OPINION

Are we witnessing the return of the 100-goal forward?

LEAD: Adelaide's Taylor Walker leads the Coleman Medal after another six-goal bag against Gold Coast. Photo: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images
LEAD: Adelaide's Taylor Walker leads the Coleman Medal after another six-goal bag against Gold Coast. Photo: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images

The power forward is back ... and it is exciting to contemplate the possibility of seeing another player kick 100 goals in a season.

Clearly, the rule changes are helping, making it easier to score and forwards having plenty of room to move in.

It is not quite back to the good old days of Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall, Gary Ablett senior, Tony Modra and the rest just yet, but it is spectacular to watch and the fans are loving it.

Adelaide's Taylor Walker leads the Coleman Medal, with 17, after another six-goal bag against Gold Coast. Josh Bruce became the first player to kick double-figure goals since Ben Brown late in 2019 when he booted 10 for the Western Bulldogs against the Kangaroos.

Carlton's Harry McKay capped off a great weekend for the spearheads, with 7.5 in the Blues' big win over Fremantle. Bruce has kicked 14 goals this season and McKay 13. Key forwards Josh Kennedy (West Coast) and Ben King (Gold Coast) have booted 10 apiece.

The rules were different and the games shorter last year when Geelong's Tom Hawkins won the Coleman with only 42 goals from 17 games. This season Walker is almost halfway there after only three rounds.

The last forward to top the ton was Lance Franklin when he was playing for Hawthorn in 2008 - let's hope someone can do it again this year.

Young Swans impressive 

After missing the finals for the past two seasons, few pundits had Sydney in their calculations for a top-eight finish. But stunning wins on the road against Brisbane and last year's premier Richmond is causing an early revision of the pre-season assessment.

The Swans are assembling an impressive crop of youngsters from their academy to complement their seasoned group led by co-captains Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dane Rampe.

Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell are already Rising Star nominations. Sam Wicks and West Australian pair Chad Warner and Logan McDonald look destined to join them.

The Swans identified they needed more experience in the ruck and the acquisition of Tom Hickey, at his fourth AFL club, appears a smart decision by their list management team.

During its halcyon era earlier this century, Sydney was renowned as a relentless team that focused on defence and thrived at the stoppages. But these new-look Swans are playing an exciting, attractive brand and topped 100 points for the third consecutive game, running the Tigers ragged and exposing their much-vaunted defence.

Lance Franklin, who was rested and missed last Saturday's game, will return against Essendon this Thursday night. Coach John Longmire and his panel face a tough decision on who to leave out for 'Buddy' - it's a nice problem to have.

Grundy's dominance counts for nothing

Among his many observations of the game he loved, one of legendary Richmond ruckman Jack Dyer's most famous lines was that "a good big man will always beat a good little man".

DOMINATION: Brodie Grundy dominated the hit-outs but the Magpies' midfielders were again unable to capitalise. Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

DOMINATION: Brodie Grundy dominated the hit-outs but the Magpies' midfielders were again unable to capitalise. Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

I'm not sure what "Captain Blood" would make of today's modern follower, but the game has changed considerably since Dyer's era and the big man has been forced to adapt.

While the rough stuff behind the play has disappeared, there is a place for ruckmen to set up play with their aerial supremacy and astute tapwork.

Just how influential ruckmen are remains a matter for debate and there was evidence to support both sides of the argument in this round.

For the second successive game, Collingwood's dual All-Australian Brodie Grundy dominated the hit-outs but the Magpies midfielders were unable to turn that into a match-winning advantage against Brisbane at Marvel Stadium. The Magpies won the hit-outs 63-4 and 24 of those were to advantage, yet they had only five more clearances than the Lions.

In Collingwood's previous match against Carlton, Grundy again won most of the hit-outs, but the Magpies were beaten in clearances. It didn't matter in the victory against the Blues, but in the thriller decided after the siren against the Lions nullifying the ruckman's dominance was crucial.

The following night in Adelaide, an injury to the left knee of co-captain Jarrod Witts late in the third quarter was a huge blow for the plucky Suns.

With Witts sidelined for the final term, big Crow Reilly O'Brien took over against makeshift ruckman Chris Burgess, picking up 10 disposals and taking strong marks to thwart Gold Coast's forward thrusts.

Dyer's old-fashioned philosophy proved correct in that game.

Roos deserve a marquee game

Despite copping a thrashing from the Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne should retain its Good Friday fixture.

The Kangaroos are rebuilding in their first season under coach David Noble and ran into a red-hot Bulldogs.

But they have worked hard in conjunction with the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal since 2017 to build the fixture, which attracted a healthy crowd.

Other Victorian clubs have their marquee games such as the season opener, Anzac Day and Queen's Birthday and the Roos deserve their chance, given they were the first club to embrace Friday night football.

Email: howardkotton11@gmail.com; Twitter: @hpkotton59.

  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas