THE COMMENT was a piercing one, whether it was made in jest or not.

"By the way, if you were younger and quicker you might have got more than 10 touches as well …"

It might have just been banter, there might also have been an element of seriousness about it. Regardless, it summed up why Adelaide got it wrong when it allowed Hugh Greenwood to walk to Metricon Stadium last October virtually unopposed.

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Mark Ricciuto was quick to fire off the aforementioned response to Greenwood on Twitter on Sunday evening. Just as rapidly, Greenwood replied: "What a shock!! Someone at the Crows more concerned about disposals than actual impact on the game."

He was right. To reduce Greenwood's effectiveness by purely looking at his disposal count in Sunday afternoon's 53-point drubbing of Adelaide would be to sell the Gold Coast recruit short.

Looking at his numbers more holistically, and the intangibles he has since provided at Metricon Stadium, offers a more important depiction of what the former basketball prodigy is currently providing the rebuilding Suns.

There was a stinging element to Greenwood's final message to the Adelaide director on Sunday night, almost as though he knew his worth and knew he was being underappreciated by his former club. The stats would back that up.

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Greenwood might have averaged just 17.1 disposals with Adelaide last season. He might only be averaging just 16 touches per game with Gold Coast through the first three games this year. But, as he said, it's not always about that.

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As a big, mature body at the Crows last year, Champion Data notes that Greenwood ranked No.1 at the club for tackles, No.2 for pressure points, No.2 groundball gets, No.4 for contested possessions and No.6 for clearances.

And he did all of that from just 57 per cent midfield time in 2019.

Quite remarkably, considering game time has reduced by 20 per cent this season in the wake of the COVID-19 suspension period, Greenwood has improved in each one of those categories – barring pressure points – since arriving at Gold Coast. 

Hugh Greenwood

2019 Avg.

AFC Rank

2020 Avg.

GCS Rank

Player Ratings

13.2

3rd

13.0

2nd

Ground ball gets

8.6

2nd

10.7

1st

Contested Possessions

11.4

4th

12.3

1st

Clearances

4.1

6th

6.0

1st

Tackles

6.0

1st

6.3

2nd

Pressure Points

55.1

2nd

50.6

2nd

 

Those stats suggest he was the defensive pressure an onball group of Rory Sloane, Brad Crouch and Matt Crouch desperately lacked on Sunday – as Gold Coast's youngsters continually cut a swathe through Adelaide's more experienced bodies out of the middle.

And that's not just a one-week sample size.

Greenwood ranks third in the entire competition this season for tackles (6.3 per game), sixth for contested possessions (12.3 per game) and eighth for clearances (6.0 per game).

Rubbing salt into the wound for the Crows is the fact that in those same statistical categories, they rank second-last for tackle differential, second-last for contested possession differential and last overall for clearance differential.

The sum of those stats can be found in the AFL Player Ratings. That particular measurement ranked Greenwood as Adelaide's third-most important player last season, despite the midfielder ranking 13th at the Crows for average disposals.

The AFL Player Ratings also ranks Greenwood as Gold Coast's second-most important player through three games this year, even though he ranks ninth at the club for disposals.

It's the point Greenwood was trying to make in his message to Ricciuto. It's about quality, not quantity. Effectiveness and efficiency is what Greenwood provides.

While there were legitimate reasons for moving on Jake Lever, Mitch McGovern, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Alex Keath – and a number of others – Ricciuto's reasons for allowing Greenwood to leave simply don't stack up

Then there's the intangibles. You only need to ask Suns coach Stuart Dew about what the 28-year-old delivers in that department.

"A lot of the stuff we love about Hugh is off the field," Dew said after Sunday's emphatic victory.

"His care for teammates throughout the shutdown period was outstanding as a leader. He's only played just over 50 games, but in terms of his life experiences he's had a lot and he's got great care for the group.

"He's also got a good eye for guys who need a bit of support, so we're really lucky to have him at the footy club."

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Greenwood's departure from Adelaide was only one that Ricciuto had attempted to justify while on South Australian radio last week, which led to their confrontation on social media on Sunday evening.

But it was one that Ricciuto explained by saying, "that was probably more our call".

He continued: "He's 28 this year and not going to play in our next premiership side, so we're trying to get draft picks in to rebuild."

The draft picks they secured in return were a future third-round pick and a future fourth-round selection - not necessarily value for money when you factor in what Adelaide severely lacks this season, and what Greenwood is providing at Gold Coast.

So, while there were legitimate reasons for moving on Jake Lever, Mitch McGovern, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Alex Keath – and a number of others – Ricciuto's reasons for allowing Greenwood to leave simply don't stack up.