As the 2020 AFL season got underway over the weekend, albeit a little differently, aflplayers.com.au discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side 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: Shai Bolton
Starting 2020 where he left off last season, Shai Bolton showed just how important he is to Richmond’s dynamic line-up. The 21-year-old kicked three goals, including a steadier in the fourth quarter where he outran Carlton’s Sam Docherty and Jacob Weitering, in the Tigers’ 24-point win. Bolton finished the game with 13 disposals, seven score involvements and six marks.
Collingwood: Jeremy Howe
Jeremy Howe continues to be an integral part of Collingwood’s back six and on Friday night he showed just how important he is to their structure. Against the Dogs, Howe collected 25 disposals and four rebound 50s but it was his intercept marking across half-back where he was most critical. Howe amassed 12 intercept possessions and an equal game-high nine marks as the Pies put themselves in a good position ahead of the two-month season suspension.
Essendon: Jacob Townsend
After his career was seemingly over just six months ago, the former Tiger made the most of his first opportunity in the red and black with a standout showing in the club’s narrow win over the Dockers. Townsend booted three goals (two in the first term) and set the tone with his trademark aggression at the man and the ball.
Sydney: Oliver Florent
Isaac Heeney was the star of the show, but Sydney’s talented young midfielder was just as instrumental in the Swans’ win. Florent gathered 21 disposals to go with six clearances and 514 metres gained and was a central figure in Sydney’s centre-square dominance.
Port Adelaide: Mitch Georgiades
The debutant looked right at home in a big win over Gold Coast, booting two goals from 11 touches. With Charlie Dixon sidelined through injury, the No.18 pick in last year’s Draft made the most of his opportunity and displayed his athleticism in marking contests.
GWS Giants: Matt De Boer
De Boer is a regular in this column because of what his role demands of him. In round one he went toe-to-toe with one of the game’s best midfielders – Patrick Dangerfield – and limited him to 16 disposals. De Boer remains an integral part of a Giants time that is likely to challenge for the 2020 premiership once the season restarts.
North Melbourne: Jy Simpkin
With Jack Ziebell hurting his knee in the third term, the Roos needed someone to step up and fill the void. That player was Jy Simpkin, who collected 23 disposals, four clearances and was involved in eight score involvements.
Hawthorn: Shaun Burgoyne
The oldest player in the competition turned in a vintage performance against the Lions. Burgoyne’s guile and class was on display as the Hawks opened their account at the start of the 2020 season, booting three goals and setting up another to underline his brilliance.
West Coast: Brendon Ah Chee
The hard-running Eagle only managed eight games in his first year at the club in 2019. But he began the 2020 season with a steely mindset to be a key contributor in West Coast’s first-up win over Melbourne. Ah Chee booted two goals from 12 disposals against the Demons.