AFL ruck records being hit out of the park by Goldstein

Making his mark .... North's Todd Goldstein has become more than just a tap ruckman this season.
Making his mark .... North's Todd Goldstein has become more than just a tap ruckman this season.

AT 211cm, Aaron Sandilands is a big target, and the great Leigh Matthews certainly didn't miss him last year.

'Lethal' made his opinion of ruck contests abundantly clear when critiquing the competition's most imposing big man.

The eight-time premiership winner said "hit-outs are useless" unless they were contributing to a team "running the ball away from a pack".

And since the Dockers had just been beaten in the clearances in a game against Hawthorn, but had won the hitouts, 'Sandi' was "the most overrated player in the game".

With the competition entering the age of stoppages since those comments, ruckmen are being called into action like never before, and in turn hitout numbers have skyrocketed.

It took 47 years for the record of most hitouts registered by a team in a game to be beaten when West Coast pair Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox combined for 81 in a match against Richmond in 2013.

That mark has been surpassed four times this season alone - three times by, guess who? Fremantle, and finally by North Melbourne (89).

It's a far cry from a game in 1994 when cult figure Simon Crawshay posted one in a Hawks' total of two.

Kangaroos great Gary Dempsey (63) managed to hold on to the individual game-high mark for 33 years before Sandilands smashed it in round nine (69), and then again in round 11 (70), only for North's Todd Goldstein (80) to top it the next week.

Goldstein, 26, who leads the hitouts tally this season (686), is now after other records set by both Dempsey and Sandilands - most hitouts in a season (952) and most in a career (6988), respectively.

The big Roo is tracking at an all-time high 30.9 a match - well above the averages of greats Jim Stynes (11.8), Scott Wynd (14.8), John Nicholls (17.5), Simon Madden (14.7), Dempsey (22.0) and Dean Cox (22.8), and slightly ahead of Sandilands (30.2).

Of course, none of those current-day stats would impress Matthews.

But what would have got his nod of approval was the other figures put up by the incredibly agile 203cm Goldstein against Essendon last week - 27 disposals (at 95% efficiency), eight clearances, eight marks, one goal, four tackles ... and 56 hitouts (including 20 to advantage).

If you're a fan of fantasy football, it all added up to a season-high 221 points under the system devised by Champion Data, and with an overall average of 127.9 means he now sits behind only Gary Ablett (134.4) and ahead of Nat Fyfe (125.1) and Patrick Dangerfield (119.8) this season.

Fyfe ($2) appears a lock for the Brownlow, but could Goldstein ($14) be the dark horse?

While Sandilands must get some credit for averaging two contested marks a game this season, ranking him no.1 for ruckmen, Stefan Martin (19.6) and Goldstein (15.0) sit No.1 and No.3 for average disposals by the big men - Adelaide's Sam Jacobs (15.1) separates them - which makes their clash at the Gabba tomorrow night an intriguing one.

One even Matthews should appreciate.


Who's had their hands on the footy the most of any ruckman in a season ...  

Gary Dempsey  1982 - 24 Games 411 disp/952 hitouts TOTAL 1363 (Comb ave 56.8) 16 Brownlow votes  

Simon Madden  1983 - 26 Games 391 disp/812 hitouts TOTAL 1203 (Comb Ave 46.2) 22 Brownlow votes  

Aaron Sandilands  2014 - 23 Games 293 disp/890 hitouts TOTAL 1183 (Comb ave 51.4) 7 Brownlow votes  

Will Minson  2013 - 22 Games 320 disp/860 hitouts TOTAL 1180 (Comb Ave 53.6) 2 Brownlow votes  

Dean Cox  2011 - 25 Games 446 disp/716 hitouts TOTAL 1162 (Comb Ave 46.5) 18 Brownlow votes  


Todd Goldstein  2015 - 15 games 226 disp/686 hitouts TOTAL 912 (Comb ave 60.8)  

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