As Fremantle finally looked to build their way back to Premiership contention, their style is shifting towards a faster, more attacking look, something that is foreign to any Ross Lyon outfit. Whilst the usual suspects have been standout, praise has to be reserved for one of the better rebounding defenders in the competition.
Luke Ryan has only gone from strength to strength in his career, and he is finally receiving the recognition he deserves. Making his debut during 2017, Ryan showed off his standout ability to intercept the ball and use it efficiently once he won back possession. During that debut year he led the Dockers in marks and was second in their rebound 50s, before finishing 5th in their Best and Fairest. Not bad for a newcomer.
The following year in 2018 he improved his numbers across the board, averaging 18 disposals, 6 intercept possessions and went at a comfortable 81% efficiency, showing off his excellent ball use down back, as he has turned himself into one of Fremantle’s most reliable kicks of the footy.
2019 has only been better for him as he continues to grow, thus far has has upped his numbers once again to 23 disposals at 84%, 9 intercept possessions, 5 marks and 5 rebounds 50s, putting him right up there with some of the best in the AFL. For any Supercoach players he is averaging 105.4 points, placing him as a just have premium defender in your team, and among the established elites such as Shannon Hurn and Lachie Whitfield. Even the data rankings see Ryan’s talent.
Against Brisbane in round 10 he continued to show off how good he is, with 32 touches – 13 of them contested – 19 kicks, 7 rebound 50s and a staggering 16 intercept possessions. He was a thorn in Brisbane’s side all match and provided excellent use off the half-back as well as provide himself a human wall for the Lions to struggle to score against.
If Ryan carries on his form for this year, he will be talked about as being an All-Australian, and being only 23 years old time is on his side to truly stamp himself as one of the premier players in his position in the AFL.
An honourable mention has to be made for Richmond’s Jason Castagna, who has shown his importance to the Tigers’ forward structure with his speed and pressure, as he nailed Essendon for a pair of goals and tackles, as he was a nuisance against the Bombers all match.