Who has been the best-performed Queenslander in the AFL this year? Dayne Zorko? Charlie Dixon? Or Dayne Beams?
It’s probably a three-way contest between the Brisbane Lions’ dynamic Dayne duo or Zorko and Beams, and Dixon, the Port Adelaide key forward who is power by club name and power by performance.
If aggregate Champion Data ranking points are the determining factor it’s Zorko (2326) from Dixon (2000) and Beams (1927), with Geelong ruckman Zac Smith (1643) fourth ahead of Fremantle’s Lachie Weller (1578), Brisbane’s Harris Andrews ((1521), retiring St.Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt (1453) and Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow (1447)
On average Champion Data ranking points, with a minimum 10 games to qualify, it’s Zorko (110.8) from Beams (101.4), Smith (91.3), Dixon (90.9), Riewoldt (85.5), Harbrow (80.4), Fremantle’s Lee Spurr (72.3), Weller (71.7) and Andrews (69.1).
Zorko headed the Champion Data ranking scores among Queenslanders in Round 23 over the weekend with 110 after collecting 26 disposals, six tackles and two goals in the Lions’ loss to North Melbourne which sentenced them to the wooden spoon.
It was his 15th ranking points century and the 10th time he’s topped the Queensland score this season.
Dixon collected 106 ranking points for 16 disposals (nine contested), nine marks (five contested) and four goals in the Power’s emphatic 115-point win over Gold Coast. It was his nine ‘ton’ and he’s headed the round-by-round Queensland scores four times.
Harbrow picked up 104 ranking points for 24 possessions and eight marks in the Suns’ – his eighth CD century. He’s been the highest-scoring Queenslander just once.
And Smith earned 103 ranking points for 14 possessions, three marks, 28 hit-outs, two clearances, six tackles and five one-percenters in Geelong’s big win over the GWS Giants which confirmed second spot on the home-and-away ladder.
It was Smith’s eighth Champion Data century. He’s led the Queensland score three times.
Dayne Beams, booked in for shoulder surgery after carrying a chronic problem through recent weeks, earned 78 ranking points for 18 disposals, five clearances, four tackles and a goal for the Lions. He had already posted 11 scores of 100+ and led the Queensland count four times.
With the curtain having been drawn on a home-and-away season with broke the all-time AFL attendance record, Zorko finished 12th overall in the competition for ranking points, while Dixon was 49th and Beams 60th.
But Dixon was ranked second among key forwards behind only Sydney’s Buddy Franklin, who won the Coleman Medal after a 10-goal haul on Saturday.
Zorko was the only Queenslander named today in the 40-man All-Australian squad and ranked third in the competition for metres gained with 11,189, behind only Richmond Brownlow Medal favourite Dustin Martin (11,832) and Adelaide’s Brodie Smith (11,301).
Plus, he was seventh in the League for score involvements, fifth in tackles, 14th in stoppage clearances and 21st in total clearances. And 37th for disposals.
Dixon was 10th in the League in goals, having kicked 42, and, significantly, he led the competition in contested marks with 56 ahead of West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern (52), Carlton’s Levi Casboult (52) and Essendon’s Cale Hooker (51).
Also, Dixon was fourth for marks inside 50, 11th in score involvements, second among key forwards for tackles behind only Hawthorn captain Jarryd Roughead, and third among key forwards for goal assists behind West Coast’s Jack Darling and Franklin.
Significantly, too, Dixon played in 14 wins. Zac Smith was next best with 12 wins and a draw, followed by Riewoldt 11, GWS’ Sam Reid (11) and St.Kilda’s Sam Gilbert (10).
Fellow Queenslander Andrews also ranked prominently across aggregate home-and-away statistics. He was third in one-percenters behind Richmond’s Alex Rance and Adelaide’s Daniel Talia, 18th in marks and equal 21st in contested marks.
Statistically, then, it is Zorko or Dixon. Zorko will win the Brisbane club champion and Dixon will most likely finish top three in the same award at Port.
It’s a tough call either way and one that will see different people place a higher value on contributions to winning teams and statistical contributions that impact most heavily on team success.
But one thing is for certain – Zorko, Beams and each of the other Queenslanders who will not be involved in the finals would happily trade it all for a berth in September.
They will be envious of the six Queenslanders can possibly look forward to finals action – Dixon (Port), Smith and Wylie Buzza (Geelong), Kurt Tippett and Aliir Aliir (Sydney), and Sam Reid (GWS).
Dixon and Smith will play key roles, while Tippett, after a frustrating run with injury, has shown enough in the last three home-and-away games to suggest he could be a finals wildcard if his troublesome ankle holds up.
Buzza has played six of the last nine games in rounds 15-16-19-20-22-23 without looking at all out of place, and has thrown down a huge challenge to Rhys Stanley to share the ruck duties with Smith while playing predominantly forward.
Aliir hasn’t played at AFL level since Round 4 but has been in excellent NEAFL form and is only one injury away from a return to the finals arena, where he played so well last year before missing the grand final through injury.
And Reid, who played 13 of the first 16 games, is making a late charge for an unlikely finals spot with the talented GWS outfit, having made a successful return from an ankle injury in the final round of the NEAFL home-and-away season a fortnight ago.
Weller ranked third among Queenslanders for totals possessions behind Zorko and Beams with 441, and with Dixon and Andrews played all 22 games of the home-and-away season.
Weller had 16 possessions in Round 23 for 63 Champion Data ranking points.
Also, Collingwood’s Josh Thomas closed out an excellent return to AFL football after a prolonged absence when he had 14 disposals, six tackles and a goal assists in his team’s upset win over Melbourne which tipped them out of the finals.
Thomas played the last nine games of the season for four wins and a draw, and averaged 16.5 possessions a game.
Riewoldt, who has taken more marks than anyone in the history of the games, was ushered into retirement with 15 disposals, eight marks and a goal in his 336th game against Richmond.
Gilbert, a long-time teammate and fellow Gold Coaster, missed his good mate’s final game with injury, but signed a contract extension over the weekend that will see him play on in 2018.
Young Gold Coast defender Max Spencer had his first 20-possession game in the Suns’ hiding from Port, collecting with 11 possessions contested. He also had six marks in his fifth game.
Brad Scheer had five possessions in his fourth game after being a late inclusion following the withdrawal of fellow Queenslanders Jack Bowes and Jesse Joyce.
Buzza had five possessions, three marks, four tackles and a goal for Geelong, while Tippett, who started brilliantly against Carlton before some time on the bench with ankle trouble, finished with eight disposals, two marks, six hit-outs and a goal.
Jacob Allison had 16 possessions for the Lions against North and Claye Beams 17 possessions and a goal. Andrews finished the year with nine possessions, five marks and seven one-percenters.
By Peter Blucher