By Sam Watson

Xavier Duursma was able to bounce back from a knee injury and be a valuable contributor for Port Adelaide in the back end of the year. Photo: Port Adelaide Football Club.

Zach Reid secured one game at AFL level before a back injury ended his season in July. Photo: Essendon Football Club.

WITH another AFL season in the books, it’s time to look at how all our local stars performed in 2021.

• Ryan Angwin – GWS

AFTER being drafted with pick 18 in the 2020 national draft, the left-footed Foster local didn’t make his debut for the GWS Giants in 2021.

But considering he is still only 18, Angwin still has plenty of time to make his mark on the AFL.

In his 10 matches in the VFL this year he averaged over 15 disposals, so an AFL debut may not be too far away for the youngster.

• Sam Docherty – Carlton

The Carlton co-captain had a strong statistical year, averaging over 24 disposals, but he would’ve been disappointed with his overall form and the way his team performed at stages of the season.

After spending many years rebounding off half back, he was thrown onto the wing and the forward flank in 2021, where he couldn’t quite capture his best football.

After 15 straight games he went in for ankle surgery at the end of June, ending his season, and unfortunately, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer for a second time in August.

After his treatment is over, he’ll be hoping to get back to his best and help the Blues make the finals in 2022.

• Xavier Duursma – Port Adelaide

DUURSMA had a fantastic start to the 2021 season averaging 20 disposals in his first four games, but in round four’s clash with the Tigers, he suffered a nasty knee injury.

The injury had family, friends and fans worried at first but luckily it wasn’t as serious as first thought and the 21-year-old was able to return to the senior side in round 19.

It didn’t take long for the former Foster local to get back to his best after coming back from his injury and his finest game came against the Cats in the qualifying final, when he racked up 24 disposals.

• Sam Flanders – Gold Coast

THE former number 11 draft pick got a big taste of senior football in 2021, after playing five games in his debut season in 2020.

Flanders played 16 games in 2021, where he averaged nearly 12 disposals per game and even spent some time in the midfield.

The former Fish Creek Kangaroo obviously impressed the higher-ups at the Suns, earning a two-year contract extension, and considering his just 20 years old, we can all expect him to continue getting better.

• Dyson Heppell – Essendon

THE Essendon skipper finally had a better run with injuries in 2021, playing 19 games including a final against the eventual grand finalist the Western Bulldogs.

Heppell thrived playing across half back and he played a pivotal role in the Bombers push up the ladder.

He’ll be hoping the Dons can continue their improvement and score their first finals win since 2004 next year.

• Jai Newcombe – Hawthorn

IF the mid-season draft wasn’t introduced to the AFL in 2019, Jai Newcombe wouldn’t have been on this list, but luckily, he had a stellar start to the year for Box Hill and soon enough he was with the big boys.

He quickly became known as a tackling machine, breaking the AFL/VFL record for most tackles laid by a debutant with a match-leading 14 against the Swans.

That debut saw him play six more games in 2021 and he should be expecting even more opportunities at senior level under Sam Mitchell next year.

• Zach Reid – Essendon

ZACH Reid, the number 10 pick in the 2020 pick, scored his AFL debut against Brisbane in round five this year, after some solid outings in the VFL.

Unfortunately for the 202-centimetre backman, the game against the Lions was severely affected by a torrential downpour, making it hard for anyone to adjust, let alone a debutant.

It was announced in July the 19-year-old would miss the rest of the 2021 season with a back injury, but the former Leongatha Parrot should bounce back well and be primed for a breakout year in 2022.