IT has become the year of Joe.
Essendon’s fortunes this season have followed the same path as Joe Daniher’s. When the young forward dominates, so do the Dons. When he misfires, his teammates seem to follow.
We’ve seen Daniher reach a high standard at times in previous seasons; but now with a full midfield fleet behind him, that standard is going even higher. And it’s leading to remarkable calls about his future.
“In two years Daniher will be the best player in the game,” proclaimed AFL legend Kevin Bartlett on SEN radio during Essendon’s win over West Coast.
In a sense, we know what Daniher is — a perfect package of height and agility that provides one of the most dangerous targets going forward in footy.
The issue is of course his goalkicking. Daniher has always struggled from set shots, even as a junior, and through the first eight rounds of the 2017 season he had the worst accuracy from set shots of the league’s top 30 goalkickers.
“He’s better on the run than set-shots. If we can handball it to him rather than kick it to him, he’d kick more than he misses,” his Essendon teammate David Zaharakis joked to Foxfooty.com.au last week.
Whether it was on purpose or a happy accident, the Dons did that on Sunday. Daniher only took three marks — the only other time he has recorded fewer than six this season was in the wet against Carlton in Round 3.
He finished with five goals straight and four of them came from open play; only the first, a set shot from 35 metres out on a 45 degree angle, required his oft-criticised routine to be used.
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In a way Daniher’s goalkicking has just taken away from what is a season worthy of mid-year All-Australian consideration. Through eight rounds the Bomber was averaging career-high…