Darcy, Nic Naitanui and Reilly O’Brien.

    Even having spent more than half the season in the forward line, he recorded the second-most hitouts in a season of his AFL career to go with his 19 goals.

    Would any of the ruckmen on the market have brought more to the team than English?

    Difficult to shift, Ceglar recorded 20.9 hitouts, four clearances and two inside 50s per game, reflective of both his physicality and position as a permanent ruck.

    The 30-year-old can jam up a stoppage and offer an aerial contest, but he isn’t going to move the needle against elite, experienced players.

    Sydney recruit Ladhams averaged fewer hitouts, marks, tackles and intercepts than English in the same role, having lined up forward and gone into the centre when Scott Lycett needed a breather.

    Chol for the most part offered mobility after the contest, Fort has had few senior opportunities while Coleman-Jones and Lynch are largely untested.

    If the Dogs wanted to lure a contracted ruckman, they would have had to part with draft assets needed to secure Sam Darcy, and money needed to re-sign a handful of stars next season.

    How has English improved as a ruckman year-on-year?

    The West Australian made just nine appearances in his first two seasons, swaddled in cotton wool as Jordan Roughead and Jackson Trengove went through the centre.

    Handed the keys in his third season, English improved to average 19.1 hitouts, 2.2 inside 50s and 2.1 clearances, lowering his colours only to Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy and Todd Goldstein.

    In 2020 he was more competitive in the air around the ground, and honed a harder edge with contested possession, stoppage clearance and intercept numbers up.

    The arc of his progression has been obfuscated by the recruitment of Martin, and the taste Beveridge has developed for his height and strong hands in the forward line.

    To extrapolate from his spell as a permanent ruck in the middle of the season, it is clear English is bearing the fruits of having tapped into the former Lion’s experience and craft.

    Is English going to be the same player as the Dogs continue to challenge?

    At the same age, Melbourne premiership captain Max Gawn had played 39 games and booted 18 goals; English has played 69 matches and snagged 36 goals.

    As a simple measure of competitiveness, Gawn registered 485 hitouts in 13 games in 2015; English recorded 341 in nine games as an out-and-out ruckman in 2021.

    This isn’t to say he’ll get to that level - Gawn will be remembered as one of the greatest ruckmen of all time - but experience adds up.

    Where other exponents of the craft have had their reputations and projections protected by a long apprenticeship in the twos, English has served his at the top level.

    He’s going to get better, again.

    Have the Bulldogs’ fortunes turned on the centre bounce?

    It is indisputable that Luke Beveridge has been tactically frustrated by the reality the Dogs’ ruck division so far hasn’t been on the same timeline as their vaunted midfield.

    The premiership coach has spoken of doing “different things to try and get an edge,” often giving up on and “risk-managing” hitouts when up against the best ruckmen in the competition.

    The angle has been inflamed by what could be interpreted as Beveridge's disdain for the position, having sent midfielders into the ruck throughout his tenure.

    From defender Brett Goodes contesting centre bounces against Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands in 2015 to Lin Jong and Josh Dunkley rucking around the ground in more recent times, he has been willing to dispense with the role.

    If Beveridge could pick a dominant tall and let the players focus on their strengths rather than mitigating opposition hitouts to advantage, it would afford the Dogs a greater degree of control.

    However, they were able to risk-manage - or indeed risk - their way to a 19-point lead in the third quarter of a Grand Final.

    Irrespective of Stefan Martin’s fitness for purpose, or the progression of English and Sweet, there are perhaps more pertinent questions of the Dogs’ midfield than whether they control the ruck.

    How the players were arranged, combinations of strength, acceleration and defensive intent, and on-field leadership all factored into the Grand Final outcome as much or more than the taps.

    So, what does this mean?

    We need to recalibrate our perspective of Tim English, basically.

    It can be contended that he isn’t as far along as the Dogs need him to be, but his evolution and contribution has been measured against those circumstances, unfairly so.

    Similarly, his gentle character and softly-spoken nature has been projected onto his game.

    He has been an important piece in a finals team for three seasons now, progressed in multiple roles while building out his body, and is still young for a player of his height.

    As for the Dogs, there is work to do, but no personnel change short of adding a Gawn or a Brodie Grundy is going to be as transformative as has been speculated.
    Last edited by GVGjr; 16-10-2021 at 05:23 PM. Reason: Link added
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  2. #2
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    We do seem quick to discount English as a ruck option. I've been guilty of it as he seems to get out positioned so easy but it's easy to forget how young he is.

    Not sure how Gawn was going at the same age but I'm all for not wasting time with guys 30+.

    We have our first rounder next year, Jammara and Darcy we are in a good spot.

    I like our conservative approach and think maybe there's still a better ruckman in Tim yet with the aid of Sweet and the guidance of Martin.

    From what was available we didn't go overboard with any knee jerk decisions and I'm ok with that.

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  4. #3
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Often while reading WOOF I feel Tim is hard done by.

  5. #4
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    More his competitiveness and agression that concerns me rather than his craft. His ruck craft can develop. His competitiveness and aggression I’m not so sure. For a guy his size, he should never ever be beaten in contests like his is.

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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    We do seem quick to discount English as a ruck option. I've been guilty of it as he seems to get out positioned so easy but it's easy to forget how young he is.

    Not sure how Gawn was going at the same age but I'm all for not wasting time with guys 30+.

    We have our first rounder next year, Jammara and Darcy we are in a good spot.

    I like our conservative approach and think maybe there's still a better ruckman in Tim yet with the aid of Sweet and the guidance of Martin.

    From what was available we didn't go overboard with any knee jerk decisions and I'm ok with that.
    It's really hard to compare players at the sames ages as it all depends on who's ahead of them when they arrive. Tim has at least been given plenty of opportunities and was always going to be a longer term pay off.
    I'd prefer to see him as our number 1 ruckman but he is a handy forward as well.
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Who wrote this balanced nonsense?

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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    Who wrote this balanced nonsense?
    Nathan John, I've added the link that I should have inserted.
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  12. #8
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    I just saw a social media piece on Luke Jackson and his progress since getting drafted. Had some clips from the GF. Did not reflect well on Timmy at all.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  13. #9
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogsthru&thru View Post
    More his competitiveness and agression that concerns me rather than his craft. His ruck craft can develop. His competitiveness and aggression I’m not so sure. For a guy his size, he should never ever be beaten in contests like his is.
    Just a few things to iron out and we won't see the best from him for another season or two. He's a intelligent player who I hope can work out the right balance.
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  14. #10
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    I just saw a social media piece on Luke Jackson and his progress since getting drafted. Had some clips from the GF. Did not reflect well on Timmy at all.
    Hey the photo in this article looks pretty good!

  15. #11
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    I just saw a social media piece on Luke Jackson and his progress since getting drafted. Had some clips from the GF. Did not reflect well on Timmy at all.
    Jackson was pick 3.

    Very rare for a ruckman.

    Sometimes it pays to be terrible after a decent season.

    Didn't the Pies do something similar with Pendlebury (vague memory).

  16. #12
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    Jackson was pick 3.

    Very rare for a ruckman.

    Sometimes it pays to be terrible after a decent season.

    Didn't the Pies do something similar with Pendlebury (vague memory).
    Club's often won't make that sort of investment on a ruckman so Melbourne should be praised for their selection courage.
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  18. #13
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    Club's often won't make that sort of investment on a ruckman so Melbourne should be praised for their selection courage.
    Their recruitment team has been pretty good recently.

    Grundy was 18 in 2012. (They took Toumpas at 4)

  19. #14
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    Their recruitment team has been pretty good recently.

    Grundy was 19 in 2012. (They took Toumpas at 4)
    There is always going to be some misses along the way. Thought pretty highly of Jimmy Toumpas back when he was a junior because he seemed to have plenty of time and was a good decision maker. Clearly he came up well short at the senior level though.
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  20. #15
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    Re: We need to change how we think about Tim English

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    There is always going to be some misses along the way. Thought pretty highly of Jimmy Toumpas back when he was a junior because he seemed to have plenty of time and was a good decision maker. Clearly he came up well short at the senior level though.
    Yeah spot on, Tim Walsh has entered the chat.

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