Each week, aflplayers.com.au looks at the players who flew under the radar in their team’s victory. Whether it was a moment of impact or a four-quarter performance, these are the Round 3 Unsung Heroes.
Hawthorn: Ben McEvoy
The big man bounced back in a big way against Richmond after some heavy criticism for the way he played against Geelong the week prior. Sticking at centre half-back, McEvoy put himself in the right positions time and again to finish with a team-high nine intercepts, 12 disposals and an integral role in stopping the supply to Tiger forwards Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt.
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith
While debate continues about who will be the better player from the 2018 AFL Draft – Sam Walsh or Connor Rozee – young Bulldog Bailey Smith is quietly going about his business. Against the Giants, the former No. 7 pick collected 17 disposals at 94 per cent efficiency, had four inside 50s and four score involvements, laid three tackles and kicked a goal. Smith has cemented himself in the Bulldogs’ midfield and is giving fans plenty to be excited about.
Sydney: James Rowbottom
The Swans find a way of unearthing gems in the draft and second-year midfielder James Rowbottom is no different. Against North Melbourne the 19-year-old collected 18 disposals, five clearances, laid three tackles and three rebound 50s. While his disposal efficiency only sat at 50 per cent for the game, Rowbottom was hard-at-it and willed himself to every contest.
Collingwood: Brayden Maynard
Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard continually flies under the radar in a back six featuring the likes of Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore. Playing his 100th career game on the weekend, Maynard had 21 touches, including five intercept possessions, laid six tackles, took five marks and had 432 metres gained.
Carlton: Marc Pittonet
Perhaps one of the best bargains from the 2019 Trade Period, Pittonet has cemented himself as Carlton’s No. 1 ruckman this season. Against the Cats on Saturday night, Pittonet had a game-high 36 hit-outs to go with his nine disposals, three marks and three tackles. His work around the ground helped Carlton to its first win at Kardinia Park since Round 22, 1996 – the same year Pittonet was born.
Brisbane: Jarrod Berry
After an indifferent start to the season the Lions were out to solidify their credentials on Saturday night against the Eagles. Critical to their 30-point victory was 22-year-old Berry who kicked an equal game-high three goals, to go with his 13 touches and five tackles. Berry’s work rate was high, finishing the game with a staggering 25 pressure acts and seven score involvements.
Gold Coast: Connor Budarick
Playing in just his third game, the young defender looked assured beyond his years in a pivotal role in Gold Coast’s backline. Budarick’s ability to consistently win one-on-one contests against his opponent stood out and he provided the Suns with some important drive, with 16 disposals and a classy running goal, in the thumping win over Adelaide.
Port Adelaide: Trent McKenzie
Having played just one AFL match in his past two seasons at Port Adelaide, McKenzie has made the most of his opportunity slotting into the Power’s defence in the first three games of the season. McKenzie looks like a much more rounded player in 2020, his kicking remains his biggest weapon but the defensive aspects of his game have improved. Even spent some time on Nat Fyfe when he played as the deepest forward, which shows the trust he has from the coaching staff.