THE PLAYER HAVING THE BIGGEST SAY IN YOUR AFL TEAM’S FATE THIS YEAR
Adelaide: Daniel Talia
Regularly takes the opposition’s best forward and more often than not does a very good job of keeping them quiet. When it hasn’t worked in the middle for the Crows, he has often helped them stay in games.
Brisbane: Tom Rockliff
Hard to quantify the captain’s impact given he has had a lot of recent injuries and the Lions have been largely dreadful. Tellingly the midfielder played a big part in all four of Brisbane’s victories in 2015.
Carlton: Patrick Cripps
Tops the league for clearances after nine rounds. The 21-year-old has been a key member of a Blues on-ball brigade that is playing with a lot more passion under Brendon Bolton.
Collingwood: Adam Treloar
In the Magpies’ darkest and brightest moments this season, Treloar has been winning the ball consistently and working hard around the ground. Rarely has a bad day.
Essendon: James Kelly
The most consistent and influential of the Bombers’ top-up players, Kelly has played every game this year, showing desperation and dash while teaching his fresh-faced teammates plenty.
Fremantle: Nat Fyfe
There is no easy explanation for how the Dockers have slipped from minor premiers (and premiership favourites) to cellar dwellers. But if Ross Lyon could magically remove one player from his injury list, it’d be this hard-running, ball-winning and high-marking superstar.
Geelong: Patrick Dangerfield
In nine rounds ex-Crow Dangerfield has lived up to the immense hype, starting with a brilliant club debut against the Hawks. Is currently the Brownlow medal favourite for a good reason.
Gold Coast: Gary Ablett
A multitude of factors and injuries have left the Suns in a sorry state but few have been as obvious as a battered-and-bruised Ablett. Reduced to a mere mortal this season, the dual Brownlow medallist hasn’t been able to inspire his side.
Greater Western Sydney: Shane Mumford
GWS have excelled despite their depth being stretched, especially in defence, but Mumford is more of a unique beast than any of his teammates. The Giants looked set for a maiden finals berth in 2015 prior to the imposing ruckman’s season-ending ankle injury.
Hawthorn: Jack Gunston
The dead-eye dick is one of the first picked in the Hawks’ 22 each week. Jarryd Roughead is on the sidelines indefinitely, meaning Gunston is Hawthorn’s most influential forward and will have a big say in whether they reach a fifth straight grand final.
Melbourne: Jesse Hogan
There’s a very good reason the Demons’ forward line is structured around the powerful prodigy. The 21-year-old has helped make Melbourne a more potent team – through his presence and 23 goals this season.
North Melbourne: Todd Goldstein
Currently tops the voting for the AFL Coaches Association award, a sign of how dominant the ruckman has been in the Kangaroos’ undefeated start to the season.
Port Adelaide: Robbie Gray
The midfielder-forward returned from a hamstring injury against West Coast and was one of his side’s best. If Port are to rise up the ladder this year he will almost certainly have to stay fit.
Richmond: Brett Deledio
The Tigers have won just three of the 14 games Deledio has missed since the start of the 2014 season, underlining the importance of the veteran’s slick skills, run and leadership.
St Kilda: Jack Steven
The reigning club best and fairest was arguably best on ground in the Saints’ three wins this year.
Sydney: Lance Franklin
Has become an even better player this year, according to teammates. Franklin is leading the Coleman medal race and so many of his 37 goals have come when games are in the balance, and/or from an unbelievable spot on the ground.
West Coast: Nic Naitanui
Has taken his high-flying game to a new level according to many pundits. Notably has produced some of his best form on the road, something that can’t be said for many of the Eagles.
Western Bulldogs: Matthew Boyd
The 33-year-old’s absence was telling in his side’s loss to Greater Western Sydney. Adds much-needed experience and composure to the Dogs’ depleted defence.