• SportFM

Rogers leads the way in top 40

John Townsend

Reigning Sandover medallist Bailey Rogers will be the most influential footballer in the WAFL this season as he attempts to become the first player in more than 40 years to win consecutive medals.

A revelation at Claremont last season after being shifted from defence to the midfield, Rogers’ ability to add substantial goal-kicking to his prolific ball-winning should make him the most effective of the numerous Sandover winners in the upper reaches of the WAFL’s top 40 players.

SportFM’s assessment of the stars set to shine this season saw Rogers ranked ahead of West Perth running machine Aaron Black (No.3), dual winner Jye Bolton (4) who is likely to be used at half-back at Claremont this year, the versatile Lachlan Delahunty (5), silky Bulldog Haiden Schloithe (11) and smooth-moving Sam Fisher (14).

Dual Bernie Naylor medallist Tyler Keitel was ranked second on the list and his performance at full forward will be one of the most critical factors in West Perth’s bid to win the premiership. There were limited opportunities to assess players on their pre-season form given the numerous Covid disruptions of the past few months but candidates were ranked on their form and impact last season, an assessment of their likely role and value to their team this year, as well as the threat they provide to opposition sides.

Midfielders dominated the list with more than half the top 40 comprising regular on-ballers while, in an indication of the lack of established ruckman in the competition, Delahunty was the only specialist named.

The list does not include any AFL-listed players but includes all five of the top-up players called up by West Coast to help them field a team in March.

Only four of the 10 delisted AFL players returning to the WAFL were named with Brendon Ah Chee (13), Mark Hutchings (19), Stefan Giro (23) and Brayden Ainsworth (39) having played sufficient WAFL football in recent years to be confident of their likely impact.

In an indication of the WAFL’s two-speed economy, the four teams that have taken part in the past four grand finals – and are expected to dominate the finals again this season - provided the bulk of the top 40.

Last year’s combatants Subiaco and South Fremantle each had eight players, West Perth produced seven and Claremont had four.

Versatile captain Ben Hancock was Peel’s only selection while West Coast’s reserves team did not have a candidate. WAFL ironman Tony Notte, who is targeting the remarkable milestone of 200 consecutive matches in the second half of the season, was one of only two Swan Districts players named.

That number might have been greater but for ruckman Corey Gault and small forward Jarrod Cameron retiring on the eve of the season. The most contentious addition is East Perth recruit Elijah Taylor but the former Sydney player has revealed such a level of skill in the pre-season that, should his fitness level improve, he could be one of the stars of the league.

Top 40 WAFL players in 2022

1 Bailey Rogers C

2 Tyler Keitel WP

3 Aaron Black WP

4 Jye Bolton C

5 Lachlan Delahunty S

6 Jon Marsh EF

7 Jackson Ramsay EP

8 Ben Sokol S

9 Zac Strom SF

10 Luke Meadows WP

11 Haiden Schloithe SF

12 Leigh Kitchin

13 Brendan Ah Chee SF

14 Sam Fisher SD

15 Jordan Lockyer S

16 Chad Pearson SF

17 Angus Dewar S

18 Shane Nelson WP

19 Mark Hutchings WP

20 Mason Shaw SF

21 Declan Mountford C

22 Dylan Main SF

23 Stefan Giro S

24 Corey Byrne P

25 Aaron Heal S

26 Blake Schlensog

27 Fraser McInnes P

28 Michael Sinclair P

29 Harry Marsh S

30 Christian Ameduri EP

31 Lachlan Martinis C

32 Brandon Donaldson SF

33 Ben Hancock PT

34 Keegan Knott WP

35 Cody Leggett EF

36 Noah Pegoraro WP

37 Tony Notte SD

38 Hamish Brayshaw EP

39 Brayden Ainsworth P

40 Elijah Taylor EP

IMAGE: WA Football