Chris Mayne of the Magpies in action. Picture: Mark Stewart
Chris Mayne of the Magpies in action. Picture: Mark Stewart

Which finalist has the best bottom six?

The big names get all the attention, but the difference between success and failure in finals often comes down to a team's depth - their famed "bottom six".

If your bottom-tier players are playing their role and performing above standard, it should see the rest of the side reap the rewards.

The classic example here is the triple-premiership winning Geelong side a decade ago, with little gap between their greatest players and lesser lights.

 

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In more recent times, Richmond took out the 2017 flag with the philosophy of having 22 dedicated role players. Today Jacob Townsend, Jason Castagna and Kamdyn McIntosh are premiership players.

It takes a dedicated team effort to hold the cup aloft. Which bottom-end players will your club need to rise to the occasion to get your side a premiership?

GEELONG

Quinton Narkle

Tom Atkins

Zach Tuohy

Mark O'Connor

Gary Rohan

Jack Henry

In the wings: Sam Menegola

The consistent performances from Geelong's bottom-end players is the greatest difference between last season and 2019. Tackling machine Tom Atkins is expected to return this weekend from injury and can do a run-with role if required. Jordan Clark is a chance but will feature at some stage, with his run and carry from defence a valuable asset. It's a surprise to see Zach Tuohy in this bracket, but a quiet game in his new small forward role could see him slide out of the best 22. Can Sam Menegola force his way back in?

 

 

BRISBANE LIONS

Oscar McInerney

Noah Answerth

Cam Rayner

Zach Bailey

Dan McStay

Cedric Cox

There are players in this young side who can turn a game on its head, and one of those is Cam Rayner. The former No.1 draft pick oozes matchwinning traits and it's difficult to see Brisbane losing if he has a major impact. Dan McStay is another in that category but, like Rayner, the difference between their best and worst are poles apart. Rising star nominee Noah Answerth shows experience beyond his years down back, while Oscar McInerney has stood up in big moments across the season. Their bottom-end talent have helped them get to this stage, can they deliver when it matters most?

 

Tiger Liam Baker is relishing a new role in defence. Picture: Michael Klein
Tiger Liam Baker is relishing a new role in defence. Picture: Michael Klein

 

RICHMOND

Nathan Broad

Shai Bolton

Liam Baker

Ivan Soldo

Jack Graham

Daniel Rioli

In the wings: Marlion Pickett, Dan Butler

The Tigers won a premiership on the back of a team of 22 contributors, and it could be a similar story this year. The interesting one here is Ivan Soldo - what role will he play with he and Toby Nankervis in the same side? Soldo has shown ability in attack over recent weeks but it will be interesting to see their forward/ruck split. Crafty duo Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli can provide spark and pressure in the forward half but both could feel the selection squeeze if their form slips during the next month. Jack Graham has shown he can produce on the big stage after his three-goal Grand Final display in 2017. Mid-season draftee Marlion Pickett remains in the wings with a strong finals performance in the VFL last week keeping a fairy tale finals' debut a possibility.

 

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COLLINGWOOD

Chris Mayne

Levi Greenwood

Travis Varcoe

Jack Madgen

John Noble

Rupert Wills

Collingwood's number of returning stars will see some of these Pies on the outer, but they may be required if injury strikes again. Jack Madgen will re-enter the frame if Darcy Moore's troublesome hamstrings play up, while Rupert Wills presents as a back-up inside midfielder. Levi Greenwood can play crucial lockdown roles anywhere on the ground, while the Pies will be hoping Travis Varcoe brings his immense tackle pressure and goalscoring nous. Veteran Chris Mayne gives his side great flexibility. The Pies' struggles with injury for the second straight year means there are players with senior experience in the wings.

 

 

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Chris Mayne has become a valuable role player for Collingwood. Picture: Mark Stewart
Chris Mayne has become a valuable role player for Collingwood. Picture: Mark Stewart

 

WEST COAST

Mark Hutchings

Jake Waterman

Jackson Nelson

Chris Masten

Tom Hickey

Will Schofield

In the wings: Jack Petruccelle, Liam Duggan

The Eagles' decision to axe young pair Jack Petruccelle and Liam Duggan has brought two valuable role players into the equation. Stopper Mark Hutchings could be tasked with Bomber linebreaker Dylan Shiel tonight and other dangerous opponents if they advance any further, while Will Schofield should take a tall forward to allow Jeremy McGovern play off his direct opponent. Tom Hickey will partner the returning Nic Naitanui in the ruck and will be expected to have an impact up forward. Chris Masten has kept his spot after being in and out of the side while young forward Jake Waterman will look to stretch the Dons defence.

 

GWS GIANTS

Ian Hill

Sam Reid

Daniel Lloyd

Brent Daniels

Isaac Cumming

Lachie Keeffe

The Giants are often labelled as the Ferrari but Leon Cameron's side has a number contributors who do their job week in, week out. Sam Reid epitomises this approach, with the no-frills utility able to play several different roles. Youngster Ian Hill can trouble the Bulldogs defence if he keeps his spot, while forward pair Brent Daniels and Daniel Lloyd will need to provide their usual pressure in the forward arc and apply scoreboard pressure.

 

Will Hayes is making the most of his AFL opportunity. Picture: Michael Klein
Will Hayes is making the most of his AFL opportunity. Picture: Michael Klein

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Will Hayes

Taylor Duryea

Lewis Young

Tory Dickson

Ed Richards

Rhylee West

Lewis Young has played just four games this season and could have a big job on one of the Giants' key forwards if he holds his spot. Taylor Duryea has finals experience and can play lockdown roles at either end, while Ed Richards can break the game open with his run and dash. First year duo Rhylee West and Will Hayes both know how to get their hands on the footy.

 

ESSENDON

Will Snelling

Jayden Laverde

Kyle Langford

Mason Redman

Mitch Brown

Brayden Ham

If Essendon is going to knock off the Eagles - let alone go deeper in September - it can't just be the Bombers' stars who perform. While Conor McKenna and Adam Saad are the known speedsters, unheralded defender Mason Redman provides plenty of pace and excellent foot skills that can add to their slingshot style of play. Jayden Laverde and lean forward Brayden Ham also have speed to burn and both hitting the scoreboard will help their chances. Will Snelling returns to the side and provides a hard edge, as does Kyle Langford in the midfield when he is up and going. Forward Mitch Brown will need to have an impact to quell the Eagles' intercept kings.

News Corp Australia


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