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Cameron Ling was only mildly exaggerating when he suggested during Sunday’s game that Melbourne should approach Jesse Hogan now – at half time if need be – with a new 10-year $15 million contract.
That Hogan is still in contract and has two years to run was irrelevant to the point that this player is so important to Melbourne the club should be seeking to secure him for life now.
Ling suggested Hogan could be to Melbourne what Michael Jordan was to the Chicago Bulls.
The Western Bulldogs understood this. They offered an exorbitant contract in order to get such a man. Ling figured Melbourne should offer an even bigger contract just to keep theirs.
Presently there is no club chasing Hogan, yet every club wanting him.
Hogan’s contract status means he has no immediate plans to move though of course being a West Australian two clubs at least will come to his door with cheque books open.
“I can’t say (if I will ever move back to play in WA),” he said. “Obviously I am enjoying my time here and the list we are obviously growing is going to be pretty unbelievable I think. It is pretty obvious and I think in a couple of years we are going to be a pretty good side. I can’t be certain but at the moment I am very happy where I am and enjoying my football.”
Hogan on Sunday was superb. Again. He played on former All-Australian key back Scott Thompson and beat him. He did him in the air, then he beat him on the ground. He kicked four goals, missed one set shot but he set up two teammates for goals. It was the sort of output you would want from a fourth-year key forward … Hogan is 20 and in his first year.
He was the player you could not stop watching. He ran up the ground on searching leads to the wing and you knew Thompson was glad of every step that took him further from goal. It was a lonely place to be in the goal square alone with Hogan, a dispiriting place to be when considering this man was only in his first season.
Hogan’s performance coincided with Patrick Cripps starring for Carlton a day earlier. He had 11 clearances including six in the last quarter as he amassed 35 touches. He was and is an excellent player. The players’ games prompted the question of which player should be the Rising Star.
Hogan considered the debate with bemused detachment.
“I just love that there are three West Australians up there fighting for the Rising Star. It’s me, Sheedy (Dom Sheed) and Cripper (Patrick Cripps) apparently so we are all West Australian boys. He (Cripps) has been killing it, 38 and 35 touches and around the mark yesterday,” he said then checked himself slightly, “…. but I don’t pay much attention to it to be honest.”
“It is my first year I don’t have a lot to compare myself to,” he added in assessment of his own year. “I didn’t play last year I played VFL a couple of years ago. I am still a little inconsistent and against bigger more confident defenders I am still getting beaten a fair bit but I am still pretty positive in myself, I reflect on every game and who I played on and I think I am improving every week which is something huge for a young key forward.”
The circular debate of who will be the better player is objectively unanswerable but the best attempt to find an answer is in this question: given the choice which player would Carlton choose?
Cripps is excellent but truly elite key forwards are so much harder to find … and Hogan already shapes to be elite. He is more mobile than Hawkins, seems a better contested mark than Cameron. He is better at ground level than Cloke, not as dynamic as Franklin. And he is far more advanced than Boyd.
North midfielder Shaun Higgins noted he was not as big he expected but he seemed such a bigger presence.
“Dal and I were on the bench watching him and his hands are really nice. We were saying he is probably not as tall as some of the big key forwards but he still jumps at the footy. He is going to be a good player for some time,” Higgins said.
Then there is this: Jesse Hogan has played 16 AFL games and booted 36 goals. Jason Dunstall played 16 games in his debut season. He booted 36 goals. A neat connection.
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