After a career-best season in 2018, it wasn't all smooth sailing for Tom Bellchambers in 2019.
The 30-year-old was struck down with a calf injury against GWS in round 15, missing six games but returning strongly in the Bombers’ final two to show he’s still got plenty to give.
Despite the injury setback, Bellchambers still suited up for 16 games – his equal-third highest to date – maintaining his position as Essendon’s first-choice ruck.
Statistically, his average numbers were similar to those of 2018, only slightly dropping in hitouts (down by seven), having shared the ruck duties with Zac Clarke on three occasions.
He led the Bombers for total hitouts (407) and was ranked seventh at the club for average contested possessions, but didn't have as big an impact he would have liked in the air, taking just 52 marks (ranked 20th at Essendon).
Average disposals: 11.2
Average hitouts: 25.6
Average marks: 3.2
Average clearances: 3.7
Bellchambers took full advantage of Richmond's shortage of a bona-fide ruckman in the Dreamtime at the 'G clash, recording three contested marks (team-high), 12 contested possessions, 40 hitouts, five inside 50s, a goal and 111 Fantasy points.
His performance against Brodie Grundy on Anzac Day was also commendable (18 disposals, 18 hitouts, five marks, five tackles), not having his colours lowered against arguably the competition's best ruckman.
Bellchambers in action against the Tigers in round 10. (Photo: AFL Photos)
Unlike last pre-season, Bellchambers won't have a delayed start to main training, putting him in the best position to attack the 2020 season.
He still looms as an important player despite turning 31 in July next year, but could face stiff competition from emerging ruckman Sam Draper, who was knocking down the selection door before suffering a season-ending ACL rupture in the VFL.
If Bellchambers can top his best output in a season (20 games) next year, he'll reach the 150-game milestone.