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Minute men

Doggo Dates: Zali & Mojy In second episode of Doggo Dates, we visit Liam Shiels and Will Golds to have a chat and play with their sister dogs Zali and Mojy.

Lachie Neale is the hardest-worked midfielder in the competition. That's not an opinion, it's fact.

The star Brisbane recruit has enjoyed a stellar first season at the Lions after crossing from Fremantle last year, helping his new team surge into the top four and himself become one of the Brownlow Medal favourites.

The numbers show it hasn't happened by chance for the 26-year-old, who is averaging 32.4 disposals.

Statistics supplied by Champion Data highlight Neale as the midfielder who spends the most time on the ground of any in the competition.

Read: Key match-ups - R17

Of the 15 players who have been on the field for the most amount of minutes this season, Neale is the only midfielder listed (he sits at 14th overall in the competition).

The group is dominated by key forwards and defenders, who clearly spend little time on the interchange bench due to their roles at either ends of the ground.

But Neale is the exception, playing 88 per cent of Brisbane's game time and recording a total of 1661 minutes on the ground (at an average of 110.7 minutes a game). He averages four visits to the interchange each game.

North Melbourne full-forward Ben Brown has spent the most time on the field of any player in the AFL this year. He has spent 1782 minutes on the ground and played 97.1 per cent of North's game time, coming off the ground only 11 times all year. 

The other key forwards in the top bracket include West Coast's Jack Darling and Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins, although the majority of the 15 players who have registered the most minutes on the field are key backmen.

Sydney's Dane Rampe, Carlton's Jacob Weitering, Port's Tom Clurey, Cat Mark Blicavs, Dogs backman Zaine Cordy, Hawthorn star James Sicily, North big man Robbie Tarrant and Essendon All Australian Michael Hurley are all placed inside the first 15. 

Neale's aerobic capacity and durability is further underlined by the fact he, and Western Bulldogs premiership star Lachie Hunter (No.28 overall) are the only pure midfielders ranked in the top 30 players for minutes played. 

NAB AFL Rising Star favourite Sam Walsh is also ranked highly (48th overall, the highest of any first-year player), with only five pure midfielders (Neale, Hunter, Jack Billings, Tom Phillips and Luke Parker) playing more game time than the Carlton young gun.

PLAYER MATCHES INTERCHANGES GAMES MINUTES % MINUTES

Ben Brown (NM)

15 11 97.1 1782
Dane Rampe (SYD) 15 25 95.2 1763
Jacob Weitering (CARL) 15 19 94.1 1758
Tom Clurey (PORT) 15 27 93.7 1744
Mark Blicavs (GEEL) 15 33 93.6 1717
Heath Shaw (GWS) 15 42 91.4 1701
Zaine Cordy (WB) 15 26 93.8 1689
Jack Darling (WCE) 15 36 91.5 1688
Tom Hawkins (GEEL) 15 34 91.9 1685
Brad Sheppard (WCE) 15 39 91.3 1684
James Sicily (HAW) 15 35 92.3 1678
Robbie Tarrant (NM) 15 37 91.3 1676
Michael Hurley (ESS) 15 32 92.6 1671
Lachie Neale (BL) 15 64 88 1661
Jake Lloyd (SYD) 15 50 89.5 1657

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs