Improving Richmond defender Brandon Ellis
On the rise: Brandon Ellis
At a glance: The tough defender didn't waste any time in making his AFL debut when he was selected in round one, 2012, to face Carlton at the MCG. He had arrived at Punt Rd via the 2011 NAB AFL Draft (selection No.15 overall) and was ready to push for selection with a solid body courtesy of a weights regime he stuck to during his junior years. Had nine disposals and laid two tackles in his first game and held his spot, which he maintained for all but one game throughout the season. Earned a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in round 17 for his 21 touches, while his booming and accurate kick allowed him take many of the Tigers' kick ins. Playing on some of the League's best small forwards, Ellis also displayed his massive tank – shown when he ran a 15.4 beep test at the 2011 NAB AFL Combine.
Plays like: Collingwood's Heath Shaw. Hard running, tough, uses the ball well, loves a tackle, solid rebounder and has the ability to push into the midfield when required.
Killer quality: When he was drafted, the Tigers rated him in the top three kicks from the talent pool, which was why he was often given the role of bringing the ball back into play from the defensive goal square throughout the year. His tank also gives him scope to play in the midfield.
Best performance: He had four games in a row where he amassed more than 20 touches, with the fourth against North Melbourne in round 17. Here, he picked up 21 touches and played a role against small forward Lindsay Thomas. His performance against Gold Coast the week before (24 disposals, 12 marks) was also impressive.
What they say: "Brandon has ticked every box since arriving at the club and the way he worked his way into the senior side is a credit to his work rate and determination. His attitude on and off the field has been outstanding. We've also been impressed with his versatility and his ability to play a number of roles for us this year, including as a running defender and a midfielder." – Damien Hardwick after round 17.
Stats that matter:
Seventh in rebounds (32 @ 1.5 per game)
Seventh in marks (80 @ 3.8 per game)
12th in kicks (183 @ 8.7 per game)
12th in handballs (147 @ 7.0 per game)
12th in clearances (15 @ 0.7 per game)