LACHIE Neale is the hardest-worked midfielder in the competition. That's not an opinion, it's fact.
The star Brisbane recruit has enjoyed a stellar first season at the Lions after crossing from Fremantle last year, helping his new team surge into the top four and himself become one of the Brownlow Medal favourites.
The numbers show it hasn't happened by chance for the 26-year-old, who is averaging 32.4 disposals.
Eagle Jack Darling ranks in the top 10 for minutes played. Picture: AFL Photos
Statistics supplied by Champion Data highlight Neale as the midfielder who spends the most time on the ground of any in the competition.
Of the 15 players who have been on the field for the most amount of minutes this season, Neale is the only midfielder listed (he sits at 14th overall in the competition).
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The group is dominated by key forwards and defenders, who clearly spend little time on the interchange bench due to their roles at either ends of the ground.
But Neale is the exception, playing 88 per cent of Brisbane's game time and recording a total of 1661 minutes on the ground (at an average of 110.7 minutes a game). He averages four visits to the interchange each game.
North Melbourne full-forward Ben Brown has spent the most time on the field of any player in the AFL this year. He has spent 1782 minutes on the ground and played 97.1 per cent of North's game time, coming off the ground only 11 times all year.
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The other key forwards in the top bracket include West Coast's Jack Darling and Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins, although the majority of the 15 players who have registered the most minutes on the field are key backmen.
Sydney's Dane Rampe, Carlton's Jacob Weitering, Port's Tom Clurey, Cat Mark Blicavs, Dogs backman Zaine Cordy, Hawthorn star James Sicily, North big man Robbie Tarrant and Essendon All Australian Michael Hurley are all placed inside the first 15.
Swans defender Dane Rampe spends a lot of time on the ground. Picture: AFL Photos
Neale's aerobic capacity and durability is further underlined by the fact he, and Western Bulldogs premiership star Lachie Hunter (No.28 overall) are the only pure midfielders ranked in the top 30 players for minutes played.
NAB AFL Rising Star favourite Sam Walsh is also ranked highly (48th overall, the highest of any first-year player), with only five pure midfielders (Neale, Hunter, Jack Billings, Tom Phillips and Luke Parker) playing more game time than the Carlton young gun.
|PLAYER||MATCHES||INTERCHANGES||GAMES MINUTES %||MINUTES|
Ben Brown (NM)
|Dane Rampe (SYD)||15||25||95.2||1763|
|Jacob Weitering (CARL)||15||19||94.1||1758|
|Tom Clurey (PORT)||15||27||93.7||1744|
|Mark Blicavs (GEEL)||15||33||93.6||1717|
|Heath Shaw (GWS)||15||42||91.4||1701|
|Zaine Cordy (WB)||15||26||93.8||1689|
|Jack Darling (WCE)||15||36||91.5||1688|
|Tom Hawkins (GEEL)||15||34||91.9||1685|
|Brad Sheppard (WCE)||15||39||91.3||1684|
|James Sicily (HAW)||15||35||92.3||1678|
|Robbie Tarrant (NM)||15||37||91.3||1676|
|Michael Hurley (ESS)||15||32||92.6||1671|
|Lachie Neale (BL)||15||64||88||1661|
|Jake Lloyd (SYD)||15||50||89.5||1657|