We hear it every week at The Mongrel. Whenever we review a game, write an article, or even make a comment we get told that we just don’t rate a certain player.
And of course, that means we don’t know what we’re talking about.
Whilst that may very well be true, if you rate everyone highly, then really, no one is rated highly because they’re all rated the same. I reckon you need those “level below” guys that, whilst very good, are not in the top bracket.
Now, there is one bloke in here I wanted left out, because I think he IS in the top bracket, but other Mongrels thought not only should he be in this team, but should also captain it. I’ve relented, but rest assured, or team captain would be one of my first 22 picked every week if I was given carte blanche across the league.
So, without further ado, The Mongrel Punt’s all-underrated team for 2019 to this point.
JOEL HAMLING – FREMANTLE
Forced to take more responsibility with Alex Pearce going down, Hamling continues to perform at a very high level as he patrols the Dockers’ back half. Second only to Harris Andrews in 1%ers, you never hear Hamling’s name mentioned with as much reverence.
PHIL DAVIS – GWS
I was a little shocked to find that Davis has never been an All-Australian. The GWS captain is one of the best defenders of the last decade after moving from Adelaide at the conclusion of 2011. In one-on-one contests against the best big forwards in the land, Davis more than holds his own, giving Buddy Franklin a couple of baths in 2018.
JARROD HARBROW – GOLD COAST
Playing “Off Broadway”, the achievements of Harbrow are likely lost on most. His run and carry, and ability to match it with the best small forwards in the game is not given much attention compared with other small defenders. Overlooked for major awards and recognition, Harbrow has been one of the biggest success stories of the Suns as they have carved out a niche up North.
BRAD SHEPPARD – WEST COAST
Good timing. We just gave Sheppard best on ground for his performance against Essendon, and in keeping Orazio Fantasia virtually silent all game. Sheppard is often in the shadows on teammates like McGovern and Hurn, but if given a job to do, rarely fails.
ROBBIE TARRANT – NORTH MELBOURNE
Every time I put together a rolling All-Australian team, or a list of best players for any particular game, I get the formulaic response from North supporters – “You missed Robbie Tarrant.” Well, I’m not missing him in this one. Imagine had I left him off the underrated team? How much would I be underrating him then?
NICK HAYNES – GWS
This is my guy. Flies under the radar, is rarely beaten, and can hurt both in the air and on the deck. I was against having him in this game because I rate him so highly that I didn’t think he could be underrated by others. Turns out the other Mongrels think he is criminally underrated. He is currently travelling at career-high numbers in disposals, rebounds and 1%ers. Maybe he will get some AA love by the end of this season?
RICKY HENDERSON – HAWTHORN
Is he the best delisted free agent ever? Henderson would have to be close to leading the Hawthorn best and fairest at this point, putting together a stellar season at age 30. Career-best numbers in disposals (+5.27 on his next best) sees him a smoky for an AA wingman spot this season. In a season where the Hawks have screamed out for midfield help, Henderson has responded.
JACOB HOPPER – GWS
Here’s the unsung midfield bull of the Giants. Kelly, Coniglio and Taranto get the headlines – Hopper gets the hardball. He has made the leap from 9.71 to 13.15 contested touches per game this season as he takes on more responsibility at stoppages. Does it surprise you that he leads the Giants in contested touches? It shouldn’t – he’s a bull, and at just 22, will get a lot better.
TOM PHILLIPS – COLLINGWOOD
He has continued on with his solid 2018 form, with just the slightest drop off in numbers as he provides running support for the star-studded Magpie midfield. Sitting right at 24.54 disposals per outing, Phillips gets most of his ball on the outside, and will run all day to get it.
LUKE DAHLHAUS – GEELONG
He is flying under the radar at the Cattery with the forward line exploits of Gary Rohan and Gary Ablett overshadowing his contributions, but Dahlhaus has found significant ways to contribute. His tackling and pressure around the contest has made the Cats forward structure hum. Of course, I post this the week after possibly his worst outing of the season…
BRODY MIHOCEK – COLLINGWOOD
He looks like the odd man out in the Collingwood forward line. De Goey, Cox, Stephenson (until recently), Elliott, Hoskin-Elliott… they all have the capacity to take over a game. Mihocek… he just does the hard stuff. Often finding himself as part of the pack as it gets crashed as often as he crashes it, himself, he is the workhorse of the Magpie forward set up.
SAM LLOYD – WESTERN BULLDOGS
This was a toss-up between Lloyd and Toby McLean from the Bullies. One provides the goals while the other collects the footy. I guess the fact that McLean was dropped means that of the underrated two, McLean is rated less? Regardless, Lloyd is having a career-year in front of goals, averaging 1.69 per game.
BRANDON MATERA – FREMANTLE
There was a point in the last 12 months where I thought Matera looked like a player that should start thinking about giving the game away. He just looked lost at times, and when he did get a bit of the footy, he made ridiculous decisions with it. He seems a bit past that now, with a career-best year to date. With 24 goals to his name, that puts him level with Gary Ablett – you wouldn’t know it though, right?
BEN BROWN – NORTH MELBOURNE
Hang on… Ben Brown underrated? Yeah, I was a bit shocked too, but the Mongrels on our team were adamant that he gets pushed aside when good forwards are spoken about. Currently third in the Coleman, he has two consecutive years of 60+ goals to his name prior to this year. He currently has 34 for 2019 and will need a few bags to match that this season.
TOM PAPLEY – SYDNEY
Barely spoken about when improving young players are mentioned, Papley made quite a few sit up and take notice with his three bags of 4+ goals this season. He has the same amount of goals in 2019 as Buddy, and with the big bloke on the sidelines, he could end up the Swans’ number one goal scorer in 2019.
ROWAN MARSHALL – ST KILDA
I reckon the Saints may have solved their ruck issues, and they’ve done it in the form of Marshall, who has managed to make the move of Tom Hickey to West Coast a complete afterthought. With just 23 games under his belt, Marshall is now a clearance machine, with six or more clearances in five of his ten games. He is averaging 5.1 clearances per game in 2019, taking advantage of the new ruck rules.
JARRYD LYONS – BRISBANE
My jury was out on him coming into this year. After moving from the Crows to the Suns, he up and was allowed to walk for nothing to the Lions. I thought something was up. He has responded with a fine year as the second fiddle to Lachie Neale, collecting 21.46 touches and 4.62 clearances per game.
BRAYDEN FIORINI – GOLD COAST
Rated as “poor” by Champion Data before the season, Fiorini has thrown that back in their faces as he crafts a breakout season. Up almost six possessions per game on his 2018 numbers, Fiorini is fast establishing himself as the new Gold Coast engine room, and his six games topping 30+ disposals indicate consistency is coming along nicely too.
JAMES HARMES – MELBOURNE
With the emergence of Matt de Boer, the tagging abilities of James Harmes have been relegated to the also-rans, however Harmes has more than one string to his bow. He has topped 30 disposals on three occasions this season, including a best on ground effort against the Hawks in Round Seven.
KANE LAMBERT – RICHMOND
Yes, he’s underrated. It’s hard not to be in a midfield with Martin, Cotchin and Prestia, but Lambert is the Richmond workhorse. Providing the kind of run through the middle every team needs, Lambert does a lot of the grunt work. Not so many accolades for him, but internally, he is the sort of player that would be first picked – ultra consistent, and with a career-high of 23.89 touches per game, the Tigers have missed him in recent weeks.
JAKE MELKSHAM – MELBOURNE
With Tom McDonald failing to fire a shot, and Sam Weideman failing to come on the way Dees supporters were hoping, Jake Melksham has emerged as probably their most important forward. Of course, he’s been injured since Round Eight, which has completely ruined everything! Was averaging 1.3 goals and 1.6 goal assists per game before injury.
JARROD WITTS – GOLD COAST
The Suns’ co-captain just goes about his business, week in and week out, getting first hands on the ball, and giving his mids every chance. He has also managed to get his own fair share of clearances, with 4+ clearances on nine occasions this season.
RORY ATKINS – ADELAIDE
I had him on the wing, but a fellow Mongrel was adamant that he wastes the ball too much. Maybe it was the last quarter against the Tigers that was still fresh in my mind, but Atkins has got plenty of it in 2019, and if he is on, so are the Crows. When Atkins has 20+ touches, the Crows are 6-2.
JORDAN ROUGHEAD – COLLINGWOOD
I would have loved to slot him into the starting 22, but I couldn’t displace someone else for him. He does the unsung jobs every single week, often taking the most dangerous big forward to allow Darcy Moore freedom. Solid, yet unspectacular, he has been one of the best recruits of the season.
So, who did I miss? Is there someone so underrated that they didn’t make the All-Underrated team? That’s pretty underrated if that’s the case. Feel free to let me know.
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