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.


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 sixth down to first.

Every AFL club's midfield ranked: Part I
Every AFL club's midfield ranked: Part II

Despite fielding the reigning Brownlow medallist in Ollie Wines, Port Adelaide lacks depth in the centre.

The aforementioned Wines isn't prone to playing second fiddle to Power stalwart Travis Boak, who himself is a beast in congestion, while the emergence of winger Karl Amon rounds out the club's top tier midfielders. 

Ports trio of highly touted youngsters Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters and Connor Rozee all spend portions of games playing through the middle but haven't been able to successfully cement a spot in the guts. They all possess high footy IQs and silky ball skills but are disadvantaged when competing with the bigger bodies most other clubs play in the centre. 

The Powers midfield is then completed by ruckman Scott Lycett and defensive-minded onballer Willem Drew, while others, like their dashing half-back Dan Houston and tough nut Sam Powell-Pepper, get runs when needed.

Lycett is very average in the hit out game and struggles to position the ball effectively for his teammates, hence Port Adelaide ranking ninth in total clearances per game. Drew is an excellent tagger but lacks an element of polish that his contemporaries display with ease. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Travis Boak (left) and Ollie Wines of the Power celebrate during the 2021 AFL Round 23 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Port Adelaide Power at Marvel Stadium on August 20, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

However, the amalgamation of Port Adelaide’s entire midfield group results in an imposing style of play where they tackle hard to win back possession if they fail to outright win the contest, which is evident by them ranking fourth in tackles per game. 

Once in control of the ball, the Power’s aggressive nature translates into a barrage of forward entries which sees them ranked fourth for shots on goal per game and fifth for inside 50’s per game. 

For Port to take the proverbial ‘next step’ their less established onballers must rely less on their natural talents and figure out how to mimic the aggressive nature of their current leaders in Wines and Boak. 


4. Greater Western Sydney

While the Amazon Prime show ‘Making Their Mark’ captured GWS coach Leon Cameron’s intense side, they failed to capture him displaying any competence when orchestrating his midfield rotation. 

The wealth of talent that the Giants are capable of fielding is damn frightening, but they never seem to consistently have their best players simultaneously in the guts. 

Just quickly, here's a list of skilful ball-winners at GWS’ disposal: Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper, Tom Green, Callan Ward, Harry Perryman and Lachie Whitfield.

Despite this bit of negligence, GWS were able to bully the opposition in the middle as they ranked fifth in contested possessions per game, total clearances per game and seventh in tackles per game. 

The relentlessness displayed rivalled the league's best on their day, as the Giants would outwork and suffocate their opposition. They began to surge late in 2021 with their engine room at the forefront of the in-season resurgence. 

However, the Giants are atrocious when it comes to winning the ball out of the centre (ranked 13th), in part due to their ruck roulette not garnering enough consistency and that their onballers are likely out of rhythm with their talls and fellow mids. 

HOBART, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Josh Kelly of the Giants kicks whilst being tackled by Nick Larkey of the Kangaroos during the round 13 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Greater Western Sydney GIants at Blundstone Arena on June 16, 2019 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The epitome of this mishandling is that last season Kelly spent copious amounts of time on the wing and half-forward instead of on the ball where he can do the most damage.

Too often have the Giants and Cameron relied on pure talent to rack up wins and this will continue to be the greatest knock on an otherwise stellar midfield group.