Carlton have been rocked by the request of their former number one pick and best and fairest winner Bryce Gibbs has requested a trade home. As a month of speculation was coming to a head in the trade period, questions were being asked whether the south Australian would seek a return home or not. Now confirmed, it would appear as though the Crows are about to inherit a massive positive which was clearly lacking this year.
Bryce Gibbs, the one that got away from Adelaide when he was drafted has become a highly skilled player, if not prone to fade away completely. However, given he has played with Carlton through their darkest times, he wasn’t the only one.
Coming off a stellar year which saw a positive injection brought by new coach Brendan Bolton, Gibbs flourished. Averaging 26.8 disposals and nearly a goal a game, 2016 was Gibbs’s best season statistically in his career, with only 2009 bearing any similarity.
Off the back of some nagging injuries Gibbs found form as a utility in Brendan Bolton’s young line up, complementing Murphy and Cripps through the middle, playing along half-back with Docherty, playing as a big bodied defender on tall midfielders floating forward, as well as a playing forward himself and kicking a few goals. Confidence in his body along with confidence from his coach has bore fantastic results.
His marking is returning to numbers similar to those prior to his shoulder injury riddled season of 2015 and his tackling was as high as it has ever been and as a by-product of his higher possession averages, his kicking and handballing figures are among the best in the competition, sitting in the top 30 for average possessions amongst Luke Parker, Patrick Cripps and Leigh Montagna.
Now, having declared a desire to return home, Gibbs, off the back of a career best year will give Adelaide two things they desperately need after a disappointing finish to a season far above expectations, speed and skill.
Gibbs’ bigger frame means that Adelaide will be able to add another ready-made body to a midfield which did incredibly well this season given that it relied heavily upon the output of Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch. With Scott Thompson more than likely on his last contract, there is certainly a need going forward for another experienced big body in the middle. Midfield presence paired with fantastic ball skills means that Adelaide are able to release the likes of Sloane and the brothers Crouch to rest forward more often.
It would also give Adelaide another option on the half-back line where his presence could be of most use. Seriously lacking speed through their midfield, adding Gibbs to their half-back line could allow the likes of speedsters Rory Laird, Brodie Smith and Charlie Cameron to spend more time in the middle, therefore answering the long-held need for speed.
Gibbs’ ability to play as third man up as well as tall and small forwards would give Don Pyke the ability to play his trusted half-backs in Laird and Smith through the middle with little concern, given that Seedsman, Hampton and Doodee can provide cover.
Ultimately Gibbs arrival (should it happen) will give Don Pyke a new level of immediate flexibility to fix their issues with speed through the centre of the park, whilst providing another experienced head in defence which is another point of concern for the Crows. Having signed a five year mid way through 2014, Carlton will demand a lot for Gibbs, and with Crows possessing pick 13, look for Carlton to press hard as they seek to continue their rebuild.
Seemingly a tall price to pay for a 27 year old, his ability to been an immediate addition will please Pyke and his ability to enable the true ability of others will please Crows fans. Should the deal get done, the Crows will undoubtedly come out better off than they would without him.