By Mark Perriman
In the lead-up to tomorrow’s QClash8 – Queensland’s celebration of AFL – the AFLQ media team put ego and allegiance aside to rank how our Queensland talent has fared so far in season 2014.
2014 has been a renaissance year for the big saint. With the ‘yips’ a thing of the past, the talismanic key forward is back in vintage form, sitting 1st for total marks and 8th for total marks inside 50. Having bagged 42.15, Reiwoldt also 5th in the Coleman race.
Like Merritt, Zorko’s importance to Brisbane has also reached an all-time high. The former Broadbeach pick burst of the blocks for season 2014 averaging 25-disposals throughout the first six games. A day-out against the Cats in Round 2 resulted in 30 touches and a goal. Given Brown’s retirement don’t be surprised if Zorko adds to his season tally of 16 majors.
A seamless transition back into Collingwood’s powerhouse midfield has the former Southport junior racking-up the big numbers of old. Averaging 27 disposals and a goal a game, the 2012 Copeland Trophy winner looks to be working his way back to his damaging All-Australian best.
Arguably the find of the season for the Suns. With their Rolls Royce midfield, the Gold Coast now possesses a young, tall shutdown full-back who can match it with the game’s elite. Thompson leads the club in marks and is recognised for his speed and spoiling ability in the contest. With a club Most-Improved Player award and the scalps of Drew Petrie, Tom Hawkins, and Kurt Tippett to his name, look for Thompson to become one of the most important players for the club in years to come.
The Southport junior’s stocks may have just skyrocketed in wake of the sudden retirement of champion spearhead Jonathan Brown. With the occasional key-forward a possibility to shift up the ground as a temporary answer to the team’s goal-kicking void, Merritt’s importance to the Lions may have just hit an all-time. Two goals and sixteen disposals against Carlton stands as a season highlight for the industrial fullback. But expect his five goals for the season to dramatically increase in the short-term.
The Cairns local has proven an invaluable ruck/forward option for the surging Suns. Following a four-week layoff, 17-goals in seven weeks have provided the Gold Coast with a consistent tall option in front of goal to go with their disturbing wealth of midfield talent. Although Dixon’s efforts may be overshadowed at times, there is no doubt his teammates have taken note.
Another solid season from Armitage has been one of the few bright lights for cellar-dwelling Saints. 25 touches and a goal in Round 18 against Fremantle was a season highlight. Amitage is ranked 18th for clearances per game. Playing his part.
As one of the Suns’ midfield leaders, Harbrow is averaging a touch under 20 disposals a match despite plenty of friendly statistical competition. With the absence of Ablett, Harbrow’s leadership experience has become critical to the team’s late season surge to the finals. Season highlights include 27 touches against former side the Kangaroos, including 18 kicks.
With the addition of Ben McEvoy to Hawthorne’s ruck stocks, Hale has enjoyed another solid season with the Hawks. With 10-goals to his name, Hale is providing valuable service – not that the Hawks need it. The former Broadbeach junior has been solid but not spectacular in playing his role. Recent lapses in form have resulted in stints in the VFL. Needs to regain his touch if he is to regain his spot.
Melbourne’s Matt Jones has continued his good form in 2014 following a standout debut season as a mature recruit. Jones averages 20 touches and five marks a game for the Demons. A standout performance against premiership favourites Sydney resulted in 29 disposals, including 18 kicks and 12 marks.
2014 has been a frustrating year for one half of Sydney’s prized tall attack. Injuries have restricted the former Southport product to just a handful of games. However, with 12-goals in three games, including five in the 110-point thumping of the Cats have the club poised for a tilt at a second flag in three seasons. Expect Tippett to look to stamp his influence on the mega-clash against the Hawks, as the Swans look to stake their claim as premiership favourites. But needs to remain fit justify the hype.
Collingwood’s Best First Year Player for 2013 looks to have picked-up he left off, having notched up a health 11 games in his second season, taking his career tally to 30. Thomas averages of 16.4 disposals a game, with a season high of 29 in a day-out against the Saints in Round 11. With 3 goals to his name in the same game, don’t be surprised if Thomas earns himself a cheeky vote on Brownlow night.
Like his brother, the young Lion has recently fought back from a long injury layoff. A solid showing in the club’s 12-point victory of the Bulldogs has been the highlight of this for the rookie pick. His 24 disposals in that game, as well as his 18 touch-two goal showing against the Kangaroos in Round 15 went a long way to helping his side over the line on both occasions.
Bail looks to have overcome the concussion that hampered his 2013 season. Having played every game of season, Bail has proven a solid contributor for the Paul Roos-led Demons. The Mt Gravatt recruit burst out of the blocks with 22 disposals in Round 1 against the Saints, while polling 101 AFL Fantasy points against Carlton in Round 4, of which included 10 tackles.
A knee reconstruction in 2013 delayed the young ruckman’s start to the season. With nine games now in his legs, the Suns’ ruck prodigy has been pushing his case for the top job, averaging 12 disposals and almost 24 hit-outs a match. Standout performances against Sydney’s powerful ruck contingent in Round 12 as well as against the Eagles the following week (15 disposals) are a case in point for Smith’s selection.
Collingwood’s talent search recruit has put together 12 games in 2014. The tall defender has provided valuable support to the fragile Pie backline. Standout performances include a career-high 18 disposable against the Bulldogs in Round 13, while Supercoach pundits would have been loving his 110 point game in their Round 12 defeat to the Demons.
6 / 10
Mature-age defender Spurr has enjoyed a largely consistent season statistically, averaging 17.1 disposals and 5.5 marks a game. Although surround by superstars, Spurr had a field-day against the Crows in Round 12, taking in 32 touches, including 16 kicks.
6 / 10
The key St Kilda backman has been solid in a season which as proven problematic for the club’s defenders. The former Southport Shark’s best performance of 2014 came against GWS, whereby Gilbert collected 16 touches, 10 marks and 4 tackles.
Collingwood’s hot offseason forward/ruck recruit looks to have assumed the utility vacancy once reserved for Quinten Lynch. The Gold Coast junior has been relatively consistent in front of goal for the Pies, proving a valuable foil for Travis Cloke. HoA breakout game for the club against Richmond netted the former Swan 15-disposals and 3-goals.
The Morningside recruit is gaining attention down at mighty Carlton having clocked 8 games already this season, despite the disorder at the club. Bell received an upgrade for 2014, and has been solid, averaging 13.4 disposals and 8 kicks a game. A standout performance in the club’s loss to the Tigers back in Round 2 resulted in 22 disposals, 13 kicks and 7 tackles. Look for Mick to hang on to his big-bodied prospect. Carlton could have used him during his 8 games out midseason due to repeated surgeries to mend an injured finger.
Combative Townsville ruckmen Jack Spencer has had a mixed 2014. Dominant displays early in the season looked promising for the high-rated Melbourne big-man. However, an injury has ruled Spencer out for season. Round 1 against the Saints is an obvious standout game, with 40 hit-outs, 12 disposals and 9 tackles.
The versatile young Sun has managed to string together 8 games this year following a dislocated that left last season in ruin. The slender number 6 is known around the club for his speed, of which contributed to his 15 touch performance in the clubs game-changing win over the formidable Cats.
Richmond’s free agency acquisition has been hitting his straps for the Tigers following an inconsistent tenure with Carlton. With no.1 ruckman Ivan Maric injured during the season, Hampson has turned into a handy replacement, posting career-high numbers in the process. Life seems dandy for Hampson both on and off the field.
The former Richmond defender has managed four games this season. A standout performance for the midfielder against the Saints earlier in Round 6 netted 24 disposal and a goal, as well as 70 Supercoach points. But a lack time out on the field hasn’t helped.
St Kilda’s ruckman enjoyed a fine start to the season, including a field day against the Giants. However, leg injuries resulted in an 11 game stretch on the sidelines, while a subsequent diagnosis of knee tendinitis prematurely ended an otherwise frustrating season for St Kilda’s number one tall.
Described by the Suns as a long-term defensive pillar, Cameron has registered 4 games this season. Inconsistent performances and extended periods out of the game may be detrimental to Cameron’s push for selection. 11 touches against the Dockers back in Round 2 has been the season highlight.
Regarded as a talented tall defender by his club, the younger Tippett managed just four games for the Roos before tearing his pectorial muscle in the club’s loss to Geelong. Tippett had endured a slow start to the year, collecting a season-high 9 disposals against the Lions before injury struck. The big number 36 is not expected back until Round 21.
Gold Coast’s high-profile ambassador has struggled with injury as of late, restricting him to the single appearance in Round 12. With talk of his return to rugby, Special K may have played his last game of the Suns. His performance at Metricon against Sydney resulted in eight touches and two tackles.
The former Morningside Panther was having a career year, relative to his injury-riddled stint with the Bulldogs. Season highlights included a 19 touch game against GWS, and three goals against the Demons. A shame about his untimely retirement.
2 / 10
Yet to play senior football this season.
The Morninside bigman is the product of former Bears ruckman Damian Bourke. Rookie-listed, Jordan is yet to see action for the Lions this season.
The rookie-listed Sam Michael has played has not managed to get on to the paddock during 2014, despite already having three games to his name. The Brisbane tall could prove a value asset for the Lions down the line given his solid versatility.
The rookie-listed Lion hasn’t seen the field this season. The Mt Gravatt recruit is viewed as an exciting ruck prospect for the club given that his raw talent has taken him from AFL-convert to Brisbane rookie in less than twelve months.
The first graduate from the Lions’ academy program, Freeman is yet to notch up a game for the club. Viewed as a forward prospect, the club hopes to capitalise on his ability as a strong leading target.
While the wandering ruckmen has, by all accounts, had a standout season in the VFL, a shoulder tendon injury looks to have placed Hudson on the Pies’ long-term injury list. With a return not likely until the backend of the season, and having not featured in 2014, we may have seen the last of Hudson.
Although touted to be one of the beneficiaries of Heath Shaw’s departure, Oxley is yet to get onto the field this season. The rangly halfback flanker can be considered unfortunate not to have added to his two career games given Collinwood’s frail defensive bodies.
Recruited from Morningside, Yagoor made his debut in Round 1, 2012 against Hawthorn. Renowned for his kicking and decision-making, the rookie-listed Yagmoor will be seeking to breakthrough to the Collingwood seniors in 2014. Yagmoor is yet to play this season.
Yet to get a game in 2014, Thurlow is known around Windy Hill as competitive and strong overhead. Taken in the Rookie Draft, don’t be surprised if the mobile ruckman receives a call-up sometime in the future.
Regarded as having one of the best boots in the club. Jackson is tipped to push for senior selection in 2014, however the running defender may find that difficult given the wealth of quality oozing out of Metricon.
Boston is yet to add to his tally of 8 games this season. Renowned for his accurate boot, do no be surprised to see this young man break through at some point in the future.
Selected at number 63 in the 2014 Rookie Draft, Ellis will be looking to break into the seniors for his maiden appearance. Regarded by the club as a poised midfielder, the rookie-listed number 43 is seen as a player capable of breaking the line with his quality boot.
The big North Queenslander will be hoping for a second birth with the seniors as the Sun’s push for their first finals series. With five games under his belt already, the former elite high jumper could provide an invaluable tall-forward foil to mainstay Charlie Dixon.
The luckless Hawk has yet to make an appearance this season as he fights to overcome the knee construction which cruelled him of a premiership medallion. While Alistair Clarkson regards the former Zillmere man as an important member of Hawthorne’s squad, Whitecross may face an up-hill battle to regain his place in the lead-up to the finals.
Chosen with pick 44, Aliir can lay claim to being the first Sudanese player to be selected through the national draft (2013). The former Aspley senior has represented both Queensland and Western Australia at the NAB Under-18 Championships. A tall rebounding defender, the senior-listed Aliir is viewed a long-term prospect by Swans.