Squad Breakdown: Melbourne Demons 2023 SC analysis

Herald Sun journalist Dylan Bolch takes an in-depth look at Melbourne's SuperCoach credentials heading into the 2023 AFL season.

AFL Pre Season

After clinching an elusive premiership in 2021, the Demons suffered a straight sets exit last season.

They might now just have the best one-two ruck punch the game has ever seen after luring Brodie Grundy across from Collingwood.

How Grundy and Max Gawn split their ruck duties this season remains to be seen and is a massive watch heading into the season.

Western Bulldogs duo Lachie Hunter and Josh Schache arrived during the trade period with the former likely to play a key role on the opposite wing to the hard-running Ed Langdon in 2023.

They did lose young gun Luke Jackson to the Dockers, but obtained some valuable draft capital and trade currency that looks like it will keep them in the premiership window for several years.

With the likes of Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca only going to get better, the Dees still have one of the best lists on paper and are primed for another premiership assault.

Sports journalist Dylan Bolch takes a look at some of Melbourne’s most SuperCoach relevant players.

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FB: M. Hibberd, S. May, H. Petty

HB: C. Salem, J. Lever, A. Brayshaw

C: E. Langdon, C. Oliver, L. Hunter

HF: K. Pickett, T. McDonald, A. Neal-Bullen

FF: B. Fritsch, B. Brown, M. Gawn

FOL: B. Grundy, C. Petracca, J. Viney

INT: J. Harmes, T. Sparrow, C. Spargo, J. van Rooyen

SUB: T. Rivers

EMG: J. Bowey, J. Jordon, J. Schache, K. Chandler

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List Changes

Ins: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood), Lachie Hunter (Western Bulldogs), Josh Schache (Western Bulldogs), Matthew Jefferson, Jed Adams, Kyah Farris-White, Oliver Sestan, Kye Turner, Will Verrall

Outs: Oskar Baker (delisted), Toby Bedford (GWS), Mitch Brown (retired), Majak Daw (retired), Jayden Hunt (West Coast), Luke Jackson (Fremantle), Fraser Rosman (delisted), Sam Weideman (Essendon)

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Lock & Load

Clayton Oliver (MID, $699,800)

Was this ever going to be anyone else?

Clayton Oliver has become a certified SuperCoach beast throughout his career and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

He’s had six 109+ average seasons in a row and is just getting better and better.

Last season he had the second highest SuperCoach average across the competition with a whopping 127.1 points per game, which included 17 scores of 112+. This makes him a fantastic captaincy option as well.

There were rumblings of a troublesome finger injury throughout the pre-season, but if his performance in the practice match against the Saints last week is anything to go by, it shouldn’t affect his output too seriously, if at all.

The only other concern is his extremely high price tag, can you afford to pick him up at some point in the season for a cheaper price? Possibly, but his scoring at the start could put you well and truly on the back foot.

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Lachie Hunter (MID, $392,100)

Sitting in just 1.7% of sides, should we be talking more about the former Bulldog?

Lachie Hunter produced an eye-catching performance against St Kilda last week and a fresh change of scenery might be exactly what he needs.

The appeal here is that he has the scoring pedigree.

Hunter has season high averages of 115.1 in 2020 and 102.3 in 2018 under his belt, which shows that in the right environment, he can be a solid contributor.

In that 2020 year, he ranked 12th for SuperCoach points throughout the entire competition.

The Demons play a SuperCoach friendly gamestyle, but how much of the SuperCoach pie he can obtain playing alongside the likes of Oliver, Petracca, Gawn, Grundy and Jack Viney is cause for concern.

There is also the fact that Jacob Hopper, Finn Callaghan and Dom Sheed are other mid-priced options in the midfield.

All things considered, he is most likely a SuperCoach Draft option, rather than Classic.

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Jacob van Rooyen (FWD, $123,900)

Word out of Melbourne is that Jacob van Rooyen has had a really strong pre-season and is a chance of a round one debut.

Melbourne development coach Mark Williams said that van Rooyen “played really well at the end of last year and was within a whisker of getting a game.”

“We expect him to have an opportunity at the start of the year,” said Williams.

However, he only entered Melbourne’s unofficial practice match against St Kilda at half-time and received limited opportunities, which is concerning.

As a key position player, don’t expect van Rooyen to score overly well even if he is in the best 22 at Melbourne, it’s more likely that he is a F7/F8 slow burn.

Pending Christian Salem’s fitness, Judd McVee (DEF/MID, $123,900) could come into the frame.

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Christian Salem (DEF, $390,400)

Many SuperCoachers were considering Salem as a mid-price option coming into the season but a thyroid issue a few weeks ago put that possibility to bed.

The defender has battled a similar problem previously and it affects his blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. He’s since been placed on a modified training program but the severity of the issue means he needs to be crossed off your watchlist.

Salem averaged 94.5 points per game in 2021, including ten 100+ scores, and loomed as a nice steppingstone to an ultra-premium in defence.

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