The new AFL season approaches. It’s a time for most to get excited.
Some unheralded names make their first appearance of the year in Round 7’s Team of the Week.
Back Pocket – Luke Ryan (Fremantle)
Was a rock in Fremantle’s defence during a game that won’t be replayed any time soon. Took six marks and racked up 34 touches, using it at a very safe 88 per cent efficiency.
Full Back – Jackson Trengove (Western Bulldogs)
Had to bide his time to get back into the senior line-up and judging by his performance on Saturday night, he won’t be going back to the VFL any time soon. Put the clamps on Richmond goalkicker Tom Lynch, who had just five touches and booted one behind.
Back Pocket – Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
Continued his fine season with a lockdown job on dangerous Gold Coast forward Alex Sexton, who kicked just one major from eight disposals. Sheppard helped himself to 25 possessions at 96 per cent efficiency, while he took seven marks.
If you were selecting the All Australian backline after seven rounds, this guy would be among the first picked.
Half Back – Zac Williams (Greater Western Sydney)
Was sublime in Canberra on Saturday, racking up 30 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency while taking eight grabs. Is such a damaging player with the way he gains metres for the Giants off the half back flank.
Centre Half Back – Darcy Moore (Collingwood)
Port Adelaide could barely get it past him on Friday night, with Moore putting in arguably the best game of his career since reinventing himself as a defender. Hauled in seven grabs from his 21 disposals and kept young Power forward Todd Marshall to just one goal.
Half Back – Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)
If Brad Sheppard has a back pocket role sewn up in the All Australian discussion, Daniel is a lock for the half back position.
Pivotal on Saturday night against the Tigers, winning 36 possessions at 77 per cent efficiency, taking three marks and laying six tackles. Has had 30 touches or more in each of his last four matches, and in five of his last six.
Wing – Mitch Duncan (Geelong)
With Patrick Dangerfield hobbled by injury and Joel Selwood missing, Duncan stood up with a starring role against the Bombers at the MCG.
Helped himself to 22 disposals at a lethal 95 per cent efficiency, took 10 marks, laid four tackles and had an impact up forward with three goals.
Centre – James Harmes (Melbourne)
Played a really important role for the Demons after a slow start to the match, going head-to-head with Hawthorn star Jaeger O’Meara after quarter time.
It proved a masterstroke, as O’Meara ended the game on 19 touches, while Harmes went on to collect 31 possessions, take six marks, lay five tackles and kick an important goal late to seal the victory.
Wing – Trent Dumont (North Melbourne)
Seemed like he was everywhere early on Sunday as North Melbourne blasted Carlton at Marvel Stadium. Ended the match with an equal career-high 38 disposals, four marks and five tackles.
Half Forward – Tom Papley (Sydney)
Played a lone hand up forward for Sydney against the Lions on Saturday evening, finishing the match with 18 touches, four marks, four tackles and 4.3. Impressively, put his body on the line on more than one occasion.
Centre Half Forward – Jeremy Cameron (Greater Western Sydney)
It’s hard to find a more damaging player in the competition at the moment, with Cameron extending his burgeoning Coleman Medal lead with another six goals on Saturday against St Kilda.
If he keeps his current form up, we’re going to have to start talking about the possibility of Cameron reaching the ton.
Half Forward – Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
The young star was brilliant on Saturday against Richmond, amassing 27 possessions, 14 of them contested, winning seven clearances, taking nine grabs and slotting three goals.
Forward Pocket – Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)
The little-known former North Melbourne rookie cashed in on a dominant team display against a meek Carlton outfit on Sunday, ending the game with 16 touches, five marks, four tackles and a bag of five goals. Could have easily finished with seven majors, if not for two missed attempts late in the match.
Full Forward – Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs)
Hard to find a more compelling AFL match played by a teenager in recent memory than Naughton’s performance on Saturday night against the Tigers.
The 19-year-old was superb in the air, plucking 14 marks, a stunning nine of which were contested. Only Wayne Carey has taken more in a match since the stat was recorded.
Finished the game with 5.3, which, like Zurhaar, could have been seven or eight if he converted his chances a bit better. Scary to think what this kid will become.
Forward Pocket – Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood)
Set the Pies alight on Friday night with three opening term goals as his side skipped to an incredible 45-point quarter time lead. Ended up with four majors from 14 touches and six marks.
Ruckman – Max Gawn (Melbourne)
Won the crucial ruck battle against the in-form Ben McEvoy, with Gawn winning 46 hitouts to go with his 17 touches and six marks around the ground.
Ruck Rover – Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
After a vintage performance on Anzac Day, the Collingwood skipper backed it up with another brilliant match on Friday night against the Power. Racked up 36 possessions, 14 of them contested at 80 per cent efficiency, took five marks and laid five tackles.
Rover – Dayne Zorko (Brisbane)
Was pivotal in guiding Brisbane to their first triumph over Sydney in 10 years. The captain had 29 touches, a massive 17 of them contested, won 11 clearances, took three grabs, laid 11 tackles and booted the final goal of the game which killed off any hope of a Swans comeback.
Interchange – Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs)
Playing in his preferred position in the middle of the ground, Dunkley amassed a whopping 35 possessions, just one short of his personal best, 15 of them contested at 85 per cent efficiency, won five clearances, took eight marks and laid eight tackles in a very impressive display.
Interchange – Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
Responded to some of the criticism thrown his way in recent weeks with a starring role in West Coast’s unconvincing win over the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday night. The wingman finished with 35 disposals, 10 grabs and six tackles in a polished display.
Interchange – Tim Kelly (Geelong)
Led the way in the midfield for the Cats with 30 possessions, 10 clearances, four marks and two goals. It will be interesting to see who gets the three votes on Brownlow Medal night between Kelly and Duncan.
Interchange – Jarrod Harbrow (Gold Coast)
The Gold Coast stalwart returned to some much-needed form on Saturday night against the Eagles, winning 30 disposals off the half-back line at 83 per cent efficiency to go with his six grabs and three tackles.
Emergency – Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide)
Enjoyed a breakout performance in his seventh career game, winning the ruck battle against Rory Lobb convincingly. Got plenty of the ball as well, finishing with 22 touches, 13 of those contested, five marks, three tackles and 44 hitouts. Does Sam Jacobs get back in once fit and firing?
Emergency – Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
Was brilliant in a very good team performance from the Magpies on Friday night, ending the game with 29 touches at 89 per cent efficiency, 11 marks, four tackles and a goal.
Emergency – Blake Hardwick (Hawthorn)
Never stopped trying for the Hawks on Saturday, ending the game with 19 touches at 89 per cent, seven marks and four tackles.
Emergency – Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane)
The smooth operator from the Lions put in another classy display on Saturday against the Swans, booting two goals from his 24 disposals, while he also tough when it mattered, laying six tackles and winning 13 contested touches.
FB: Luke Ryan (Fremantle), Jackson Trengove (Western Bulldogs), Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
HB: Zac Williams (Greater Western Sydney), Darcy Moore (Collingwood), Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)
C: Mitch Duncan (Geelong), James Harmes (Melbourne), Trent Dumont (North Melbourne)
HF: Tom Papley (Sydney), Jeremy Cameron (Greater Western Sydney), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
FF: Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne), Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs), Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood)
R: Max Gawn (Melbourne), Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), Dayne Zorko (Brisbane)
I/C: Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs), Andrew Gaff (West Coast), Tim Kelly (Geelong), Jarrod Harbrow (Gold Coast)
EMG: Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide), Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood), Blake Hardwick (Hawthorn), Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane)
Adelaide: Nil (0)
Brisbane: Zorko (1)
Carlton: Nil (0)
Collingwood: Moore, Stephenson, Pendlebury (3)
Essendon: Nil (0)
Fremantle: Ryan (1)
Geelong: Duncan, Kelly (2)
Gold Coast: Harbrow (1)
Greater Western Sydney: Williams, Cameron (2)
Hawthorn: Nil (0)
Melbourne: Harmes, Gawn (2)
North Melbourne: Dumont, Zurhaar (2)
Port Adelaide: Nil (0)
Richmond: Nil (0)
St Kilda: Nil (0)
Sydney: Papley (1)
West Coast: Sheppard, Gaff (2)
Western Bulldogs: Trengove, Daniel, Bontempelli, Naughton, Dunkley (5)