Rounding out the nominations for the 2015 22Under22 squad are the defenders.
Not always the most celebrated demographic of players, the importance of a successful team’s back six cannot be discounted.
From lock-down key talls to running back flankers, 2015 saw the next generation of defenders impose themselves on the competition.
Pivotal to West Coast’s rise up the ladder in 2015 has been the breakout season of 21 year-old Elliot Yeo. The Eagles have rocketed into the top two on the ladder on the back of Yeo’s run and carry from the back half.
Scroll down to see the list of defenders selected in this year’s 22Under22 squad.
Jason Johannisen has enjoyed a similar year at the Western Bulldogs. The running defender sits in the top five at the club for both kicks and marks.
Jack Newnes has performed a key role for the improving Saints, playing every game in 2015 while averaging more than 20 disposals per outing. His consistent season may earn him his first selection in the 22Under22 team as a defender.
Adelaide has found some form towards the end of the season and looks set to make the finals for the first time since 2012. Rory Laird has been a revelation off the half-back flank, averaging more than 24 disposals a game in 2015, while number 14 draft pick Jake Lever has been consistent in holding down a key post.
Port Adelaide’s Jack Hombsch and Brisbane duo Justin Clarke and Michael Paparone have also provided cool heads down back playing on the competition’s best power forwards.
It’s been a disappointing 2015 season for Carlton but Sam Docherty has been a shining light, enjoying a career-best season for the Blues, averaging 21 disposals and six marks per game.
Like Carlton, Gold Coast has failed to live up to pre-season expectations. The continual improvement of Kade Kolodjashnij has been encouraging however, with the 20 year-old leading the Suns for disposals. He will be looking to represent the 22Under22 team for the second year running, while Adam Saad’s run and dash off the half back flank has earned him a nomination in his debut season.
Tom Langdon and Marley Williams continue to find the football for Collingwood, distributing from defence with great efficiency.
Likewise, Nick Vlastuin’s ball use out of defence has been integral to Richmond’s improvement. The 21 year-old has recorded an elite disposal efficiency of 84.3 per cent in 2015.
Which defenders do you think should represent the 22Under22 final team? Voting opens at 9am today!