Each team has their compilation of superstars, some more than others.
Star power is a huge attraction for fans in the AFL and they play a massive role in a club’s success both on and off the field. But just as crucial are the players that maybe don’t get the plaudits outside of the four walls as much as their peers.
Players that just get their job done week in and week out with no fuss and very little fanfare are key to allow the stars to be more flamboyant and take more risks, with the knowledge they had support from the safety nets that are these underrated players.
Here is each team’s most underrated player.
Adelaide: Luke Brown
The ever reliable defender does a great job at locking down on his opponents and shutting them out of the game. He is very rarely beaten and provides real stability, which is needed now more than ever at the Crows.
Brisbane: Jarrod Berry
Berry is the Lions’ best aerobic athlete and uses that endurance to make himself one the Lions’ better midfielders. He has courage in spades and works his socks off, and goes under the radar with the likes of Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage taking the attention of the opposition most weeks.
Carlton: Lachie Plowman
Plowman is somewhat of a whipping boy for Carlton fans, mostly due to his no-frills style. Plowman has an incredible ability to play both tall and small and often does so in the same game. He is a great mark and has a great balance between lock-down and attack. His ball use is very good and he often plays within his limits, avoiding any mistakes. Coming third in Carlton’s 2019 best and fairest an indication of his standing at Princes Park.
Collingwood: Callum Brown
All class, Brown offers speed and great evasive skills. He isn’t yet the complete package but he is quickly becoming a key in the Collingwood forward line. He is one of many small to medium-sized forwards for the Pies so he quickly gets forgotten about, but he is a future star.
Essendon: Martin Gleeson
The small defender was paying career-best footy before injury concerns derailed the small defender’s career. He is now getting back to his best and it is a much needed addition to the Bombers’ back six. His ability to lock down the opposition’s best small defender and then attack once Essendon win the ball back is crucial.
Fremantle: Blake Acres
Recruited from the Saints at the end of 2019, Acres is a true wingman and provides great running ability. He is a great size for the position as well. Being so big, he becomes a difficult match-up for opposition wingmen as they aren’t usually able to match his size.
Geelong: Mitch Duncan
Duncan is obviously highly rated, but maybe not as highly rated as he should be. Duncan is one of if not Geelong’s best midfielder. While not as impactful as Patrick Dangerfield, Duncan is the team’s best ball user and is reliable. He rarely has a bad game and is crucial to the Cats playing well.
Gold Coast: Alex Sexton
The Suns haven’t had much to boast about before 2020, however Alex Sexton has been a revelation. Sexton is the Suns’ most dangerous forward and has been a great goal scorer in his last two seasons. He is a real handful in a team in which playing up forward cannot be easy.
GWS: Harry Himmelberg
The ultimate swingman, Himmelberg is a very dangerous second or third forward with a great ability to go back and play loose and even pinch hit in the ruck when needed. He is incredibly versatile and reliable.
Hawthorn: Ricky Henderson
He has been huge since leaving Adelaide for the Hawks. He is a boom kick and regularly leads the metres gained. Incredibly dangerous by foot, Henderson is very penetrating both when kicking and running with the ball.
Melbourne: Mitch Brown
Eyebrows were raised when Brown was let go by Essendon and Melbourne were all too happy to snap him up. He is a great mark over head and has an engine as good as any forward. Very reliable in front of goal, Brown is more than handy from a depth point of view.
North Melbourne: Trent Dumont
Very good by foot, Dumont is a very good man to get the ball in the hands of. He has been becoming more consistent as his career rolls on, so don’t expect to see him on this kind of list much longer.
Port Adelaide: Xavier Duursma
With all they hype surrounding Connor Rozee, it is often forgotten that Duursma is also in his second season. Duursma is a great goal scorer and is ultra consistent for someone with only one year of senior footy under his belt.
Richmond: Nick Vlastuin
He is another one that is highly rated, but just how important he is to the Tigers’ success goes underrated. Especially in the absence of Alex Rance, Vlastuin has become the key organiser for the Richmond defence and plays a critical role often as the loose man in defence.
St Kilda: Hunter Clark
Clark is starting to provide the class and skill the Saints drafted him for. Playing off half back, Clark has become a key in setting up St Kilda scores from back-half turnovers. His composure with ball in hand is matched with his vision and skill. He will be a big part of the Saints for the next decade.
Sydney: Tom McCartin
The brother of a former number one draft pick Patrick McCartin, Tom is a very difficult size to match up on and is great over head. He doesn’t always perform to his best but when he does, he is vital to the Sydney forward line operating in a smooth fashion.
West Coast: Jamie Cripps
He is a real barometer for the Eagles. When Cripps goes quiet, the Eagles often struggle to find a way to hit the scoreboard. He is very crafty around goal and is a very important cog to the West Coast machine.
Western Bulldogs: Josh Dunkley
He is another one who is obviously well rated, however the ability of Dunkley to play as an attacking, ball-winning midfielder one week and then a tagging midfielder the next shows just how good and important he is to the Bulldogs. Even when tagging, he has a great ability to win his own ball and hurt the opposition’s best midfielder going the other way.