THEY are football's stayers and this year they are more valuable than ever.

With the AFL introducing a series of rule changes for this season to increase the game's flow and heighten ball movement, players are preparing for a year where they are pushed to their physical limits.

And with rotations cut from 90 to 75 per team each game, coaching groups are searching for players who can either remain in their position throughout a game or be used in multiple roles on the ground instead of eating up interchange rotations.

The AAMI Community Series showed that clubs will continue to lean on their key forwards and defenders to spend most of the game on the ground without a rest.

05:17 Mins
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The 10: Best moments of the 2021 AAMI Community Series

Enjoy the standout plays and performances from the weekend's pre-season games

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Champion Data shows that of the 18 club leaders for game time during the AAMI Community Series, 15 were either key forwards or key defenders. 

Taylor Walker (90 per cent) led the way for Adelaide, Jack Darling topped West Coast's figures with 94 per cent, Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins (98 per cent) had the most for Geelong, and Brisbane used recruit Joe Daniher for 89 per cent of their game, showing his improved fitness. 

PRESSURE GAUGE How much heat is your coach under?

Collingwood's Darcy Moore (96 per cent), Bomber Jordan Ridley (97 per cent), Gold Coast's Charlie Ballard (93 per cent), Giant Connor Idun (88 per cent), new Hawk Kyle Hartigan (93 per cent), Port recruit Aliir Aliir (94 per cent) and Kangaroo Ben McKay (98 per cent) were defenders who stayed on the field the most of their sides. 

Meanwhile, it was three tall backs – Carlton's Liam Jones, St Kilda's Callum Wilkie and Western Bulldog Ryan Gardner – who were the only players in the competition to play full game time. 

Carlton defender Liam Jones tackles St Kilda's Jack Higgins during the 2021 AAMI Community Series. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond's Callum Coleman-Jones, who switched between the ruck and forward line, also showed why he shapes as a valuable player for the Tigers this season once his suspension ends as he played the most minutes (104:16/89 per cent game time) in the reigning premiers' pre-season clash with Collingwood.

Fremantle half-back Ethan Hughes (96 per cent) and Sydney medium forward Will Hayward (90 per cent) were also club leaders.

The most valuable of the lot, however, was Melbourne's Ed Langdon. In the AAMI Community Series, Langdon played 121:27 minutes of the Dees' pre-season clash with the Western Bulldogs. That equated to 98 per cent of game time for the hard-running wingman.

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Langdon, who finished fourth in the Dees' best and fairest last season after crossing from Fremantle, becomes even more valuable this year given his ability to chew up so few of coach Simon Goodwin's rotations. 

Because of his incredible aerobic capacity to maximise his game time, it also has a flow-on effect that allows his other midfield mates, such as explosive gamebreakers Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver, more opportunities to have quick interchange breaks and recharge. 

With coaches anticipating an offense-based game style to pervade at least the early part of the season, the AFL making rule adjustments to ensure a faster game and quarters returning to their longer 20-minute plus time-on length, it is the stayers, such as Langdon, who have a hidden string to their bow. 

AAMI Community Series game time – club leaders

Club

Player

Minutes

% of game time

Adelaide

Taylor Walker

104:59

90%

Brisbane

Joe Daniher

119:21

89%

Carlton

Liam Jones

131:57

100%

Collingwood

Darcy Moore

112:11

96%

Essendon

Jordan Ridley

113:45

97%

Fremantle

Ethan Hughes

118:51

96%

Geelong

Tom Hawkins

114:46

98%

Gold Coast

Charlie Ballard

125:31

93%

GWS

Connor Idun

112:16

88%

Hawthorn

Kyle Hartigan

118:01

93%

Melbourne

Ed Langdon

121:27

98%

North Melbourne

Ben McKay

124:21

98%

Port Adelaide

Aliir Aliir

110:11

94%

Richmond

Callum Coleman-Jones

104:16

89%

St. Kilda

Callum Wilkie

131:57

100%

Sydney

Will Hayward

114:12

90%

West Coast

Jack Darling

116:26

94%

Western Bulldogs

Ryan Gardner

124:03

100%