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The top 50 AFL players, as ranked by the players themselves: 40-31

March 11, 2015 7:00 AM

The players pick their best: 40-31 We reveal numbers 40-31 in the 2015 Players' Top 50

Who's next? Click here for the full AFL Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

FOR THE second year, in conjunction with the AFL Players' Association, we’ve surveyed the AFL players to find out who they think make up the game’s top 50.

Players from all 18 clubs took part in the survey, with 105 players receiving at least one vote.

There are 14 players in this year’s players’ top 50 who did not feature in the list last season. Three of those retired last year (Dean Cox, Darren Glass and Lenny Hayes).

Fourteen of the top 20 players on the list are from last year’s finalists.

Here are players 40-31, with the countdown continuing until Friday, March 27, when the AFL’s No. 1 player – according to his peers – is revealed. 

40. Dan Hannebery
Sydney Swans
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: 16 (-24)
Official AFL Player Rating: 58
Debut: 2009
Games: 120
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $547,000 

One of the best outside runners in the game, Hannebery plays a crucial role complementing the Swans' inside grunt. The 2013 All Australian has been getting some balance in his game, however, lifting his contested possession output, which will make him harder to shut down this season. He has earned great respect at the Swans for his two-way running, which has become a trademark not only of his game, but of the team’s midfield, which is committed to working as hard defensively as it does offensively. Has been one of the standouts of the Swans' pre-season this year.  

39. Dustin Martin
Richmond
Forward/midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 88
Debut: 2010
Games: 108
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $553,000 

The Tiger cracks the Players' Top 50 for the first time after playing consistently well in 2014 and finishing third in Richmond's best and fairest. Was one of the Tigers' most important players – and a genuine match-winner in the second half of the year. Was a force in contested situations and used that skill to his advantage when he pushed forward late in games late in the season and exploited his opponents with his strength. Recently signed a new contract and is set for more midfield minutes in 2015, although he’ll still be used in attack when needed. 

38. Cyril Rioli
Hawthorn
Forward
Last year's ranking: 39 (+1)
Official AFL Player Rating: 109
Debut: 2008
Games: 133
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $459,000 

The exciting forward was dogged by hamstring injuries last season (not for the first time), but a carefully managed recovery program saw him play his part in the 63-point Grand Final demolition of the Sydney Swans. The 25-year-old, known for his pace and brilliant skills, had been missing from AFL ranks since round 15, but after a cameo appearance in the VFL Grand Final he was deemed fit for the AFL Grand Final. His forward-line pressure in the main game was immense. The Hawks have searched far and wide – even attending a conference in Spain in the off-season – to find solutions to the triple-premiership player's soft-tissue problems and hope they have found an answer in specialised training.

Cyril Rioli makes this year's top 50 at No.38 despite a restricted 2014 output due to hamstring issues. Picture: AFL Media

37. Pearce Hanley

Brisbane Lions
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 44
Debut: 2008
Games: 96
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $558,000 

Hanley enjoyed an incredible end to 2014, but will not be seen until the mid-point of this year after undergoing pre-season hip surgery. He is close to the Lions' most damaging player with his ability to run-and-carry the ball, elude defenders with a step or swerve, and then have the composure to finish off with a pinpoint pass or shot at goal. The 26-year-old averaged 30 disposals a game over the final nine rounds last season, yet it's the impact of those possessions that makes him so valuable. Often the first Lion tagged these days, he is capable of single-handedly winning games and is heading towards the peak of his powers. 

36. Chad Wingard
Port Adelaide
Forward
Last year's ranking: 34 (-2)
Official AFL Player Rating: 41
Debut: 2012
Games: 67
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $439,000 

Entering his fourth AFL season, Wingard is among the game’s most exciting players. His agility allows him to find time and space in even the most congested situations, providing him countless opportunities to either score or assist others hit the board. His basketball background is obvious on the football field – his vision and ball use by hand are elite. Has already been used further up the ground and could become a real weapon in midfield. A knee injury has hampered the tail end of his pre-season but shouldn't rule him out for round one.  

35. Jarrad McVeigh
Sydney Swans
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: 17 (-18)
Official AFL Player Rating: 32
Debut: 2004
Games: 244
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $550,000 

An All Australian at half-back in 2013, McVeigh has since become a classy midfielder who can also push to half-forward and punish the opposition with his piercing ball use. Noted by the Swans' tall forwards as one of their favourite teammates to receive the ball from, he rarely wastes a kick and ranked No. 4 in the AFL last season for total goal assists. Co-captain since 2011, McVeigh could be deployed back to defence in 2015 to cover the loss of Nick Malceski. Rarely plays a bad game, but was surprisingly poor in last year's Grand Final, winning just five possessions to half-time. 

34. Brendon Goddard
Essendon
Forward/midfielder
Last year's ranking: 37 (+3)
Official AFL Player Rating: 26
Debut: 2003
Games: 247
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $550,000 

Essendon couldn't have hoped for much more from Goddard since he crossed to the club as a restricted free agent at the end of 2012. In his first season with the Bombers, the former Saint won the club's best and fairest. He immediately added a level of class to the club's on-ball brigade with his precise and long kicking on both feet, and has also kicked 18 and 17 goals in his two years in red and black, showing his worth near goal. A natural leader who strives for and demands the best, the 29-year-old remains one of the competition's most damaging players. 

Brendon Goddard climbs in his peers' ratings after starring for Essendon in his two seasons. Picture: AFL Media

33. David Mundy

Fremantle
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: 25 (-8)
Official AFL Player Rating: 64
Debut: 2005
Games: 210
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $542,000 

The classy midfielder is one of the most important players in the Dockers’ line-up. His consistency and leadership are invaluable and his ball use and decision-making are features of his game. Ranked second at Fremantle in 2014 for contested possessions and clearances and he was in the top 12 in the AFL for both categories. He finished fourth in the club's best and fairest after running second in 2013. He is a big-game player as well, and his performances during the past two finals series have been exemplary. 

32. Bryce Gibbs
Carlton
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 57
Debut: 2007
Games: 177
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $574,000

The South Australian's move into a full-time midfield role was one of the success stories of Carlton's 2014 season. Gibbs is a class ball-user and decision-maker and in 2014 showed he can be a hard-nosed inside ball-winner too, finishing 10th in the AFL for clearances during the home and away season. The former No. 1 draft pick's excellent season earned him his maiden Carlton best and fairest award and his first All Australian squad nomination, while his game against Geelong in round 12 (29 possessions and four goals) was one of the best individual performances of 2014. Gibbs appears to be on the verge of joining the game's elite. 

Nathan Jones makes his Top 50 debut after three successive best and fairest awards with Melbourne. Picture: AFL Media

31. Nathan Jones
Melbourne
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 101
Debut: 2006
Games: 179
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $418,000

Jones has been Melbourne's best player for three straight years, a fact reflected in his hat-trick of best and fairest wins from 2012. The Demons have struggled since Jones arrived in 2006, but the tough on-baller has always had reason to hold his head high. The midfielder averaged career-highs in disposals (27.7 per game), tackles (5.2), clearances (6.2), contested possessions (11.6) and uncontested possessions (16.1) in 2014 and clearly benefited from a bolstered on-ball unit that included Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson. The club’s stand-alone skipper, Jones' uncompromising nature and sharp decision-making in traffic make him an elite AFL player. Jones received four times as many votes as all other Demons combined.

Who's next? Check out the rest of the AFL Players' Top 50 as they are revealed