Zac Williams during GWS Giants training. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Zac Williams during GWS Giants training. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Big red flags on SuperCoach AFL guns

News that Nakia Cockatoo has suffered another injury setback is a cruel blow to the Cats speedster, and forced thousands of SuperCoaches into a rethink.

When the news broke Cockatoo was in 40 per cent of KFC SuperCoach teams, making him one of the most popular rookie-priced players available this year.

He hasn't played more than 11 games in a season across his career, and has made just two senior appearances since 2017. But that didn't stop SuperCoaches jumping on board at the tempting price of $148,200.

Picking injury-prone players only to see them break down is a mistake that costs SuperCoach players trades and heartache every year, but can be largely avoided. It might be boring, but picking durable players can have a real upside when points are tallied at the end of the season.


Last year Lachie Whitfield was the must-have defender in SuperCoach, with his 111-point average eclipsing everyone else in his position. So it may come as a shock to learn that he was the 24th top-scoring defender of the season.

Whitfield's 1780 points came in behind Christian Salem, Nick Vlastuin and Callum Mills, and we aren't suggesting you should pick those guys instead. But when tossing up between a player like Whitfield and a stalwart like Rory Laird, it's worth noting Laird scored 350 more points.


Lachie Whitfield is a big SuperCoach scorer ... when he’s out on the field.
Lachie Whitfield is a big SuperCoach scorer ... when he’s out on the field.


The difference, of course, is that Whitfield played just 16 games and the other players listed above all played 22.

The Giants gun will be in plenty of SuperCoach teams again this year, as a forward - including mine - and we will all be hoping he follows in the footsteps of Darcy Moore and Brad Crouch, who defied their injury histories to be successful selections last year.

Scroll down for a snapshot of the most - and least - reliable players in each position. Note that this analysis focuses on players valued at over $500,000 and doesn't feature players such as Sam Docherty, who come at a big discount after missing an entire season (or more) with injury. It's worth noting that Docherty didn't miss a game for two seasons before suffering the first of successive knee injuries.



Jake Lloyd is not only the top-scoring defender of the past two seasons, he's also one of the most durable - missing just one game since 2016. Rory Laird has been available for 97 per cent of matches in that time according to Champion Data, a figure matched by Nic Newman while Shannon Hurn, while Tom Stewart and Daniel Rich are in the mid-90s. Hurn played 87 of 88 games from 2015-18 but his golden run ended with a calf injury sidelining him for two games late last season. At 32, have injuries finally caught up with the premium scorer?


Super dependable Swans defender Jake Lloyd. Picture: Jeremy Piper
Super dependable Swans defender Jake Lloyd. Picture: Jeremy Piper


At the other end of the durability is GWS gun Zac Williams, who is in 21 per cent of teams but has been available for selection for just 68 per cent of GWS games in the past three seasons. He missed all of 2018 with an achilles problem but has never played a full season in his seven years at the Giants.

Bachar Houli (81 per cent) James Sicily (88 per cent) and Docker Luke Ryan (86 per cent) also come with significant risk. Potential bargain Stephen Hill (57 per cent) is in a whole different category.



There are red flags everywhere in the midfield, making this one of the toughest parts of the ground to pick given the risky selections are also some of the biggest scorers in SuperCoach.

But first, the good news. Coaches backing another Tim Kelly breakout after his move west will be encouraged by the fact he hasn't missed a game since his AFL debut in Round 1, 2018.

Indestructible Demon Clayton Oliver has played 66 of a possible 66 home-and-away matches in the past three seasons for a 100 per cent availability score, including fronting up last season after two shoulder operations in the pre-season.

Lachie Neale, Dayne Zorko, Zach Merrett and Luke Parker are all at 99 per cent on the durability scale, just ahead of Seb Ross, Elliot Yeo, Travis Boak and Ben Cunnington. Pick them all with confidence, while Dogs Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli have missed just three games each in that time.


Clayton Oliver hasn’t missed a game in the past three seasons.
Clayton Oliver hasn’t missed a game in the past three seasons.


But it's at the other end of the table where things really get interesting. GWS is daring to believe it has banished its injury curse, and SuperCoach players will be hoping the Giants are right based on these figures - Josh Kelly 77 per cent (missing 16 games in the past three seasons), Jacob Hopper (79 per cent), Callan Ward (67 per cent) and Stephen Coniglio (65 per cent).

Other injury-prone midfield stars include Nat Fyfe (85 per cent), Adam Treloar (86 per cent), Josh Dunkley (83 per cent) and Patrick Cripps (86 per cent), who has surprisingly missed nine games in the past three seasons.

The biggest worry of all is new Lion Cam Ellis-Yolmen, who has shown he can score when he gets on the field - average 93 last season - but has managed just 27 games in three years at an availability of 45 per cent, the lowest of any player valued over $500,000.


SuperCoach players have been extremely lucky over the past two seasons, with Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn missing just one game between them.

Grundy has played 85 of a possible 88 games since 2015, but he's not the most dependable ruckman. Brisbane's Stefan Martin has missed four games since 2014 and none in the past three seasons, while Todd Goldstein has played at least 20 games every year since 2009 with one exception - 2017, when he played 19.


Todd Goldstein is as durable as they come.
Todd Goldstein is as durable as they come.


The biggest ruck risk is Scott Lycett, who has been available for just 70 per cent of games over the past three seasons, just ahead of Reilly O'Brien (73 per cent) and Matthew Kreuzer (75 per cent).



We've already discussed the risk involved with picking Lachie Whitfield, who has completed just one full season since making his debut in 2013, but if you take the punt at least you know most other coaches will be doing the same (he's in 60 per cent of teams).

The other huge red flag up forward is - you won't believe this - another Giant. Toby Greene has been available for just 63 per cent of GWS games over the past three seasons through a mix of injury and suspension. Jeremy Cameron (81 per cent) has copped some of the Giants curse and most of the top-priced forwards have some injury history - Gary Ablett (81 per cent), Michael Walters (86 per cent), Isaac Heeney (93 per cent).

Lance Franklin could be a bargain this year but his 77 per cent durability is a big warning sign.

One player we can trust is Dustin Martin, who has amazingly missed just seven games since making his debut in 2010.

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Port Adelaide big man Scott Lycett at training. Picture: Sarah Reed
Port Adelaide big man Scott Lycett at training. Picture: Sarah Reed