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AFL Heroes & Villains Round 6: Nic Nat and Izak; Saint set for Long holiday

Round 6 of the 2020 AFL season saw a Pies forward rebound in a big way, a big man's gesture send social media into a frenzy and a young Saint have a nightmare. Here are this week's Heroes & Villains.

HEROES

Brody Mihocek: The old adage 'a week is a long time in football' is very fitting when it comes to Mihocek's last seven days.

A week ago, Mihocek barely found the Sherrin in a disappointing loss to Essendon which left many onlookers (us included!) questioning whether Collingwood's forward line needed a serious overhaul.

But this week was a very different story. Mihocek starred as the Pies ran the Hawks rampant at Giants Stadium. He kicked a season-high four goals and showed why he is the man who can lead them in attack.

It's also worth noting that only Tom Hawkins, Ben Brown, Lance Franklin and Jeremy Cameron have booted more bags of four or more goals since Mihocek made his debut in Round 11, 2018. Very impressive, and very underrated.

While we're on the topic of Collingwood forwards, a special shout out to Will Hoskin-Elliott who also had a much improved game against the Hawks, kicking two goals in the win.

Nic Nat: You had to feel sorry for Reilly O'Brien when he accidentally tweeted his West Coast game notes, which outlined how he would outwork an "unfit" and "lazy" Nic Naitanui.

The Crows ruckman 'had a mare' and promptly took to social media to fess up to the blue, claiming a broken iPhone was the culprit.

But Naitanui wasn't going to hold a grudge. Instead, the Eagles star saw the funny side of it all and did something after the final siren on Saturday afternoon which sent social media into a frenzy.

Well played, Nic Nat!

Rankine runs riot: It's fair to say Izak Rankine's debut was worth the wait!

The No. 3 pick in the 2018 Draft missed all of 2019 through injury, but made an instant impact in his first senior game. Rankine booted three goals and three behinds from 12 touches, and although the Suns fell to the Demons, the 20-year-old did more than enough to earn hero status.

With a bit more composure -- perhaps something that comes with playing more than just the one game -- he might have nailed two kickable last-quarter shots, which would have sealed the Suns another victory for season 2020.

Nonetheless, Rankine provided energy and entertainment, and was a constant threat around the ball in his side's forward line. It's fair to say we're going to enjoy watching him -- and his young teammates -- for years to come.

VILLAINS

Ben Long: With nine minutes remaining in the second quarter of Saturday's match between the Saints and Dockers, St Kilda was 29 points up and in complete control. Commentator Gerard Healy had declared the Dockers were 'already on the plane back to Perth', and he was more concerned about diagnosing injuries than analysing actual ball movement.

But when Long overran the footy, with eyes anywhere but the ball, hitting Freo ruckman Sean Darcy, things changed. Darcy was left concussed and didn't return, and Fremantle began an almighty comeback, one which culminated in a thrilling, against-the-odds victory.

Now it wouldn't be fair to say Long's act lost the Saints the match, but it certainly inspired Fremantle to claw their way back from a game-high 37-point margin.

As for Long, he had just five touches in the second half - indicative of just how outplayed the Saints were. He can also expect a long holiday, perhaps three weeks.

Giants Stadium turf troubles: The way the deck at Giants Stadium looks, you'd be forgiven for thinking it had hosted the Sydney Easter Show, the Sydney Thunder, the AFL and a concert all within the last few days.

One tweet summed it up beautifully, describing it as a "goat paddock", and it's not far from the truth. The loose turf is brown, they've had to employ the use of green sand to fill the many divots, and players seem unable to keep their feet compared to at other stadiums. It's almost not up to AFL standard right now.

Metricon Stadium, too, seems to be struggling with the extra games, but Giants Stadium has hardly been the MCG in terms of foot traffic in recent weeks. It needs rehab, and fast.

Meanwhile, down in Tasmania, where there hasn't been a recorded case of COVID-19 for nearly two months, there are two pristine surfaces begging to be used...

One thing's for sure, and that's the added appreciation we have for the groundskeepers at grounds which host multiple games a week, all season long, like the MCG and Marvel Stadium.

Richmond vs. Sydney: Look, the less said about this clash, the better.

At one point in the last term, it was pointed out to the commentary team that the match was in danger of breaking the record for the lowest cumulative score in the AFL era.

In shocking conditions in Brisbane, Richmond and Sydney slogged their way through a match which produced just seven goals, much to the dismay of fans, commentators and, clearly, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.

He blamed the Swans, describing the way they flooded their backline as "horrendous".

"There's not much I can do," he said, passing the buck. "We're attacking, and we've got 75,000 people in our forward 50, so it's pretty hard."

Dimma, as reigning premier, teams are going to be out to stop you. Time to innovate again!