Andrew Walker – Carlton
Young midfielder Andrew Walker is having a deadly 2011, eight years after being drafted by Carlton and given their No. 1 guernsey. As of Round 16, he was Carlton’s leading goal-kicker, the fifth-highest in the AFL – and he’s been dubbed “the matchwinner” by fans and media for rising above the pack in the fourth quarter. Speed and accurate kicking on the run are his trademarks, producing an amazing 64 per cent goal accuracy percentage and an average 2.5 goals per game. Disciplined on field, he frustrates his opposition by giving away very few free kicks, playing a leading role in Carlton’s premiership campaign.
Chris Yarran – Carlton
Drafted by Carlton in 2008 after a stellar year with Swan Districts, zippy forward Chris Yarran picked up an AFL Rising Star nomination in 2010. A classy player, Yarran possesses excellent skills, great goal-sense and always looks hungry for the ball. While he has struggled to impact the scoreline as much as expected in the first half of 2011, he showed glimpses of his brilliance in the second half of 2010, kicking several fast goals. With his momentum climbing, Yarran is an increasing threat to fullbacks everywhere.
Liam Jurrah – Melbourne
Melbourne’s leading goal-kicker of 2011, Liam Jurrah has stunned opposition defenders with his lightning-fast moves in the forward line. Given he was only drafted in late 2009, this would be impressive enough, but remarkably, Jurrah missed half the 2010 season with a shoulder injury that required a reconstruction. On his return he kicked nine goals in two matches and was awarded Mark of the Year. Continuing this form in 2011, the former Yuendumu Magpie is Melbourne’s best hope for a finals appearance.
Leroy Jetta – Essendon
Former South Fremantle Bulldog Leroy Jetta has won the respect and loyalty of Bombers supporters with his tough, uncompromising attitude to the midfield and forward line. One of the club’s top five goal-kickers as of Round 16, Jetta is a play generator, gathering and delivering to key forwards all day long. Jetta makes it look easy, no matter the conditions or the intensity of the opposition, whether diving hard at the ball with courage and ferocity or roving intelligently outside the pack.
Stephen Hill – Fremantle
One of a group of debutants fielded by the Dockers in 2010, by late last year Stephen Hill was proving such a threat in the midfield he was considered the most heavily tagged player in the team. Hill is a risk taker – he backs himself and when it pays off, his style of footy is beautiful to watch. Often seen sprinting along the wing, Hill has extended his range from swift playmaker to penetrating goal-kicker and has already contributed 11 goals to keep Fremantle on track for a strong finish in the final eight.