SUB-par or sub-sational?

It was the rule introduced just hours before the start of this season, but with nearly half of the year completed, who have been the best performed medical substitutes? And which clubs have had to pull the trigger more than the rest?

The medical substitute has been used 83 times so far this season, with Fremantle and North Melbourne – two of the clubs worst hit by injuries in 2021 – leading the way having brought the sub on in seven out of nine games.

MEDICAL ROOM The full AFL injury list

The majority of clubs – 13 out of the 18 – have used the sub four to six times this season while Melbourne, which has enjoyed a healthy run in its unbeaten start to the season, has only had to use its medical substitute twice – the lowest alongside Hawthorn in the competition.

Club

Medical substitutes used

Fremantle

7

North Melbourne

7

Essendon

6

Port Adelaide

6

Carlton

5

Geelong 

5

Gold Coast

5

GWS 

5

Richmond

5

St Kilda

5

Brisbane 

4

Collingwood

4

Sydney

4

West Coast

4

Western Bulldogs

4

Adelaide

3

Hawthorn

2

Melbourne

2

Fremantle's Connor Blakely, Gold Coast's Nick Holman and Saint Ben Long have all been the 'used' substitute three times – the most in the AFL – but it is two of the very short-term substitutes who rank higher for impact.

Champion Data has traced through the list of performances by the substitutes to rank the top-10 performers based on their AFL Player Ratings points.

Given the injury replacement player can be on the ground at different stages depending on when their teammate is ruled out it, the statistics supplier has ranked the players based on their Player Ratings points per 100 minutes.

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Their system of rating the influence on a game means that Carlton's Matthew Kennedy's 10-minute stint as the substitute in round four against Gold Coast – when he collected four disposals – was the No.1 performance for Player Ratings when extrapolated to 100 minutes.

Two-time Richmond sub Patrick Naish also rates highly in the rankings, while Blakey and Holman are inside the top five for impact under the Player Ratings formula, while Jack Ross, who has twice been a used substitute for the Tigers, sits at fourth for his impact.

Player

Total time on ground as sub

AFL Player Rating Points

Matches

Player Ratings per / 100 mins

Matthew Kennedy (Carl)

10:18

2.8

1

27.4

Patrick Naish (Rich)

20:01

3.9

2

19.4

Connor Blakely (Frem)

46:21

18.4

3

17.3

Jack Ross (Rich)

10:28

12.1

2

17.2

Nick Holman (GC)

40:51

26.3

3

16.4

Jack Bytel (StK)

44:48

7.3

2

16.3

Quinton Narkle (Geel)

40:58

6.5

1

15.9

Willem Drew (PA)

51:18

7.7

1

15.0

Jack Scrimshaw (Haw)

24:43

3.7

1

15.0

Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carl)

20:37

11.5

2

14.3