As the 2019 AFL season continued over the weekend and some surprise packages emerged as contenders, AFLPlayers.com.au highlights those that played an underrated hand in their side’s victories. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the unsung heroes.
Geelong: Gryan Miers
He oozed confidence around goal at under-18 level and Gryan Miers has brought that to the AFL since debuting in Round 1. Miers kicked three goals against the Crows, including a crumbing effort after an under-pressure handball receive. The local product hasn’t looked out of place on the big stage and is beginning to develop on-field chemistry with the Geelong forwards, none more so than Gary Ablett.
Essendon: Darcy Parish
After missing the Round 1 loss and struggling to find his feet against St Kilda, Darcy Parish returned to form against Melbourne. Parish ran rampant across the ground collecting 24 possessions and 11 score involvements. Although his accuracy in front of goal was lacking, Parish was influential around the contest.
Sydney: Tom Papley
In a Sydney side where scoring has been hard to come by, the Swans forwards returned to form. While all the talk was deservedly about Isaac Heeney’s four-goal haul, small-forward Tom Papley flew under the radar. Papley’s pressure around the stoppages was influential, finishing the game with three clearances and three tackles inside 50. In addition to his 10 score involvements, Papley kicked two goals of his own including one in the final quarter to put the Blues out of reach.
GWS Giants: Jeremy Finlayson
Comfortable in defense, Jeremy Finlayson swung forward on the weekend to support Jeremy Cameron. The 23-year-old took advantage of Richmond’s undermanned defense, more than doubling his career goal tally kicking five majors. Finlayson also finished the day with 15 disposals and five marks in one his stronger performances.
Brisbane: Dayne Zorko
He wasn’t named in the best on the weekend but Dayne Zorko was still vital on Saturday as the Lions won their third in a row to start 2019. The Lions skipper has had a tougher start to the season than expected but worked hard against the Power, collecting 25 touches, eight inside 50s and seven tackles as his side put in another impressive display.
West Coast: Brad Sheppard
A week after Jordan De Goey ran rampant at the MCG, the Eagles defenders were going to be left with a big task. After missing the 2018 premiership through injury, up stepped Brad Sheppard. Although De Goey finished the game with three goals, Sheppard quelled his influence and gathered 18 disposals of his own.
Gold Coast Suns: Jack Hombsch
Gold Coast have been lauded for their mature-age recruits this season, with Sam Collins proving to a pivotal pick-up, but defender Jack Hombsch has been quietly going about his business. In a hotly contested game against the Bulldogs, Hombsch had seven intercept possessions and seven one percenters, including five spoils. With the game on the line, 26-year-old Hombsch was a key pillar in defense.
Hawthorn: Ricky Henderson
The Hawthorn recruiting department strikes again! Recruited as a delisted free agent ahead of the 2017 season, Ricky Henderson has been quietly going about his business on the wing for the Hawks. Continuing his solid start to the season and with all the focus on new recruits Chad Wingard and Tom Scully, Henderson gathered 29 disposals, took seven marks and had five score involvements.
Fremantle: Adam Cerra
Adam Cerra has been working to cement himself as an important cog in Fremantle’s midfield and on the weekend he showed why he was taken at pick five in the 2017 national draft. Playing mostly across Fremantle’s defensive half, Cerra collected 23 disposals, including five intercept possessions, seven marks and four score involvements as the Dockers continued their strong start to the season.