2012 countdown: Top 10 recruits

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 26 Desember 2012 | 14.43

The best pictures of the 2012 AFL season

Mitch Morton and Adam Goodes celebrate a goal. Morton featured in the Top 10 recruits. Picture: Alex Coppel Source: Herald Sun

IVAN Maric was unlucky not to be All-Australian in his first season at Tigerland, but did Mitch Morton's Grand Final cameo boost him into the top 10 recruits of the season?

As we count down the rest of the week we'll name the highlights, lowlights and simply strange moments of the year in footy in a countdown of top 10 countdowns.

We kicked off the series last week with the best 10 AFL games of 2012,the top 10 marks, the top 10 goals, the top 10 brain fades and the top 10 individual performances.

Today the countdown continues with the top 10 recruits of the year.

Did we get it right? Leave a comment below

10. MITCH CLARK (Melbourne)

The big fella didn't come cheaply – and the Dees moved heaven and earth to convince him to join – but Mark Neeld's fascination with the former Lion was quickly justified. Clark was a rare shining light for the Dees this season, up until his nasty foot injury. The spearhead jagged 29.18 from just 11 matches and repeatedly gave it his all in big floggings. Remember the Round 2 debacle against the Eagles? The Dees kicked nine goals for the day in a 108-point belting – and five came from Clark's boot. He straightened the Dees up and with Chris Dawes alongside next year and Jesse Hogan in 2014, Clark should continue to produce gold for the red and blue.

9. MITCH MORTON (Sydney)

"What? Mitch who?" you say. Yep, Morton, didn't make his Swans debut until Round 21. Yep, he had just 42 disposals for the season. Yep, he bagged five goals in 2012. But the livewire sneaks in because without him the Hawks could well be premiers. In the titanic struggle that was the Grand Final, the Tiger discard booted two crunch goals in the second term to spark his side. He justified John Longmire's decision then and there to gamble on him and now he'll forever be remembered as a premiership player. For sheer importance to the season, it's hard to leave this bloke out, as strange as that might just seem.

The 2012 AFL Grand Final at the MCG in Melbourne. Hawthorn vs. Sydney. Mitch Morton and Adam Goodes celebrate a goal Picture: Alex Coppel Source: Herald Sun

8. JEREMY CAMERON (Greater Western Sydney)

Cameron crept into the system as one of the faceless 17-year-old GWS signings, sparing him draft day anxieties, and you suspect he could've rivalled Jon Patton for No. 1 status if not for that. He burst onto the scene with five goals against the Dogs in Round 5, while his contested marking and clutch kicking against Richmond in the wet showed maturity well beyond his years. Cameron had 12 score assists to complement his 29 goals and clunked a staggering 26 contested marks. Goal-wise, he had a better debut season than Franklin, Pavlich, Brown, Nick Riewoldt and Cloke. Wayne Carey warmed to him quickly, declaring Cameron could wind up the AFL's best player. Cameron provided 20 per cent of GWS goals before being booked in for surgery and the Giants believe he and Patton can tear opposition defences to shreds as a one-two punch for the next decade. A shrewd find from the remote town of Dartmoor, western Victoria.

Jeremy Cameron celebrates a goal against the Tigers on Saturday. Picture: Anthony Reginato Source: Herald Sun

7. JOSH HILL (West Coast)

The Eagles snapped up Hill on the cheap – traded for just pick No. 49 – and it turned out to be a shrewd acquisition. With Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski and Josh Kennedy missing most of the season, Hill's liveliness and goal power became an instant asset. The goalsneak turned his career around – only 18 months ago Chris Grant said he shouldn't wear the Dogs jumper again after a spiritless effort manning the mark – to produce his best-ever season. Hill bagged the most goals and behinds of his career, while turned his tackle numbers up to 69 from 22, showing his ability to apply pressure. Now the challenge is there to remain in the best 22 in 2013.

6. STEVE MORRIS (Richmond)

The mature-age defender added a layer of resilience to Richmond's leaky defence this year. Morris boasts raw pace and a knack for closing key opposition players out of matches – just ask Cyril Rioli. The dashing defender blanketed the Hawks star as the Tigers steamrolled the minor premier in Round 9, even burning free up forward and kicking a memorable goal. Morris also has the scalp of Steven Milne, who he shut down on the Friday night stage, with his closing speed, tackling and pressure acts quickly transforming him into one of the coaches' favourites. Morris's ability to spark teammates with his selfless style has become a highlight of the Tigers this year. You'd now back the son of Richmond premiership great Kevin Morris to advance and become a 100-game strong defender at Punt Rd.

AFL Round 6 - West Coast Eagles vs North Melbourne Kangaroos, Patersons Stadium, Perth. PICTURED- Eagle Josh Hill celebrates a goal in the final term. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: Herald Sun

5. SAM GIBSON (North Melbourne)

When North Melbourne was equal 15th on the ladder after Round 10 and fresh from a 115-point hiding at the hands of Hawthorn, coach Brad Scott decided to give Gibson a chance. It would prove to be a decision which helped the Roos spin their season around. In Gibson's first 11 games, just two were losses. Significantly, he was held to just 14 touches in both those defeats, highlighting how important he is to North's success. Gibson hit a five-week purple patch as the Roos' hot streak peaked, racking up 24, 36, 26, 26 and 28 possessions to officially transform into a key part of Scott's engine room. Gibson, 26, averaged 28 touches for Box Hill last year and his leadership, work-rate and gut running have already impressed at Arden St. Not bad for a very late rookie pick who is already on the 2013 senior list.

Mature age recruit Sam Gibson is making his presence felt as the Kangaroos enjoy a late-season form rivival. Picture: Ludbey Wayne Source: Herald Sun

4. TOBY GREENE (Greater Western Sydney)

The Rising Star would have been a mighty tussle if Greene had remained eligible. After Round 11 Greene's lowest disposal count was 29, while he gathered 38 touches and booted two goals against Melbourne to show his dazzling potential. As a midfielder he's lightly-framed but incredibly gifted both on the inside and outside. His white-hot form prompted Kevin Sheedy to suggest he might be the best ball magnet he has coached in the past three decades. Greene wins his own ball and knows how to damage the opposition, while his average of 28 touches a game ranks him in the AFL's top 10 and above names including Cotchin, Dangerfield, Sidebottom, Mitchell and Judd. Not bad for a teenager who 18 months ago couldn't cement a place at Oakleigh Chargers. When the 2011 draft is revisited in years to come, expect Greene to rocket in from No. 11 – where he was chosen.

GWS midfielder Toby Greene is ineligible for the Rising Star award despite his outstanding debut season. Source: Getty Images

3. JON GILES (Greater Western Sydney)

The Power reject was a revelation for GWS this season. At 201cm and 99kg Giles was ready-made and showed his worth immediately, picking up 88 SuperCoach points from 12 touches and 26 hit-outs in the season-opener. Giles, 24, was integral in the Giants' maiden win, kicking three late goals to sink Gold Coast, while he obliterated Port Adelaide with 23 touches, two goals and 26 hitouts in their second victory this year. A glance at his numbers shows when Giles plays the Giants can bank on two tackles, 22 hitouts, a goal and 14 disposals a game. Those figures stack up with all of the game's elite ruckmen. After some conjecture, he's signed on and ready for a bigger 2013.

2. DAYNE ZORKO (Brisbane Lions)

The quick, gutsy midfielder finally got his AFL chance after winning an incredible four-straight best-and-fairest awards at Broadbeach and captaining Queensland's under-21 side. Zorko became an instant AFL revelation for his cult-figure name and natural ball-winning ability after debuting in Round 7 against Collingwood. In just his fifth game he racked up 24 touches, laid seven tackles and booted three goals to be his side's best player in the loss to Hawthorn. His star continued to shine from there, torching the Dogs with 29 classy touches as he and Tom Rockliff set up a memorable win on the road. Zorko, 23, cracked the 30-touch milestone against Sydney and stood up when it counted against Port Adelaide, booting two late goals from 23 touches as the Lions came from the clouds to win. He finished with 163 SuperCoach points and has cracked the ton nine times, highlighting his deadly efficiency. The Suns had the chance to zone-list him and didn't. Big mistake.

SPORT. BCM. 1/7/12. Dayne Zorko of the Lions during the AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Demons at the Gabba. Pic Darren England. Picture: Darren England Source: The Courier-Mail

1. IVAN MARIC (Richmond)

It was the big man's mullet that grabbed our attention in the NAB Cup when the Tigers unveiled their star recruit. Not long after, it was his football that did all the talking. The former Crow dragged the Tigers home several times during their early win bonanza, with Damien Hardwick clapping his hands red at Maric's ruck dominance and work around the ground. It was no wonder new Crows coach Brenton Sanderson tried to keep Maric, who fell out with Neil Craig, with the lion-hearted 26-year-old racking up 652 hit-outs. He'll play his 100th game in Round 2 and based on 2012 Tigers fans have a lot to get excited about looking towards his next 100.

Fans reach for Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric's mullet as he leaves the field. Picture: Michael Dodge. Source: AdelaideNow

Follow Sam Landsberger on Twitter @SamLandsberger

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