aflplayers.com.au has 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.
Western Bulldogs- Tom Liberatore
Given the silk of Macrae, the superstardom of Bontempelli and the addition of Adam Treloar, the blue-collar work of Tom Liberatore often goes unnoticed. But ‘Libba’ is constructing a memorable season. On Friday night, the hard nut had 27 disposals (including 16 contested possessions), kicked two goals and laid 10 tackles.
Geelong Cats- Lachie Henderson
All eyes were on the forward partnership of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron, as the latter made his debut in the blue and white hoops. But veteran Lachie Henderson, who almost retired at the end of the 2019 season, played his best game of the season in the Cats’ demolition of West Coast on Saturday. The key defender took 11 marks, had 19 disposals at 94 per cent efficiency, and even drifted forward to kick two goals.
Gold Coast- Nick Holman
Holman, who plays among a host of high draft picks who ooze excitement and potential, has trodden a different path to many of his teammates. He was rookie drafted to the Suns in 2018, after an earlier stint at Carlton, but he has proved just as important to Gold Coast’s fortunes. Saturday was no exception, with Holman laying 13 tackles, taking seven marks, winning the ball 23 times and kicking a goal.
Brisbane Lions- Deven Robertson
For a Larke Medal recipient (best player in the under-18 national championships), Robertson has flown under the radar early in his career. That could be about to change. In only his fourth game on Saturday, Brisbane’s first pick in the 2019 draft collected the ball 18 times, kicked two goals, had eight score involvements and laid six tackles.
Melbourne- Luke Jackson
As Melbourne’s midfield continues to dominate, Max Gawn’s apprentice is developing at a rapid speed, but without rapid fanfare. Jackson’s talent and athleticism has certainly been noticed, but it may no longer be fair to keep tagging the young ruckman with the word ‘potential’. The 19-year-old has arrived, and on Saturday night had 19 disposals at a staggering 100 per cent efficiency, kicked two goals, took five marks (two contested) and won 12 hitouts.
Fremantle- Sean Darcy
The Dockers’ midfield, consisting of Rising Star Caleb Serong, gun on-baller Andrew Brayshaw, the evergreen David Mundy and double Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe, is rightfully deserving of plaudits. But the man tapping the ball to them, Sean Darcy, is one of Fremantle’s most important players at age 22. Darcy won nine more hitouts than ruck opponent Todd Goldstein on Saturday night, kicked a goal among eight score involvements and even laid a game-high eight tackles.
Hawthorn- Tim O’Brien
Shifting to defence, O’Brien might have found his role in the backline after years as a key forward. Ironically, he still drifted forward to kick a goal, but took five marks — three of which were contested — had 18 disposals and was involved in four scoring chains.
Essendon- Dyson Heppell
It isn’t often that a captain’s efforts go unsung, but Heppell’s role in Essendon’s team has been somewhat forgotten after two injury-ravaged seasons. Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett led the Dons’ on-ball brigade on Sunday, but their skipper had 20 kicks, took 13 marks and laid seven tackles. Heppell might be back to his best in a new role in defence.
Port Adelaide- Tom Jonas
Another captain, Jonas’ efforts are worth recognising as the Power cruised to another victory on Sunday evening. Port’s midfield ran amok to take the headlines, but Jonas, as usual, was a rock down back. The skipper took an equal round-high 15 marks, (three contested), had five rebound 50s and kicked the ball 22 times at an efficiency of 80 per cent.