Having attempted to push through a move to his native Adelaide at the end of last season, there were some who felt we might not see Bryce Gibbs performing at his very best this year. Well, it's fair to say that those doubters have been proven wrong after 13 rounds of the 2017 campaign. Following a very impressive start to the season, the Carlton man produced what may well end up being the best performance of his career as the Blues defeated the Suns.
The midfielder's showing won't have gone unnoticed, and teams around the AFL - especially in Adelaide - will all be well aware that the price for Gibbs could well have increased. For fantasy managers, the Blues have been a decent side to tap into for point-scorers despite their relative struggles throughout the first 13 rounds of the year. As well as Gibbs, Marc Murphy and Sam Docherty have also been prolific for fantasy owners this season but it was the Adelaide-born midfielder who stole the show against the Suns.
Facing a Gold Coast team sitting just ahead of them in the AFL table with five wins to Carlton's four, Gibbs racked up 194 fantasy points with a quite remarkable showing, recording 43 touches, eight marks, 10 tackles, and two goals. Reaching triple digits in terms of fantasy points for the ninth time this season only goes to highlight just how well Gibbs is playing, regardless of what happened at the end of the 2016 campaign, and those fantasy managers who stuck with the midfielder are being more than repaid now.
And, while the 28-year old may still attempt to secure a move to Adelaide when this year comes to an end, if he ends his Carlton career by helping deliver a top-eight finish - something the Blues are 9/1 in the latest odds to achieve - he will go with the best wishes of a large percentage of the club's fans. Contracted until June 2019, it remains to be seen whether Gibbs will try to push through a move at the end of the year but, for the time being, the Blues will just be delighted to see how the former first overall draft pick is playing this season.
"Sunday Night Football" (CC BY 2.0) by K. S. T.
Now up to 15th in the AFL ladder and just four points away from eighth-placed Essendon, the Blues are shaping up to be dark horses for a place in the finals if they can continue their current form. Having players producing the level of performances that Bryce, Murphy, and Docherty are at the moment certainly won't hurt Carlton's chances of ending their three-year absence from the finals, although the club have given themselves something of an uphill battle after a mixed start to the year.
We might be some way away from seeing a Blues team capable of once again challenging for silverware as they did relatively consistently between 1960 and 2000 but the disappointment from the past few seasons could soon be replaced by genuine optimism.