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  • Mark Jones

GameDay Squad Aussie Rules Round 0 - Starts and Sits!

Round 0 Starts and Sits: With just 8 teams to select from this week, you could potentially derail your whole season before we even get to round 1 with a few bad calls. Although there are some clear locks for the week, I wanted to take a look at a few areas where you might be able to get ahead of the pack by avoiding some stars destined to underperform. Naturally this is all speculation, but I’ve attempted to base it on more than just gut feelings. Unfortunately, I’m not even sure I’ll be able to stay strong and follow my own advice.

Fantasy Football


Don’t Start: Nic Newman - Instead start: Christian Salem

2023 was a fantasy breakout year for Nic Newman where he earn't himself selection in the GameDay Squad All Stars lineup. The 31 year old benefited from a role shift which helped him find a lot more of the ball in good areas. Unfortunately, with Docherty moving further up into the midfield, it looks like Newman might have a few more defensive responsibilities in 2024. He only managed 66 GDS points in the preseason hit out against  Melbourne which is well below what we want. Admittedly he did have a lower than normal time on ground but it still doesn’t make up for poor score.

One player who did impress me was Christian Salem. He lead the game for tackles and had 23 touches of which 18 were kicks. He also lead the demons for centre bounce attendances which is a huge change considering he had 0 for the whole 2023 season. With Oliver slotting back into the lineup, this will probably change again but overall, he’s looking like a good option for our defences. It may be a fantasy trap, but even last season Salem was able to put up some respectable scores in his old role.

With Newman likely to be highly selected in round 0, it would be a great point of difference to leave him out and get ahead.



Don’t Start: Clayton Oliver - Instead start: Hugh McCluggage

With Simon Goodwin announcing earlier in the week that Clayton Oliver was ready to start round 0, a lot of coaches have been debating who to drop in order to make room for him. I’m here to offer a controversial and possibly unpopular alternative that is don’t start him at all. There are several reasons why I hold this opinion. Firstly, Oliver missed a lot of preseason and only played VFL in the lead up. Yes he dominated, but the intensity of AFL preseason isn’t 100%  so I cant imagine what VFL would be like. Last season when he came back from injury for the last 3 games of the season, he only averaged a disappointing 106 GDS points. This is well below what we would expect from him and shows he needs time to get going.

Instead, I would be starting Hugh McCluggage who looks set to take the next step this season. He had a monster game in the preseason clash where he score 151 GDS points and seemed to be everywhere. He lead the game for disposals with a healthy kick to handball ratio and even managed a goal. I know it was only a preseason game but McCluggage has been on the verge of breakout for a number of years and now seems to be that time. One mildly concerning factor was his lack of centre bounce attendance’s but that didn’t stop his scoring.

In a bye week where coaches are forced to pick relatively similar sides, a unique like McCluggage could be the difference between being first and finishing outside of the prizes.



Don’t Start: Charlie Curnow – Instead Start: Alex Sexton

Based on last year’s averages, Charlie Curnow should be getting a start in your side for round 0. He had the 5th highest average for the forwards playing this week, but things looked a bit different in the Carlton forward line this preseason. Harry McKay seems to have regained the form that we have seen in previous seasons and appeared to be the preferred target in the blues forward line. Curnow managed just 75 GDS points with 92% time on ground while McKay scored 125 GDS points with just 87% time on ground. Obviously, this is just a preseason game so we shouldn’t take too much from those scores but what we can take is there will likely be more competition for Curnow to be the end of Carltons forward entries.

Someone who I would be starting over Curnow is Alex Sexton.  The Sun has found a new role across the half back line and it looks like its going to be a profitable one for us. He found a lot of the ball and was even on kick in duties for parts of the game. All this resulted in a GDS score of 131 which placed him as the second highest scoring forward for the Marsh Cup. My only concern with Sexton is he may struggle to hold that position throughout the season. Although he did well offensively, Gold Coast will likely need someone with a bit more defence skill in that area to stop them being steamrolled every week. He’s a lock for round 0 but he may end up losing his spot in the Suns best 22 (which is pretty embarrassing) unless he can improve on that aspect of his game.

Luckily for us, GameDay Squad doesn’t care how well you actually perform as a whole, so until Damien Hardwick changes his mind, make sure you start Sexton.


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