Josh Schache produced arguably his most influential performance in Western Bulldogs colours on Saturday night.
In the top-of-the-table clash with Melbourne, Schache was played in defence in just his second outing of the season.
The move worked a treat as the 23-year-old had an equal career-high 17 disposals to go with six marks, four tackles and four rebounds 50s as the Bulldogs won by 20 points to move to the top of the ladder.
Schache, who is out of contract this year, had been struggling to get a senior game as a forward given the presence of Aaron Naughton, Josh Bruce and Tim English, but may just have found a new home in the backline which could perhaps extend his time with the Dogs.
Tim Watson and Garry Lyon touched on Schache’s situation, as well as that of Daniel Rioli at Richmond, and discussed how sending a player to half-back can be beneficial if he is not quite performing in other roles.
“It was a success. I don’t think he’s had that much of the footy in his career,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast.
“That was the most influential game that he has ever had and maybe they’ve found a new position for him.
“If everybody’s available and (Alex) Keath plays, is there a spot in their back six there for him?”
Lyon replied: “I don’t know whether there will be, but I will say this - If you are a manager of a player in the AFL and it appears as your player is to be sacked or cut from a list, you should be sacked as a manager if you don’t go into that club and say, ‘Listen, before you sack him, try him at half-back’.
“Everyone has to have a go at half-back before they go out the door. It gives you the ability to find form.
“I saw Daniel Rioli play yesterday, he looked like he had been playing as an attacking half-back flanker all his life. He’s been there for three weeks.
“All of a sudden he’s gone from playing as a forward pocket or half-forward trying to get a crumb, trying to get something that Jack (Riewoldt) or (Tom) Lynch won’t get, and it’s hard work.
“He goes to the backline, you walk away going, ‘What about that kid?’”
Watson suggested that spending time in the back half gives players the chance to see the game differently, providing a new lease on life for some players.
“It’s taken them a long time to actually look at him as a defender, Josh Schache,” he added.
“They’ve wanted and tried to play him as a forward.
“Your point is a valid one. Before you turf someone out of your football club, find out whether or not there’s another position for them.
“Maybe there’s some other part of the ground that they’re going to feel a lot more comfortable. Playing as a defender when the game is coming to you and you’re not having to initiate the game makes it so much more simple for some players.”
Lyon admitted it was nice to see former Brisbane youngster Schache, who has played just 58 games across six seasons, flourish after finding it difficult over the past few seasons.
“I like seeing it, because a young kid taken at pick number two, you want to see them make the most of it,” Lyon said.
“It was great by Luke Beveridge and the Bulldogs to do it.”
After Keath went down with a hamstring issue during the win over the Demons, it provides Schache with more opportunities to cement his spot in the Dogs defence.
They next take on Adelaide in Round 20 as they continue their march towards September.
As for Rioli, he was Richmond’s best in the loss to Geelong with 19 disposals and seven tackles in a third impressive display as a rebounding defender.