TelstraAFL Live Pass
Main content

Latest Lions TV

Premiership Pride: Tim Notting

3:12pm  Sep 19, 2018

Player Review: Jarrod Berry

3:08pm  Sep 19, 2018

AFLW Rehab Update

11:23am  Sep 18, 2018

Witherden's first 25 games

July 17, 2018 9:34 AM

 - Brisbane Lions

It would be grossly premature to talk of Alex Witherden in the same breath as Michael Voss or Simon Black. And disrespectful, even, to the two Brownlow Medallists.

Witherden is a teenager still feeling his way in the AFL and Voss and Black are champions not just of the Brisbane Lions but the AFL. A Hall of Famer and a Hall of Famer in waiting.

Yet Witherden has been more prolific in the first 25 games of his career than the 2001-02-03 premiership heroes were at the same stage.

In 25 games Witherden has had 576 disposals. Voss had 409 possessions after being injured early in his 24th game and having just one possession that day. And Black had 431.

It is a numeric comparison only, and is skewed by the fact that high possession numbers are more prevalent in the modern game, but it is an undeniable pointer to a promising career for Witherden.

Also, it puts the highly-skilled Lions back pocket player in some very elite company, not just at the Lions but across the entire AFL.

Among 314 Brisbane players only one has had more possessions in his first 25 games. And only one more. Tom Rockliff had 576. And 19 times in his first 25 games Witherden has had 20 possessions or more 19 times, including his first six. Rockliff had 18.

It is an intriguing list that follows.

Behind Rockliff and Witherden is Danny Noonan, a former Carlton Reserves player who earned a second chance in the AFL via Tasmanian club Clarence and was picked up by the Brisbane Bears with a pre-draft selection in the 1990 National Draft.

He had 31 possessions on debut against Carlton at Princes Park in Round 3, 1991, had 552 possessions in his first 25 games, including 17 20-possession games and three 30-possession games, and over three years played 55 games before being delisted.

Three others in the top 10 are from the Bears era, when a lot of players debuted well into their 20s after playing regular senior football in Perth or Adelaide before joining the AFL.

David Bain, a Sandover Medallist in the WAFL before joining the Bears in 1989, ranks fifth behind 100-game Lions local Cheynee Stiller, while Matthew Campbell, a South Australian State team regular before being a member of the first Bears side in 1987, is equal sixth. Martin Leslie, the #1 pick in the first AFL National Draft in 1986 after a brilliant career in SA, is ranked eighth.

Significantly, Noonan and Bain were 22 on debut, Campbell 23 and Leslie 26.

The other mature age debutant in the top 10 is current Lions captain Dayne Zorko, who ranks equal sixth with Campbell. He was 23.

Twenty Bears/Lions players have had 400 or more possessions in their first 25 games. They are:-

MOST POSSESSIONS - FIRST 25 GAMES

Poss

Player

Debut Age

20's

30's

577

Tom Rockliff

19

18

3

576

Alex Witherden

18

19

1

552

Danny Noonan

22

17

3

506

Cheynee Stiller

19

14

1

498

David Bain

22

13

 

456

Matthew Campbell

23

9

1

456

Dayne Zorko

23

9

1

455

Martin Leslie

26

11

 

452

Rhys Mathieson

19

7

1

433

Daniel Rich

18

5

2

431

Simon Black

18

10

1

428

James Aish

18

10

 

427

Troy Clarke

21

10

 

426

Darren Carlson

20

9

 

426

Pearce Hanley

19

6

 

422

Sam Mayes

18

9

 

419

Mitch Golby

19

7

 

417

Lewis Taylor

19

8

 

409

Michael Voss

17

7

 

405

Josh Drummond

22

6

2


Witherden also slots into the top 10 25-game possession winners across the entire AFL since 2000, displacing Western Bulldogs midfielder Jackson Macrae from the list.

That is a list headed by GWS’ Toby Green at 661, and includes Rockliff at #8 and Witherden at #9.

Poss

Player

Club

661

Toby Greene

GWS

637

Michael Barlow

Frem

615

Brad Crouch

Adel

614

Clayton Oliver

Melb

593

Sam Menegola

Geel

590

Liam Anthony

NM

581

Greg Broughton

Frem

577

Tom Rockliff

Bris

576

Alex Witherden

Bris

566

Rhys Palmer

Frem

That Witherden has slotted so quickly and efficiently into AFL ranks is a huge credit to his reliance after a badly broken leg in his 2016 draft year threatened to impact significantly on his prospects.

Having played as a bottom age player with the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup in 2015, he was named captain of the Geelong College First XVIII but played only two school games and two TAC Cup games before disaster struck.

Playing forward in a game against St Kevins College after being ill before the game, he put himself into the midfield and was crunched in a tackle by Tim Taranto, who was later chosen at No 2 in the Draft by the GWS Giants.

One bone in Witherden’s lower leg was broken in four places, and another was cracked. And he tore the ligaments that held the two bones together. His season was done.

Coincidentally, good mate Jy Simpkin, who was later chosen at #12 in the same draft by North Melbourne, had suffered a broken leg a month earlier. And although his was not as severe they rehabilitated together.

Witherden rode an electric scooter around school to keep the weight off his leg and without playing impressed AFL clubs with his meticulous dedication and commitment to the process.

He was something of a wild card in the draft, having missed so much football, but the Lions' recruiting team didn’t hesitate at #23 and added him to earlier picks Hugh McCluggage (#3) and Jarrod Berry (#17).

Immediately after they took Cedric Cox at #24 before adding Academy local Jacob Allison at #55 and Corey Lyons at #71.

Interestingly, among the top 24 players taken in the 2016 Draft, McCluggage, with 34 AFL games, ranks equal third most to Round 17 2018 behind Carlton’s #6 pick Sam Petrevski-Seton (36), Essendon’s #1 pick Andrew McGrath (35) and level with Port Adelaide’s #18 pick Sam Powell-Pepper (34).  Sydney’s #21 pick Will Hayward (33) is fifth, with Berry (31) sixth.

And Witherden’s possessions-per-game average of 23.0 is highest among the same group, from McGrath (20.2), Powell-Pepper (18.6), Taranto (18.4), McCluggage (16.9) and Berry (15.7).

The top 24 picks, with games, goals, possessions and average possessions to Round 17, 2018 are:-

2016 AFL DRAFTEES - TOP 24 SELECTIONS

Selection

Player

Club

Games

Goals

Poss

Ave Poss.

1

Andrew McGrath

Ess

35

5

707

20.2

2

Tim Tarranto

GWS

30

12

553

18.4

3

Hugh McCluggage

Brisbane

34

14

575

16.9

4

Ben Ainsworth

G/Coast

27

19

357

13.2

5

Will Setterfield

GWS

2

0

18

9.0

6

Sam Petrevski-Seton

Carlton

36

15

526

14.6

7

Jack Scrimshaw

G/Coast

4

0

40

10.0

8

Griffin Logue

Fremantle

13

1

122

9.4

9

Will Brodie

G/Coast

7

1

107

15.3

10

Jack Bowes

G/Coast

22

4

292

13.3

11

Oliver Florent

Sydney

25

11

365

14.6

12

Jy Simpkin

North Melb

29

17

387

13.3

13

Daniel Venables

W/Coast

6

4

55

9.2

14

Harry Perryman

GWS

14

2

176

12.6

15

Jordan Gallucci

Adelaide

11

8

126

11.5

16

Todd Marshall

Port Adel

10

12

86

8.6

17

Jarrod Berry

Brisbane

31

16

486

15.7

18

Sam Powell-Pepper

Port Adel

34

21

631

18.6

19

Tim English

W/Bulldogs

9

1

105

11.7

20

Isaac Cumming

GWS

2

0

22

11.0

21

Will Hayward

Sydney

33

47

351

10.6

22

Jordan Ridley

Essendon

3

0

41

13.7

23

Alex Witherden

Brisbane

25

3

576

23.0

24

Cedric Cox

Brisbane

11

3

124

11.3


180215_Rd18_Ticketing_CTA.jpg