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Your club's underrated performer: Round 22

Dan Hannebery poses during a St Kilda Saints AFL Media Opportunity at Moorabbin Oval on November 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
15th August, 2021
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1256 Reads

In a word, this round was bonkers. Seasons ended, top four shaken, retirements aplenty and upsets galore. Alas, the norm now has become unreal performances going under the radar. For Round 22, here they are!

Adelaide: Andrew McPherson
His second mention in three weeks, McPherson is establishing himself in Adelaide’s best back six and with the news of Daniel Talia’s Adelaide career being over, he needed to step up and did so.

On Sunday, he picked up 17 disposals, six rebounds, four tackles, three intercepts, a couple of score involvements, ten pressure acts and 212 metres gained. Looking more settled with each passing game.

Brisbane: Ryan Lester
The Brisbane back six are going to make or break their season, as Eric Hipwood and Cam Rayner are out for the year up forward and Lachie Neale and Jarrod Berry have had their injury worries in the midfield.

The Lions defence is one of the more balanced defences in the league; Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner are to shut down the talls, Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall are the offensive weapons and Brandon Starcevich shuts down the best small forward.

Lester is the guy who (when needed) can do either and did both at times on Saturday night.

He picked up 16 disposals on Saturday night at 81 per cent efficiency, four tackles, three rebounds, 15 pressure acts and three intercept possessions.

Every good team has the players who the team’s fans love more than opposition fans notice and Lester is one of these players, without a doubt.

Robbie Gray of the Power and Ryan Lester of the Lions chase after a ball

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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Carlton: Zac Fisher
I’m not using this space to bash Marc Murphy’s retirement game or David Teague’s position as coach – the media will happily do that until the cows come home.

Not a lot of credit gets given out but in a 95-point loss, I look for a player who played with heart and soul the whole way through and apart from Matt Kennedy, Murphy himself and Sam Walsh, Fisher was a standout in the heart and soul department.

He picked up 17 disposals, seven tackles, six score involvements, four clearances, 76 per cent efficiency and 22 pressure acts.

With the new coach, Carlton’s fringe players will be all on edge but I’m backing in Zac Fisher to go to another gear. He can be a very good wingman, in a cycle of football that allows wingmen to be great (Karl Amon, Hugh McCluggage, Paul Seedsman and Ed Langdon are elite examples).

Collingwood: Chris Mayne
Consider this a half Round 22 underrated piece and half congratulations to a man who’s had a good career. From a leading goal-kicker at Fremantle to a man maligned for a massive deal that he didn’t force Collingwood to give him, he’s been a really solid player at the Pies.

In his second-last game, Mayne had 23 touches at 82 per cent efficiency, took six marks, had five score involvements, four rebounds and a couple of tackles.

Hope you go well in retirement, Mayney.

Jeremy Cameron of the Giants is chased by Chris Mayne of the Magpies

(Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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Essendon: Will Snelling
Will’s received himself a new property here at Underrated HQ, considering he’s lived rent-free here at the back end of the season and continued his fine, fine form in 2021.

He had himself 20 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency, eight score involvements, seven marks, four inside 50s, a couple of rebounds and 15 pressure acts. He also had four one-percenters as well.

Fremantle: James Aish
The former Pie and Lion was one of many Dockers to genuinely outperform the Eagles to get their first Derby win in the last ten tries and although Caleb Serong, David Mundy, Luke Ryan, Sean Darcy and Hayden Young will probably get the credit, Aish was wonderful.

He picked up 20 disposals did the former No.7 pick, along with five tackles, four rebounds, three clearances, three marks, 70 per cent efficiency and 302 metres gained.

Geelong: Lachie Henderson
There’s hardly a better journeyman story in the AFL right now (Tom Hickey the exception). Henderson has saved his career two years running and hasn’t put a foot wrong in 2021, either.

In a grinding win over the Saints, Henderson had 22 disposals (15 kicks), took nine marks, had four inside 50s and score involvements, 11 pressure acts and 330 metres gained. He’s not one of the Cats’ most celebrated veterans but he could be one of the most important.

Gold Coast: Jeremy Sharp
This young man has taken on AFL life like a hand in a glove and after having a bunch of awesome performances, he’s had a quieter week or two but came back really nicely against the Dons.

He had 19 disposals at 73 per cent efficiency, with six marks, five inside 50s, three intercepts, two score involvements and two clearances but what else was wonderful was he ranked second for the Suns with metres gained (528) and committed a dozen pressure acts.

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GWS: Xavier O’Halloran
The Giants have unleashed many a youngster in 2021 for two reasons; a mass injury crisis and Toby Greene having a special set of rules, but O’Halloran had himself a really mature performance.

The 21-year-old has played 16 games this year but on Friday night, he had 17 disposals (at 70 per cent efficiency), five marks, score involvements and inside 50s.

He had 459 metres gained and also applied 14 pressure acts in a brilliant performance from the former Vic Metro captain.

Hawthorn: Lachie Bramble
This was a win with Sam Mitchell’s fingerprints over it. Jai Newcombe back into the midfield without James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara and he was a Mitchell find in the lower level.

Mitchell has been given credit for identifying Conor Nash as an inside midfielder and that’s worked for three weeks and has got credit for finding Bramble as well.

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Younger teammates of Bramble have been managed but he’s come in and stayed in. On Saturday, he had another 19 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency, five inside 50s, four tackles, three score involvements, marks and rebounds.

The 23-year-old ranked second at the Hawks for metres gained with 486 and he kicked his first goal in AFL as well. Congratulations, young man.

Melbourne: Charlie Spargo
The little pocket rocket is a key cog that I mentioned in my podcast Great Footy Debate that Melbourne need. He and his fellow burst forwards need to make great contributions in order for the Dees to break their 57-year premiership drought.

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Against the Crows, he had 18 disposals at 78 per cent, eight score involvements, seven marks, four inside 50s, three goal assists and 326 metres gained. Keep going, Charlie.

North Melbourne: Josh Walker
Not the only three club player featured this week, Walker was brave and composed in a good performance from the Roos.

He had 13 kicks among 17 disposals, seven contested, four score involvements, marks and rebounds, as well as a couple of tackles, inside 50s and clearances. Add in seven hit-outs and he truly did do a bit of everything.

Port Adelaide: Dan Houston
The Power have probably ended David Teague’s coaching career but what they may have started is a real momentum swing at September. With the Dogs losing, which put Port in the top four, they can charge at the finals, where they need to knock down their mental fragility against the best sides.

Port’s slick ball movement was on show against Carlton and Houston is one of the best ball users in the league.

On Saturday, he had 24 disposals (17 kicks), six inside 50s, five marks, five score involvements, three rebounds, 605 metres gained and kicked a goal.

Richmond: Jack Graham
A certain lock for the end of the season’s Underrated Team of the Year, the next Richmond captain continues to put blood, sweat and tears into each performance (as does Liam Baker) and although he didn’t use the ball as well as he would have liked, I’m taking the mulligan here and giving love to a favourite son.

He still picked up 20 disposals (seven contested), had 546 metres gained (second on the ground), six score involvements, six inside 50s, four tackles, four clearances, a couple of marks and a couple of rebounds.

How can you not respect the way that the great man plays?

St Kilda: Dan Hannebery
This piece of underrated gold comes from a frustration about the media’s portrayal of Dan’s return.

Dan Hannebery

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The genuine surprise that he can still perform well was a point of annoyance of mine because no one has really doubted his ability, just the worry about his body holding up.

In his return, he picked up 18 disposals with an even spread of nine kicks and handballs, four clearances, three score involvements, three intercept possessions, 78 per cent efficiency and 250 metres gained. If there’s a bloke who deserves a better run of things in 2022, it’s Hannebery.

Sydney: Hayden McLean
North are in a really good place by playing good footy, still finishing last for extra talent but credit to the Swans; sometimes when you’re expected to win, winning means nothing to the common fans and it’s glossed over but this was a good win.

McLean is one of those players fighting to play finals within this group and with 13 disposals, ten marks (four contested), nine contested possessions, six score involvements and a goal from downtown, hes definitely put his name up there. Question is, can he play with Lance Franklin?

West Coast: Tom Cole
The Eagles have slumped out of the eight and lost some credibility in the eyes of footy fans across the country but while it’s sometimes fair to criticise the list as a whole, Cole put his best foot forward.

He had 18 disposals at 94 per cent efficiency (14 kicks), seven marks, four intercepts, three inside 50s and a couple of score involvements. Add in his dozen pressure acts and over 200 metres gained, and there’s a tick.

Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel
The man in the helmet is a genuine star and for all of the frustration Fantasy and SuperCoach players have had at times this season with his unpredictable positioning, he’s also been outstanding all over the ground.

He had 27 disposals on the weekend, with nine contested possessions, seven rebound 50s, five intercepts, four tackles, three marks, 81 per cent efficiency, 23 pressure acts and 391 metres gained. The man is a star.

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