Main content

Your team's kings of the kick-in

Good things tend to happen for the Tigers when Jayden Short kicks in - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs
Good things tend to happen for the Tigers when Jayden Short kicks in

WHO IS your club's kick-in specialist? Which players are entrusted with the responsibilty of restarting play after an opposition behind? Where do they direct their kicks? And how many kick-ins lead to a score at the other end? Our staff writers crunch the numbers for all 18 clubs.

Kick-in specialist: Luke Brown (93 out of 240, 38.8 per cent)
Who else takes them? David Mackay (27), Wayne Milera (25), Rory Laird (18) Total: 19 players
Do they play on? 50 out of 240 (20.8 per cent). Who plays on the most? Luke Brown (15)
Most kick-in marks: Rory Laird (18)
Where do they go? Left (63), corridor (73), right (104). Long effective (56), short effective (123).
Rushed behinds: 45 (equal fifth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (37), scores (9.4)

Analysis: The Crows prefer to kick in down the right side of the ground, going there 43.3 per cent of the time compared to 30.4 per cent for corridor and 26.3 per cent to the left. Luke Brown has been the Crows' No.1 kick-in option with half-back flanker Brodie Smith out for most of the season with a knee injury. Smith's average of three per game (in two games) is behind only Brown (4.9). Smith has a booming kick and took six of 25 kick-ins in rounds 20-21. - Lee Gaskin

Kick-in specialist: Alex Witherden (126 out of 248, 50.8 per cent)
Who else takes them? Daniel Rich (51), Luke Hodge (42), Tom Cutler (8) Total: 12 players
Do they play on? 72 out of 248 (29 per cent). Who plays on the most? Alex Witherden (52)
Most kick-in marks: Alex Witherden (14)
Where do they go? Left (85), corridor (58), right (105). Long effective (63), short effective (99).
Rushed behinds: 57 (first)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (44), scores (11.6)

Analysis:
No surprise the two best kicks in the club – Alex Witherden and Daniel Rich – along with the calmest head, Luke Hodge, are taking the bulk of the responsibility. The Lions are happy with any of these three starting their chain. Witherden has become a little more circumspect in his decision-making, going to the flanks 80 per cent of the time rather than pulling the ball back across his body like he did so much in his first season. – Michael Whiting

Alex Witherden routinely plays on and drives the ball long for the Lions. Picture: AFL Photos


Kick-in specialist: Kade Simpson (95 out of 259, 36.7 per cent)
Who else takes them? Lachie Plowman (54), Jed Lamb (33), Dale Thomas (32) Total: 11 players
Do they play on? 77 out of 259 (29.7 per cent). Who plays on the most? Kade Simpson (46)
Most kick-in marks: Patrick Cripps (16)
Where do they go? Left (102), corridor (75), right (80). Long effective (68), short effective (104).
Rushed behinds: 45 (equal fifth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (48), scores (12.11)

Analysis:
The reliable Kade Simpson is Carlton's kick-in king. He has almost doubled anyone else at the Blues for total kick-ins this season, while he is playing on from almost half of them. He also has his favoured means of delivering the footy out of defence, feigning to play on to the right, before shifting back to his preferred left foot. Carlton has tended to go short with its kick-ins this season, doing so on more than 60 per cent of occasions this year. Meanwhile, Patrick Cripps is the leading target from kick-ins – marking from 16 of 259 kick-ins so far this season. - Riley Beveridge

Kick-in specialist: Lynden Dunn (59 out of 177, 33.3 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jeremy Howe (46), Brayden Maynard (20), Sam Murray (12) Total: 13 players
Do they play on? 39 out of 177 (22 per cent). Who plays on the most? Lynden Dunn (16)
Most kick-in marks: Matt Scharenberg (14)
Where do they go? Left (82), corridor (33), right (62). Long effective (46), short effective (87).
Rushed behinds: 35 (16th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (40), scores (16.7)

Analysis:
As they have done all season with a mounting injury toll, the Pies have been forced to adjust, particularly given the loss of their two preferred kickers, Lynden Dunn and Jeremy Howe (who could return for the final round). Brayden Maynard, Sam Murray and Tom Langdon are more likely to kick to themselves to gain extra territory. And they tend to go long to in-form ruckman Brodie Grundy, the ideal target with his aerial and ground skills. - Ben Collins

In the air or on the ground, Brodie Grundy is the target of choice for the Pies. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Conor McKenna (77 out of 240, 32.1 per cent)
Who else takes them? Brendon Goddard (61), Michael Hurley (52), Adam Saad (18) Total: 13 players
Do they play on? 96 out of 240 (40 per cent). Who plays on the most? Conor McKenna (36)
Most kick-in marks: Michael Hurley (19)
Where do they go? Left (81), corridor (54), right (104). Long effective (37), short effective (96).
Rushed behinds: 29 (18th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (37), scores (9.4)

Analysis: 
The Bombers have tended to share their kick-ins reasonably evenly between Conor McKenna, Brendon Goddard and Michael Hurley. Interestingly, of all McKenna's kick-ins, only one has directly resulted in a goal for the Bombers. Goddard has generated three goals from his kick-ins, but has seven of them have resulted in goals to the opposition. - Callum Twomey

Kick-in specialist: Luke Ryan (107 out of 261, 41 per cent)
Who else takes them? Nathan Wilson (100), Michael Johnson (17), Stephen Hill and Shane Kersten (7) Total: 16 players
Do they play on? 21 out of 261 (8 per cent). Who plays on the most? Nathan Wilson (17)
Most kick-in marks: Joel Hamling (21)
Where do they go? Left (87), corridor (73), right (100). Long effective (59), short effective (170).
Rushed behinds: 45 (equal fifth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (49), scores (13.6)

Analysis: 
The Dockers don't exactly have an abundance of go-to contested marking targets – and even fewer when Matt Taberner and Aaron Sandilands are missing – so it's no major surprise they lead the League in effective short kick-ins. You can bank on second-year defender Luke Ryan hitting up a short target (74 short effective kick-ins from 107) and even more so when veteran Michael Johnson (15 from 17) has the ball in his hands. Former Giants superboot Nathan Wilson has a more even spread, and is the only Docker to kick the ball to himself more than once (17 times) this season before, generally, taking territory. - Travis King

Nathan Wilson likes to kick to himself and go for the Dockers. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Zach Tuohy (85 out of 244, 34.8 per cent)
Who else takes them? Tom Stewart (73), Cam Guthrie (32), Mitch Duncan (21) Total: 15 players
Do they play on? 75 out of 244 (30.7 per cent). Who plays on the most? Tom Stewart (42)
Most kick-in marks: Zach Tuohy (16)
Where do they go? Left (46), corridor (122), right (76). Long effective (66), short effective (95).
Rushed behinds: 45 (equal fifth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (42), scores (10.9)

Analysis: 
Tom Stewart loves to play on from kick-ins. From 73 this season, the second-year defender has played on to himself 58 per cent of the time. Stewart is also the Cats' safest option from full-back. From his kick-ins, only 15 per cent result in opposition scoring shots, compared to Zach Tuohy's 25 per cent. Cam Guthrie, the Cats' third-most preferred user from the defensive goalsquare, has had 10 of his 32 kick-ins end in shots, including six opposition goals. All 15 of Geelong's kickers have been right footers. - Mitch Cleary

Kick-in specialist: Steven May (90 out of 300, 30 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jarrod Harbrow (74), Jesse Joyce (22), Michael Rischitelli (19) Total: 20 players
Do they play on? 76 out of 300 (25.3 per cent). Who plays on the most? Jarrod Harbrow (25)
Most kick-in marks: Jesse Joyce (19)
Where do they go? Left (104), corridor (87), right (108). Long effective (51), short effective (152).
Rushed behinds: 44 (10th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (42), scores (7.7)

Analysis:
There's two distinct options with the Suns – Steven May to go long or Jarrod Harbrow to go short. Harbrow loves to play on and then find a short target, which statistically has the best results for Gold Coast, resulting in scores on more than 10 per cent of occasions. May is safe and reliable and loves to pump the ball long down the line. The Suns need to improve their ball use in the defensive unit to continue a chain of possession that often starts with a quality disposal from either May or Harbrow. - Michael Whiting

Jarrod Harbrow goes short for the Suns to good effect. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Heath Shaw (84 out of 212, 39.6 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jeremy Finlayson (57), Lachie Whitfield (51), Aidan Corr (12)  Total: 9 players
Do they play on? 81 out of 212 (38.2 per cent). Who plays on the most? Heath Shaw (48)
Most kick-in marks: Lachie Whitfield (16)
Where do they go? Left (63), corridor (49), right (100). Long effective (35), short effective (87).
Rushed behinds: 36 (equal 14th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (42), scores (3.13)

Analysis:
The Giants used Jeremy Finlayson in place of the departed Nathan Wilson earlier in the season, but veteran Heath Shaw took over the duties when the young left-footer lost his place in the side. Shaw loves to kick to himself and get the footy long to the boundary, but can also use short targets. Finlayson and Lachie Whitfield use their precision to find a teammate. The Giants' return of 3.13 from 42 inside 50s isn't a great result, and with Shaw out for the year, there's plenty of responsibility on Finlayson and Whitfield going into the finals. - Adam Curley

Kick-in specialist: James Sicily (64 out of 208, 30.8 per cent)
Who else takes them? Ryan Burton (57), Blake Hardwick (40), Taylor Duryea (12) Total: 14 players
Do they play on? 19 out of 208 (9.1 per cent). Who plays on the most? James Sicily (12)
Most kick-in marks: Ben McEvoy (12)
Where do they go? Left (43), corridor (82), right (83). Long effective (92), short effective (86).
Rushed behinds: 50 (third)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (60), scores (19.6)

Analysis:
No surprises here. James Sicily is an elite kick, meaning the Hawks most like the ball in his hands at a kick-in. But Sicily hasn't played for five weeks, hence the increased numbers for Ryan Burton, who is also one of the better users of the ball by foot at the Hawks. Ben McEvoy is the best contested mark at the club, so why wouldn't they look for him when exiting the ball from full-back? - Ashley Browne

The Hawks will be keen to get James Sicily back as soon as the finals start. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Jordan Lewis (69 out of 201, 34.3 per cent)
Who else takes them? Bernie Vince (55), Christian Salem (41), Michael Hibberd and Jake Lever (13) Total: 10 players
Do they play on? 57 out of 201 (28.4 per cent). Who plays on the most? Christian Salem (27)
Most kick-in marks: Michael Hibberd (13)
Where do they go? Left (82), corridor (66), right (53). Long effective (49), short effective (86).
Rushed behinds: 31 (17th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (46), scores (10.12)

Analysis:
The Demons like to rely on their two most experienced players to take kick-ins, with Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince often bringing the ball back into play. Lewis tends to prefer hitting short targets, with 40 of his 69 kick-ins following this pattern. Importantly, 65 of his total 69 kick-ins have been classed as effective by Champion Data. With Vince sidelined by a shoulder injury, and in and out of the team based on form anyway, Christian Salem and Michael Hibberd are others who may get the opportunity to take some kick-ins during the finals. - Ben Guthrie

Kick-in specialist: Scott Thompson (75 out of 221, 33.9 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jamie Macmillan (69), Robbie Tarrant (32), Marley Williams (18) Total: 10 players
Do they play on? 38 out of 221 (17.2 per cent). Who plays on the most? Jamie Macmillan (20)
Most kick-in marks: Luke McDonald (15)
Where do they go? Left (52), corridor (67), right (102). Long effective (94), short effective (82).
Rushed behinds: 39 (12th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (37), scores (11.8)

Analysis: 
Scott Thompson has taken the reins this year from delisted defender Aaron Mullett as the Roos' designated kicker. It's proven a shrewd move, with North scoring an equal AFL-high seven goals from his kick-ins. Brad Scott's side also has more long effective kick-ins than any other team – although that leads to a lower number of uncontested possessions – and conceded the seventh-fewest goals. The Kangas keep a pretty strict rotation, with Thompson, Jamie Macmillan, Robbie Tarrant and Marley Williams taking almost 90 per cent of their kick-ins. - Marc McGowan

Jamie Macmillan is one of a quartet of Roos who share the kick-ins. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Dan Houston (74 out of 197, 37.6 per cent)
Who else takes them? Riley Bonner (66), Jasper Pittard (18), Tom Clurey (11) Total: 13 players
Do they play on? 50 out of 197 (25.4 per cent). Who plays on the most? Dan Houston (25)
Most kick-in marks: Darcy Byrne-Jones (14)
Where do they go? Left (69), corridor (53), right (75). Long effective (49), short effective (86).
Rushed behinds: 38 (13th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (37), scores (10.4)

Analysis: 
Riley Bonner should be the Power's No.1 kick-in option. At the moment, he's neck and neck with Dan Houston, with both taking about 3.5 per game. Bonner's inside 50 returns (22.7 per cent compared to 16.2 per cent) and scoring (12.1 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent) are higher than Houston's. Bonner also has a more even spread across the ground, while Houston tends to focus on the right-hand side, kicking there 44.6 per cent of the time. – Lee Gaskin

Kick-in specialist: Jayden Short (90 out of 166, 54.2 per cent)
Who else takes them? Nick Vlastuin (24), Brandon Ellis (23), Bachar Houli (17) Total: 10 players
Do they play on? 34 out of 166 (20.5 per cent). Who plays on the most? Jayden Short (15)
Most kick-in marks: Nick Vlastuin (16)
Where do they go? Left (77), corridor (32), right (57). Long effective (46), short effective (79).
Rushed behinds: 36 (equal 14th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (37), scores (5.9)

Analysis:
The Tigers tend to head left from a kick-in and reap the most benefits from short kicks. Jayden Short is trusted as their main man out of the goalsquare, with 21 inside 50s and 11 scores (3.8) coming directly as a result of his delivery back into play. The Tigers are good at finding space with 87 of their 166 kick-ins resulting in an immediate uncontested possession, while 39 have hit a contested situation. They're not as interested in playing on as some of the other teams, but when they have, Short has been the main instigator. – Jennifer Phelan

Kick-in specialist: Shane Savage (71 out of 243, 29.2 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jimmy Webster (55), Bailey Rice (21), Seb Ross (16) Total: 20 players
Do they play on? 34 out of 166 (20.5 per cent). Who plays on the most? Jimmy Webster (9)
Most kick-in marks: Jake Carlisle (13)
Where do they go? Left (85), corridor (71), right (87). Long effective (68), short effective (123).
Rushed behinds: 40 (11th)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (50), scores (11.11)

Analysis: 
Shane Savage prefers to go long more so than Jimmy Webster, which means the football goes to contested situations more often. Interestingly, despite Webster having taken 16 fewer kick-ins than Savage, the opposition has scored from two more of those occasions. The left-footer is also more likely to kick it to himself first, as are Seb Ross and Dylan Roberton, than Savage. Injury has forced Webster, Savage and Roberton to miss games this year, robbing the Saints of their main men to distribute the ball after a behind. - Dinny Navaratnam

Jake Carlisle is the primary target for St Kilda's kick-ins. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Jake Lloyd (147 out of 265, 55.5 per cent)
Who else takes them? Jarrad McVeigh (77), Zak Jones (17), Dane Rampe (8) Total: 11 players
Do they play on? 69 out of 265 (26 per cent). Who plays on the most? Jake Lloyd (43)
Most kick-in marks: Dane Rampe (23)
Where do they go? Left (79), corridor (81), right (104). Long effective (24), short effective (166).
Rushed behinds: 56 (second)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (55), scores (14.6)

Analysis: 
Given he's not a massive kick, Jake Lloyd relies on a short hit-up target, and prefers to only play on for a long bail-out option. Jarrad McVeigh is a brilliant kick and rarely misses a target, and both players like to use Dane Rampe as an option in a pocket, where he can look to play on and clear the back 50 with his penetrating boot. Zak Jones hasn't had a lot of work to do, but often kicks to himself to take advantage of his blistering speed. - Adam Curley

Kick-in specialist: Shannon Hurn (124 out of 201, 61.7 per cent)
Who else takes them? Lewis Jetta (58), Brad Sheppard (7), Liam Duggan and Jackson Nelson (4) Total: 7 players
Do they play on? 65 out of 201 (32.3 per cent). Who plays on the most? Shannon Hurn (51)
Most kick-in marks: Chris Masten (13)
Where do they go? Left (23), corridor (71), right (107). Long effective (53), short effective (72).
Rushed behinds: 45 (equal fifth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (41), scores (9.5)

Analysis: 
No player has kicked the ball to himself more than Shannon Hurn (51) this season, and why wouldn't he? Arguably the longest and best kick in the competition, the Eagles captain's powerful right boot is a weapon they look to exploit, and by taking extra distance from the goalsquare Hurn can launch the ball almost to the wing, clearing the danger area and forcing opponents to spread their zone defence to create other gaps. Hurn almost never goes left from a kick-in (eight of 124). When he plays on, going right gives him more time and space running towards the boundary. - Travis King

Shannon Hurn's rocket launcher of a right boot is a weapon for the Eagles. Picture: AFL Photos

Kick-in specialist: Jason Johannisen (52 out of 223, 23.3 per cent)
Who else takes them? Bailey Williams (41), Matthew Suckling (34), Brad Lynch (24) Total: 12 players
Do they play on? 84 out of 223 (37.7 per cent). Who plays on the most? Bailey Williams (23)
Most kick-in marks: Lachie Hunter (11)
Where do they go? Left (76), corridor (92), right (55). Long effective (58), short effective (69).
Rushed behinds: 47 (fourth)
Scoring opportunities: Inside 50s (39), scores (6.1)

Analysis:
The Bulldogs approach kick-ins with a high-risk, high-reward strategy. It involves playing on frequently (ranked third in the League) and aiming towards the corridor (first). They use players equipped with penetrating kicks, namely in Jason Johannisen, Bailey Williams and Matt Suckling. Luke Beveridge wants his players to be aggressive from the defensive 50, opting to kick long rather than short (the Dogs are ranked 18th in short effective kick-ins). But the statistics highlight the risk-taking strategy to have been ineffective, as the Dogs are ranked 16th for creating direct scoring opportunities from kick-ins. - Adrian Johnson