As the 2021 AFL season continued into round two, aflplayers.com.au discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Collingwood – Jeremy Howe
Fellow defender Darcy Moore was incredible with 18 intercepts against Carlton on Thursday night, although the return of Howe – following the long-term injury that kept him out for most of 2020 – adds important security to Collingwood’s backline. Howe’s ability to use the footy with precision from the back half was important, with his 22 touches at 81.8 per cent efficiency underlining his quality.
Geelong – Mark O’Connor
Curtailing last year’s Brownlow medallist isn’t an easy task, but usual defender Mark O’Connor laid out the blueprint for how to perform a stopping job on Lachie Neale in Geelong’s nail-biting victory on Friday night. O’Connor was disciplined in his role, not allowing Neale to get on the move at stoppages. The reigning AFL MVP was held to just 16 disposals.
Sydney – Chad Warner
Whilst all eyes were on Buddy Franklin in his first game since 2019, third-gamer Chad Warner was quietly going about his business. He’s not the most hyped of the Swans’ young guns, but the 19-year-old was tough around the contest and stood up in the absence of James Rowbottom. Warner finished with 20 touches, eight score involvements, and an equal team-high six inside 50s in his best outing for the Swans.
Port Adelaide – Mitch Georgiades
Coming into the Power’s line-up as a late replacement for Todd Marshall, Georgiades made the most of his opportunity with a career-best four goals from 13 touches and eight marks. The 19-year-old has provided Power coach Ken Hinkley with a selection headache ahead of their Round 3 clash with the Eagles.
Melbourne – Adam Tomlinson
Melbourne’s defence are finally starting to find some synergy and after superb performances from Jake Lever and Steven May in Round 1, it was Adam Tomlinson’s turn to impact the contest. While he didn’t light the stats sheet alight, Tomlinson was a rock in defence as the Saints tried to claw their way back in ‘Spud’s Game’. The 27-year-old finished with 17 touches at 94 per cent, an equal team-high 11 marks and four rebound 50s.
Gold Coast – Jack Lukosius
Lukosius is a beautiful user of the footy, so it makes sense to have him up around the footy. After starting his career at half-back, the No.2 pick from the 2018 AFL Draft has moved to the wing to start this year and the move is paying off for Suns coach Stuart Dew. The smooth-moving Lukosius had a match-high 12 score involvements from 22 disposals.
Richmond – Shai Bolton
Every time you watch Shai Bolton, he gets better as a player. As outrageously talented as he is, the young Tiger continues to develop consistency where he’s able to impact games more often. He didn’t have huge numbers against the Hawks, but Bolton’s ability to win the ball at ground level (game-high eight ground ball gets) sticks out.
Western Bulldogs – Bailey Williams
It’s made an early play for game of the year, but the dying minutes of the Dogs v Eagles clash on Sunday was some of the best football in recent memory. With the two sides going goal-for-goal in the final quarter, Bulldogs defender Bailey Williams shone in the dying minutes to save another West Coast shot on goal. Williams outmuscled Liam Ryan to ensure the three Eagles waiting around him weren’t able to gain possession and it started a chain that finished with a Marcus Bontempelli goal to secure the victory. Williams has had quite the fortnight of footy and finished this game with 20 touches at a remarkable 95 per cent efficiency, six marks and six rebound 50s.
Fremantle – Sam Switkowski
Switkowski has been far from a mainstay in Freo’s lineup in previous seasons, but the young forward is making the most of his opportunities with a heavy injury toll hitting the Dockers. Switkowski kicked two goals from 16 disposals and took eight marks in Fremantle’s crushing win over the GWS Giants.