Versus: Roughead v Tippett
Who's your pick?
JARRYD ROUGHEAD v KURT TIPPETT
This is a match-up that pits together the Coleman medallist and the player who topped the League goalkicking for the time he played in the second half of the season.
Two power forwards who will be pivotal to the prospects of their respective teams in September. Both are versatile but used differently, by respective coaches Alastair Clarkson and John Longmire.
Roughead fills a variety of roles including midfield, and Tippett, who could help out in the ruck if it wasn't for Mike Pyke and Shane Mumford, is the traditional contested marking target in the forward line who is not lost playing further up the field.
When I think of 'Roughy' I think of one word - versatile. He reminds me of a young Jonathan Brown who early in his career spent some time as a big midfielder, winning clearances and picking up possessions at will before we realised he couldn't carry his 106kg frame around all day without a break and had to move him back to the forward line.
Roughead is a unique AFL specimen because he's a 193cm on-baller. He has had 76 centre-square bounce involvements since round 13, the eight most in his team, and won the Coleman Medal.
He'll be a huge part of the Swans planning for Friday night's qualifying final, especially with Lance Franklin out of the Hawthorn side, but he is difficult to combat because if he's being well held in one role, like at centre half-forward, he can push up into the middle or work deeper forward as a marking target and be just as effective.
He meets the ball at his highest point, which makes him a potent marking target, and if he doesn't mark it and it hits the ground his second effort is very quick. It's not often that at worst he doesn't keep the ball in his area. So he gets goals from general play as well as marking.
He's a phenomenal weapon for Clarkson to have up his sleeve, and, with Luke Hodge, has become a dominant figure this year that they didn't have in last year's Grand Final.
Tippett has more than justified all the trouble the Swans went through to get him, and is the equal of any power-marking forward in the competition.
He draws the ball as well as anyone and has exceptionally strong hands.
Hugely dominant in the last weeks of the season, he brings something a little different to the traditional Swans scoring focus which relies on a lot of players making a contribution.
But with Sam Reid and Adam Goodes out of the side, it's important that they have a main bail-out target deep in the forward 50.
While his contested marking is undoubtedly his strength, and his primary goal source, what I like about Tippett is that if the ball hits the deck he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty and get in after it at ground level. And he doesn't mind playing a role for his side to draw an opponent out so that others can be a target.
He's not strictly confined to the forward 50 either, and can provide an outlet target up on the wing which can be very important. His signature move of wrapping on his opponent to get a jump at the ball makes him hard to beat in this situation.
It's unthinkable that either side can win without an important contribution from either Roughead or Tippett, and quite possibly the player who can have the biggest influence will be the one who gets his side over the line. But forced to make a choice I'd take 'Roughy' just purely on the strength of his versatility. He's three different players in one and at one stage or another he'll be used as all three.