The 2014 AFL season has seen a new generation of superstars make their mark on the competition – to celebrate, the AFL Players’ Association is calling on all footy fans to help pick this year’s 22Under22 team. Click here to create yours.
Richmond fans have enjoyed a week like no other, having seen their team rocket into finals after a ninth consecutive victory. Pleasingly for the Tigers, a number of young guns have been responsible for their late-season form.
aflplayers.com.au recently caught up with Richmond forward Tyrone Vickery to get his thoughts on some of the finest young talent at Punt Road.
An inaugural 22under22 team member has won back-to-back nominations. He built on a solid 2013 season in the midfield, following a debut season spent primarily at half-back. His fitness and ball-winning ability has improved ten-fold in 2014, earning him a reputation as a running machine amongst his teammates.
Vickery said: “He’s a really hardworking fella. He just loves his football, loves training, he runs his opponent off his legs on game-day and I think he’s really improved on last year.”
Another key member of the Tigers midfield, Conca’s outside run was important in Richmond’s journey to the finals in both 2013 and 2014. He’s built on his numbers between the 50-metre arcs throughout 2014.
Vickery said: “He’s a very laid-back boy from Perth and able to play a variety of positions for us. He’s really handy for our midfield and outside run.”
From outside run to inside toughness, the rookie-listed Miles was one of the unluckiest players to miss out on a 22Under22 nomination. He’s enjoyed a stellar start to his career at Richmond following a two-year spell at Greater Western Sydney, who picked him up after he was selected in the under 18 All-Australian squad.
Although his Tiger debut only came in Round 12, Miles collected more than 20 possessions in five of his first six games – commanding a spot among Hardwick’s already strong midfield set-up. His form continued on at such a high-level that he was rewarded with a new contract towards the end of the season.
Vickery said: “He’s been a really good pick-up for us; he’s stepped straight in at the middle of the year and commanded a spot as a starting on-baller.”
The versatile defender has overcome unfortunately-timed calf and knee injuries after playing the first nine games of 2013 to find his way back into the first-team set-up.
Vickery said: “He’s really turned a corner; he’s training harder and become much more professional and a vital third-tall down back for us.”
This speedy defender contributed to the beginning of the Tigers’ incredible winning run.
Vickery said: “He’s really respected for his hard work and diligence, his hardness at the man and at the ball has really been commended this year.”
Vickery also had praise for this young defensive midfielder who enjoyed some solid footy either side of a broken finger mid-season. Vlastuin’s debut season in 2013 showed a lot of promise and he’s still eligible for a 22Under22 nomination in 2015. If he can remain injury-free, there’s no doubt he’ll be in the running for a place in the squad next year.
Vickery said: “He’s a really well-respected young member of the team with a lot of leadership credentials and capable of filling any hole we need filled, particularly across half back.”
The final 22Under22 team will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 9. You can vote for Ellis by selecting your 22Under22 team here.