February 18, 2005
Collingwood v Richmond - Wizard Cup Round 1
Colingwood and Richmond kick off the 2005 season and are our first Wizard Cup feature game.
Richmond is effectively a new entity. Terry Wallace has made sweeping changes to the club’s structure. He’ll be big on discipline, big on hardness at the contest and will attempt to transfer the siege mentality he so effectively instilled in the Western Bulldogs to his Richmond list. Better yet, by virtue of last season’s insipid performance, the Tigers had an immensely strong hand in the National Draft – amongst those added were silken utility Brett Deledio and Aboriginal speedster Richie Tambling, two players that will provide excitement from day one – and added a quality ruck/forward, Troy Simmonds, in trade week.
So how do the Tiges shape up? Well, the greatest reservation lies in defence, where Darren Gaspar was a barely discernible shadow of his former self in ’04. He must be back to near his best if Richmond is to be able to consistently counter opposition forwards. Much also is expected of youngsters Daniel Jackson and Jay Schulz, as well as aged recruit Mark Graham.
The rest of the Richmond team looks OK. The midfield should be strong with the return of Mark Coughlan and the introduction of Deledio and Tambling, and the forward line, assuming Matthew Richardson can stay fit for a whole season, has enough weapons to be bring opposition backlines to account, both in the air and at ground level. The impact of Wallace will be critical, and the club hopes the positive spike in form new coaches usually bring in their inaugural year will arrive with him.
The Magpies polarise opinion. Are they the team that contested consecutive Grand Finals in 2002 and 2003, or are they are waning influence. Structurally, they are a similar outfit to seasons past, but they need to avoid last year’s injury curse, which consistently robbed them of key players.
The defence is solid. James Clement is an outstanding player surrounded by steady veterans and the hope is that one of Tristen Walker and Brent Hall, who are genuinely big, can develop into an imposing defender.
Same old, same old in the middle with Nathan Buckley, Shane Woewodin, Scott Burns and Paul Licuria once again expected to drive things. The problem area is pace and this doesn’t look an area that has improved significantly in the off season.
Up forward - and stars Chris Tarrant, Anthony Rocca and Josh Fraser, while resting, are more than a handful and extremely capable of posting winning scores. More consistent performance is demanded of small forwards Leon Davis and Alan Didak, the latter’s preseason curtailed by knee injury.
Collingwood are a solid unit and will try to close down games. They will struggle against fleet-of-foot opponents
Collingwood: Leon Davis, Shane Woewodin, Ryan Lonie, Brodie Holland, Chad Morrison, James Clement, Julian Rowe, Shane O'Bree, Tristen Walker, Richard Cole, Shane Wakelin, Scott Burns, Paul Licuria, Andrew Williams, Chris Tarrant, Guy Richards, Rhyce Shaw, Anthony Rocca, Josh Fraser, Ben Johnson, Nick Maxwell, Matthew Lokan, David King, Cameron Cloke, Simon Prestigiacomo, Heath Shaw, Harry O'Brien, David Fanning.
Richmond: Darren Gaspar, Brett Deledio, Andrew Raines, Troy Simmonds, Mark Chaffey, Nathan Brown, Tom Roach, Wayne Campbell, Greg Stafford, Joel Bowden, Matthew Richardson, Trent Knobel, David Rodan, Shane Tuck, Danny Meyer, Daniel Jackson, Mark Coughlan, Jay Schulz, Adam Pattison, Andrew Krakouer, Kane Johnson, Richard Tambling, Chris Hyde, Greg Tivendale, Brent Hartigan, Mark Graham, Chris Newman, Andrew Kellaway.
Missing Buckley with a hamstring strain and Didak to knee troubles, the Magpies look be further away from full strength than do the Tigers. Loathe as I would be to make a substantial wager on these, essentially worthless, games, Richmond in their first showing under Terry Wallace will be keen to get off to a flyer and this, along with their close-to-full-strength squad, has me rating them a slight favourite. Centrebet agrees, having Richmond $1.80 and Collingwood $1.90, but TAB Sportsbet goes the other way, with Collingwood the $1.80 favourite. Best shopping during the preseason may be with Michael Eskander (eskander.com quoting Collingwood at $1.92 and the Tigers at $1.88) and Sportingbet.com.au (Collingood $1.95, Richmond $1.85), these agencies offering more attractive percentages.