The first round of the 2017 AFL season is done and dusted, and boy oh boy it is great to have the footy back.
Tasmania has always punched above its weight in delivering bona fide stars of the AFL competition and here we will take a look at the performances of our Tasmanian champions and rising stars in the national competition.
Richmond vs. Carlton – MCG, Thursday 23/03/17
Richmond Tigers #8
The newly appointed vice-captain of the Tiges had a solid if not spectacular start to the 2017 premiership season. After failing to capitalise on some early opportunities in front of goal, the Richmond veteran worked his way into the game through forward defensive pressure (7 tackles), all while marshalling a very young and inexperienced forward group. Jack is still the spiritual leader of this club, and further proved on Thursday night why he is one of the most dynamic players in the game.
Richmond Tigers #25
The “Nank” had garnered cult-like status amongst Richmond fans before he had even stepped foot onto the field in 2017 and his performance on Thursday night proved that much of this hype is justified. The former Swan showed a lot of promise and versatility as the key big man at the Tigers, with his battle with Matthew Kreuzer proving to be one of the evening’s most enthralling sub-plots. With 27 hit-outs and two goals, the Tasmanian proved to be critical in snuffing out any chance of a Carlton comeback while also providing a tantalising taste of what the big man can deliver in the famous yellow sash.
Collingwood vs. Western Bulldogs – MCG, Friday 24/03/17
Collingwood Magpies #41
In his first game for his new club, the former Gold Coast Sun was tasked with the task of handling Stewart Crameri and did a terrific job, restricting the versatile forward to just the one goal. In front of a massive crowd, the newly promoted rookie was far from overawed, demonstrating a composed and no-nonsense defensive style that will certainly please the Magpie faithful.
Collingwood Magpies #38
The Collingwood livewire had a very solid start to his 2017 campaign, playing a crucial role off the halfback line in the ‘Pies plucky performance. With 26 disposals at an efficiency rate of over 84%, Howe is further demonstrating his ability as a valuable utility player that can be damaging to opposition sides from both ends of the ground.
St. Kilda vs. Melbourne- Etihad Stadium, Saturday 25/03/17
St Kilda Saints #44
After a top-10 performance in the Trevor Barker Medal last year, Weller is expected to take his game to another level in season 2017. In a disappointing day for the Saints, the former Burnie Docker played his usual defensive-forward role, laying 5 tackles and applying 12 pressure acts in a performance that should lay the foundation for him to have a big season.
St Kilda Saints #29
The former Glenorchy product would have been raring to kickstart his 2017 campaign after an injury-plagued back half to 2016, and he showed signs of promise against the Dees under the roof of Etihad, playing a role that saw him at both ends of the ground. With 5 intercept possessions and 11 pressure acts, it looks like the 23 year-old has gone some way to cementing his spot in the side as he works towards a consistent 2017.
Essendon vs. Hawthorn- MCG, Saturday 25/03/17
Essendon Bomber #15
After being picked up as a delisted free agent at the end of 2016, Green more than demonstrated his worth in the ‘Dons upset victory over the Hawks. The former Clarence Roo and Brisbane Lion picked up 11 touches at an efficiency of 82%, and while he didn’t hit the scoreboard, the livewire small forward did generate 2 goal assists and 6 score involvements, while also applying 18 pressure acts.
Hawthorn Hawks #14
As a four-time premiership player, we know what to expect from the often-underrated halfback at this point and despite his side falling short, Birchall looks set to continue his ultra consistent output after gathering 22 disposals at over 85% in another industrial performance. As one of the Hawks’ best on a disappointing night out at the ‘G, it looks as if Birchall will be the competition’s Mr Reliable yet again.
Gold Coast vs. Brisbane- Metricon Stadium, Saturday 25/03/17
Brisbane Lions #2
An often-unheralded member of the Brisbane back six, Harwood delivered another workman-like performance in his first game back after a knee injury that derailed his 2016 campaign. This wasn’t an eye-catching performance for the hard-nosed former Glenorchy Magpie, but he will certainly be better for the run.
Brisbane Lions #5
After kicking the Lions’ first two goals of season 2017 in a barnstorming display, Robinson was a solid contributor in the Lions’ upset victory, having 14 touches and applying 3 tackles and 15 pressure acts as a defensive-forward.
Gold Coast Suns #33
After his blistering start to the 2016 season, Aaron Hall looks set to do much the same in 2017 after amassing 25 touches, 5 marks, 4 tackles and 2 goals in a dominant round one display. Hall could be considered unlucky to miss out on a vote in the Marcus Ashcroft Medal for best afield in the Q-Clash, but the ball-winner looks set to have an explosive year as a member of the Suns’ engine room.
Gold Coast Suns #10
After a slightly disappointing 2016, Kolodjashnij got his 2017 campaign off to a promising start, gathering 21 disposals at 71% efficiency, as well as 6 marks and 4 inside-50’s. Showed plenty of promise in a performance that saw him working well across the ground.
North Melbourne vs. West Coast- Etihad Stadium, Sunday 26/03/17
North Melbourne Kangaroos #50
The key forward kicked a new-look North’s first goal of 2017 and further proved why he is renowned as one of the AFL’s safest pairs of hands, clunking 6 marks to go with his 2 goals. The Tasmanian cult-hero will be required to take on even more responsibility in the coming weeks with Jarrad Waite sidelined with a shoulder injury, but he certainly has the capacity to take his game to another level as the ‘Roos number one target up forward.
North Melbourne Kangaroos #39
One of six first-time Kangaroos to play on the weekend, Hibberd didn’t quite have the impact he would’ve liked rotating through the North defence against the firepower of West Coast. However, 10 disposals at 70% and one score involvement should see the Clarence product receive more opportunities at the highest level in coming weeks.
Fremantle vs. Geelong- Domain Stadium, Sunday 26/03/17
Fremantle Dockers #14
After a 2016 full of promise, Weller has started his 2017 in a similar vein, gathering 23 disposals, and 5 marks and providing 544 metres gained in his side’s loss to Geelong. Playing mostly in defence off of the halfback line, Weller looks like he will continue to develop into an elite talent in 2017 and this round one performance is certainly a stepping stone towards that.
Geelong Cats #40
Thurlow was provided an opportunity to play his first senior match after a serious knee injury in early 2016 when Zac Smith was withdrawn, and the Launceston defender certainly held his own in the Cats’ impressive performance in the West. Running off a halfback flank, Thurlow’s 10 disposals went at 90% and while his performance was solid, the fact he got through the match unscathed would bring a smile to the face of any Cats supporter as he looks to fill the void left by Corey Enright’s retirement.