Which modern AFL superstars are most respected by their peers?
In the lead-up to Round 1, aflplayers.com.au (in conjunction with afl.com.au) will reveal the top 50 players in the game, as voted by the players.
Nathan Fyfe certainly knows how to stand out in a crowd.
With shaggy hair, a strong physique and the football talents to match, Fyfe is easy to spot through the congestion of 36 players chasing the ball.
At 190cm and 90kg, the 24-year-old is a commanding presence on the ground. He excels when the ball is in dispute and led the competition for average contested possessions and clearances last season.
Such is his dominance, Fyfe has now been voted by his peers as the best player in the AFL – improving on his runner-up ranking from last year’s Players’ Top 50.
The 2015 Brownlow Medallist is just as dominant in the air, averaging 1.65 contested marks per game last season – the most of any non-key position player.
New skipper David Mundy believes Fyfe’s aerial prowess puts him at an advantage over his opponents.
“As a midfielder, Nat’s ability in the air is supernatural. He seems to jump and hang there for a little while and pluck the ball. It’s certainly a big strength to his game,” Mundy told Aflplayers.com.au.
Fyfe’s rise to the top of the game’s most elite has been meteoric. Debuting with 18 games in 2010, Fyfe was on the cusp of elite status after taking his game to a new level in 2011, finishing runner-up in the Dockers’ best and fairest award and being named in the 40-man All-Australian squad in only his second season in the AFL.
Injury struck down Fyfe’s third year in the system but the powerful midfielder became one of the game’s best after winning his first Doig Medal at the age of 22 in 2013.
He again took his game to new heights in 2014, becoming the overwhelming favourite for the Brownlow Medal by year’s end, gaining his first All-Australian selection and winning his second Fremantle best and fairest award.
Speaking to the Herald Sun in February, Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett – the man Fyfe replaced atop this year’s Players’ Top 50 – said his successor’s biggest trait is his strong desire to succeed.
“He’s competitiveness, that’s the big one,’’ Ablett said.
“The reason I respect him so much as a player is because he can do everything.
“He can win his own ball, he can get the ball on the outside, he really hasn’t got a weakness in his game. He’s consistent and that’s a sign of a champion. He’s done that for two years – played at a consistently high level.”
With just 112 games to his name, Fyfe is the most inexperienced player to feature in the top 17 players in this year’s Players’ Top 50. He is the third Fremantle player to feature in 2016’s list, ahead of teammates Mundy (29) and Aaron Sandilands (24).
Nathan Fyfe 2015 stats (20 games):
Average disposals: 28.80. Contested possessions: 17.80. Tackles: 4.30. Clearances: 8.65. Goals: 17.