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Burgoyne yet to pass price test

Costly: Shaun Burgoyne (right) has not yet delivered for Hawthorn.

Costly: Shaun Burgoyne (right) has not yet delivered for Hawthorn. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

IN OCTOBER 2009, the Hawks acquired two mature players in an attempt to put themselves back in the premiership mix.

Both were recruited to fill specific holes that had suddenly opened up following the retirements of Trent Croad and Shane Crawford.

Josh Gibson was the bargain. He cost the Hawks pick 25 in the draft and a loss of 10places in the third round.

Gibson, runner-up in the best and fairest last year, is among the club’s most indispensable players; St Kilda’s Justin Koschitzke and Nick Riewoldt feasted on the high ball in the defender’s absence last week.

Melbourne’s Mitch Clark will appreciate that Gibson won’t be jumping in front of him at the MCG tonight.

Ominously, the other purchase arrived on crutches, having had a knee operation during 2009. But the Hawks were committed to Shaun Burgoyne, knowing that he had the capacity to deliver a premiership. He was a scintillating performer at Port Adelaide, where he could explode from a stoppage and finish with class; on his best days, he was Chris Judd-like, his standing in the game obscured by the anonymity of Alberton.

Burgoyne was a risk at the price Hawthorn paid, but many savvy operators in the game reckoned he was worth the punt. A senior official from a competing club yesterday recalled that he had considered Hawthorn’s Burgoyne deal ‘‘a masterstroke’’ that might well bring home a premiership.

‘‘I thought that the decision and effort to get him was one of the best decisions they’ve made,’’ the official said, but adding that this ‘‘beautiful player’’ had not delivered value commensurate with his price.

Another football department official simply observed: ‘‘The cost far outweighs the output.’’
To say that Burgoyne has been ‘‘a bust’’ would be overstating it. A more measured assessment is that he was acquired at A-grade rates but has produced B-grade performances.

The reverse is true of Gibson. Burgoyne’s cost was hefty  — $500,000 or so a season for three years, with pick No.9 traded, and pick 16 that Hawthorn received for Mark Williams (from Essendon) going to Port.

Former Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab deemed the Gibson deal a winner, but felt Burgoyne was ‘‘a bit expensive’’ given the Hawks had given up  picks No.9 and No.16 in what was a favourable deal for Williams. ‘‘They probably could have gotten a couple of good players at nine and 16,’’ Schwab said.

This was a uniform view among various officials canvassed, with one list/recruiting manager noting that it might have cost the Hawks the opportunity to land a key defender.

Port, for the record, selected Andrew Moore at pick No.9. Others selected subsequently included Jake Melksham (10), Jordan Gysberts (11), Kane Lucas (12), Daniel Talia (13), Lewis Jetta (14), Christian Howard (15), Jasper Pittard (16), Daniel Menzel (17), Luke Tapscott (18), Ben Griffiths (19), Nathan Fyfe  (20) and Ryan Bastinac (21).

Numerous others who have made an impact — such as Sydney’s Sam Reid — were selected later, but we don’t know whose name the Hawks would have called.

Burgoyne has proven durable enough once he overcame knee surgery early in 2010. Last year, he played 24of 25 games and has suited up in all six games this year. He was 10th in the best and fairest and was a steadying influence in September. But more was expected from a player of his top-end talent.

Burgoyne averaged 18.4 disposals last year, 7.5 of them contested. He booted 16 goals.
This year, the numbers are similarly respectable (17.7 disposals, 6.5 contested, with two goals).
Clearances are roughly half his 2006-2008 levels, a reflection of the fact that silky Shaun spends fewer minutes in the midfield, mixing his time between there, half-back and half-forward.

Hawthorn, of course, doesn’t have a ruckman of the calibre of former Port Adelaide ace Brendon Lade, who had a remarkable understanding with Burgoyne.

The Hawks recruited Burgoyne, in part, to redress a lack of acceleration and ‘‘spread’’ from the midfield — the same 2009 thinking that conspired against Josh Kennedy, who was competing with other highly accomplished, one-paced inside-midfielders. Burgoyne had what Kennedy didn’t.

That said, the transactions were not connected. The Hawks let Kennedy go because he was rated behind Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell and Jordan Lewis.

Burgoyne hasn’t provided the run or zip the Hawks felt they needed. He’s given them a smidgen of class, versatility and poise. The positives also include his sound character and leadership over the club’s indigenous contingent.

Hawthorn’s most successful coach, the late Allan Jeans, once told a homily about purchasing shoddy shoes during a gladiatorial grand final (1989), asking the Hawks: ‘‘Are you willing to pay the price?’’

Coach Alastair Clarkson and his football department were willing to pay the price for an All-Australian who might make the difference. To date, Gibson has recouped their investment. Burgoyne hasn’t.

The consoling thought is Burgoyne is still playing and, as Stuart Dew demonstrated in 2008,  one great performance when it counts would redeem the deal.

‘‘If he delivers in a grand final, you’d be saying it’s the best deal you’ve ever had,’’ Schwab said.

17 comments so far

  • Slow news day... He's never been a high possession player so to use those stats as evidence is silly. He rarely makes an error and is a great acquisition to the team. Keep up the good work Burgs!!!

    Date and time
    May 11, 2012, 8:10AM
    • What a ridiculous begin by claiming that Burgoyne has been slightly below expectations, then finish by defending him, claiming that his decreased production is most likely a product of his greatly increased time in the backline (which is true isn't it?) to utilise his well renowned skills, then further underline the reason for his output being below expectations by mentioning that fact that Hawthorn hasn't had a good ruck division for many years....?

      I would say that Burgoyne is still a better and more valuable contributor to his team than all bar Fyfe and based on flashes from only this year, possibly Jetta and will be for a few more years to come.

      The cream of this article though is this quote from Peter Schwab "They PROBABLY could have gotten a couple of good players at nine and 16" which is simply opportunistic hindsight from a man who drafted the following with his top picks during his coaching rein: Nick Ries , Steven Greene, Luke Hodge, Rick Ladson, Luke Brennan, Tim Boyle and Harry Miller. Of that list i am sure you will agree that all bar two were busts.......

      Call me crazy but i would happily take a player with proven skills and poise to fill a gap that needed to be covered (half back as you mention) anyday over draft picks such as Andrew Moore (pick 9) or Jasper Pittard (pick 16) but as you say "we don’t know whose name the Hawks would have called" it could very well have been those two.......

      Date and time
      May 11, 2012, 8:55AM
      • Burgoyne is a decent player and although he hasnt torn it up since hes been at hawthorn hes been a solid contributor. My issue with the whole burgoyne trade was that we gave up quiet high picks to get a player that we didnt really need. With that number 9 pick we could have got darren jolly in that draft as he was looking to come back to melbourne. since the retirement of robbie campbell we havent had a decent fit ruckman. That trade also unsettled kennedy, mcglynn and campbell brown and I think we would have been better off keeping all three of them and getting jolly rather than taking burgoyne.

        Date and time
        May 11, 2012, 8:56AM
        • Jolly is on his last legs, if we got him we'd be looking for a new ruckman now again. Sure collingwood most likely wouldn't have won in 2010 without him but I doubt we would've won it with him we were pretty far off. Burgoyne still has another 2-3 years left if he keeps fit.

          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 9:22AM
      • It would be nice if the author and those he quoted actually got their facts straight. Hawthorn never had pick 16 from Essendon.

        People seem to forget that the Burgoyne trade was part of a complicated four-way deal between Port Adelaide, Essendon, Geelong and Hawthorn.

        Essendon actually sent pick 16 direct to Port Adelaide as part of the trade. At the risk of repeating myself, Hawthorn never held pick 16.

        Burgoyne was a terrific player for Hawthorn in the 2011 finals series and he is still is a class player, even if he lacks the burst now. I always feel comfortable when he has the football and he has the nous to play on and beat bigger players than him.

        McCoy Pauley
        Glenferrie Oval
        Date and time
        May 11, 2012, 9:40AM
        • What a nonsense article. Lok at how Burgoyne usesu the ball.
          Have a look at the job Burgoyne did on Milne last week!
          Milne 1 goal

          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 9:56AM
          • I'll bet Hawthorn are kicking themselves now.If John Kennedy isn't a better footballer than Burgoyne I'll go hee.He was JUST a footballer at Port Adelaide and he hasn't done much to change that since moving to Hawthorn.Kennedy was shafted by Hawthorn,and is sticking it to them now being in Brownlow Medal winning form.Put them side by side and ask me who I'd take to play at Geelong,I know who I'd take and it wouldn't be Burgoyne

            Robbo of the roads
            Date and time
            May 11, 2012, 10:04AM
            • Robbo of the roads, still hurting over 2008, and just have to have a crack at Hawthorn, your so Geelong. I've never herd of JOHN KENNEDY so I'd say Burgoyne has his measure. Best wishes to JOSH Kennedy if thats who you ment, wish him well in Sydney and Shaun is doing well for the Hawks. Good on them both. Go Hawks. Ray from Rowville, not ROY, its Ray. Cheers.

              Date and time
              May 11, 2012, 11:53AM
            • Kennedy wasn't shafted - he wanted to leave

              Date and time
              May 11, 2012, 12:38PM
            • Robbo you dill.

              Kennedy wasn't shafted by Hawthorn, nor was he pushed out to make way for Burgoyne, which would be obvious to any clued-in individual, as they're entirely different footballers. Kennedy was offered another contract with Hawthorn, but took the bigger money that Sydney was able to offer and went because, at the time, he was rightly rated behind similar players in Mitchell, Lewis and Sewell and didn't think he'd get enough game time to develop.

              Date and time
              May 11, 2012, 12:47PM

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