As the 2019 AFL season got underway over the weekend, AFLPlayers.com.au discovered the players that played an underrated hand from the first weekend of footy. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the unsung heroes.
Richmond: Jack Graham
Entering his third season of senior football, many Tigers fans are optimistic about Jack Graham, and with good reason. The 21-year-old work tirelessly in Richmond’s engine room on Thursday night, getting the footy 23 times, laying six tackles, having five score involvements and kicking the ball inside 50 on five occasions as they held on for a 33-point win over Carlton.
Geelong: Charlie Constable
On debut and on the bright lights of Friday night football, first-gamer Charlie Constable looked at home on the MCG turf. The 19-year-old gathered 21 disposals (at 85 percent efficiency) and kicked an important goal in the last term that gave the Cats the lead back.
Port Adelaide: Willem Drew
After two years in the system, debutant Willem Drew made the most of his opportunity on the big stage. Drew accumulated 21 disposals, seven score involvements and took five marks in the Powers’ 26-point victory. Drew also laid five tackles but perhaps the most pivotal of them was in the second quarter when he charged towards Melbourne’s Jake Melksham, causing a turnover and a Port Adelaide goal.
Hawthorn: James Worpel
In just his 12th game of senior football, James Worpel cemented himself as an important cog in Hawthorn’s midfield. With reigning Brownlow medalist Tom Mitchell expected to miss the season with a broken leg, Worpel stood up gathering 27 disposals, including eight insides 50s and six clearances. Pushing forward for periods, Worpel was involved in six scoring shots and kicked two goals of his own.
Western Bulldogs: Sam Lloyd
As the Swans piled on four straight goals to be within reach of a come-from-behind victory, hope was quickly fading for the Dogs. In his first game in new colours, Sam Lloyd crucially turned over the ball in the centre of the ground to start a chain that ended in a Marcus Bontempelli goal to give the Dogs some breathing room. With a couple of minutes remaining, Lloyd slotted through the match-winning goal to seal a heart-stopping victory for the Dogs.
Brisbane: Lincoln McCarthy
After almost walking away from the game at the end of last year, Brisbane Lions recruit made himself known at the Gabba on Saturday night. A rough start saw him give away more free kicks than he had disposals but as Brisbane chipped away at the quarter time deficit, McCarthy worked himself into the game. He finished with four goals, five score involvements and laid four tackles as Brisbane charged home to a 44-point win over the reigning premiers.
St Kilda: Darragh Joyce
In close games, there are moments you look back on as being pivotal to a team’s outcome, and with 35 seconds remaining on the clock at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, one of those moments involved St Kilda’s Irish recruit Darragh Joyce, and the Gold Coast’s Peter Wright. With the ball bombed forward, Wright was in position to perhaps take a big mark on the 50-metre arc, but the inexperience Joyce recovered position and came up with the biggest spoil of his short career as the Saints repelled the attack and held on for a one-point win.
GWS: Brent Daniels
The Giants were one of the stories of the first round, and with plenty of contributors in a landslide victory, it was a difficult task to single out one player. Second-year forward Brent Daniels worked tirelessly to put pressure on the Bombers, laying seven tackles and gathering 17 possessions in their 72-point win.
Fremantle: Lachlan Schultz
This time last year, Fremantle forward Lachlan Schultz was running around for Williamstown in the VFL. Fast forward 12 months and the mature-age recruit slotted seamlessly into the Dockers forward line. In his debut game Schultz collected 17 disposals, took six marks and kicked two goals to look at home on the Optus Stadium turf.