A breakout year in defence saw Charlie Ballard rewarded with a 9th-placed finish in Gold Coast’s 2019 Club Champion.

In his second year of AFL football, Ballard quickly took on greater responsibility in the backline after the injury to Rory Thompson in the pre-season, then Sam Collins mid-year.

The 195cm key defender was asked to play on veteran forwards as the season wore on and impressed with his ability to compete in one-on-one contests.

His successful season saw him also claim the club’s Elastoplast Emerging Player award at the Club Champion awards night.

Ballard played 21 games in 2019 and averaged 13 disposals and five marks per game.

In his defensive metrics, the 20-year-old rated above average in intercept possessions and rebound 50’s while registering an elite kick to handball ratio of 3.3.

With big men Collins and Thompson hoping to be fit for the 2020 season, Ballard could see himself deployed in a different defensive role next season which plays to his intercepting and rebound strengths.

Best game:

Ballard saved his best performance for Round 20 against Collingwood at the MCG. The key defender had 22 disposals (21 kicks, one handball) and a mammoth 15 marks in defence. He was almost impenetrable down back for Gold Coast with 11 intercept possessions and 396 metres gained.

Moment of the season:

Ballard’s ability to track down and tackle Power midfielder Zak Butters in Round 9 was a moment of individual brilliance. Ballard is deceptively quick off the line and it wasn’t the first time the 20-year-old has executed a goal-saving tackle in defence utilising his pace. His effort saw him take out the Round 9 HOSTPLUS Super Play.

Year in a movie title:

Young Guns