Despite the influx of ignorant tweets flying around, Tom Boyd cannot be measured in dollars or premierships. Neither of those things are important in assessing his importance to the Bulldogs, as they are obsolete measuring sticks that are flawed in design.
First, it must be taken into consideration that the Bulldogs do not care – nor should they have – that they paid what was deemed ‘overs’ for Boyd in the trade. Yes, Ryan Griffen is a bonafide star, and in a realistic world, he would have been worth a straight swap for Boyd and perhaps maybe a little more.
But Griffen was leaving anyway. Midfielders are easier to draft and develop, and the Dogs already possess a promising, deep midfield. Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis, Mitch Honeychurch, Luke Dahlhaus, Clay Smith, Nathan Hrovat, Lachie Hunter and Lin Jong are testament to that.
Of course, their midfield lacks experience, but Matthew Boyd and Liam Picken are still there, while they also have the likes of Joel Corey as a development coach. You only need so many mentors in one midfield.
The Giants announced straight away that they would not trade Boyd “under any circumstances”. Boyd’s manager, Liam Pickering, made it clear on Trade Radio that Boyd would be in Victoria in either 2015 or 2016, with the Dogs more than happy to throw in pick six to get the deal done.
Again, many believed adding pick six made the deal favour the Giants. The Dogs were keen on taking Peter Wright with pick six, but it’s likely that he will be snapped up by then.
Boyd is a class above Wright too, and seems to be the type that can anchor a forward line for 10 years and be a premier player in the competition. To me, Wright is likely to end up as a Drew Petrie, whereas Boyd could be a Jonathan Brown.
Bulldogs CEO Simon Garlick made it clear that the Dogs were not a destination club: a club who could never land a top five key forward in their prime. In recent years, the best they could get was a serviceable yet over the hill Barry Hall. Paying millions while losing their captain and pick six is undoubtedly risky, but it could potentially be the best move they have ever made.
If a minnow club doesn’t have any pull power by way of success or location, then their most valuable asset is money. With Griffen and Shaun Higgins gone, there was instantly plenty of money to play with.
Fans have argued that the Dogs will not be able to afford players like Macrae and Liberatore when they ask for a pay rise. By then, the likes of Boyd and potentially Crameri will be gone, so money will be available.
Also, the nucleus of the team will have grown up together by the time these other players hit their prime: if managed correctly, the Bulldogs could keep the team together with individuals settling for less money, ala Geelong and Hawthorn.
So now to the nitty gritty: how does one assess whether the trade was a good one for the Dogs? Firstly, a conclusion can’t be made until 2018. It takes key forwards at least four years to show they are worth their promise. Sam Day was the perfect example: he looked as though he would not turn out to be much of a player in his first three years, but proved he was worth it in year four.
Secondly, Boyd can be measured on how he makes his teammates better. In his draft year, he made the likes of Michael Apeness, Dan McStay and Christian Petracca all much better forwards by taking the heat off them and allowing them space to operate.
It’s likely Apeness would have been selected in the later rounds if he had been tag teamed in the TAC Cup, yet Boyd’s presence allowed Apeness to dominate the one opponent. Petracca, a supreme footballer, may indeed have still kicked 40 goals last year without Boyd, but it would have been a much harder task. Finally, McStay would have had to have played more time forward without Boyd: instead, he was able to float all around the ground and cause match up problems.
Between the four Ranges forwards, they kicked 101 goals in a combined 51 games, with Boyd snaring 23 of those in his five games.
Indeed, the current Bulldogs forward line looks similar to the Ranges’ in 2013. Tom Campbell is a similar player to Apeness, Stringer plays like Petracca and McStay could play as that third forward like Crameri does. Boyd will work perfectly within the Bulldogs forward spacing.
Boyd must be measured on how he makes the Bulldogs a more marketable team. Having that centre piece player instantly makes the Dogs a much more attractive proposition to free agents. He has single handedly made them a destination club, instead of having to resort to serviceable players looking for opportunity.
Finally, Boyd must be measured on his output, but only after year four. Whilst his eight goals in nine doesn’t justify it, Boyd is a goal scoring machine. It is fair to say that he is likely to kick more than fifty goals most years in his prime, provided the service is good.
If the AFL game style stays as it is, hauls of between 50-70 goals per year are perfect. However, he will need players like Crameri and Stringer to kick over 30 goals each too.