Out of form: Brendon Goddard.RECOVERY SESSION
WOUNDED like Monty Python’s Black Knight, Brendon Goddard refused to concede and had a spectacularly good grand final in 2009. A year later he repeated the effort in the first of the two grand finals of 2010.
He elevated his standing in the game by his efforts in those two storied finals, which only served to punctuate his consistently good form.
By the end of those years he was popularly regarded as among the best handful of players in the league. For a period, one respected observer rated him as the best player.
The Brendon Goddard of 2012 is a long way from that player. On Sunday he had a bad day. Tagged, injured, reported he now has a holiday for a fortnight.
Goddard has had two heavy tags this year, the first against Melbourne, the second on Sunday by North Melbourne and the effects on his game were pronounced.
Against Melbourne he had 15 touches and 60 per cent of them missed their mark. On Sunday Sam Wright got under his skin to the point where Goddard laid a bit of skin on him and dropped him on his backside and is consequently now facing a two-game ban. The effect was almost as pronounced. Of his 12 kicks half of them missed their mark.
This is from a player who otherwise ranks sixth best in the AFL for kicking efficiency and over his career has been an exceptional ball user. Most seasons his kicking efficiency is in the 70 per cent range.
On Sunday he lined up for goal from barely 40 metres out and in front, and didn’t make the distance. The ball flopped like he’d kicked a cushion. Admittedly he had only just returned to the ground after having his leg strapped from a knock to the knee but ordinarily even a Goddard miss-kick would have thundered into the upper decks of the dome.
Speaking on On the Couch last night, Saints coach Scott Watters described Goddard’s performance this year as selfless but said he had struggled to break a hard tag at times. Watters rated his season a ”six or seven out of 10”.
Goddard has never won a club best and fairest. He ran second in 2009 and equal third in 2010, years in which he polled 14 Brownlow votes each, his best offerings. In years when the team played grand finals these were good returns and reflective of his ability.
This year he has been a good and serviceable player, but no more. He has had two poor games and was OK in others. For his ability it is not enough. ”He is not in the finals form of 2010, but that was as good as anyone played the game that year. He was outstanding,” said former Saints midfielder Austinn Jones.
”He has dropped off a bit but it seems to happen to players that are being speculated about with their futures and I think he is getting a bit more individual attention. He was able to play on ball and across half back without heaps of attention before.”
St Kilda’s problem is that with its list in the state it is now, it needs Goddard to be the marquee player around whom it rebuilds, but he does not look likely to be that player.
Their marquee player was Nick Riewoldt but his body cannot carry the burden now. Lenny Hayes is 32 so he is out. Nick Dal Santo is 28, Leigh Montagna is almost 29 and they are both a rung below the level demanded for the marquee bracket.
At 27, out of contract and a restricted free agent at year’s end perhaps a change of clubs could best serve Goddard and the Saints. In a contention side that could afford him, Goddard would add versatility.
St Kilda at the moment is a club in transition. Arguably at the moment its most important structural player is Rhys Stanley.
I know, it sounds silly, but it is true. When Stanley plays, the forwards play better, the ruck performs better, he can run deep to defence. He is as important a player as there is there at the moment perhaps outside of Hayes in the middle.
St Kilda can yet make the eight, and perhaps it will, but the list in its current state will not carry it to a flag.
It is acutely aware of that internally and change will be significant at the end of the year. As a result the second half of the year won’t be a youth policy per se but you suspect more time will be invested in establishing if the younger players can make it.
Are they better served by a Clint Jones who is diligent but a poor kick best served playing a tagging role each week? Or are they better to look at Jack Newnes, Tom Ledger or Daniel Markworth?
To an extent these types of decisions have already been happening. Brett Peake, Dean Polo and Farren Ray for instance have all found senior games very hard to come by.
Hostage to the years when they could have, and should have, won one but didn’t, the Saints must now find the way ahead to the next tilt. And not be left waiting for Goddard.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.