If AFL clubs are weighing up the risk-reward of one ruckman, they need to look no further than North Melbourne’s success with Todd Goldstein.
The Kangaroos veteran has been one of the league’s premier big men during the last decade, regularly going into games as North’s only recognised ruckman.
Already accustomed to rucking solo, Goldstein might play less minutes this season but the percentage of time he spends on the field will increase.
As clubs experiment with the best way to handle the length of quarters being slashed, Goldstein’s experience means there will be one less headache for North coach Rhyce Shaw to contend with.
In the Kangaroos’ memorable comeback victory over St Kilda in round one, Goldstein rucked for 98 per cent of the game against Saints duo Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall.
With the exception of hard-nosed onballer Ben Cunnington’s one hit-out, the 2015 All-Australian set himself on making every stoppage.
Goldstein said the “jury is still out” on the effects of 16-minute quarters but enjoyed his limited experience with it.
“We’ve played one game under those restrictions so far and I think round one you always pull up a bit sorer anyway, so it’s a bit hard to judge,” Goldstein told AAP.
“There were extenuating circumstances (against the Saints) as we were down to one fit player on the bench for most of the second half so the majority of us had to keep playing because we didn’t have the rotations.
“But I think it means we can keep our better players, and keep the rucks on the field for longer periods of time.
“I think if a game goes for 100 minutes, that’s pretty normal game time for me (with 20 minute quarters).
“It might mean we able to have second runners and not need to have a second ruck because 100 minutes is normal game time.
“But I don’t think anyone really cares how long the quarters are, as long as we’re back out there playing footy.”
Despite some footballers struggling to find purpose during the COVID-19 competition shutdown, Goldstein had his hands full.
He celebrated the arrival of his fourth child, and started the first two units of a law degree.
But the 2015 Syd Barker medallist can’t wait to reignite his rivalry with new GWS ruckman Sam Jacobs in Sunday’s clash with the Giants.
“I really enjoy playing against Sam,” Goldstein said.
“I think we’ve got a really healthy rivalry and I think we both bring out the best in each other which is always fun and competitive.”