Was Sam Walsh taken high at the very last gasp?
The home-and-away season is over, and the finals matches for Week 1 are set in stone. Who finished the regular season in spectacular fashion but without the recognition?
Adelaide Crows: Brayden Cook
We loved Cook coming out of the draft at Underrated HQ, and to see him come along has been great. We’ve really enjoyed his performance. He picked up 19 disposals at 84 per cent efficiency, seven score involvements, four inside 50s and four intercepts and gained 305 metres. I hope he can get a regular game in 2022.
Brisbane Lions: Marcus Adams
A three-time inductee into the 2021 underrated player of the week segment, Adams came in for Harris Andrews, who was the late out, and proceeded to take the mickey. He had 14 kicks out of his 15 disposals; five marks, of which three were contested; four rebound 50s; 73 per cent efficiency; and even had a couple of inside 50s of when he pushed up the park. Elite work, Marcus. Elite work.
Carlton Blues: Lachie Fogarty
A feature in the early part of the season, Misty finished off the year in a nice performance. He played 18 of the 22 games. Carlton didn’t really give up a lot to get him, but he’ll need to prove to the next coach that he’s best-22 material for the long term.
However, he did well against the Giants, with 20 disposals, seven marks, six score involvements, four tackles, three clearances and a couple of rebounds. More performances like that and the coach will love him.
Collingwood Magpies: Josh Daicos
This hasn’t been his year for sure, and he needs to prove himself a bit next year, but you’re only as good as your last outing, and his last outing was a good one, albeit he didn’t finish his good work, kicking 1.2.
On top of the 1.2, he had 17 disposals, seven contested possessions, four tackles, three marks, three score involvements, a couple of clearances and a couple of rebounds. Again, he needs a big preseason, but we will see his brother in black and white next year.
Essendon Bombers: Jayden Laverde
With a finals place for the Bombers already sewn up when they lined up against the Pies, the question was how they would deal with the complete drop of pressure. Would they become complacent or would they unleash that inner killer instinct? Well, just like the side as a whole, Laverde killed the Pies.
Laverde had 18 disposals, six marks, five contested possessions and four rebounds and went at 94 per cent. The Bulldogs are the Bombers’ next match-up, and the Dons will need their unheralded defence to stand up strongly.
Fremantle Dockers: Mitch Crowden
The 22-year-old, No. 59 draft pick had a career-best day on a poor weekend for the Dockers, but he was extremely efficient. If only he finished his good work. He had 21 disposals at 76 per cent efficiency, 12 of them contested. He also had seven score involvements, five inside 50s, four clearances, three tackles and a really long goal. I hope he takes a step forward next year.
Geelong Cats: Max Holmes
The speedster Geelong moved up in the draft to get is paying off. He looks a player, and he finished off his year really well. Against the Dees he had 18 disposals (ten contested), seven tackles, five clearances, four score involvements, three inside 50s and three rebounds. I would love to see him kick more, but this was a fantastic outing from the 18-year-old.
Gold Coast Suns: David Swallow
I’m running out of adjectives as to the quality of person and team man that Swallow is. If there’s one man who deserves more success, it’s Spitta by a country mile, and his form is still holding up, which is great to see. He had 20 disposals (seven contested), four marks, three clearances and two tackles, inside 50sm rebounds and score involvements. In another crushing loss, he did a little bit of everything like the ultimate pro that he is.
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Jacob Hopper
In a game Callan Ward, Josh Kelly and Tim Taranto deciding to make a mockery of Marvel Stadium, we at Underrated HQ saw the quality of Hopper’s game as well. That game was 21 disposals (ten contested), nine score involvements, eight clearances, seven tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a snag. He’s a player of unreal quality player who might be on the move next season.
Hawthorn Hawks: Sam Frost
Hawthorn’s feelings towards Frosty can be quite mixed at times, but my goodness he’s been a good pickup. He’s continually taking the athletic tall forwards (and smalls – Toby Greene and Jamie Elliott, for example) but although he can butcher the footy and have his brain fades, Hawthorn fans love him.
The Snowman was unbelievable in his ability to make good decisions on Saturday, even if it was a 20-metre chip kick or kicking on the 45. He had 14 kicks from his 16 disposals, eight intercepts, seven marks and five score involvements at 88 per cent disposal efficiency and gained 325 metres.
Melbourne Demons: Angus Brayshaw
It’s really difficult to believe this man has gone from third in a Brownlow Medal just three years ago to the fifth or sixth midfielder for the Dees, but he’s playing his role really nicely at the moment. He finished with 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and three score involvements. Just fix up the ball usage if you could, Angus. That would work a treat.
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Todd Goldstein
Big Goldy is a star, and although North didn’t finish their year off like the improved side they’ve been, the 33-year-old was really good. Can you believe he was drafted in 2006? Where does the time go? Anyway, he had a dozen disposals, 41 hit-outs, five clearances, four tackles, two inside 50s, two score involvements and nine contested possessions. Massive love for Goldy.
Port Adelaide Power: Ryan Burton
The former Hawk when fit has been a really nice piece for Port Adelaide, and premiership sides have really good pieces as well as their superstars, so while 2021 Brownlow Medal favourite Ollie Wines and superstar veterans Travis Boak and Robbie Gray will do their thing, everyone needs to come along for the ride, and Burto is one of those guys who will jump on.
He had 18 disposals at 83 per cent efficiency, with seven marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Port Adelaide came from nowhere to overwhelm the Dogs, and the solidity across halfback with Burton, Trent McKenzie, Tom Jonas and Dan Houston was brilliant.
Richmond Tigers: Kamdyn McIntosh
For all of the media and the coverage around the dynasty being over, even if it’s reflecting the dynasty or the match on Saturday, it’s rare to see McIntosh get any sort of credit. A wingman who’s more Mitch Robinson-like than Hugh McCluggage, he busts his guts out and is one of those players who bleed footy colours.
Against the Hawks he picked up 16 disposals (ten kicks), five marks, five tackles, five contested possessions, three score involvements and a couple of inside 50s and rebound 50s, and he used the ball well, at 81 per cent.
St Kilda Saints: Jimmy Webster
The Saints were a disappointing case study in 2021, going from the team everyone wanted to succeed back to fan mockery status as their overpaid B-graders didn’t deliver, sending the side back to the mediocre pack.
However, Webster got back to some of his best on Sunday with 18 disposals, nine marks, six score involvements, three rebounds and two inside 50s. The Saints have got some interesting list decisions to make, and with Hawthorn having a strong interest in Nick Coffield, where does Webster fit into the 2022 plans?
Sydney Swans: Oliver Florent
A Swan not spoken about as the other squad members take the spotlight, Florent is a pure wingman who works his absolute butt off to create space, close opposition space and set up attacking thrusts for the boys from the Harbour City.
Florent had 21 disposals at 71 per cent efficiency, eight contested possessions, seven marks, four rebounds, three inside 50s and three score involvements. He will need to perform to help the Swans go well come finals time.
West Coast Eagles: Alex Witherden
The former Lion has certainly had an interesting debut season at the Eagles with ten games, but he finished off well enough, and with Shannon Hurn getting on, he should be a best-22 feature next year.
He auditioned for that role with 24 disposals, nine rebounds, five marks, four tackles, four contested possessions and 87 per cent efficiency. That can’t not be a tick as far as we’re concerned.
Western Bulldogs: Laitham Vandermeer
If there are two things we love at Underrated HQ, it’s the No. 23 and cheeky forwards. When you put the two together, we jump on board, and we are claiming Laitham as our man.
He always looks dangerous forward of centre, and he had 14 touches, six marks, three score involvements, two tackles and two inside 50s as well as an early goal. Welcome to the crew, Laitham. It’s a pleasure to have you.