After a year that peaked at 62nd overall, The Phantom has spent the summer asking himself one question. And the answers have formed the foundation of his 2023 team.
Who is going to take the next step?
I ask myself the question every year. It forms the basis of my piece on the breakout contenders in KFC SuperCoach.
And it’s the answers – right or wrong, we won’t know for a while – that have formed the foundation of my first team for 2023.
I love picking the next big thing in the game. I’ve nailed a few but, of course, taken a big swing and a miss on others.
Yes, Tom Green is in my team again this season.
But it doesn’t need to be five steps. For a starting selection to be successful in KFC SuperCoach, one step – the next one – might be enough.
Last year, I started with Will Brodie ($224k) and Jake Bowey ($265k). One became a forward keeper – see there’s a big one I got right – and the other, Bowey, became a top-line defender, via trade, very quickly after a solid start that included a huge score.
Armed with the extra trades, and the boosts, I was aggressive in 2022, turning my non-keeper mid-pricers and rookies into premiums whenever the opportunity came. There’s no time to milk every cent anymore. And, by the half way mark of the season, I was into the top 100.
You’re never going to fit all the big names in your starting team, so I’m not going to try.
Instead, I’ve gone with players who can get me to one quickly, along with a few who could step up into the ‘big-name’ category themselves.
James Sicily (Haw) $624,700
Hayden Young (Freo) $508,200
Nick Daicos (Coll) $502,500
Jack Bowes (Geel) $277,500
Reuben Ginbey (WC) $171,300
Darcy Wilmot (Bris) $123,900
Will Gould (Syd) $123,900
Rhett Montgomerie (Ess) $102,400
At this stage, I’m only going with one of the $600k defenders, and that’s Sicily, whose scoring I believe is most likely to match his price tag to start the year. Tom Stewart finds different ways to miss games and playmakers Jordan Dawson and Jack Sinclair might get a bit more attention. It’s hard to be sure just how Fremantle’s back-six will operate each week, but I still think Young will become more of an attacking weapon in 2023 and build on his 99-point average from the final 12 games of last season. I’m tipping he puts 10 points on his 92-point average he’s priced at. Daicos could be similar, and given his finish to the year, and standout pre-season, that could be his floor. Then there’s Bowes, who, like his almost-namesake Bowey, could help deliver an early upgrade in defence. You shouldn’t be surprised he’s been training the Geelong’s midfield group, because he was drafted as a midfielder – a 17-year-old who impressed against the bigger bodies in Gold Coast’s NEAFL side. In the VFL last year, Bowes averaged 27 disposals, 13 contested possessions, seven clearances, six inside 50s, five tackles and 120 SuperCoach points in his final 11 games.
Clayton Oliver (Melb) $699,800
Jack Steele (StK) $604,400
Tom Green (GWS) $534,600
Tom Mitchell (Coll) $528,600
Jacob Hopper (Rich) $332,000
Marcus Windhager (Stk) $266,200, Fwd
Will Ashcroft (Bris) $202,800
Will Phillips (NM) $158,300
Matt Johnson (Freo) $123,900
Josh Sinn (Port), $123,900, Fwd
Corey Wagner (Freo), $117,300, Def
Would you bet against Oliver averaging more than 120 again? Me either. After an underwhelming, and injury-interrupted, 2022, Steele is underpriced given he, too, is capable of pushing the 120-point mark, like he did in the previous two seasons. With Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper and Tanner Bruhn missing, Green might take a few extra steps – and stay there – this year. At Collingwood, playing the role on the inside he’s built to play, Mitchell could climb back up a step or two and should comfortably outscore his 96-point price tag. Hopper is priced at 67 and, at $332k, he doesn’t need to be picked as a keeper. In my ‘breakout contenders’ piece for 2023, I’ve predicted second-year Saint Windhager to push 80 this season after an impressive summer, and a first year spent learning the midfield caper as a tagger. If you watched him closely last season, you would know why. If can post a few scores of 80 or more, he’ll enjoy an early price rise, as well as acting as a solid on-field option. I think you’re getting the idea behind the whole team, now.
Rowan Marshall (StK) $506,500
Darcy Cameron (Coll) $456,900, Fwd
Nick Madden (GWS) $102,400, Fwd
What are we going to do in the ruck? I’m not even sure. As the No. 1 ruckman, Marshall is a lock but there’s still some uncertainty there, as there is with a number of the other top-price options. Cameron as Collingwood’s lead big man fits the underpriced bill, after his finish to 2022 when Grundy went down. But I’m far from locked in here.
Josh Dunkley (Bris) $596,400, Mid
Connor Rozee (Port) $513,800, Mid
Tim Taranto (Rich) $503,100, Mid
Errol Gulden (Syd) $472,000, Mid
Tarryn Thomas (NM) $296,700, Mid
Toby McLean (WB) $178,900, Mid
Jacob van Rooyen (Melb), $123,900
Blake Drury (NM) $102,400, Mid
Rozee is priced at 93 but the Power young gun finally made his mark in the midfield in the back half of last season, averaging 110 across the final 10 games. He’s a midfielder now and Ken Hinkley needs him in there. Taranto will just about be Richmond’s first-picked on-baller in 2023, while my love for Gulden needs no explanation – read about what I’m tipping a big jump this season here. Then there’s Thomas. He’s had his off-field issues, but he’s said to be flying on it, fitting in seamlessly in a new role across half-back. If he’s named there in Round 1, he fits perfectly into the idea of this side at $296k.
Originally published as KFC SuperCoach 2023: The Phantom’s team revealed