The midfield is arguably the most important position group in footy as they're tasked with being present at most contests and all stoppages while serving as the link between their defence and offence.

Without a strong ensemble of on-ballers, teams are destined to fall apart as middling play in this area results in catastrophic consequences to the outcome of a contest on a given day.

Not all midfields are alike as some prioritise a physical ball-winning style, while others emphasise a run-and-gun outside game and then there are sides that prefer a healthy balance of the two.

SEE ALSO: Every AFL club's midfield ranked: Part I

Each club has its own formula for constructing the ideal midfield but not all team's engine room can perform at the highest level.

With this in mind, let's have a look at the league's best midfield groups heading into 2022, starting from 12-7.


1. (12) Sydney

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The Sydney Swans find themselves down on this list due to the sizeable departures of tagger George Hewett and wingman Jordan Dawson.

While the Swannies have an assortment of youngsters who'll be able to rotate through the centre, they're losing elements of toughness and run. Hewett was exceptional at nullifying the opposition's best on-baller, while Dawson served as a strong link between defence and attack.

Surprisingly, Sydney was very middle of the pack when it came to midfield metrics in 2021, with the exceptions being fourth for inside 50s per game and sixth in average disposals per game, despite their ascendance into the eight. Meaning what differentiates the Swans from other midfields is their ability to constantly push the footy forward and win key contests to, time and again, pile pressure onto their opposition.

As they're currently constructed, the Bloods are very reliant on the ageing Josh P. Kennedy and veteran Luke Parker to not only win the ball but to also drive it forward. With Callum Mills finally putting together his breakout season in 2021, he makes up the trio of Swans who will be tasked to, once again, do the heavy lifting in the guts (provided he overcomes his Achilles troubles).

Sydney's next echelon of on-ballers come in the likes of Oliver Florent and Justin McInerney, who are nice pieces but haven't proven to take the necessary steps in their development to warrant the acclaim of their other stalwarts.

If the Swans are going to consistently compete with the other contenders in the centre, John Longmire needs to strike the right balance between his strongest line-up and which youngsters he'll give a run on the ball.

With the likes of Isaac Heeney, Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell poised for more midfield minutes, the Swans desperately need more of these hybrid players to step up if they are to continue building towards a legitimate premiership push.