The Roar
The Roar


The understated quintet: Five AFL players who didn't get media plaudits, but were instrumental

Will Jack Watts form a viable union with Port Adelaide Power? (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
30th March, 2016

The likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin and Gary Ablett may get all the airtime, but plenty of other blokes played just as important a role in Round 1 of the AFL.

Here’s this week’s understated quintet.

Mark Blicavs
He was a novelty when we learnt that he was a budding Olympic steeplechaser, but the fact remains that Mark Blicavs is now a very good footballer, and despite being 198 centimetres, he is fast becoming a running midfielder.

With elite stamina and speed, Blicavs took on the very best head-to-head on Monday, and came out with 21 possessions (ten of them contested), three marks, five tackles, four clearances, nine hit outs, and a goal.

With Zac Smith thriving in the ruck, Blicavs may well spend the season starting in the centre square at the feet of the ruck contest and not look out of place.

Jason Johannisen
Everyone loves a good story and the Western Bulldogs are just that, and Jason Johannisen looked as good as any Dog on Sunday. It wasn’t just 35 possessions and 80 per cent disposal efficiency, it was the fact he did it contested and uncontested, forward and back.

The Dogs are expected to go far in 2016, and the unheralded defender from East Fremantle figures to be a huge part of it.

Taylor Garner
North Melbourne are carried by their older players, but the youngsters will be expected to take this group one step further than the last two seasons. Taylor Garner is a name unfamiliar to most, but he was a highly regarded junior who was drafted in the first round but fought injury his entire career.

Against Adelaide he kicked two key goals and had four tackles inside 50 – they are not big statistics, but he had an impact when it mattered, and has a chance to grab a spot in an area where the Roos need to find consistency.


Kane Lambert
Richmond won’t look back at their win with fondness, but it was crucial to start 2016 on the correct side of the ledger, and Kane Lambert played a huge role in getting his side over the line. 28 disposals and nine score involvements highlighted a performance from a player who finished 2015 strongly and looks locked in to being a key component as the Tigers strive for some degree of success.

Jack Watts
His career has been deplorable and if he retired today he would go down as the biggest bust of all #1 draft picks, but Jack Watts took a step in the right direction on Saturday. He took ten marks, including three contested, and generally provided the Melbourne midfield with the option they needed across half forward.

The talent must be there, and Demons fans will hope that Watts is finally going to consistently deliver as he did in Round 1.