Robbie Flower Wingman of the Year – Round Zero

In 2024, we are honoured and privileged at The Mongrel Punt to be granted permission from the Flower family to name our Wingman of the Year Award after one of the greatest players the Melbourne Football Club has ever produced.

We are humbled that the family would entrust us to do his name justice and are extremely grateful.

The Robbie Flower Wingman of the Year Award covers one of the more neglected positions in the league over the last decade. Whilst 2023 saw some belated recognition for the outside runners, with both Josh Daicos and Errol Gulden named to the All-Australian team, it has largely been a role that has been overlooked by all except those with a keen eye for what wingmen mean to a team – the defensive running ans coverage, the link-up play, the creativity, and the potent metres-gained aspect of their play.

Now entering its fifth season, Robbie Flower Wingman of the Year is the only award of its kind, ranking the wingmen of the league on a weekly basis, combining statistical data with a voting structure to assess those playing the role.

Previous winners are as follows.

2020 – Sam Menegola (Geelong)

2021 – Paul Seedsman (Adelaide)

2022 – Karl Amon (Port Adelaide)

2023 – Josh Daicos (Collingwood)

How does the scoring work?

Well, eligible players are ranked from 1-10 and awarded points in a number of statistical categories pertinent to the role of the wingmen. This score is combined with applicable votes and a little formula to reward disposal efficiency, and viola!!! There is a total score at the end. It’s a nice little system and has been pretty accurate when assessing big performances in the role for four years, now.

With Round Zero behind us, it is time to jump into the first week’s performances and find out who sits where on the table.

Before I continue, there has been a negative weighting on scores for this week, given that the competition for points in the system was whittled down to just eight teams. With just 44% of teams lacing up the boots, it would be unfair to award maximum points for those who played this week. Rest assured, the same penalty applies, to a lesser degree, in rounds where other teams experience byes.

Additionally, please note that this is usually a members-only column, but given it is Round Zero and people are curious as to what is going on, I have left it open for all for this week only. Enjoy.




1 – JOSH DAICOS (64.6)




5 – BLAKE ACRES (42.4)

6 – ED LANGDON (40.0)



9 – CALLUM AH CHEE (29.5)

10 – JACOB WEHR (19.3)

Others in the mix include Caleb Windsor, Xavier O’Halloran, and Jake Lloyd.



The 2023 winner made a solid start to the season, picking up plenty of the footy against the Giants. Josh Daicos was ranked first amongst wingmen when it came to disposals/efficiency, metres gained, and score involvements, demonstrating that he continues to be a force at the wing position after finishing runner-up in 2022, and taking the award home in 2023.

The wing position could prove a hazard for the Giants in the long term. They don’t really have a specialist in that role, with close to a dozen players filling in at the position over the last couple of seasons. In this game, the Giants ran Jacob Wehr and Xavier O’Halloran outside for most of the game, and they were soundly beaten by the experienced duo of Daicos and Steele Sidebottom.

I know what you’re thinking – Daicos and Sidebottom ranked 1-2 and the Pies get beaten pretty convincingly… how important were they?

Well, the Collingwood duo combined for 14 inside 50 deliveries, but the conversion of the forwards left a lot to be desired. Lachie Schultz finished with 0.3 in his debut, whilst Jamie Elliott and Pat Lipinski both ended up with 0.2 to their names. The forwards can make the wingmen look like stars when they convert, but the Pies were sadly lacking in that department.

Hugh McCluggage back on the outside is a sight for sore eyes. He has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the ball, but I have long thought he is at his most damaging when he has time and space. He found a bit of it against the Blues, but was subdued for long stretches of the game, as well. His opposition, Blake Acres, was less subdued, and was one of the stars as the Blues put together their third quarter run.

In that stanza, Acres picked up eight touches and laid off a goal assist to help propel Carlton back into the game. He was also busy at the defensive end, getting back often to block up the Lions’ forward fifty, playing that ‘fat side’ role to perfection.

Brayden Fiorini is now a wingman, and though he has been trialled in the role before, looked at home out wide for the Suns. Like GWS, the Suns have experimented with their wing roles over the last couple of seasons, with Jack Lukosius, Brandon Ellis, and David Swallow all taking turns in the role. This season, it looks as though it will be Fiorini as the mainstay, but the substitution of Brandon Ellis could indicate that Damien Hardwick is not completely sold on him as his permanent second wingman.

Maybe there was a reason Ellis walked from Punt Road so easily…

Braeden Campbell could find himself in contention this season. His penetrating left boot is a weapon John Longmire would like to see used more often going inside 50, and with a little more freedom on the outside, he could become a potent force as a linking player. I’d back him to slot more than a few goals, as well.

Sydney are spoilt for choice when it comes to their wings. Errol Gulden had a quiet one in the middle, and only really flourished when he moved onto the wing in the last quarter. He had eight of his 20 touches in that quarter, and added three inside 50s to his tally, but much like last season, he played too little in the role to be considered as a wingman this week. 25% of the game is just too little.

The Swans also have Justin McInerney to run through the role should they choose, with Cal Mills spending a bit of time there last year, as well. We also didn’t see much of James Jordon out wide, but I’m sure we will as the season progresses. This week, they deployed Jake Lloyd on the wing to mixed results. Lloyd is an accumulator and ‘could’ be a very dangerous wingman should he find his groove in the role, but he looked as though he was torn at times on Thursday night, stuck between chasing the footy and holding his width. He’ll be better for the run.

Some of the bigger names in the wingman realms didn’t lace up their boots this week, with the AFL’s Round Zero concept meaning that we most likely won’t get a clear picture of how well players are travelling until around Round Four.

What we’ve seen after one round of footy, however, gives us astrong  indication that the pair that were ranked as the best wing duo in 2023 will likely be hard to top in 2024, as well, Josh Daicos has been The Man in the wing position over the past two years. A second place finish and a win have meant he is the man to beat, but he would be unable to play the role he does without the cover Sidebottom provides. They are the perfect one-two punch on the outside, and even though it came undone for the Pies this week, I wouldn’t be laying any blame at the feet of those two.



Last season, Nic Martin was a contender all season. This year, it appears as though Brad Scott will be moving him into defence. The right move? I guess we’ll see.

Bailey Scott will surprise quite a few this season. He had a very strong finish to 2023 and will be given licence by Alastair Clarkson to cover a lot of ground. He should be entrenched in the top ten within a month.

Mason Wood, Brad Hill, and Liam Henry will likely share time on the wing for the Saints, but I love the way they look.

And there were a couple of moments from young Caleb Windsor that made me raise an eyebrow… but it is far too early to make wild comparisons about the lad. Lachie Hunter will likely come back and take the wing role from him, combining with Ed Langdon, so it will be interesting to see how the Dees deploy their young talent.


And that’ll do for this week – not enough meat on the bone in a round of four games to dive in any deeper. A strong start by the defending champ – he led the competition for a long while in 2023, and it looks as though the others will be playing catch-up again in 2024.

If you like this analysis, please be aware that this reverts to a members-only column as of Round One. Cheers – HB


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