2018 Player Review – Riley Bonner

Written by Thommo on March 6 2018

Should he fail at footy, Bonner could always find work with that porn-star moustache!

Position: Defender

2018 Price: $257,300

2017 Average: 78.0

2017 Games: 3 (16 in NEAFL)

Past Averages (2016): 76 (1 match)

DOB: 22 July 1997

Bye Round: 10


After debuting in Round 23 of 2016, Bonner was sent back to the Port Magpies to continue his apprenticeship in 2017, playing 16 matches before he earned his second AFL match in round 22. He made the most of his opportunities, playing the final two regular season matches and the Elimination final with an average of 18 possessions, 5 marks and 2.3 tackles.

Those statistics were not overly surprising given Bonner’s U18 form where he was an attacking half-back and averaged 18 possessions per game and gained an average of 570 metres per outing.

What most caught the attention of Supercoaches was his composure and ball use in the 2017 Elimination Final where he managed an 84.2% Disposal Efficiency in a tight match. Generally a player who stands up in the furnace of finals seems ready for consistent AFL football!

Unfortunately, despite all these positives, Bonner didn’t set the world on fire in JLT 1 last week so wait on JLT2 to see if he shows enough to hold his spot in Port’s best 22.


  1. He is an elite kick and he kicks far more than he handpasses.
  2. Bonner is entering his third season; time for a break-out?
  3. He is cheap and there are few good defensive rookies or premiums this season.
  4. Bonner is durable, missing just 1 match in his first 2 seasons on Port’s list.


  1. Port have many line-breaking players and skilful kicks in the backline and midfield who are already ahead of Bonner.
  2. With the arrival of Watts, Rockliff, Trengove, Motlop, etc, there is massive selection pressure at Port.
  3. His contested possessions rate was very low (28.3%) and he placed little defensive pressure on the opposition. No matter how well you kick the ball, if you don’t defend, you don’t play.
  4. He was ordinary in JLT1
  5. He is cheap but more expensive than a rookie.


Bonner is one of those ‘gut-feel’ options because he doesn’t have enough of a form line to help your selection. Based on his impressive Elimination Final performance, many Supercoaches have traded him in to their back-lines, but straight kicking alone doesn’t make a great defender.

If he plays consistently, Bonner will definitely average 18-20 possessions and 5 marks per match and  pump out a solid 75-80 SC points average but he seems very likely to be in and out of the senior squad.

Even if he is named for Round 1, he seems an unnecessary risk.


I was one of those coaches who liked Bonner’s Elimination Final performance in 2017 where he didn’t waste a kick and I had him in the first draft of my Supercoach Team. However, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes selecting Bonner. With Polec injured there might be a place for a line-breaker like Bonner early in 2018 but with so many new faces at Port he seems borderline for the best 22 and destined to be sent back to the SANFL. Unless he improves his defensive efforts and ball-winning in JLT2, I definitely won’t be selecting him.

Is Riley Bonner worth selecting?

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14 thoughts on “2018 Player Review – Riley Bonner”

  1. Thanks Thommo. I’m having a bit of deja vu with the rookie defenders – I don’t trust them, again! So I thought Bonner might be worth a look as a replacement for Birchall at D4.

    Probably not, but I’ll keep an eye on him this weekend anyway.


    1. I thought the same regarding Birchall but he disappointed in JLT1. A few coaches will get caught out with players like Bonner playing Round 1 or 2 then getting dropped before a significant price change.


  2. My eyes lit up when i saw this article all pre season i have had Bonner in and out of my squad, currently being out! I am running with Coffield, Naughton & doedee at D4,5 & 6. pricey rookies but you cant put a price on job security. I think this write up has almost written of bonner and liking my current defense, appreciate the help thommo keep up the good work!


    1. Thanks Maverick. I have dropped a midfielder to strengthen my defence and forward line. 3 Defensive rooks worries me too.


  3. I think I prefer Corey Ellis from Richmond
    DEF/MID so he can swing with coffield
    he is 228K so cheaper then Bonner
    and he scored 96 in JLT 1 playing a half back role not bad.


      1. Nor am I
        Just going to keep an eye on him and hopefully he does well in JLT 2 and gets a decent position come Round 1
        No certainty just a one to watch


  4. Us Port supporters have been keen on this guy for a long time now, as he was recruited as Pittard’s apprentice and is known for his elite kick. Only problem is he hasn’t really delivered yet and while I’m confident he will I don’t think he’s a player to start this year.

    For context Port turned both Dan Houston and Dougal Howard into defenders from forwards and both overtook Bonner in a single year because his defensive efforts weren’t up to scratch. I think he’s got sketchy job security at this point but watch to see how he goes in JLT 2 and if he’s named round 1.


  5. Great Write Up Thommo!

    Bonner is on my Watchlist.

    Now Thommo like i suggested to Father yesterday and he obliged you should advertise your latest article on Twitter for your followers and , to help plug the site. I will be sure to ReTweet it.

    Keep up the Great work though Mate!


  6. If you’re looking for someone at around this price, Ciaran Byrne ($229,300) could be worth a look. Along with Marchbank, he has taken on some of Docherty’s running/distributing role at Carlton, so his average should improve (I’d be very surprised if he averaged under 70; he should probably be able to average mid-70s to mid-80s). Along with his new role, he is also rated very highly at Carlton, so his job security looks pretty good.


    1. I’m keeping an eye on Corey Ellis from Richmomd
      96 in JlT 1 and he is cheaper then Bonner
      Not a lock but keeping an eye on him in the next JLT
      And his place in lineup come Round 1


  7. It seems Terry Wallace is a fan. Has listed him as Ports number 1 breakout candidate. Tempted to push the T button but it would mean I have to either let go Savage or Sicily , both breakout candidates.
    How did Bonner go in JLT 2?



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