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Winners and losers on the 2016 injury ladder

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Nathan Fyfe of the Dockers leave the field on crutches after the teams defeat during the 2016 AFL Round 05 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Carlton Blues at Domain Stadium, Perth on April 24, 2016. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media)
Nat Fyfe leaves the field after his season-ending injury against Carlton

WHEN Collingwood and North Melbourne assess their respective fortunes at the end of 2016, injuries will play a big role in the off-season post-mortems.

On pure numbers, the Magpies have a case that no team has been hit harder, with more games lost to injury than any other club and an early-season barrage preventing any momentum from forming. 

But the timing and nature of the Kangaroos' recent woes has been particularly cruel, with a spate of setbacks playing a key role in their rapid drop from first to eighth on the ladder. 

An injury ladder developed for AFL.com.au sheds light on the teams that have been cruelled and those that have escaped relatively unscathed.

And using the Schick AFL Player Ratings, Champion Data is able to highlight the talent 'cost' of every injury.

The Magpies have not only lost more games to injury this year than any other club, but the 'cost' of those injuries has been higher than every club except Fremantle – the other club with claims as the hardest hit.

The 'cost' of an injury is the difference between that player's Player Ratings average and that of the next best available player who is outside the team and plays in the same position.

As an example, injured Dockers star Nat Fyfe averages 18.9 points a game and Freo's next best midfielder not in its 22 is Tendai Mzungu, who averages 6.9 points a game.

The 'cost' to the Dockers in that particular week is therefore 12 points.

If there are 22 available players who average more Player Ratings points than the injured player, there is no cost to that injury.

Champion Data also increases the cost slightly if there are no available players in the same position available for selection.

When the total cost of every injury this season is added up, Fremantle comes out well ahead of the competition with 431 points.

Collingwood ranks No.2 with 263 points, while Hawthorn (253) and the Brisbane Lions (234) round out the top four after 16 rounds.

Gold Coast is notable for its games lost – ranked No.2 with 126 games – but the talent cost (179 points) has not been as significant. It will likely soar now that Gary Ablett has been ruled out for the final seven rounds.

At the other end of the ladder, Adelaide has enjoyed a blessed run, losing just 36 points in total at the selection table because of injury.

Melbourne (59 points), St Kilda (66), Carlton (81) and West Coast (85) have also enjoyed a good injury run.    

The injury ladder

ClubGames lost (rank)Total cost (points)Rank
Fremantle 125 (3) 431 1
Collingwood 129 (1) 263 2
Hawthorn 84 (8) 253 3
Brisbane Lions 87 (7) 234 4
GWS 97 (5) 195 5
Gold Coast 126 (2) 179 6
Richmond 91 (6) 177 7
Western Bulldogs 99 (4) 174 8
Sydney Swans 68 (13) 155 9
Port Adelaide 64 (14) 150 10
Essendon 61 (15) 137 11
Geelong 73 (9) 123 12
North Melbourne 71 (10) 89 13
West Coast 53 (17) 85 14
Carlton 69 (12) 81 15
St Kilda 36 (18) 66 16
Melbourne 70 (11) 59 17
Adelaide 60 (16) 36 18

Another layer to the injury ladder is in-game injuries, which play a key role in results and have particularly cruelled North Melbourne in its four-week fall from first to eighth.

It's been the quickest such fall since Port Adelaide went from first to 10th in mid-2007, and in-game setbacks have had an undeniable impact. 

Starting against Geelong in round 12, the Kangaroos have suffered 11 in-game injuries, with five of those ending a player's day prematurely – Andrew Swallow (concussion), Ben Cunnington (corked thigh), Luke McDonald (hamstring) and Farren Ray (concussion and hamstring). 

Over the course of the season, no team has finished a game at least one player down more often than the Kangaroos, who have suffered game-ending injuries in all but five games.

Adelaide, again, has enjoyed the best run, equal with West Coast in suffering just one game-ending injury in 15 matches. 

How each club fares with in-game injuries

 AVAILABLE PLAYERS AT END OF GAME
Club2221201918
North Melbourne 5 9 1 0 0
Gold Coast 6 4 5 0 0
Brisbane Lions 7 5 3 0 0
Fremantle 8 7 0 0 0
Collingwood 8 5 1 0 1
St Kilda 9 4 1 1 0
Western Bulldogs 9 6 0 0 0
Sydney Swans 9 4 2 0 0
Melbourne 10 5 0 0 0
Richmond 10 3 1 1 0
Essendon 10 4 1 0 0
Carlton 10 4 1 0 0
Geelong 11 4 0 0 0
GWS 11 2 2 0 0
Port Adelaide 12 2 1 0 0
Hawthorn 12 3 0 0 0
Adelaide 14 1 0 0 0
West Coast 14 1 0 0 0