Yesterday Jay Croucher took us by way of the primary instalment of this yr’s AFL prime 50, and as we speak I’m counting down the gamers ranked 40-31. Let’s get began.
40. Tom J Lynch (Richmond Tigers)
Lynch was one of many largest speaking factors of the 2018 season, although this was sadly on account of his off-field contract discussions moderately than his on-field type, which itself was considerably blended after which ended early by a PCL damage.
It’s been two years since Lynch was at his greatest, booting 66 targets in an All-Australian season for Gold Coast in 2016, however even in a lean and interrupted 2018 he confirmed flashes of his greatest, corresponding to his bag of eight towards Carlton in Spherical 2.
Leaving apart any misgivings over free company and equalisation, it’s simple that one of the vital thrilling points of the 2019 season forward will likely be attending to see what Lynch can do because the spearhead of a much more aggressive aspect than he has ever beforehand had the prospect to play in.
All however one in every of our 5 judges included Lynch of their prime 50.
39. Trent Cotchin (Richmond Tigers)
Few soccer tales higher illustrate the worth of endurance than that of Trent Cotchin, who has – just like the membership he captains – gone nearly within the blink of an eye fixed from being someplace between a punch line and a punching bag to being one of many AFL’s most revered footballers.
From a purely statistical perspective he hasn’t fairly once more touched his mythic 2012 type (for which he was retroactively rewarded a Brownlow) within the years since, and in reality his common disposals and whole targets (5) in 2018 had been each the bottom he’s returned in eight seasons.
Nonetheless there’s little doubt he’s been a key determine within the Richmond revolution and resurgence, and his on-field management a key issue within the Tigers’ capability to observe a gameplan that took them to the minor premiership in 2018.
Two judges left Cotchin out of their prime 50s totally, however Adrian Polykandrites backed the Tigers skipper in ranking him 15th general.
38. Jack Gunston (Hawthorn Hawks)
Gunston’s 2018 season was a formidable show of his versatility as a footballer. After being performed in defence for lots of the 2017 season, he returned to the ahead line for a complete of 51 targets – nearly as good or akin to his greatest earlier work – whereas additionally being thrown additional up the bottom on a extra common foundation.
This noticed him ship the ball inside 50 a career-best 70 occasions for the yr, whereas additionally recording disposal, rebound 50 and objective help numbers akin to his career-best. He was finally rewarded with 10 Brownlow votes, his most in a season thus far, and All Australian choice.
Gunston was missed for the highest 50 by two of our 5 judges. My rating of him at No.27 was the very best of the 5.
37. Tom Hawkins (Geelong Cats)
2018 noticed Hawkins recapture his greatest type in years, kicking 60 targets for the primary time in 5 seasons. It was a feat he has solely achieved twice earlier than (in 2012 and 2014).
Most impressively this got here regardless of being known as on to contribute within the ruck greater than he has since 2011, averaging almost two hit-outs per recreation. He additionally recorded career-high numbers in disposals (15.5 per recreation), marks (7.three per recreation) and objective assists (24 in 2018).
4 of 5 judges included Hawkins of their prime fifty.
36. Ben Brown (North Melbourne Kangaroos)
In case you’ll enable me to let my inside North Melbourne fan out right here somewhat, Brown’s rating as little as No.36 is a criminal offense towards humanity. I had him at No.23 general, however being neglected totally by Ryan Buckland and Cam Rose (sure, I’m naming names) has dragged him down a good bit.
This even though Ben Brown is the one participant within the AFL to have kicked 60 targets in every of the final two seasons – a time interval throughout which his 124 targets is second solely to Lance Franklin and equal with Jack Riewoldt (and in a aspect that has given far much less high quality service to key forwards than theirs need to them).
Brown boasts nice soccer intelligence, spectacular ground-level work and operating capability for a giant man, and one of the vital correct set photographs within the competitors; however most significantly he has the frizzy purple hair of an angel.
35. Tom McDonald (Melbourne Demons)
Tom McDonald performed the primary 59 video games of his AFL profession with out kicking a objective. I nonetheless keep in mind noting the oddity of see him kick his first – in Spherical 23, 2014 towards North Melbourne – after which the additional oddity of seeing him kick his second, maybe solely two minutes later, on the finish of nearly the very same play as noticed him get the primary.
Effectively, he has definitely come a great distance since then – the person who took 60 AFL matches to kick a objective booted 53 of them from simply 20 appearances final yr, his begin to the season delayed by damage however roaring to life when he arrived in Spherical 5.
All 5 of our judges put McDonald of their prime 50s and he’s truly the primary participant to look within the rely down to date to not have been neglected by at the very least one choose.
34. Jack Darling (West Coast Eagles)
The 30s seems to have grow to be the house of key forwards, doesn’t it? Darling marks the top of a streak of 5 gamers who between them kicked 275 targets in season 2018, and though he’s on the prime of that group, his 48 targets was the bottom of any.
Why then is he rated so excessive? Maybe it’s his dominant begin to the season – Darling was arguably the shape participant of the competitors early in 2018, and at no level was this extra true than after his merely majestic six-goal demolition of Richmond in Spherical 9 (a match the place he additionally took 15 marks).
Harm then noticed Darling miss the center chunk of the yr and he wasn’t fairly the identical thereafter. He had a blended bag of a grand closing – taking part in a stinker within the first half, solely to be essential within the third quarter, then almost revisit his worst nightmare by spilling a simple mark within the closing minute.
Make of him what you’ll, however he’s by no means boring. I didn’t have him in my private prime 50, whereas Jay Croucher had him at 19th general.
33. Toby Greene (GWS Giants)
What number of AFL gamers common 28 disposals of their first yr within the competitors, then lower their disposal numbers on an nearly completely linear development yearly after however by some means handle to grow to be higher and higher gamers whereas doing so? Toby Greene is exclusive to say the least.
The AFL has loads of large key forwards or speedy smalls, however gamers like Toby – a Leigh Matthews-esque 70s-era throwback if ever there was one – are exhausting to seek out in fashionable footy. Love him, hate him, or like to hate him – which ever path you go down, there’s no denying he sparks a passionate response.
I’m a giant fan of the jolly Greene and had him at No.19 in my rankings general, whereas two of 5 judges left him out of the highest 50 totally.
32. Lachie Whitfield (GWS Giants)
A disaster at halfback prompted Leon Cameron to maneuver Whitfield into defence in season 2018, and it proved to be one of many smartest teaching strikes of the season. Whitfield recorded career-high disposal numbers and was named within the All Australian crew for the primary time.
There’s no doubting Whitfield’s 2018 type was praiseworthy, on the identical time it shouldn’t come as too large of a shock high quality participant recorded glorious stats when moved into what many regard as the best place in footy. Set to maneuver again into the center in 2019, I’ll have an interest to see if we nonetheless fee him as extremely in 12 months’ time.
I had Whitfield at No.40 over all, whereas Ryan Buckland ranked him at 21, and one choose left him out of the highest fifty totally.
31. Joel Selwood (Geelong Cats)
Lastly we come to only our second participant within the rely to date to be included within the prime 50 by each choose, and it’s Geelong skipper Joel Selwood.
Boasting three premiership medals, six All Australian guernseys (three as captain), 4 most-courageous awards, three membership greatest and fairests, and as of final yr changing into Geelong’s longest-serving captain in membership historical past, Selwood has a soccer resume that any participant would kill for.
Nonetheless one can’t assist however discover that he has slipped a good bit within the rankings since 2018, once we had him at 12th general. Whereas his stats don’t present any important drop-off, it’s exhausting to flee the sensation that Selwood – and Geelong’s midfield extra usually – simply wasn’t firing on all cylinders final yr.
At 30-years-old, is he coming into the twilight of his profession or simply going by way of a brief lull? Right here’s hoping it’s the latter.
The highest 50 to date
50. Luke Breust
49. Daniel Rioli
48. Jack Viney
47. Tim Kelly
46. Charlie Curnow
45. Harris Andrews
44. Angus Brayshaw
43. Joe Daniher
42. Shaun Higgins
41. Lachie Neale
40. Tom J Lynch
39. Trent Cotchin
38. Jack Gunston
37. Tom Hawkins
36. Ben Brown
35. Tom McDonald
34. Jack Darling
33. Toby Greene
32. Lachie Whitfield
31. Joel Selwood
You’ll want to be a part of us once more tomorrow when Cam Rose will take us by way of the gamers ranked 30-21.