We continue on with our AFL preview series today by looking at two of the clubs that parted ways with their coaches in 2019, took on interim replacements and then kept them in charge for 2020 and beyond.
A potent Team of the Week which includes a six-man forward line that kicked 30 goals between them from Round 18 in the AFL.
Back Pocket – Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
In his second week back in the senior line-up after overcoming injury, Vlastuin showed how important he is to the Richmond backline with a superb performance against the Giants.
Picked off plenty of opposition attacks with 11 marks, and used his 21 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency, not easy to do in wet conditions.
Full Back – Scott Thompson (North Melbourne)
When news filtered through that North Melbourne vice-captain Robbie Tarrant was a late, late out after injuring himself in the warm-up, all eyes turned to in-form Essendon star Joe Daniher.
Veteran Roo Scott Thompson did a sterling job on the Coleman Medal contender, however. Thompson collected 16 touches and took nine marks, keeping Daniher to just three grabs and two goals.
Back Pocket – Lewis Melican (Sydney)
Has carved a spot in the Sydney backline without any fuss, and strengthened his bid for a long overdue Rising Star nomination on Saturday against St Kilda.
Took on Saints’ champion Nick Riewoldt, who managed just 10 disposals and one goal. Melican meanwhile had 15 possessions, took three marks and laid three tackles.
Sydney’s ability to develop dependable defenders out of seemingly nowhere is scary good: Alex Johnson, Dane Rampe, Aliir Aliir and now Melican.
Half Back – Jack Gunston (Hawthorn)
In his new role as a sweeping defender, Gunston claimed best on ground honours on the wide expanses of Domain Stadium on Saturday night against Fremantle.
The three-time premiership winning forward helped himself to 35 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, eight marks and a goal.
Centre Half Back – Phil Davis (Greater Western Sydney)
The GWS co-captain had the tough job on Richmond gun Jack Riewoldt, but Davis performed very well.
Made Riewoldt look second-rate in the first half, and while the two-time Coleman Medal winner finished with a couple of goals, Davis certainly won the contest. Also collected 23 possessions and took seven marks.
Half Back – Michael Hibberd (Melbourne)
Quickly becoming one of Melbourne’s most important players, and he was fantastic in their win over Port Adelaide on Saturday afternoon.
The former Bomber racked up 36 touches, 12 of them contested, took five marks and laid four tackles.
Wing – Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
The Port Adelaide skipper put in a valiant effort on Saturday against the Demons as he tried to will his side back into the contest after a poor first half.
Boak got forward to boot four goals from his 24 disposals, while he took six marks and laid six tackles.
Centre – Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Can pretty much ink this guy into every Team of the Week from here on in. Mitchell helped himself to another 37 possessions on the weekend to go with seven marks, five tackles and five clearances.
Wing – Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
Did well while many of his teammates seemed a bit flat against the lowly Kangaroos on Saturday at Etihad Stadium.
The Essendon captain finished with 26 touches, 12 of them contested at 84 per cent efficiency, seven clearances, five tackles and two goals.
Half Forward – Dayne Zorko (Brisbane)
The magician bounced back from a poor performance last week, mesmerising Carlton on Sunday at the Gabba.
Finished with 26 disposals, 12 of them contested, five clearances, four marks, five tackles and three goals.
Centre Half Forward – Josh J Kennedy (West Coast)
Just two weeks into his return from a calf injury, Kennedy was easily the most potent player on the ground in West Coast’s clash with Collingwood on Sunday at Etihad.
Kicked four goals in the opening half, finishing with six majors from six marks and 11 touches. Amazingly, despite missing five games, he looks like he can easily win a third-consecutive Coleman Medal.
Half Forward – Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
Underlined his massive potential with a match-winning performance against the Eagles on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
De Goey was deadly in attack, finishing with four goals to go with his 20 disposals and three tackles. One of those tackles resulted in a goal to Jamie Elliott in the final minutes to put the Magpies in front.
Forward Pocket – Liam Picken (Western Bulldogs)
The favourite son of the Whitten Oval had a day out in Cairns on Saturday against the Gold Coast Suns, playing mostly forward and kicking a career-high six goals to go with 15 possessions and eight marks.
Full Forward – Ben Brown (North Melbourne)
The criminally underrated Roo put in a superb effort on Saturday against Essendon, increasing his chances for a Coleman Medal.
Matched up on Michael Hartley and then gun Essendon defender Michael Hurley, the Essendon defensive duo were no match for Brown’s aerial prowess, taking nine marks, winning 13 disposals and kicking an equal career-high six goals.
Forward Pocket – Callum Sinclair (Sydney)
As unlikely of a hero you’ll get, Sydney ruckman Sinclair was simply too big and strong for the St Kilda backline on Saturday night, finishing with 19 disposals, 10 marks and a very impressive haul of five goals.
Can think of only one Sydney teammate who wouldn’t be particularly pleased with Sinclair’s performance.
Ruckman – Sam Jacobs (Adelaide)
Took on Geelong duo Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley and beat them both convincingly.
Jacobs gave his midfield first use all night, finishing with 17 disposals at 82 per cent efficiency, seven marks and 32 hitouts.
Ruck Rover – Dustin Martin (Richmond)
Provided a touch of class on a wet, miserable Melbourne afternoon in Richmond’s win over the Giants at the MCG.
The Brownlow Medal fancy collected 31 possessions, 17 of them contested, won 11 clearances, took four marks, laid four tackles and kicked a goal. Another three votes.
Rover – Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
Put in arguably the best performance of any player in Round 18, made even more impressive by the fact most eyes were on him on Friday night with doubts over his fitness.
Showed no signs of the concussion he suffered a week earlier, monstering the Geelong midfield with 28 touches, 15 of them contested, seven clearances, three marks, seven tackles and three goals.
Richard Douglas (Adelaide)
Was a surprise packet for the Crows in their impressive win over the Cats on Friday night.
The veteran Crow racked up 20 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency, took five marks and kicked four goals.
Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs)
Returned to some of his best form on Saturday against the Suns in far-north Queensland, amassing 23 possessions, 13 of them contested at 82 per cent efficiency, taking seven marks, laying four tackles and slotting two majors.
Dayne Beams (Brisbane)
The Lions’ skipper was instrumental in setting up a huge early lead for his side over Carlton.
Finished the match with 30 touches, 10 marks, three tackles and three goals.
Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
Was a colossus for the Magpies on Sunday against West Coast, monstering his opponents in the ruck with 42 hitouts. Also did plenty around the ground, collecting 19 disposals, taking three grabs and laying seven tackles.
Shannon Hurn (West Coast)
The Eagles’ skipper continued his good form on Sunday against the Magpies with 29 possessions at 89 per cent efficiency, 10 marks and three tackles.
James Sicily (Hawthorn)
Like Gunston, is proving to be a bit of a revelation down back despite starting his career as a forward.
Uses the ball extremely well and it showed on Saturday night against Fremantle, finishing with 29 touches at 89 per cent efficiency. Also hauled in 11 marks.
Taylor Garner (North Melbourne)
The mercurial North Melbourne forward played arguably his best match on Saturday afternoon against the Bombers.
The high-flying Roo helped himself to 25 possessions at 80 per cent efficiency, 10 marks, seven tackles and a goal.
FB: Nick Vlastuin (Richmond), Scott Thompson (North Melbourne), Lewis Melican (Sydney)
HB: Jack Gunston (Hawthorn), Phil Davis (Greater Western Sydney), Michael Hibberd (Melbourne)
C: Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn), Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
HF: Dayne Zorko (Brisbane), Josh Kennedy (West Coast), Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
FF: Liam Picken (Western Bulldogs), Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Callum Sinclair (Sydney)
R: Sam Jacobs (Adelaide), Dustin Martin (Richmond), Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
I/C: Richard Douglas (Adelaide), Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs), Dayne Beams (Brisbane), Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
EMG: Shannon Hurn (West Coast), James Sicily (Hawthorn), Taylor Garner (North Melbourne)
Adelaide: Jacobs, Sloane, Douglas (3)
Brisbane: Zorko, Beams (2)
Carlton: Nil (0)
Collingwood: De Goey, Grundy (2)
Essendon: Heppell (1)
Fremantle: Nil (0)
Geelong: Nil (0)
Gold Coast: Nil (0)
Greater Western Sydney: Davis (1)
Hawthorn: Gunston, Mitchell (2)
Melbourne: Hibberd (1)
North Melbourne: Thompson, Brown (2)
Port Adelaide: Boak (1)
Richmond: Vlastuin, Martin (2)
St Kilda: Nil (0)
Sydney: Melican, Sinclair (2)
West Coast: Kennedy (1)
Western Bulldogs: Picken, Dahlhaus (2)