MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Tyrone Vickery marks the ball during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at ME Bank Centre on April 10, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Tyrone Vickery marks the ball during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at ME Bank Centre on April 10, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images) Michael Dodge

Time to out the AFL non-performers

IT'S apt the AFL will trial players' names on the back of jumpers this weekend. A few might well be named and shamed.

With so many under-performing players in the early part of the season, so many clubs with higher expectations have found themselves under the microscope.

Carlton, Sydney, Brisbane and Richmond occupy four of the bottom six rungs on the ladder when many experts had them pushing for either the top four or top eight.

The Blues have quite rightfully taken most of the heat after their loss to an undermanned Melbourne, following a smashing at the hands of Essendon.

They are playing without any purpose, not even to save their own individual necks despite the spectre of coach Mick Malthouse sharpening his axe. Maybe they thought he would only use it on his manicured mo.

Richmond and coach Damien Hardwick, however, could be feeling as much pressure as Carlton and Malthouse if the Blues had put the Tigers away in their round-two clash at the MCG.

If Jarrad Waite did what he is paid handsomely to do and slotted what should have been a relatively easy goal, the Blues would have been six points up and with all the momentum with 10 minutes to play in that game.

He missed, and the Blues have since kicked just 15 goals in about eight and a half quarters of football.

Since Hardwick came on board, along with a host of promising youngsters, the Tigers have won six games (2010), eight (2011), 10 (2012) and then 15 (2013) to make their first finals series since 2001. Their rise up the ladder was supposed to continue. The players obviously thought it would just happen.

But blink, and Tiger fans will have missed their side as a contender. This is Richmond after all, and not since 1975 has it enjoyed back-to-back finals campaigns.

It will hardly be a king-of-the-jungle clash at the Gabba tonight to open the Easter round. The injury-ravaged Lions have had to turn to their cubs, while the Tigers are simply playing like pussycats. They failed to show any claws against Collingwood, focusing on how much their skipper, Trent Cotchin, had been "bullied" by big bad Brent Macaffer, and held to 13 touches, five of them coming from free-kicks.

A hard tag is just something he's going to have to deal with - welcome to the world of being an elite midfielder. But his teammates need to step in and help out.

The Tigers are certainly missing on-baller Brett Deledio, fullback Alex Rance and ruckman Ivan Maric, but they have no excuses tonight with Matthew Leuenberger (knee) and Pearce Hanley (hamstring) joining a host of Brisbane stars on the sidelines - as many as 10 first-choice players with 1010 games worth of experience.

If they lose to the Lions' skeleton crew, the Tigers will not escape the same blowtorch as Carlton any longer - especially with Hawthorn and Geelong to come.

The stars failing to shine in 2014.

  • Travis Cloke (COLL): 
    Two goals and four contested marks is usually half a game's work - not four games.
  • Tyrone Vickery (RICH):
    The Tigers attack is a mess, and he's not one to get his hands dirty. Just two handballs last week. Axed this week.
  • Ryan O'Keefe (SYD): 
    At 33, the end may be nigh. His disposal average has dropped from 23 in 2013 to 11 in 2014.
  • Jeff Garlett and Jarrad Waite (CARL): Both had kicked 3.5 in three games before being dumped.
  • Marc Murphy (CARL)
    Average possession count (22) hasn't been this low since his second season in 2007.
  • Jonathan Brown (BL): 
    Started with four goals against Hawks, but three since. Young Lions hardly pushing him aside though.
  • Drew Petrie (NM): 
    The Roos are flying, but the big fella has kicked just three goals.
  • Kieren Jack and Dan Hannebery (SYD): 
    In seven games between them, only Hannebery has topped 20 disposals (once).
  • Nic Naitanui (WC): 
    Averaging 11 hitouts, compared to 25 a game the last couple of years.