On the outer ... Believed to be somewhere around $800,000 a season, Travis Cloke is the most expensive player in the VFL. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images.
On the outer ... Believed to be somewhere around $800,000 a season, Travis Cloke is the most expensive player in the VFL. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images. Michael Dodge

Cloke heads the AFL’s biggest underachievers, so far

HINDSIGHT'S a wonderful thing, especially in sport.

'The Chief', Jason Dunstall, suggested last September that Collingwood should consider trading waning power forward Travis Cloke.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley described the idea as "laughable", saying he's "part of our plans for the future".

Of course it's not so funny now the 29-year-old has been languishing in the VFL for the past month, his senior spot taken by an American beanpole, of all people.

Once an unstoppable force, the 196cm 108kg behemoth had taken just three contested marks in his first four games and kicked five goals.

If Buckley had his time over, he would probably take the first-round draft pick that would have been offered in a trade.

Unless something drastic happens in the second half of the season, club and player will surely part company at the end of this season.

He won't be worth a first-rounder now - he was held goalless by first-year Geelong Cat Ryan Gardner in the VFL last weekend - but there will be clubs tempted to take a punt on him, hoping a change of scenery can provide a better output.

Barry Hall, one who did benefit from a move late in his career, reckons Fremantle, which had offered him almost $1 million a season in 2012, or the Gold Coast, as support to Tom Lynch, should be suitors.

Dermott Brereton, meanwhile, offered up Brisbane as a potential destination for the wayward forward to help nurture Josh Schache ... just not his kicking for goal, or his selfie technique.

 

 

Lewis Taylor has struggled in his third season at the top level with the Brisbane Lions. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith.
Lewis Taylor has struggled in his third season at the top level with the Brisbane Lions. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith.

 

MISSING IN ACTION

Travis Cloke is not the only underperformer back in the 'twos'.

LEWIS JETTA (WC)

The ex-Swan has never been a prolific ball-winner, but highly damaging when had it, such as when he kicked 45 goals from a wing in 2012. But the only damage being done since his move west has been to his reputation, averaging just 10 touches and kicking one goal in three games before being axed.

MICHAEL BARLOW (FREM)

No player had collected more disposals (281) in their first 10 games than the midfielder, but after an inconsistent start to 2016, topped off by a 15-possession haul against GWS, was dropped last week. He responded with 39 touches, 12 marks for Peel in the WAFL.

JAMES AISH (COLL)

A move from Brisbane hasn't gone according to plan. Was recently rated, statistically, the league's worst midfielder, averaging 13 disposals, down from 17.5 in his first season with the Lions (2014), and was dropped to the VFL team last week.

LEWIS TAYLOR (BRIS)

Such a likable kid, but is producing unlikable numbers - The 2014 Rising Star winner was at his busy best in the first two rounds (40 disposals, 5 goals) but has returned a total of 66 touches and 2 goals in five games since. Was dumped for the first time in his career for round seven.

SAM GRAY (PORT)

That other 'Gray' from Port ended 2015 with a flurry, gathering hauls of 25, 34, 37 and 34 possessions, but after three successive weeks of just 16, the onballer was sent back to the SANFL and hasn't returned.

JARROD GARLETT (GC)

On paper, the Suns' potential attack looks impressive - Tom Lynch with Jack Martin, Brandon Matera and Jarrod Garlett lurking. But, the Suns' top pick from 2014, Garlett, has only played one game this season (for two goals, 12 possessions), while Martin has kicked one behind in four weeks.

DAN McSTAY (BL)

Looked a contested marking machine and perfect 'third tall', but like fellow promising forward Jono Freeman is back in the 'ressies', having taken just two contested marks in five games. Being needed down back hasn't helped.


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