LIKE many people The Standard's journalists are grateful sport is up and running again in some capacity.
Our reporters Brian Allen, Justine McCullagh-Beasy and Nick Ansell are eager to talk sport via The Commentary Box.
JUSTINE: Nick, your favourite soccer team Leeds was promoted to the English Premier League's top tier recently after 16 years in the lower divisions. There was no grand final, of course, as is custom in that competition where it's all about finishing on top. Here in Australia, our professional football codes - AFL, NRL, A-League - tackle seasons differently with a finals berth and, ultimately a win on grand final day, the main prizes. The AFL is also unique in that players can't swap clubs throughout the season. It's something I like as it promotes a survival-of-the-fittest attitude where list management is key. But, it got me thinking, would you two be for or against in-season trades or loans in the AFL?
NICK: I still can't believe it happened. I was living in Leeds through 2018 and a good chunk of 2019 when the club came so close under legendary coach Marcelo Bielsa but couldn't get the job done. I was delighted to see us promoted back to the top flight as the club well and truly belongs there. It's a one-club city with a population nearing one million so it's a great feat for Leeds and Yorkshire. I think it's good that Australian sport has its own unique identity in that respect but I don't mind the idea of loans and trades mid-season. I find it weird in the NRL whereby players can sign for a different club before the current season is finished but in-season loans could be a cool feature. Imagine if a club devoid of ruck depth loses its sole big man to an ACL or Achilles injury and there is a club with three legitimate ruckmen on their list that could loan their third or second-choice tall to another club. It could give players on the outer and some clubs the opportunity to reinvigorate their career. Could be a win for clubs and players.
JUSTINE: Well Fremantle is pretty much devoid of a back line at the moment due to long-term injuries to key pillars Joel Hamling, Alex Pearce and Griffin Logue, so an in-season recruit would help us right now! But in all seriousness, I think that is just part of the game. Sometimes injuries beset a club and it hurts its chances and other times clubs get a good run. How a club responds internally is part of the challenge. In the Dockers' case, Luke Ryan, who loves to intercept mark, has taken on more responsibility as a key defender and Taylin Duman has seized his chance.
BRIAN: You only have to look at new Carlton ruckman Marc Pittonet for an example of how well that mid-season loan strategy could work, Nick. Clearly, it was hard for him to get a game at Hawthorn with first choices Ben McEvoy and Jonathan Ceglar. The Hawks have had Pittonet since the 2014 draft. He has already doubled his career tally (14) with his seven matches this year in the navy blue. He's been a fantastic acquisition for Carlton. Imagine if the Hawks could have let Pittonet develop at the Blues on loan and then got him back for 2021? The downside would be the Blues learn to work with a ruckman and then he's gone. Are there any fringe players at other AFL clubs you'd be happy to have on loan to your clubs?
NICK: That's a good call, Justine. I think that argument has weight. Perhaps a capped system could work so clubs could maybe draft in an emergency recruit top-up a list? Would be an interesting proposition. I think literally anyone would be good for North! Too many passengers on the Kangaroos' list at the moment! What about for the Tigers?
BRIAN: I noticed Geelong's Charlie Constable got his first game of the season against Fremantle on Monday night. He picked up 19 disposals. That's keeping in line with his average of 21.4 disposals in 2019. He can find the ball but the tall 21-year-old has only managed eight matches at the Cattery. Seven of those came last year. It's hard to break in with the likes of superstars Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield. I think he could slot into many other midfield line ups. Was great to have a chat with him when he and Gary Ablett visited Timboon in 2019.
JUSTINE: Brisbane's Alex Witherden would've been considered a best 22 lock at the start of the year but he's been left on the outer as the Lions push for back-to-back finals campaigns. He was a regular the past two seasons but hasn't played since round one this year. He's a good ball user off half-back so I reckon he would slot into the Dockers' back six right now. Out-of-favour premiership Bulldog Toby McLean would be handy in Fremantle's attack.
NICK: North has had a few woes this season but I was rapt to see Majak Daw earn a senior recall the other day. Daw, who fell from Melbourne's Bolte Bridge in 2018, overcame serious pelvic injuries and a torn pectoral muscle earlier this year to find a way back to AFL footy. Not only is Daw's return a feel-good story in an otherwise rubbish year but it's going to help the Roos immensely down back. Daw's return will allow Josh Walker to potentially drift forward and Cameron Zurhaar to spend more time in midfield.