We’ve been asked a lot of questions about the rucks going late, and after the Preuss injury news broke, they only increased. And it’s a fair point – we do talk a lot about late rucks and building a strong team through the early rounds and relying on value in the ruck department late. Not everyone can get the Gawn’s and Grundy’s of the world. There does seem like an abundance of late ones this year, so let’s take a look at them.

*note – any ruck that has dual position will not be listed here – start them in another line.

2021 Draft Kit: https://bit.ly/37BmJMm

Mock Draft Simulator: https://bit.ly/3ukmcZa

  1. Rhys Stanley

Rhys Stanley is basically fine. He’ll cost you nothing on draft day, he generally scores okay and will be the main ruck if fit. He probably doesn’t have much upside, but he may get more ruck time depending on what Geelong’s best 22 looks like. Is Ratugolea auto best 22? It’ll be interesting what Geelong’s mix looks like. The other big problem with Stanley is injuries. He was limited to 7 home and away games in 2020 and he’s never played 20 games in a season, so you’re looking at either carrying a second ruck or having to stream off the waiver wire sometimes.

2. Tom Hickey

Crossing to his fourth AFL club, Hickey may well be an okay salary cap pick, but I’m sceptical on his draft upside. He’s had his moments of decent scoring in the past and looks like being the main ruck in Sydney, but he’s never been great across a whole season, be it form or injury. Another issue is Sydney are pretty comfortable rolling two rucks with Cal Sinclair being a decent ruck/forward. Similar to Stanley as a prospect.

3. Scott Lycett

Going later than ever, Lycett is another one of the injury plagued rucks (theme here, yeah?). His scoring is around the same as Hickey and Stanley, perhaps a fraction better, but he was cast into a split ruck setup with Peter Ladhams in 2020 after returning from injury. Definitely better value than last year by ADP measure, Lycett could be interesting if Ladhams falls out of favour for whatever reason and they look at more of a forward who can pinch hit in the ruck, rather than the other way around.

4. Oscar McInerney

Big O is a pretty good option for late ruck drafters. Not because he’s good or because he has upside or anything, but three of his first four opponents are what we at the Draft Doctors like to call the ‘kick it in the dick’ matchups. The Swans, Cats and Bulldogs are all on deck early offering juicy scoring. Is he good aside from that? Well, we don’t really know. Sometimes upside is confused with the unknown. He doesn’t have a great scoring history, but sometimes the unknown is more appealing than a retread like Hickey. Brisbane have been okay with running a split ruck setup, so it’s hard for me to get super excited, but I’ll have some shares likely due to the early matchups. At least Stef is outta there, you’ll be hoping to see Daniher pinch hit in the ruck and less of a ruck who they sit forward to be relieving Big O.

5. Paddy Ryder

With Rowan Marshall set to miss the start of the season, the Saints have picked up Paul Hunter to boost their ruck division to go along with Ryder and Shaun McKernan. Ryder has had a slow preseason coming off surgery but looks set to take part in intra club games. He could be a reasonable late pick up, especially in SC as he’s not a terrible scorer when fit. The big problem being fit. A matchup with GWS in round one looks ok on paper, but if you do go down Ryder road, be sure to have back up plans.

6. Toby Nankervis

Was relevant a couple of years ago before having some injury interrupted seasons. Really fits the bill of what we’re looking for in terms of score build, showcasing his ability in the prelim final of 2020 with a massive performance bouyed by 10 tackles. Turns 27 during the season and if he can stay fit looks a great option, the big issue will be what the Tigers decide to run as their ruck setup. We’ve seen them run a solo ruck and two real low TOG rucks at once in a tandem. Nank has often been the solo ruck, but with some quality youth about at Tigerland, it’s tough to say. If things go Nank’s way, he could be the pick of the litter.

7. Sam Draper

Got the year removed from his ACL out of the way, and it could be Draper’s time to shine. We’ve been on him for a while, so it was great to get some glimpses into his upside last year with a couple of big performances. Hard to gauge how he’s going after he was managed and didn’t play the first intraclub. Falls into the unknown more than upside, but deeper leagues will be intrigued. Definitely looks a player.

8. Sean Darcy

I mean, he’s always injured but we’ve seen good scores. Unfortunately, he’s missing a good chunk of preseason but he ‘should be right for round one’. So take that for what it’s worth. His scores last year were nothing to write home about, and likely finds himself in the same setup with Rory Lobb spelling him as one of the better forward/rucks in the league. If you’re looking for better scores from Darcy, you’re banking on natural development to take him there. Freo run into Melbourne first up, so a Gawn matchup doesn’t entice, though after that there are a few better matchups. I’m wary of Darcy, but if things clicked it wouldn’t shock.