By Peter Blucher. Jesse White answers the challenge
Travis Cloke or Jesse White?
Ordinarily it would be a no-brainer. You’d take the power-marking Cloke over the athletic but sometimes inconsistent White every time.
Cloke, with 429 goals and 47 Brownlow Medal votes from 237 games over 12 years, sits seventh on the all-time Collingwood goals list and in recent years has been rated among the premier key forwards in the competition. A regular match-winner.
White, with 54 goals from 40 games in three years at the Pies after 71 games, 73 goals and his only Brownlow vote in six years at Sydney, has been one of those players who always seems to be fighting for his career. In and out of the side more often than he’d like.
But not at the moment. Not this week.
After starting the season in the VFL, White has answered the challenge of Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley in fine style recently.
It continued in Round 9 of the Toyota AFL premiership last Saturday when he had 10 possessions and kicked two goals to be valuable contributor in the Pies’ shock win over Geelong at the MCG.
This followed 15 possessions and two goals against Carlton in Round 7 and 15 possessions and three goals against Brisbane in Round 8.
So, although it’s only a small sample, the basketball convert from John Paul College in Brisbane is forming an effective key forward combination with Mason Cox, Collingwood’s US import, and Darcy Moore, son of dual Brownlow Medallist Peter Moore.
Certainly he’s in a much better position now than he was when he was dropped from the Collingwood side after a poor loss to Melbourne in Round 4.
And despite Cloke’s four goals in the VFL on Saturday it’d be a monumental surprise if coach Buckley found a reason to change his key forward make-up for next Sunday’s clash with the Western Bulldogs.
He said as much in a radio interview with 3AW on Sunday.
“I suppose in the end in any position it’s guys that are contributing to the way we want to play, but also being able to play their role in the manner it needs to be,” he said.
“It’s all about the team, and what’s best for the team.
“Jesse’s come in and played an important role,” Buckley said. “Jesse’s probably more mobile than the other boys…he’s also got the capacity to chip in in the ruck.”
Coincindentally, the three other members of White’s star-studded Queensland U18 side of 2006 still playing in the AFL were also winners in Round 9.
Kurt Tippett had one of best games of his career, collecting 19 disposals, six marks (five contested), 35 hit-outs, four clearances and two goals in Sydney’s 14-point win over Hawthorn.
Shaun Hampson had eight possessions and 32 hit-outs for Richmond against Fremantle in Perth as he enjoyed back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
And David Armitage had 18 possessions, seven tackles and a goal for St.Kilda as they get the better of Essendon on Sunday.
In other standout performances in Round 9:-
- Charlie Dixon was among Port Adelaide’s best in an eight-point loss to West Coast with 20 possessions, nine marks and two goals. His possession count was the second-highest of his 74-game career.
- Dayne Zorko (22 possessions, one goal) and Tom Bell (17 possessions, three goals) were among Brisbane’s best against Melbourne at the MCG as ex-Aspley defender Josh Wagner, with 17 possessions for Melbourne, enjoyed a win in his first meeting with his former ‘home’ club.
- Nick Riewoldt, with 24 possessions for St.Kilda against Essendon, was the leading Queensland possession-winner for the second week in a row after sharing that honor with Collingwood’s Adam Oxley in Round 8.
At other levels of football:-
- Corey Wagner, a senior emergency for North Melbourne for the first time on the weekend, kept his name front of mind with the selectors when he was rated second best for Werribee in the VFL.
- Archie Smith, enjoying a career-best patch of form with the Lions Reserves, did likewise with 17 possessions and 20 hit-outs when he was named his team’s best against the GWS Giants Reserves. Matthew Hammelmann was second best for the Lions Reserves in the same game.
- Clay Cameron, returning from injury in the Gold Coast Suns Reserves, was his side’s second best against Redland.
- Brendan Whitecross reminded Hawthorn selectors he’s ready if and when he’s required with another strong game for Box Hill in the VFL.