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Opinion

The AFL team shuffle

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Roar Guru
21st December, 2020
12
1702 Reads

What would a team look like if it comprised one player from each side playing in a different position to the one they’re used to?

The magnets should move around more than they do in order for a team to get the best out of a player.

Let’s find out which players would benefit from altering their position. To be eligible a player must have played a minimum of five games in 2020.

For this exercise there’s one captain: Sam Walsh of Carlton. He would benefit from being the sole captain as the tag would help him get the maximum out of himself as a footballer.

AFL Trial and Error starting 18

Adelaide Crows: Brodie Smith
Brisbane Lions: Daniel Rich
Carlton Blues: Sam Walsh (Captain)
Collingwood Magpies: Jack Crisp
Essendon Bombers: Michael Hurley
Fremantle Dockers: Blake Acres
Geelong Cats: Sam Menegola
Gold Coast Suns: Sam Day
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Nick Haynes
Hawthorn Hawks: James Worpel
Melbourne Demons: Michael Hibberd
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Jed Anderson
Port Adelaide Power: Tom Rockliff
Richmond Tigers: Kane Lambert
St Kilda Saints: Jack Billings
Sydney Swans: Tom McCartin
West Coast Eagles: Alex Witherden
Western Bulldogs: Josh Bruce

B: Sam Walsh (Carlton Blues), Josh Bruce (Western Bulldogs), Jack Billings (St Kilda Saints)
HB: Tom Rockliff (Port Adelaide Power), Tom McCartin (Sydney Swans), Blake Acres (Fremantle Dockers)
C: Alex Witherden (West Coast Eagles), Sam Menegola (Geelong Cats), Michael Hibberd (Melbourne Demons)
HF: Daniel Rich (Brisbane Lions), Nick Haynes (Greater Western Sydney Giants), Brodie Smith (Adelaide Crows)
FF: Jed Anderson (North Melbourne Kangaroos), Michael Hurley (Essendon Bombers), James Worpel (Hawthorn Hawks)
Foll: Sam Day (Gold Coast Suns), Jack Crisp (Collingwood Magpies), Kane Lambert (Richmond Tigers)

Sam Walsh runs with the ball

Sam Walsh (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Backs

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Sam Walsh would benefit from playing in the back pocket. He took the mark of the season in 2020. He has the capability to play in that position as he never stops working hard and would do a good job curtailing the opposition forward line. He is a natural leader. He has been a pivotal part of the Carlton team.

Josh Bruce had a disappointing season in 2020. Perhaps a change of position would bring about an alteration in his form. He has the ability to play as a key defender.

Jack Billings is one of St Kilda’s best players when he plays to his optimum level. Like Josh Bruce, a change of position would bring about an improvement in form. He has the potential to create plenty of run out of defence.

Halfbacks

Tom Rockliff showed that he has mental toughness in 2020 as he was dropped by Port Adelaide at one point of the season. He came back into the team seamlessly. He would benefit from playing on the halfback flank as he gets plenty of tackles and would win plenty of disposals.

Tom McCartin of the Sydney Swans would be able to play centre halfback. It’s too much pressure on him playing as a key forward. He would take intercept marks and his career would be revitalised.

Blake Acres is a player that is extremely tough. The Fremantle Dockers could use a player that’s capable of winning plenty of the ball off a halfback flank.

AFL-generic-Sherrin

(Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Centres

Alex Witherden playing on the wing is a no-brainer. He has the capability to do so. He may have played rarely at the Brisbane Lions, but he still averaged the third most disposals for the Brisbane Lions. The West Coast Eagles could someone playing on the opposite win to Andrew Gaff.

Sam Menegola would be a revelation if he got an opportunity to play in the middle of the ground. Had he played in that position then the Geelong Cats could have won the premiership in 2020.

Michael Hibberd of the Demons deserves the opportunity to play on the wing. He is a good kick capable of troubling opposition defences with his prodigious left foot kick.

Half-forwards

Daniel Rich of the Lions would benefit from a change of position. There’s too much pressure on him playing in defence. He has kicked 110 goals in 222 games. Imagine how many goals he would have kicked if he played as a permanent half-forward flanker.

Nick Haynes would be suited to playing as a centre half-forward. He would give the Giants a target. The structure of any team would be good with him playing centre half-forward because he reads the game so well. He would be a revelation in that position.

Brodie Smith has kicked 62 goals in 183 games. Playing Smith on the -forward flank would be a good move for the Adelaide Crows as he would have less pressure on him than playing in the midfield or in defence.

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Forwards

Jed Anderson was arguably North Melbourne’s best player in 2020. He has kicked 25 goals in 78 games thus far in his career. He would benefit from a move forward as he has had an average of 4.7 tackles per game for his whole career as it stands.

Michael Hurley was under immense pressure for the Essendon Bombers in their defence in 2020. He could definitely do with a change of position. He has kicked 108 goals in 193 games, which is quite remarkable given he has predominantly played as a defender. He would also benefit from playing as the second ruckman in this team.

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James Worpel has been a pivotal part of the Hawthorn Hawks midfield. He has kicked 16 goals in 48 games but averages 4.8 tackles. He would provide forward pressure on the opposition defence. He wouldn’t have the same pressure of playing in the midfield and getting tagged.

Followers

Sam Day would be a revelation in a ruck. He needs a change of position, so playing in the ruck would be the perfect move for him and for the Gold Coast Suns. He is a player that always plays with great endeavour and would be suited to playing in the ruck.

Jack Crisp would be a revelation playing in the middle of the ground, in particular for the Collingwood Magpies given the fact that they lost one of the best midfielders in Adam Treloar.

Kane Lambert impacts the play nearly every time he gets a disposal. He deserves the opportunity to play in the midfield as he has toiled hard playing on a half-forward flank. His performances and consistency warrant more credit and would receive that recognition playing in the midfield.

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