Brisbane’s scheduled four-match stint at home at the end of the AFL season has been disrupted by a fixture switch with Fremantle.
Fremantle were the unlucky losers of the round after a controversial free kick allowed Jack Newnes to steal four points for Carlton on Saturday night.
The loss looks to have taken finals football out of reach for the Dockers in what has been an up-and-down season.
Fremantle fans will be disappointed, but there are still plenty of positives from the 2020 season so far that suggests a bright future is imminent.
It’s been well documented that they have three young stars in the midfield in Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong, but someone who has gone under the radar is defender Luke Ryan.
Since his debut in 2017 Ryan has been a regular on the team sheet, playing 60 games of a possible 67.
At 186 centimetres he’s better suited to play on medium-sized forwards, but Fremantle haven’t had that luxury this year, with long-term injuries to key defenders Alex Pearce and Griffin Logue.
This has meant Ryan has a had significant height disadvantage on the likes of Brody Mihocek (192 centimetres), Jack Gunston (193 centimetres) and Levi Casboult (199 centimetres) in his last three games.
Has that been an issue for Ryan?
Not at all, as those opponents have scored only three goals combined in their games against the Dockers.
One of Ryan’s strengths is his ability to intercept opposition plays, and despite having to be accountable for a key forward, it hasn’t stopped him from leading the competition in intercept possessions.
He also has the same number of intercept marks as Brisbane’s Harris Andrews, who many are predicting to make the 2020 All Australian team.
It’s not just the defensive duties that Ryan is doing admirably; he’s also playing an important offensive role.
Ryan is currently in eighth place for metres gained in the competition, with only star players like Lachie Neale, Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Docherty ahead of him.
For someone who averages 18 disposals a game, he can’t be kicking conservatively to have that many metres gained.
Ryan tries to break the game open by foot. What’s impressive is that he has still managed to record the most effective kicks in the league so far.
So if you’re Justin Longmuir, you clearly want the ball in Ryan’s hands.
As the season is nearing the finish line, there’s plenty of competition for a defensive position in the 2020 All Australian team.
There are several defenders having great years, but Ryan deserves to be in contention as it stands.