Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 10:02 AM

Article by Mark Duffield, published in The West Australian on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

My former colleague, turned honourable member of State parliament John McGrath was a very fine footy writer and, prior to that, one of the greatest racing writers Australia has known. He was also a passionate East Fremantle supporter and as it is with all colourful racing identities Matchie, as we knew him, had a great turn of phrase. Whenever a promising young East Fremantle player turned up in the AFL system and started to play well Matchie would say: “Another one just rolled off the assembly line Duff”. A few rolled off the assembly line during Matchie’s time spearheading The West’s footy coverage in the 1990s and through the turn of the century. Clearly a few more have rolled off the line since. We decided to go through WA produced AFL players currently listed and return them to their WAFL club of origin to see what sort of team they might put on the deck, hypothetically, if the AFL didn’t exist in 2020. We weren’t fussed about injuries or up to the minute availability. They just need to be on a club’s list in 2020. We are exploring the WAFL”s ongoing ability to produce AFL grade talent. Clearly the Sharks haven’t lost the knack, no matter what their financial difficulties in this time of COVID-19. We gave the Sharks Sam Menegola because they were his club of origin when rookie listed first by Hawthorn. Sorry Subi. The result has given our curiosity a tweak to say the least: How would a middle order AFL team go against this lot. The goal to goal line is stacked with four AFL players and a fifth (Luke Strnadica), who was considered a tad unlucky to be squeezed out of Fremantle. It contains the bloke I rated the AFL’s best player in my top fifty this year (Patrick Cripps), another from the top 10 (Elliot Yeo) and a third (Josh Kennedy) from inside the 50 with Brad Sheppard unlucky to miss. AFL clubs who wouldn’t be that keen on playing them now certainly wouldn’t have been keen two years ago when Taylor and Kennedy were right in their prime. The list is so stacked with AFL talent that I didn’t bother trying to shoe-horn all of their fresh draftees in. Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson are expected to play soon and so were picked. Dillon O’Reilly (Fremantle), Trey Ruscoe (Collingwood), Trent Rivers (Melbourne), Chad Warner (Sydney) and Tom Joyce (Brisbane) have to put some senior runs on the board before they claim a spot in this team.