The Search for the Next Elite Midfielder

Written by Motts on March 5 2015

This is the extended article that MJ wrote for the Herald Sun today. Would love to know who you think will be the next midfielder to elevate his game. Give us your thoughts in Comments.


SuperCoach is a simple game when it boils down to it. Finish the year with the top performing players in each position and you’ll have no problem winning all your leagues and pocketing the $50,000 first prize.

Easier said than done.

Anyone completing the 2014 campaign with a midfield octet consisting of Ablett, Rockliff, Pendlebury, Fyfe, J Selwood, D Beams, Sloane and J P Kennedy will no doubt have done exceptionally well. They were, in fact, the highest averaging midfielders last year, and hence commence 2015 with the loftiest price tags.

It may surprise you that only three of those were top eight midfielders the year prior; Ablett, Pendlebury and Selwood. This has been a consistent trend in the past, as the last decade has not seen more than four midfielders holding their top eight positions the following year.

History tells us that there may well be at least four new players to enter the top bracket in 2015. Successfully selecting these up-and-comers is invaluable, but will require a bold SuperCoach to stick their neck out and make a big call on a young kid.

What to look for:

There are plenty of similarities to be drawn from 2014’s crop of top eight midfielders with which we can use to assist in our scouting endeavours. All of them made their initial leap into the top echelon between the ages of 22 and 24 and they had all shown signs of SuperCoach ability the previous season.

Only Gary Ablett managed to propel himself from an average less than 95 to one worthy of the top eight midfield positions. Josh Kennedy did it with 96 points per game in 2011 to a whopping 119.6 in 2012, but the other six had already shown the capacity to average triple figures before taking the next step.

Player Breakout Age

Average Pre-Breakout

Breakout Year Average

Gary Ablett




Scott Pendlebury




Tom Rockliff




Nat Fyfe




Joel Selwood




Dayne Beams




Rory Sloane




Josh Kennedy




Who fits the bill in 2015?

Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood) $608,200; 113.2 ppg

Sidebottom took his game up a gear in 2014, slotting in as the 9th best averaging midfielder. The 24-year-old has flown under the radar as his Collingwood colleagues in Pendlebury, Swan and Beams hogged most of the headlines in the SuperCoach world. After a quiet first two rounds of the season, Steele hammered his way home with an average of 118.2 from round three onwards. Opposition taggers rarely give him any attention, provoking leather poisoning on a regular basis. With Beams no longer at the Pies, will this pave the way for Sidebottom to increase his output again?

Luke Parker (Sydney) $583,000; 108.5 ppg

In just his fourth season, Parker lit up the SuperCoach landscape with a spectacular season that saw him average 120.2 from round 14 and became the envy of all those who didn’t have him in their forward lines. Stripped of FWD eligibility, Parker is sure to see far less investment this year, but turning 23 at the end of the season, the Sydney midfielder is now in the prime age bracket to reach even greater heights in 2015.

Adam Treloar (GWS) $577,800; 107.5 ppg

Treloar was one of the better rookies in 2012, averaging 83.1 from 18 matches. Just three years on and he may be ready to become one of our elites. Starting 2014 with devastating effect, scores of 154 and 176 in rounds one and three respectively made the SuperCoach community take notice. He’ll soon be 22, and with just 58 games of AFL experience under his belt, the young Giant still has a mountain of improvement ahead of him. It’ll be interesting to see if the arrival of Ryan Griffen impacts his prospects.

Dyson Heppell (Essendon) $571,800; 106.4 ppg

A model of consistency last season, dropping under 90 points just three times in 21 matches, Heppell was extremely dependable. Turning 23 in May, and signing a five-year deal with the Bombers, he has many SuperCoaches on-board again in 2015. If he can lift his scoring ceiling from 133 points in round 4 last year, he could well justify the hype. Minor knee surgery on Tuesday morning is a speed bump in his pre-season that could have implications on his fitness heading into round 1.

Dion Prestia (Gold Coast) $569,800; 106 ppg

Scoring over 120 nine times in his fourth season makes the human meatball a tantalising proposition for us to salivate over. With Gary Ablett taking the number one tag each week, Prestia is often free to rack up the pill at will. In fact, he averaged 110.5 before his captain popped a shoulder in round 16. Increasing his ppg every year alongside the Suns’ improvement, is it time for Dion to join Gaz in the elite bracket? Turning 23 later this year, there’s no doubt he’s got the potential to do so.

David Swallow (Gold Coast) $554,600; 103.1 ppg

Like Parker, Swallow’s owners are sure to decrease in number this year after he lost his dual position status. He’ll be 23 at the end of the year, so should still be on the rise, and must remain a consideration for your side. The number one draft pick in 2010 still has an abundance of talent yet to be unveiled. In the same mold as Prestia, Swallow also performed far better with Gary Ablett taking opposition attention away from him, averaging just 94.6 after round 16.

Toby Greene (GWS) $553,300; 102.4 ppg

Not many players can boast a SuperCoach average in excess of 80 in their first season as a rookie, let alone 94.5 as Greene managed in 2011. Off-field dramas marred the young Giant’s 2014 season, being handed a five-week suspension by his peers after drinking whilst injured. The club appears convinced however, that he’s overcome his misdemeanours, extending his contract until 2018. In a remarkable finish to the year, Greene belted out 128.6 ppg from round 17 including a 42-possession game against the Pies. Approaching his fourth season, he’s just about ripe for the picking. This kid could be anything if he puts his mind to it.



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31 thoughts on “The Search for the Next Elite Midfielder”

  1. How about Jack Steven (St.K)? As a 23 yr-old in 2013 lifted his average from 90 to 110 (with 3 scores 150+). It was only injury that curtailed his last year and stopped him going higher. I firmly believe he is one of the most likely candidates for a break-out year as he has already shown a high ceiling and just needs a good run with injury to be back to that 110 level. One of the first picked in my team this year.


  2. Never gets mentioned but Callan Ward could be set for a big year. With Griffin likely to take some attention away from him could be freed up to add an extra ten points.

    What’s the community reckon?


  3. Nice work MJ and great to see getting the expert nod! about time 🙂

    I echo Mottsy – wheres Gibbsy?? 🙂

    Ollie Wines definitely looks like he’s well on his way…and shame Tom Liberatore has gone down as i think he could have easily propelled himself to elite status this year.


  4. injury aside, I think this season we will have more than 4 of last seasons top 8 mids retaining their position in the top 8


  5. Ollie Wines didn’t make the cut purely on age, as all the existing elite midfielders had hit at least the age of 22 in the year they broke into the elite group of 114+ ppg for a season. Wines will mature as a 22 yo in 2016. Could Ollie do it before history says he will? Quite possibly.


  6. Luke ‘On your boot’ Shuey is my prediction. At the ripe ol’ age of 24 Shuey has every chance to break into the elite class of Supercoach (as long as his ‘knees’ hold up in a tackle 😉 )


  7. When you look at the Round 23 results of these top 8 from 2014 you realize why Supercoach is so difficult.

    I finished with 5/8 of these midfielders (Ablett swapped out of course or would be 6) but none of the buggers suited up in Round 23!

    Kennedy, Beams, Ablett, Fyfe all missed and from memory Pendles missed Round 22!


  8. Great Article!

    May I ask why the top 8? I would want to know who is elite or not without regards to the top 8. Maybe some seasons there are only 7 elite players, but another there might be 10? Obvious you want the top in your team, but would a look at who has over a certain “elite level” average be more useful, or also useful? Since this is only my second season I’m still learning, so I hope this is not a silly question.


  9. Ripping read, MJ! Congrats on getting published, well deserved!! Personally I would’ve backed Heppell. Due to asada uncertainty, I’ll probably start with Sidebottom, big POD……..


  10. Nice one MJ

    Thoughts on Mitch Wallis with Libber going down?

    22 years old, entering 5th season, absolute ball magnet as a junior, word is he won’t be tagging this year – awkwardly priced at $340k but I currently have him penciled in at M6

    Anyone else considering?



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