aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in round 11. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Melbourne- James Harmes
Harmes might be as vital a cog as any in Melbourne’s premiership pursuit. In the Dees’ top-of-the-table triumph on Friday night, the 25-year-old restricted Tom Liberatore to only 16 disposals while accruing 23 touches himself. Harmes also laid seven tackles, took five marks and set the tone with a goal in the opening 20 seconds of the match.
Geelong- Rhys Stanley
A late inclusion, Stanley’s efforts in the ruck might have gone some way to securing his spot in the Cats’ 22 for some time yet. With seven marks (two contested), 16 disposals and a goal, Stanley displayed his athleticism around the ground in an otherwise uninspiring contest.
Brisbane Lions- Oscar McInerney
‘The Big O’ has taken on a new challenge this season, assuming prime ruck duties in place of the traded Stefan Martin. A remarkable story, McInerney’s journey from a VFL project player to a potential premiership ruckman hit new heights on Saturday, when he complemented 30 hitouts with 20 disposals and a goal.
St Kilda- Luke Dunstan
Back in for his second game of the season after a six-week stint in the VFL, Dunstan kickstarted a career revival in scintillating style on Saturday. In fact, the numbers — 22 kicks, 13 tackles, eight score involvements, seven clearances and six marks — suggest he was the best player on the ground.
Gold Coast- Touk Miller
This no-fuss Sun epitomises the unsung hero. Gold Coast’s heart and soul has played 127 of a possible 138 games since being drafted and, without fanfare, has become one of the game’s elite-level midfielders. In the Suns’ win over Hawthorn, Miller was again prolific with 37 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles and a goal.
Essendon- Jayden Laverde
Laverde’s shift into Essendon’s backline is fast becoming one of 2021’s most eye-catching stories and deserves ample recognition. In the Bombers’ extraordinary comeback win over the Eagles, Laverde was one of the most influential players on the ground, limiting the in-form Jack Darling to only seven touches and a sole major.
Richmond- Nathan Broad
It’s easy to forget how important Broad’s role in the Tigers’ defence is, particularly when it boasts the likes of Jayden Short, Bachar Houli and Dylan Grimes. But Broad’s performance was a reminder of how valuable he is to the three-peat pursuing side, with 10 marks (importantly, four of those were contested), and 21 disposals at a tidy 85 per cent efficiency.
Sydney- Harry Cunningham
Cunningham’s 141-game career has always threatened to take off. Now, in his 10th season, the fleet-footed Swan is using his speed to take off out of defence, and played a key role on Sunday with 24 effective disposals, 10 marks and six rebound 50s.
Port Adelaide- Sam Powell-Pepper
Surprisingly, Powell-Pepper is still only 23. Sporting an AFL-ready body when drafted, he played every game bar one in his debut season, but four years on, his move to a forward-midfield role might prove the catalyst in elevating his game to the next level. Powell-Pepper was sublime in round 11, booting three goals from 20 disposals and laying five tackles.