The 2017 AFL season has been unlike any other. Unpredictable results, nail biting finishes and an abundance of exciting new stars of the game, with our Tassie stars heavily involved in the action.
Tasmanian talent shone through the national competition over the course of the season with Ben Brown becoming a genuine superstar, and youngsters Jake Kolodjashnij (Geelong) and Lachie Weller (Fremantle) continuing their rapid improvement.
Such depth made it difficult to select just six players for this list, and although this isn’t a definitive list of the five best players from the Apple Isle, but a list of the five players that impressed The Isle the most in 2017.
So, without further ado, here are the Isle’s top six Tasmanian AFL players from the 2017 season.
#6) Jack Riewoldt – Richmond Tigers
Tasmanian Club: Clarence
20 Matches, 50 Goals, 13.4 Disposals per game, 6.2 Marks per game.
Riewoldt had another fantastic season for the Tigers, kicking 50 goals to finish fifth in the Coleman Medal race. Riewoldt was named in the Richmond leadership group for the first time in 2017 and seemed to flourish with the extra responsibility to combine well with his small, agile and young fellow forwards.
#5) Hugh Greenwood – Adelaide Crows
Tasmanian Club: Lauderdale
12 Matches, 8 Goals, 16.7 Disposals per game, 7.2 Tackles per game, 4.8 Clearances per game.
Greenwood emerged as one of the surprise packets of the competition after making his debut in round nine. After booting three goals on debut the talented athlete developed a distinguished role in the minor premiers’ lineup with his strength providing much needed grunt to the midfield and across half forward. Greenwood’s ferocious tackling saw him ranked sixth in the competition for tackles per game while also becoming a fan favourite in the City of Churches and Adelaide fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of the Tasmanian’s career developing even further.
#4) Liam Jones – Carlton Blues
Tasmanian Club: North Hobart
12 Matches, 11.2 Disposals per game, 4.7 Marks per game, 11 One-Percenters per game.
Who could have possibly imagined that the much-maligned former Western Bulldog forward would emerge as one of the best key defenders in the competition come season’s end?
Jones has reinvented himself this season and is thriving under the guidance of fellow Tasmanian and current coach Brendon Bolton. Jones’ aerial capacity has always been known but his ability to not only nullify his direct opponent but also to become a genuine offensive asset out of defence has made him an important part of this Carlton side. Jones finished the season with the highest average of one-percenters per game, beating out the likes of Richmond’s Alex Rance and Essendon’s Michael Hurley.
#3) Toby Nankervis- Richmond Tigers
Tasmanian Club: North Launceston
21 Matches, 11 Goals, 15 Disposals per game, 4.1 Tackles per game, 24.1 Hit-Outs per game, 2.9 Clearances per game.
It is no coincidence that the form of the Tigers has drastically improved since the addition of ex-Sydney Swan Nankervis. ‘Nank the Tank’ has emerged as one of the best pick ups of the off season due to his capacity to utilise his big frame and cardio fitness to compete well in the air, in the contest and around the ground. Nankervis appears born for the big moments and will play a significant hand in determining just how far Richmond can go in 2017.
#2) Jeremy Howe – Collingwood Magpies
Tasmanian Clubs: Dodges Ferry, Hobart
21 Matches, 21.8 Disposals per game, 8.6 Marks per game, 4.1 Rebound 50s per game, 8.4 Intercepts per game.
Jeremy Howe had a sparkling 2017 season that was capped off with a rightful selection in the All Australian squad of 40, with many arguing that he should have made the final 22. The high-flying Tasmanian Magpie has made a habit of taking spectacular marks throughout his career and although he further proved this across the season, he also became a more consistent and dependable player out of defence. Howe finished the season with second most marks in the competition and the second most intercepts. It was an often testing year for Collingwood but Howe emerged as a real highlight.
#1) Ben Brown – North Melbourne Kangaroos
Tasmanian Clubs: Devonport (Junior), Glenorchy
22 Matches, 63 Goals, 11.6 Disposals per game, 5.4 Marks per game.
The ‘Roos slipped in 2017 but cult figure Ben Brown took his game to another level become undoubtedly one of the most exciting young forwards in the game. Brown’s season included two hauls of six and a haul of seven as he thrived with the responsibility of being North Melbourne’s number one forward target. To rank third in the Coleman Medal race and second for marks inside 50 in a bottom four team is a wonderful effort and there is no reason to think that the 24-year-old will not be able to take his game to yet another level next season.
The depth of Tasmanian talent across the 2017 season warrants honourable mentions to Tom Bellchambers (Essendon- 32 hit-outs per game), Jake Kolodjashnij (Geelong- 14.6 disposals per game) , Jimmy Webster (St Kilda- 18.8 disposals per game) Lachie Weller (Fremantle- 20.1 disposals per game)
What do you think of this list? Let us know in the comments below!