By Liam Melrose
Joe Daniher celebrates one of his four goals in the 2019 Anzac Day match. Photo: AFL
The big question mark around Joe Daniher is can he get back to his career-best form we saw in 2017?
If Daniher can return to that form, he is one of if not the best key forward in the competition. His elite contested marking is the key skill that stands out for me. How many times have we seen Essendon kick the ball long deep inside their forward 50, only to see the long arms of Joe Daniher pluck it from the air over a number of defenders.
After another long stint out of the game, Joe Daniher makes his long awaited return to the field today as Essendon face Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval.
It’s been reported Daniher wants out of Essendon for a number of reasons, including a loss of faith in the club’s medical staff, due to a number of injuries he hasn't been able to overcome, most notably a constant issue with his groin. There is also believed to be a desire from Daniher to escape the football bubble that lingers around Melbourne.
After he requested a trade to the Sydney Swans at the end of 2019, the Swans went hard in an attempt to pry Daniher out of Tullamarine. It was rumoured Sydney were willing to offer both picks five and 25 for the star 200cm key forward, who had managed just 11 games across 2018 and 2019.
The superstar Bomber has played just 11 games since the start of 2018. Photo: Getty Images
However, it will be different this year, with Daniher’s value dropping even more after almost another full season out of the game. Suddenly his price tag has been reduced, and with him being out of contract at the end of this year, he could land anywhere.
Rumours are also circulating that the Brisbane Lions are now in the mix for the star forward.
While he may choose to remain at Essendon, let’s look at some possible fits for Daniher’s services in 2021.
1. Sydney Swans
Sydney love a star key forward, since moving to Sydney from South Melbourne, the Swans have always gone for marketable superstar forwards that get bums on seats and ultimately win them games. Great for the club, great for the competition and great for football in Sydney.
They’ve had Warrick Capper, Tony Lockett, Barry Hall and Lance Franklin as the most notable since the Swans moved north, and with Franklin in the twilight of his career there’s no reason why Joe Daniher couldn’t be the next on that list.
At 26 years of age if Daniher can get his body right, he still has a number of good years left in him at the top level, and with the Swans injecting a number of young players into their lineup, there’s no reason why they won’t climb up the ladder again soon. A healthy Daniher roaming the forward 50 of the SCG would only fast-track that rise back into finals contention.
With him out of contract at the end of 2020, you’d expect there’s still strong interest there from both parties.
Daniher is obviously a great fit at Essendon, and while he has struggled to consistently play since 2017, if he can get his body right and regain faith in the medical staff at the club, then he is the missing link in the Bombers lineup that they so desperately need as they look to return to the finals.
If the tides have turned and Daniher is willing to give the Bombers another chance, there is no reason he can’t go back to being one of the competitions most dangerous forwards.
He would be welcomed with open arms by the Bomber faithful, as he has been a fan favourite for years.
When Daniher is up and about, he is one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition. Photo: News Corp Australia
3. Brisbane Lions
Similarly to Sydney, it’s an escape from the football bubble and the extra pressure the bubble brings to perform. The new medical staff that comes with being at a new club helps also, with Daniher clearly frustrated and wanting to get on the park.
Brisbane have something the other clubs don’t, and that’s the club doctor that looked after Daniher’s fitness during 2017, his career best year, and someone he has confidence in.
With the Lions being a young side, and well and truly in the premiership window, if Daniher wants immediate success, Brisbane is a great option. Playing out of the goal square in a Lions forward line with Eric Hipwood who can play up the ground, and arguably the best small forward in the competition crumbing at his feet in Charlie Cameron. The Lions would suddenly have one of the most potent forward lines in the competition.
While it is believed Daniher wants to move to an interstate club, if he was keen to stay in Victoria, Collingwood is a perfect fit. Injuries have hampered the Magpies in 2020, however they are a club still locked in the premiership window.
The one thing Collingwood has lacked while they’ve been at the top end of the ladder is a dominant key forward. Daniher would be the perfect fit out of the goal square. The Pies have a strong backline and arguably the best midfield in the competition, but there are question marks over their forward line and how it functions best.
Collingwood haven’t had a consistent key forward since Travis Cloke left the club in 2016. Daniher would be a welcomed addition.
5. Adelaide Crows
With Taylor Walker reaching the back end of his career, the Adelaide forward line is suddenly extremely raw.
Daniher would fit nicely there with the right pieces around him.
While it’s hard to see him going to the Crows after what has been a disappointing year for the club, he would be a nice addition as the number one key target inside the Adelaide forward line.
This would also allow the young Crows’ forwards to continue their development, without drawing the best opposition defender each week and improving their confidence.
Cover Photo: AAP