A string of bona fide stars and young up and comers make up the talent Peel Thunder has contributed to the 2017 AFL season.
Below is a look at how each Peel product is tracking in the big league through the first seven rounds.
Daniel Wells (Collingwood)
The silky moving Kwinana-raised midfielder has battle through injury to manage just two games with Collingwood since making the move from North Melbourne during the off-season, but his two performances have been impressive. Wells notched a cool 24 disposals and two goals in his Magpies debut, despite his team struggling in an 18-point loss to the Bombers on Anzac Day. He followed it up with a 22 disposal effort in a round six win over the Cats before missing the Pies’ round seven clash. Wells is in the early stages of his time at Collingwood but appears to be a crucial piece to their chances of winning games.
Ben Howlett (Essendon)
Struggling to cement his spot in the side as Essendon lean on youth to lead them out of the tunnel that is their supplements saga, Howlett has played just two games in the ones this season. But the 119-game veteran still has something to offer at the highest level. His two appearances were far from stellar, but he was still able to contribute with 15 disposals in his first game followed by 14 disposals in his second. His performances were remarkably similar, taking four marks and kicking a single behind in both.
Hayden Ballantyne (Fremantle)
Yet to play a game due to an injury sustained in the pre-season, Ballantyne is expected to return to full training within a week and is eyeing a return to football in round 10. The proven small forward will be banging on the door for an immediate call up to Fremantle’s best 22, but the Dockers’ decision to stick with their youth during a rebuild means the former Sandover medalist could be lining up for Peel Thunder in Mandurah again. His name is synonymous with the Thunder and the fiery forward pocket even has the far wing at Bendigo Bank Stadium named after him.
Harley Bennell (Fremantle)
Arguably the most talented footballer on this list, Bennell has battled injury and off-field issues and is yet to play a game for the Dockers since being traded from the Gold Coast in 2015. Bennell is currently listed as a seven-week absence due to a calf injury, and fans are skeptical as to whether he will ever don a Fremantle jersey, but if he can find his way to the field he would be a huge boost for the purple haze. Bennell is electrifying on the footy field, with his pace and disposal efficiency trademarks of his game.
Aaron Black (Geelong)
Black was left out of Geelong’s side for the first four games of the season, but has been a handy inclusion to the 22 for the most recent three rounds as the Cats look for more forward options to ease the strain on Tom Hawkins. Black’s debut in Cats colours was sparkling, tallying 21 touches, seven marks, two goals and one behind in his side’s comfortable win over the Saints. He followed it up with a more somber performance against the Magpies but bounced back against the Suns with two goals from 15 touches.
Josh Schoenfeld (Gold Coast)
After an impressive handful of games in his debut season last year, Schoenfeld has found it hard to crack into the Gold Coast’s side. He played in their round one clash against the Lions and managed 10 disposals and a goal, but since then has been playing in the second side in the NEAFL. His 19-disposal, eight-mark debut against Fremantle is his most impressive performance to date. Schoenfeld is rated as one of the fittest players in the league.
Nathan Wilson (GWS Giants)
Wilson is enjoying a season of success with the Giants in 2017 and his football reflects it. As a defender he’s averaging a shade under 17 disposals a game but his general play has been as solid as a rock. The Mandurah Mustangs product has played in six of the Giants’ seven games after missing round one and continues to grow with every outing. Wilson perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves due to being in a side full of genuine superstars like Jeremy Cameron, Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel. He is contracted until the end of 2018 but if his career continued on its current path it’s likely he would attract some tempting offers to return home when available.
Kamdyn McIntosh (Richmond)
A Pinjarra Football Club product, McIntosh is enjoying consistent football for the first time in his five-year career in 2017. The trusty defender has been hindered by injury early in his AFL tenure, but has played in six of the Tigers’ seven games this season, missing only their round two clash Collingwood due to omission. McIntosh is averaging 15.7 touches in the Tigers’ backline in 2017, with his most impressive outing coming against West Coast in round three where he collected 22 touches and laid six tackles.