A barometer has many faces in team sports but all ultimately have the same impact: rising to the occasion and lifting their teammates to exceed performance expectations.
While we acknowledge some of the best individual performances in recent weeks from Jack Steele, Touk Miller and Jack Viney, we thought it would be appropriate to identify each club’s barometer.
The barometer player usually refers to the essence of a team, being able to inspire teammates by words or action and ultimately assist in the pursuit of glory.
Here they are:
Sicily plays a significant role for the Hawks, being the intercept defender who’s able to use the ball effectively coming out of the backline.
Injured throughout the entire 2021 campaign, the pick 56 in the 2013 draft has returned at full throttle and is in All-Australian contention, winning the ball back in the defensive 50 and driving the attacks from the back half.
Flagged as Ben McEvoy’s successor, Sicily is likely to be a captain of Hawthorn and will continue to set the standard as Sam Mitchell’s coaching tenure goes on.
Arguably one of the most devoted and loyal players, Jack Viney is something you’d love to have in your team.
Sometimes unrecognised for the work he does by the football community due to the stars around him like Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca, Viney is one to always stand up against adversity and has proven that since his debut.
However, during the form slump of the Demons in 2022 after they started the year 10-0, the 28-year-old was one of few who stood up and is in some of the best form in his career.
Viney has also been lauded for his leadership on and off the field and is slowly starting to get the recognition he deserves, as his toughness and courage continues to be assets to his game and Melbourne’s.
Zurhaar continues to build into his career, developing into one of the more damaging forwards in the competition as his consistency improves.
Averaging just under two goals in a game in a side that’s won two matches for the year, the 24-year-old is usually the one to get things going for North Melbourne.
Against Richmond, Zurhaar kicked six goals and the match winner to cause an upset and put the Tigers’ finals chances in disarray.
Been in the system for six seasons, the forward is set for to break open games more often as we’ve seen him do a few times so far.
Jy Simpkin is another player growing into the mature years, stringing strong performances together and becoming a problem in the midfield, leading the charge for the Kangaroos.
Probably taking the mantle from Robbie Gray and Travis Boak in the second half of the year, Connoz Rozee’s move into the midfield can be seen as a masterstroke, with the evasive and efficient ball winner making the most of the opportunity.
Sitting equal-fifth in the AFLCA votes with Patrick Cripps, Rozee has been instrumental throughout the centre, using his breakaway speed and is heavily involved in scores.
The 0-5 start didn’t help Port Adelaide but have now unveiled a superstar in the making, with similarities drawn to Gray earlier in his career: When Rozee has the ball, something good usually happens.
It was and for so long Dustin Martin’s responsibility to respond for Richmond when in trouble, which has included three premierships and three corresponding Norm Smiths.
However, bubbling at the surface has been Shai Bolton, who’s proven time and time again that he is a match winner and can step up when his team needs him.
Not lauded for his courage or bravery, Bolton is noticed for his ability to turn a game on its head, like Martin, and lead his team to victory.
We do know the number 29 for his freakish ability but probably undermine the inspiration he provides to his fellow teammates, which was seen in the Brisbane 42-point comeback.
Essentially squeezed out of GWS, Jack Steele was destined to lead an AFL club, with his strength and tenacity around the ball key features of his game.
Steele’s on-field actions reflect the greats gone past, leading by example and never wavering in the contests, constantly putting his body on the line.
Awarded with sole leadership of St Kilda in 2022, the former Giant makes his side walk taller with him there and leads by example.
The exciting, small forward from Sydney is up there as one of the most watchable players in the competition and has taken his game to new heights in 2022.
Usually bobbing up with a goal or setting up one of his teammates, when Tom Papley is on, and when he kicks two or more majors in a match, the Swans are seven from eight wins.
Papley is slowly building a nice career despite being overlooked in drafts until the Swans picked him up as a rookie.
Callum Mills is also one that Sydney rely on to get them going, playing through the middle but really helping the defence and getting back to assist the side.
A lot has gone wrong for the Eagles in 2022, but Tom Barrass has been able to stand up in the turmoil and has turned into one of the better defenders in the league.
Facing a lot of ball from the opposition midfielders, Barrass has been forced to defend more than most and at times has struggled as the number one back man for West Coast in Jeremy McGovern’s absence.
However, the 26-year-old has been able to intercept the ball for the Eagles and sits equal-fourth in intercept marks (55).
A spiritual leader for the side, the 196cm defender could be a captain in the coming years and is a key pillar to the rebuild of West Coast.
Liberatore has had mixed receptions about his career thus far but is one of the best ball winners in the competition.
Usually in the shadows of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith and Aaron Naughton as the Western Bulldogs’ best player, the 30-year-old has been in career-best form and is usually the one that gets things going.
One of the best in 2022, Liberatore is elite at extracting the ball from the contest and releasing players like Bontempelli, making him an invaluable member of the Dogs’ side.
This year, when the dynamic midfielder gets five clearances or less in a game, the Bulldogs have lost four from five matches, proving his worth in the guts.