Anyone who has gone through puberty would be familiar with the term “late bloomer”. It might have applied you, it might have been a mate, it might have been the girl next door who went from one of the boys to the most beautiful girl you’d ever seen…
It happens. Sometimes your true value isn’t apparent right away. Your intellect isn’t appreciated in your current job, your co-ordination in the touch football team is severely lacking as your limbs are too long, or you just can’t seem to get top marks in mathematics… but you will grow into that body… and one day you’ll get a great promotion, or better job… You just need to hang tough.
Having set the scene, let’s move on to the 2010 Dream Team “late bloomers”.
Who are the players coming home with a wet sail and putting the fear in the front-runners who ditched them, while lifting the spirits of those who stuck solid? Which guys have turned around early season form, or in fact just come onto the scene late?
Sadly for me, thanks to the trade I made recently, it appears as if last season’s MVP Jamie Soward heads the list! Soward has a mediocre (by his standards) season average of 46.4 points – but over the past five rounds he has averaged 53. What's more, it’s 54 in the past three rounds following his 67-point haul against the Wests Tigers! Are we about to see a similar explosion against a weakened Panthers?
Other big-name players have also shown some healthy improvement in recent times. Despite criticism from his coach, Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne has been helping out his Dream Team mentors. Averaging 33.38 for the year, Hayne has stepped up his contribution to 40 points in the past five scores. And this is without really having one of his explosive games. Which way will the Hayne train go now though, after this controversy? Will it continue to head north… or derail?
Another to be sparked by some controversy is Storm star Greg Inglis. After some woeful performances early in the year, many were forced to dump GI from their teams and his season average of 22.67 is still beneath him. But in the past five rounds he has averaged 31.8 – and it’s 32 over the past three rounds. It’s a welcome surge for those who kept him, or those who bought him cheap. But, like Hayne, there is a question mark on whether it will continue, as Melbourne’s motivations continue to wander.
Remember when Michael Jennings started the year with six points? Yeah, that guy who has a season average of 27.14 has really hit his straps recently, part of the reason he’s in the sky blue again. In the past five rounds his average is 32.8 and in the past three it’s an impressive 35.67. With the Panthers facing an easy run home there could be a few more Jennings hat-tricks on the cards…
The Bulldogs have had a year to forget thus far but their draw gives them a chance to make a miracle run. If they do, it will continue off the back of the enigmatic Ben Barba. Averaging just 18.5 points for the season, Barba is starting to boost his numbers now he is a starting five-eighth. In the past five games he’s averaged 25, and the past three 28.67. This will rise further if he holds his spot – and the ’Dogs find a way to get rolling.
In a struggling team, Cowboy James Tomau is another to keep an eye on. Averaging 31.5 for the season Tomau has lifted his work rate significantly in recent times, lifting his five-game average to 38.4 and his past three games average out at 42.33, thanks to a 44 and 50 in the last two starts. (It’s a far cry from his seven points in Round 5.)
Others who deserve mention include Glenn Buttriss (season average 41.75, past five 46.8), Gareth Ellis
Adam Mogg’s move to halfback makes him a late bloomer also, as his season average is just 22.14 but for the past three matches it’s at 31.67. And Warrior Isaac John and Storm winger Justin O’Neill are late-season money makers, earning $34,300 and $21,100 respectively after their third games last weekend.
But what about the other end of the scale? Which guys are starting to slip a little? Who are making their coaches, now without trades, nervous?
Cory Paterson has been a great 'cash cow' for a lot of coaches this season – but it seems he has already peaked and could now be starting to freefall. At one stage, after Round 9, he averaged 39 points a round. His season average is now just 29.6 and in the past three rounds it has slumped to 23.33. What’s doing Cory!?
After six rounds Warriors fullback Lance Hohaia averaged 33.5 points a game. Now he is at 24.29 and in the past three rounds the average is just 18 points. Are you being lanced through the heart by Lance?
Jamie Lyon started the year with a 61. Yep… in his last game against Souths he posted a 3. Okay, Okay… he only played 22 minutes that night but the week before he only had a 16 and his season average is still at 30.83. His last three weeks netted an average 15 points for his coaches and now he’s injured… ouch.
Warriors hooker Aaron Heremaia was busting out an average 36.75 after eight rounds. His season average is now 31.43. Over the past five rounds it is 22.2 and in the past three games it has dipped further to 19.33. With Ian Henderson getting more minutes, this might be a downward spiral still yet to reach its deepest depths.
So Dream Teamers… who have I missed? Who is carving it up for you late in the piece, and who is forcing you to pull your hair out? Get the discussion rolling on Facebook where you can see who won my video challenge.