ONE man will be playing game No.350, another man game No.300, and another one game No.5.
And yet when Geelong and Gold Coast start their round five match at GMHBA Stadium, the player with the mere handful of AFL games to his name will be commanding as much attention as the more celebrated veterans.
It promises to be a special occasion, as the two Cats, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood, celebrate significant milestones in a season where they are desperately seeking to land one more premiership, and the then-19-year-old Sun Matt Rowell, fresh off three consecutive best-afield performances, find themselves equal storyline subjects.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
The round five match of the 2007 season happened to be a watershed moment for Selwood and the Cats. It was his fourth AFL match, and Geelong lost to North Melbourne, leaving them at 2-3. Selwood stood up big-time in that game, announced himself to the competition. He personally didn't experience another loss that year, and the Cats were defeated just one more time on their way to a drought-breaking premiership.
No one is suggesting Rowell and the Suns are, right now, anywhere near capable of replicating that achievement. But there is something about him, and the immediate impact he has had on his club, that is Selwood-like at the corresponding time of their careers.
Bring on 4.35pm Saturday.
Howe can the Pies replace Jeremy?
There are some huge footy names at Collingwood. Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams, Adam Treloar, Darcy Moore, Jordan De Goey. All individually crucial to the workings of the collective.
But there was another name who was emerging in 2020 as the Magpies' most valuable asset in their premiership hopes. Jeremy Howe.
Howe's start to the 2020 season has been blistering. He'd long been the director of the Pies' backline, and was adjudged internally as their best player in the 2019 finals series, but in his very-late 20s (he turns 30 on Monday) he had taken his game – and leadership – to even better levels.
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After smashing the PCL in his right knee late in Friday night's narrow loss to GWS, Howe's future is now worryingly unknown. For a player who has few peers in VFL/AFL history when it comes to high marking, a damaged PCL may be the last injury he'd have requested if given a choice.
And as evidenced in the shell-shocked voice and demeanour of Pies coach Nathan Buckley last Friday when talking about Howe, it was obvious that while clubs are forever talking about replacing one soldier with another one, that this particular soldier is very, very, very dear to the man in charge.
Judge the action, not the outcome
The AFL's Match Review Office has already dealt with one flashpoint this season, and after two incidents in round four, it has reached another critical juncture.
It desperately needs to fix the problem of placing inordinate emphasis on the degree of damage sustained by a player in a reportable incident.
ROUNDS 4-7 Check out the full fixture
Under its own regulations, the MRO simply had to suspend Essendon's Zach Merrett for a week, after his punch on Jack Silvagni on Saturday night left the Blue with a fractured rib, blood on his lungs and a night in hospital.
Merrett's act, in a disguised attempt to tackle Silvagni, was the type of innocuous incident that happens dozens of times a match. His problem was that he contacted Silvagni flush in his most vulnerable position at that precise moment in time.
The MRO must, at the end of the season, change its own guidelines, and as its starting point, judge all reportable offences on the action itself, not the outcome. Once that is done, and guilt or degree of guilt is determined, then it can factor in the injury sustained to either increase or mitigate sanction.
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That Shaun Burgoyne was able to play the week after an incredibly dangerous sling tackle against Paddy Dangerfield in round two, simply because the Cats superstar wasn't badly damaged, sent a terrible message. But to its credit, the MRO's guidelines were on such matters were changed immediately.
On current MRO logic, Melbourne's Tom McDonald will on Monday need to be suspended for a week, after his innocuous off-ball bump on Cat Tom Stewart at the MCG on Sunday.
Stewart's shoulder was badly damaged in the incident, and he missed the remainder of the game. As happened to Merrett, who chose to punch Silvagni in a tackling motion, McDonald, who chose to bump Stewart in a manner that happens dozens of times every match, inflicted nasty damage.