In 2010, Harry Taylor was named the All-Australian centre half back. In 2011, Ben Reid took over Taylor’s position. In 2013, both players have proven themselves to be as capable scoring goals as they are at stopping opposition goals. Players such as Taylor and Reid are referred to as their club’s ‘swingmen’, players capable of playing in multiple positions depending on what the team needs in any given situation. So who at your club fits this description?

Adelaide: Ricky Henderson
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 34 (2.6 per game)
Score: 5 goals, 5 behinds (0.4/0.4 per game)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 37 (2.8 per game)
One percenters: 29 (2.2 per game)

The 188 cm basketball convert has spent his 2013 season drifting between the flanks at AAMI Stadium, proving equally capable of rebounding the ball from his defensive 50 as he is at sending the ball into his attacking 50. His six-goal haul in last season’s Showdown proved that he can certainly play well as a mid-sized forward, but with Tom Lynch, Jason Porplyzia and Sam Kerridge pushing for that role, Henderson might be better employed elsewhere.

Best position? Defence

Brisbane: Daniel Merrett
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 7 (0.5)
Score: 9.4 (0.6/0.3)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 29 (2.1)
One percenters: 89 (6.4)

The strong full back was sent forward last season out of necessity and finished second on the club’s goal-kicking tally with 26. While he was goalless for his first nine matches of the season, he has kicked at least one goal in each of his last five matches, with the most recent match against St Kilda providing him with his biggest haul for the season of three goals. But as Merrett himself has said, he’s “definitely a backman”.

Best position? Defence

Carlton: Lachlan Henderson
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 38 (2.1)
Score: 20.11 (1.1/0.6)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 47 (2.6)
One percenters: 72 (4)

Carlton’s injury-prone tall has finally had luck on his side, playing in every match so far this season. While he spent much of the first half of the season in defence, a suspension to Jarrad Waite left a hole in Carlton’s forward-line, prompting Mick Malthouse to send Henderson forward against St Kilda to great effect. With Michael Jamison playing regularly and Matthew Watson, Nick Duigan and Jeremy Laidler pressing for selection, Henderson might be the tall forward Carlton have been searching for.

Best position? Forward

Collingwood: Ben Reid
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 38 (2.2)
Score: 14.7 (0.8/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 39 (2.3)
One percenters: 59 (3.5)

The All-Australian defender had started the season in fine form alongside Nick Maxwell, Harry O’Brien and Nathan Brown in the Pies’ defensive 50. However, a mid-game injury in round 15 to Carlton’s Jarrad Waite left Reid without a clear opponent. A subsequent move forward resulted in a four-goal haul and a new partner in crime for Travis Cloke. If a recent poll by the Collingwood Football Club’s Twitter account is to be believed, Collingwood is “better off” with Reid as a forward. However, an All-Australian nod at centre half back is not something to be taken lightly.

Best position? Defence

Essendon: Michael Hurley
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 35 (2.5)
Score: 19.13 (1.4/0.9)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 3 (0.2)
One percenters: 29 (2.1)

After years of trialling both positions, it seems as if Michael Hurley has finally settled into his role as a forward. With Jake Carlisle and Cale Hooker proving capable as the first-choice key defenders, Hurley has finally been able to establish himself as a full-time key forward. Essendon’s future is looking exceptionally solid, with a spine consisting of Carlisle, Hooker, Hurley and Joe Daniher. There may be no need for a swingman at Windy Hill if those four can hold down their respective positions.

Best position? Forward

Fremantle: Alex Silvagni
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 5 (0.7)
Score: 4.3 (0.6/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 3 (0.4)
One percenters: 21 (3)

Alex Silvagni has been forced to reinvent himself as a swingman due to the strength of Fremantle’s defensive structure. With Zac Dawson, Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson keeping any would-be key defenders in the WAFL, Silvagni has looked towards the other end of the ground in the hope that it might secure him a spot in Fremantle’s senior side heading into the finals. However, his best position remains as a defender, and might well be a possible target for sides lacking tall defenders in the off-season.

Best position? Defence

Geelong: Harry Taylor
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 35 (2.1)
Score: 10.7 (0.6/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 76 (4.5)
One percenters: 111 (6.5)

All-Australian Harry Taylor has held Geelong’s centre half back position since his debut season of 2008, however last season saw Taylor prove his versatility, kicking 15 goals for the year. He has built on that this season, with another ten including a five-goal haul against the Bulldogs. While Taylor is one of the most versatile players in the game, he is still most effective taking intercept marks across Geelong’s defensive 50 while blanketing the best key forwards the game has to offer.

Best position? Defence

Gold Coast: Sam Day
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 22 (1.2)
Score: 11.7 (0.6/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 17 (0.9)
One percenters: 79 (4.4)

Sam Day has spent much of this year developing his game in defence, spending 11 weeks playing as a key defender in the absence of ex-Demon Matthew Warnock. Day’s natural speed and contested marking ability earmark this young Sun as a key forward for the future, but his versatility may mean that he will spend plenty of time at both ends of the ground.

Best position? Forward

Greater Western Sydney: Adam Tomlinson
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 28 (2.2)
Score: 4.5 (0.3/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 22 (1.7)
One percenters: 23 (1.8)

Drafted as a key forward, Tomlinson has found himself playing in defence by necessity. With Jeremy Cameron, Jonathon Patton and potentially Lance Franklin forming a formidable forward line for years to come, Tomlinson has adapted his game to become a vital cog in the young Giants’ defence. However, with Patton succumbing to injury and Franklin still technically on Hawthorn’s list, Tomlinson has been able to provide assistance in the Giant’s forward line for the time being. But for the long-term, Tomlinson will be a more than handy tall defender.

Best position? Defence

Hawthorn: Shaun Burgoyne
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 57 (3.6)
Score: 15.4 (0.9/0.2)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 22 (1.4)
One percenters: 32 (2)

With a midfield comprising of Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis, Luke Hodge and Brad Sewell, Shaun Burgoyne has proven to be a more than capable flanker for Hawthorn. Whether it’s on a forward flank or a defensive flank is the issue. Burgoyne is seemingly just as capable in the forward line having a shot for goal as he is dashing out of the defensive 50 launching the ball towards Hawthorn’s forwards. However, the importance of his drive out of defence cannot be understated, and is where he is most effective on the field.

Best position? Defence

Melbourne: Jack Watts
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 16 (1.1)
Score: 14.11 (1/0.8)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 24 (1.7)
One percenters: 22 (1.6)

The oft-maligned Jack Watts has been subject to media speculation for his entire career, and when this is coupled with an ostensibly undefined role within the side, Watts’ performances were highly criticised. But with a move to half-back last year, Watts found form taking intercept marks and sweeping the ball from Melbourne’s defence. While he can still be deployed as a forward should the occasion warrant such action, Watts has clearly found a home in the backline.

Best position? Defence

North Melbourne: Lachlan Hansen
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 23 (1.4)
Score: 6.4 (0.4/0.2)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 25 (1.6)
One percenters: 41 (2.6)

Lachlan Hansen’s best position has been debated for years, however a move to defence in round seven against the Western Bulldogs has propelled Hansen to reach the form of his life. Since that match, Hansen has taken 10 or more marks on eight separate occasions, and has been a mainstay of the North Melbourne defence. While Hansen claimed earlier this year that he’s “happy to get a game anywhere”, it appears that North Melbourne will be happiest if he stays in defence.

Best position? Defence

Port Adelaide: Justin Westhoff
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 32 (1.9)
Score: 23.24 (1.4/1.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 19 (1.1)
One percenters: 35 (2.1)

Emerging on the scene as a gangly key forward, Justin Westhoff has established himself this year as one of the most talented players at Alberton Oval. Westhoff started the season with aplomb, booting 13 goals in the first four rounds, as well as taking 42 marks. However, it was his work ethic around the ground that made Westhoff a true swingman, as he would be as willing to perform defensive acts as he would at kicking goals. But it remains in the forward line where Westhoff excels, kicking the fourth-most goals of any Power player.

Best position? Forward

Richmond: Luke McGuane
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 18 (1.8)
Score: 16.8 (1.6/0.8)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 2 (0.2)
One percenters: 16 (1.6)

Luke McGuane’s career was dead in the water last year, until he reinvented himself as a forward despite having spent the majority of his career as a defender. His form in the VFL warranted a senior call-up in round 15, and McGuane remained in the side until the end of the season, kicking 15 goals. McGuane continued as a forward for the first nine matches of this season before being dropped to the VFL side, but earned a recall for last week’s win against Hawthorn. Regardless of whether he competes in the finals, McGuane has well and truly reinvented himself as a true forward.

Best position? Forward

St Kilda: Rhys Stanley
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 21 (1.2)
Score: 6.5 (0.3/0.3)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 43 (2.4)
One percenters: 77 (4.3)

The two-time Grand Final sprint champion Rhys Stanley has spent the majority of this season playing as a key defender by default, with Sam Fisher and Sam Gilbert both suffering long-term injuries. While the young tall has played every match this year, he has appeared uncomfortable, being forced to learn on the job against some of the best forwards in the game. His best football remains as a key forward, but with Tom Lee and Spencer White coming through the ranks, Stanley might be forced to adapt his game.

Best position? Forward

Sydney: Andrejs Everitt
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 29 (2.2)
Score: 7.3 (0.5/0.2)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 25 (1.9)
One percenters: 33 (2.5)

Andrejs Everitt has been on the outer at Sydney since he arrived from the Bulldogs, playing 11 games in 2011 and 12 games in 2012. This season however, he has played 13 matches but will have no intention of stopping to continue the odd trend. Everitt has been willing to play wherever the Swans need an extra number. In a side possessing the incredible depth of Sydney, Everitt will have to continue working hard on both his offensive and defensive game, because any spot in the Sydney side is hard to come by. But when push comes to shove, Everitt is best utilised off half-back plucking intercept marks.

Best position? Defence

West Coast: Brad Sheppard
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 21 (2.1)
Score: 3.3 (0.3/0.3)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 8 (0.8)
One percenters: 11 (1.1)

Brad Sheppard started his career as a silky half back flanker, but this season has pushed into the midfield as well as into the forward line. Sheppard has found himself covering every blade of grass at Patersons Stadium as the young midfielder looks to establish himself in the side, but with a long injury list, Sheppard has been asked to fill countless roles. As he matures, Sheppard will look to lock down a spot in the centre square.

Best position? Midfield

Western Bulldogs: Robert Murphy
Attacking:
Inside 50s: 56 (3.7)
Score: 12.6 (0.8/0.4)
Defending:
Rebound 50s: 47 (3.1)
One percenters: 28 (1.9)

Robert Murphy established himself as a rebounding defender who can push into the midfield, but with the Dogs’ forward woes, Murphy has found himself in front of goals more often than he would have expected. While Murphy is still best utilised carrying the ball out of his defensive 50, his round one Goal of the Year nomination proved that he is equally effective in the forward 50.

Best position? Defence

1 COMMENT

  1. Have to slightly disagree with some of your best positions….

    Reid’s best is Forward – forwards are more valuable than defenders and Collingwood needs a CHF which allows Cloke to play Full Forward and gives them another forward marking option as Lynch is not the white hope everyone thought.

    Hurley’s has played his best football in defense. He has played a handful of good games and one standout game in the forward line yet everytime he goes back, he looks comfortable.

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