Our experts debate all the hot topics and burning questions ahead of Round 14.
Which player has regressed most in 2020?
Niall Seewang: It's tough to pinpoint a player who's currently injured, but Ben Brown's fall from grace has been staggering. He could only manage a paltry eight goals in nine games this season after booting 60+ in the previous three seasons (his combined total of 188 goals in this three-year period being the most of any player In the AFL). He's still only 27, so fingers crossed he finds a way to bounce back either later this year, or 2021 and beyond.
Jake Michaels: It has to be Jeremy Cameron. Fourteen months ago we were weighing up the possibility of him kicking 100 goals in a season and now the Giants' spearhead has just 18 majors from his 12 games in 2020. Right now he's on track for his lowest goal tally in a season and his form is mirroring that of GWS, which could very well miss out on playing finals. Get it together, Jez!
Matt Walsh: Ben Brown was my first thought too; he's been so consistent over so long that his 2020 form has been a shock. Aside from him -- and he hasn't regressed the most, but his regression has been noticeable -- Brad Hill's form after moving from the Dockers to the Saints has been stark. He's well down in every metric compared to last season, and if I was a Saints fan, I'd be a little disappointed with how inconsistent he has been.
Jesse Robinson: It may be harsh, given the pedestal he's coming down from but 2020 hasn't shown us the dominant Brodie Grundy of past seasons. This is not to say that Grundy has been poor -- most clubs would still be more than happy to have Grundy lining up for them at the centre bounce -- and maybe it's not even really a regression, just a slower year. I don't think we can be too harsh on a player's overall performance this season, given the complete uprooting of their lives.
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Should the Dreamtime game be played in Darwin every year?
NS: Saturday night's Dreamtime clash was incredible - not the match itself, but the event as a whole. However, it should be back at the G next year as the Bombers and Tigers deserve to be rewarded for the work they've done in building up that blockbuster. In saying that, I would love to see two other teams host an annual match in Darwin to develop a rivalry for Sir Doug Nicholls Round, similar to what Melbourne and Richmond have done on Anzac Day Eve in recent years.
JM: I think a game should be played in Darwin during every Sir Doug Nicholls Round but why not spread the love and play a match in every state and territory? The whole point of the weekend is to recognise Indigenous culture and what it has brought to the game. While it's great taking matches to the Top End, Indigenous people live all over this country and should be offered the chance to watch a live game. Seriously, how great would it be to have a game in every state and territory during Indigenous Round!?
MW: I think it's a great idea - not that the AFL, or Essendon or Richmond, would let it happen. Having 85,000 people at the 'G is worth just too much coin, and neither side would be keen to 'give up' a home game every year despite how cool it would be. It should be played in Darwin every year, but it won't. Perhaps the Dees can use their NT links to make their clash in the Alice a feature game of the round?
JR: Without question. We won't see the 80,000+ crowd that we've had at the 'G but if the AFL is serious about reconciliation and recognition, take the game where it belongs. This weekend showed us how far we've come and how far we still have to go with racism in Australia and in sport. This is about more than money and crowds. Saturday night was incredibly powerful and was everything you could want from a Dreamtime match that celebrates Indigenous culture and people. Make it permanent and extend it all across Australia - a Top End game, a rural victorian game ... the AFL has chance to make a real statement here.
Who are your two All-Australian key defenders?
NS: It's a ridiculously strong year for key defenders. Harris Andrews, Jacob Weitering, Darcy Moore, Nick Haynes and Jeremy McGovern all have claims to be honoured with All-Australian selection, while Steven May, Sam Collins and Robbie Tarrant not far behind. For me, Andrews has been the standout and Haynes should be his AA sidekick. What a duo that would be in your backline!
JM: Does Luke Ryan count as a key defender!? If not I'll take Harris Andrews and Jacob Weitering. Both players have been exceptional in 2020 and deserve to get the nod for the two defensive posts. I think Jeremy McGovern may have missed a few too many games to make the cut.
MW: I agree with Jake on Luke Ryan, he's been magnificent and slots in (but not as one of the two key defenders!). Harris Andrews is a lock for his second straight blazer, while 'Weiters' might be making his AA debut. Though, if Darcy Moore can stay fit for the rest of the season, I'd be pushing to get him in - he's a star. Choices! Give me Andrews and Moore.
JR: Harris Andrews and Sam Collins have impressed the most this season, both being absolute pillars in defence for their respective clubs. Andrews' marshalling of a vastly improved Brisbane defence has been critical to their success and the consistency of Collins in shutting down rival key forwards has allowed freedom for the Suns' defence to pick off entries and send the ball flying down the other end of the field. It'd be a great reward for Collins and would make him only the third Sun to be named an All-Australian behind former captains Gary Ablett Jr. and Tom Lynch.
What grade do you give Rhyce Shaw so far this season?
NS: I'd give him a C- ... and the only thing saving him from a D (or worse!) is the Roos' shocking injury run. In games lost to injury from Rounds 2-12 this year, North Melbourne was hit the hardest across the league... it's a tough gig when a big chunk of your best 22 is in the rehab room. Still, the gap between North's best and worst has been massive and Shaw needs vast improvement quickly in 2021 or he will soon be coaching for his career.
JM: Let's be realistic, North Melbourne has been SMASHED with injuries in 2020 and there hasn't been a lot Shaw can do. Having said that, he has made a few bizarre selection calls -- such as leaving the experienced duo of Jared Polec and Aaron Hall out of the side -- and has a little explaining to do. Don't forget Shaw could do no wrong when he took over from Brad Scott last season. Once he gets some talent back, I believe the Roos will be much improved. I'm giving him a C+.
MW: C- for me. Yes, injuries have hurt, and yes, he's been playing the kids and we're seeing great returns from the likes of Jy Simpkin, but Jared Polec is easily a best 18 player and he's on the pine for his lack of defensive nous? Spare me. Also, persisting with Mason Wood is a head scratcher. Lucky they've got a strong hand at this year's draft...
JR: On one hand, North Melbourne have been the second worst team in the competition so far, winning only three games all very early in the season, but they've also had a wave of injuries, including Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington, Ben Brown and Tarryn Thomas that have prevented them putting their best 22 on the field. Given the nature of 2020 and the improvement they've got out of some of their youngsters in Jy Simpkin, Curtis Taylor and Luke Davies-Uniacke, Shaw gets a C+ in his first (sort of) season.