Here they are – the Top 10 SANFL League players at the end of the 2021 season.
After selecting his Top 50 players at the start of the season, SANFL Media Producer Zac Milbank has chosen his Top 50 now that the dust has settled on an exciting 2021 SANFL League campaign.
Form across the 2021 season was used as the chief factor in the ranking process, with selection in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year and West End State team weighing heavily together with finals performances and placings in the Magarey Medal, Shearman Medal and Club best-and-fairest awards.
High rankings in statistics such as total disposals, marks, contested marks, goals, clearances and tackles were also taken into account, along with Champion Data ranking points.
So here they are, the Top 10 from 2021. After starting with those selected 31 to 50, then moving to players 11 to 30 – we have arrived at the pointy end of the selection process.
There was never any doubting Tyson Stengle’s talent. And he certainly reminded AFL clubs of this with an eye-catching campaign, resulting in him finishing equal runner-up in the Ken Farmer Medal with 44 goals for the season. A member of the West End State team and The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year, the newly-signed Geelong Cat kicked three goals in the League Grand Final to prove he’s also a big-game player.
The first genuine defender chosen in the SANFL Post Season Top 50, Haines posted an outstanding campaign which resulted in selection in both the West End State team and The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year. Placing runner-up in the Knuckey Cup as South’s best-and-fairest, Haines also finished fourth in the competition for most disposals – illustrating how many attacking forays he sparked in 2021.
McBean’s consistency in front of goal is exceptional, highlighted by him winning his third Ken Farmer Medal in succession with a haul of 56 majors for the year. Glenelg’s versatile spearhead is arguably more adept at ground level than in the air despite standing 202cm, something which ensured he would be selected in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year and the West End State team. Placing sixth in the Bay’s best-and-fairest, McBean won the club’s first Bob Quinn Medal as best afield against Port Adelaide on Anzac Eve.
Delisted by Adelaide at the end of 2020, Knight rewarded his home club by playing a major role in the Eagles defending their crown despite missing three games with injury. The 26-year-old still managed to place fourth in the Eagles’ best-and-fairest while being selected in the West End State team and The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year. Topped things off nicely by racking up the most disposals – 27 – on SANFL Grand Final day.
The 2019 Magarey Medallist could have been headed for No.1 on this list until he suffered an untimely hamstring strain in Round 17. This played a role in him placing third in the Magarey Medal and runner-up in the Shearman Medal. Despite the late-season setback, Partington still managed to share Glenelg’s best-and-fairest with Matthew Snook while also being selected in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year.
The fighting spirit of Tiger Matthew Snook was on display during the finals when the 2019 Jack Oatey Medallist pushed through the pain of a serious neck injury to be his team’s best player on Grand Final day with 22 disposals, nine tackles and nine clearances. Had the third most disposals for the season while sharing the Bays’ best-and-fairest with Luke Partington, being selected in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year and finishing runner-up in the Magarey Medal.
Backed up his 2020 Magarey Medal with a third placing in this year, together with his first Shearman Medal – illustrating the respect he commands from his rival coaches. Winner of the Barrie Robran Medal as North’s best-and-fairest, Combe led the competition for average Champion Data ranking points while also being selected in the West End State team and The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year.
The Eagles’ nuggety rover has proven to be a sensational signing since arriving from Geelong’s VFL side, since then he’s played in two flags and was joint-winner of this year’s Magarey Medal. Selected as centre in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year, Tsitas was the only player to reach 600 disposals while also winning his club’s best-and-fairest award.
South Adelaide’s recruiting raid to net Bryce Gibbs paid dividends when the former Crow shared the Magarey Medal with Tsitas while also winning the Knuckey Cup as club best-and-fairest. Selected as ruck rover in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year, Gibbs also made his West End State team debut while placing fourth in the Shearman Medal. The veteran’s influence with ball in hand was illustrated by him placing third in the competition for Champion Data ranking points.
Woodville-West Torrens coach, and West End State coach, Jade Sheedy selected Jack Hayes to captain the Croweaters largely on the back of his ability to lead through his on-field actions, setting the tone with his brilliance around the ground. Little did Sheedy realise at the time, his star utility would be doing so once again in the most important game of the year. Despite carrying a painful leg injury suffered at training, Hayes was a fitting winner of the Jack Oatey Medal adding to his accolade of being selected at centre half-forward of The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year. Runner-up in both the Magarey Medal and Eagles best-and-fairest, Hayes was also fifth in the Shearman Medal and placed second in the competition for average Champion Data ranking points. This is because 192cm star impacts games in several aspects, including eye-catching intercept marks, together with hitting the scoreboard and acting as an extra midfielder when pinch-hitting in the ruck.