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Unsung Heroes – Round 5

As the two undefeated teams, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, separated themselves from the pack, 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 Round 5 Unsung Heroes.

Richmond – Toby Nankervis

In and out of the side in recent seasons, Toby Nankervis is solidifying his position as the Tigers’ prime ruckman after a blistering start to the season. With Rowan Marshall a late out, Nankervis feasted on St Kilda’s depleted ruck stocks with 40 hitouts, 22 disposals and six tackles.

West Coast – Jack Redden

Once a star midfielder at the Brisbane Lions, Redden has played a quieter role in West Coast’s top-class midfield unit in recent years. But with captain Luke Shuey out injured, the 30-year-old has stepped up. In the Eagles’ comfortable Friday night victory over Collingwood, Redden combined 37 disposals with 10 marks and four tackles.

Western Bulldogs – Alex Keath

Given the Bulldogs’ staggering midfield depth and firepower up forward, the team’s defenders are often left unnoticed. But Alex Keath was near faultless as the Dogs cruised to a 5-0 start to the season, taking nine marks to go with 20 disposals at a near perfect 95 per cent efficiency. 

GWS Giants – Tom Green

The GWS Giants’ midfield is starting to find form, and promising second-year Giant Tom Green is no exception. In just his 10th game, the 20-year-old had 24 disposals, six clearances, four marks and three tackles in a complete on-ball performance.

Brisbane Lions – Lincoln McCarthy

Since crossing from Geelong, McCarthy has played an important role in the Lions’ forward line. Other Brisbane recruits, such as McCarthy’s close friend Lachie Neale, have often claimed the headlines. But McCarthy’s forward pressure was immense in the wet on Saturday night, laying 11 tackles — four of which were inside 50 — winning 12 contested possessions and kicking two goals.  

Port Adelaide – Todd Marshall

Charlie Dixon and Mitch Georgiades may have claimed plaudits as the pair combined for five goals, but Todd Marshall completes the Power’s three-pronged key-forward attack as a lead-up option and was equally impressive on Saturday night. Marshall took nine marks, three of which were contested, had 15 kicks and a goal.

Fremantle – James Aish

Playing for his third club, James Aish has set about demonstrating why he was selected with the seventh selection of the 2013 draft. He did just that on Sunday afternoon with a blend of 22 disposals and five tackles, as well as one of the goals of the round early in the third term. Speeding through the middle of Adelaide Oval, Aish tapped the ball to Walters, ran unchecked into the forward 50, received a handball, dodged a Crows defender and snapped the Sherrin home at a critical point in the game.

Melbourne – Tom McDonald

Melbourne’s key forward talk has been centred around the impending returns of Sam Weideman and recruit Ben Brown. But in their absence, Tom McDonald has recaptured his best form. The 28-year-old was stellar as the Demons charged away from Hawthorn to remain unbeaten in 2021. McDonald had 22 disposals, 10 marks (two contested), 11 score involvements and two goals.

Geelong – Brandan Parfitt

Parfitt’s rise in Geelong’s midfield has been somewhat unobserved, with attention rightfully drawn towards the likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan. But Parfitt had a career-high 34 disposals, eight clearances and laid eight tackles in the Cats’ five-goal win over North Melbourne. The 22-year-old is quietly announcing himself as Geelong’s next A-grade on-baller.