My 2017 players to watch in review: Adelaide Crows to Carlton Blues

Anna Pavlou Roar Rookie

By Anna Pavlou, Anna Pavlou is a Roar Rookie

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    In the 2017 pre-season I picked three players per club to preview for the upcoming season – now I’m looking back at how they did, and grading their performance. Today I’m looking at the Adelaide Crows, Brisbane Lions and Carlton Blues.

    Adelaide Crows

    What I said: Eddie Betts. The speedy forward kicked 75 goals in 2016. Since moving from Carlton, he has developed into a genuine match winner and his highlight reel is miraculous. He is the barometer of the team. When Betts fires, Adelaide usually wins.

    How he really performed: Betts was named in the All-Australian team as a small forward in 2017. Kicking 55 goals, Betts dominated along with his grand-final side. Betts’ magic was a wonder to witness, adding to an already outstanding highlights reel.

    Rating: A+

    Eddie Betts Adelaide Crows AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    What I said: Defender Jake Lever is set to have another promising year in the backline. He will continue to push to cement his spot in the back six. His tall and strong defensive style has him up with the likes of Daniel Talia and Kyle Hartigan. As a strong reader of the play, there are high hopes for a promising 2017.

    How he really performed: Lever had a fantastic season in 2017, averaging 6.3 intercept marks in his key defensive role. He collected 29 disposals against Fremantle in Round 10.

    Lever worked hard to halt scoreboard pressure from key forwards, and was rewarded with a nomination in the All-Australian squad.

    He has now been traded to the Demons after much debate and annoyance from the Crows, but Lever will dominate the backline down in Victoria next season.

    Rating: A+

    What I said: Speed demon Charlie Cameron is spending his preseason training in the midfield with the likes of Rory Sloane, and he would add a sense of speed to the across the middle of the ground. His ability to burst out of a pack and set himself up in the right positions highlights how Cameron can expand his versatility in 2017.

    How he really performed: Cameron had a fantastic finals series as well as an overall season. Kicked 29 goals and exceeded expectations as one of the Crows’ key small forwards. Played all season with a high intensity and proved he could be a defensive forward, averaging 4.3 tackles.

    Now at the Brisbane Lions, Cameron’s speed and versatility will guide the young Lions to a better 2018.

    Rating: A

    Brisbane Lions

    What I said: Onballer Dayne Beams had his 2016 season cut short, however, his presence in general will lift the young group and bring some direction into the playing future. His clean ball skills will allow movement between attack and defense.

    Known for his hardness around the pack and ability to win contested football, it would be no surprise if Beams becomes dangerous again wherever he is needed, especially in attack.

    How he really performed: Averaging 27.1 disposals in 2017, Beams stepped into his leadership role comfortably. However, suffered a quad and shoulder injury, restricting him from maximum game time. In his shorter season, Beams still managed to kick 20 goals and lay an average of 4.2 tackles a game.

    Was fearless in every contest and consistently threw his body in the line. The aim of 2018 is to play an injury-free season.

    Rating: B

    What I said: Prized draftee Hugh ‘Bags’ McCluggage, will look to put his best foot forward and earn his spot in this rebuilding period.

    A unique goalkicker for a midfielder, he is a strong kick that is mobile enough to move outside the packs and use his speed to his advantage. McCluggage is noted as a classy and composed yet determined young and upcoming star.

    How he really performed: McCluggage averaged 15 disposals in his 18-game season. Kicked eight goals and fitted into Coach Fagan’s future plans of building a dominant young side. Was commended for his vision and decisiveness by disposal.

    Has shown enough confidence to be decent in the years to come. Still quite young but an intense pre-season will assist him on his 2018 journey.

    Rating: C


    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    What I said: An explosive Allen Christensen, who, after a disappointing 2016, has been all guns blazing on the preseason track, dropping excess weight and building muscle. His versatile and quick game style should be improved from previous years. It will be no surprise if Christensen steps up to lead this young Lions group on the field.

    How he really performed: Part of the leadership group for the first time in 2017, Christensen made his comeback in the NEAFL after fracturing his collarbone.

    However, the premiership midfielder’s season failed to even begin, after pulling up with shoulder soreness and discovering a crack in his steel shoulder plate. This ruled him out for 2017.

    Rating: N/A

    Carlton Blues

    What I said: Jack Silvagni. With a lot riding on his name, his short 2016 season was bumpy, but had highlights proving his future is positive. The young gun showed potential when reading the play, was fearless and took the game on. His ability to chase and tackle as well as hurt teams on the scoreboard will be a major winner in 2017.

    How he really performed: The Rising Star nominee kicked 19 goals in 2017 and averaged 10.1 disposals. Was not as outstanding as the Blues would have liked but worked his way through the season, gradually building confidence up forward.

    Showed signs of undeniable pace and proved he could read the play well, but should aim to lead and improve his finer skills in 2018.

    Rating: C+

    Jack Silvagni AFL Carlton Blues 2017

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    What I said: Sam Docherty will continue his positive and consistent form in the 2017 season. A solid year of defence has set him up for another strong year, where his ability to read the play and anticipate scenarios will come in handy when matching up on big power forwards.

    A year where Docherty will continue his leadership duties, the backline will look to him to steady the ship and use his football smarts to his advantage.

    How he really performed: Docherty took the next step in his career and was noted as one of the game’s elite. Named in the All-Australian half-back line, he averaged three tackles, 28 disposals and 6.3 intercepts weekly.

    Docherty dominated and lead the backline, taking up a sweeping role off the half-back flank. His versatility was taken to new heights when he was moved to the midfield at season’s end to guide his young teammates again. He led the club in rebound 50s with 129 also.

    Unfortunately, he has torn his ACL in his knee and will miss all of 2018. A big blow for the Blues.

    Rating: A+

    What I said: Harry McKay kicked 20 goals from 13 VFL games in 2016. He is yet to play a senior game, however Carlton are hoping he lives up to the hype. Is strong overhead and agile for his size. Alongside Silvagni, the question must be raised: is he the long-term answer to the Blues attacking issues?

    How he really performed: McKay played his first game in round 18, collecting 11 disposals, seven being contested. He kicked two goals the following week against Geelong but was ruled out for 2017 after a toe injury.

    In his two games, McKay demonstrated poise and level-headedness, but also a fierce brutality that defenders will struggle to match in years to come.

    Rating: B

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • December 12th 2017 @ 8:00am
      Peter the Scribe said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Thanks Anna, what jumps out from your article is that the Crows really have lost a couple of players there haven’t they? Gibbs coming in helps, but they already have the Crouch brothers. Lever is a good player and Cameron is the rare X factor player most sides are trying to search for. What impact will the departure of Lever and Cameron have on the Crows I wonder. As for the Blues, Docherty is an absolute beauty and losing him after a breakout brilliant season is a real blow for the Blues. He will bounce back in 2019 no doubt.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 1:38pm
      Mattyb said | December 13th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

      Not sure how McKay gets a B from 2 games,sure he’s at an ordinary club but he only played 2 games even under those circumstances.

      • Roar Guru

        December 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am
        DingoGray said | December 22nd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Especially in comparison to McCluggage getting a C on the back of 18 games.

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