AFL 2 years ago

Predicting The All-Australian Team

Here we are at the conclusion of the 2016 AFL home and away season, and as one season ends another begins as September is usually the season of awards, and with the All-Australian team set to be named on Thursday night, it will be interesting to see who makes the cut after the AFL named it's 40-man squad on Monday, with 24 of those possible first-time players in the side. 

Adelaide lead the league in players selected in the squad with six, with Sydney and Greater Western Sydney also representing well with five players each selected. Unsurprisingly, Essendon and Brisbane both have no players representing the squad, but there is a huge uproar for the snubs of Essendon's Zach Merrett and Brisbane's Dayne Zorko, both of them displayed fine seasons for their respective clubs

The All-Australian Squad of 40

Adelaide: Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Rory Laird, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane, Daniel Talia
Carlton: Sam Docherty, Kade Simpson
Collingwood: Scott Pendlebury, Adam Treloar
Fremantle: Lachie Neale
Geelong: Patrick Dangerfield, Corey Enright, Joel Selwood
Gold Coast: Tom Lynch
Greater Western Sydney: Stephen Coniglio, Toby Greene, Tom Scully, Heath Shaw, Callan Ward
Hawthorn: Jack Gunston, Sam Mitchell, Cyril Rioli
Melbourne: Max Gawn
North Melbourne: Robbie Tarrant
Port Adelaide: Jasper Pittard
Richmond: Dustin Martin, Alex Rance
St. Kilda: Jack Steven
Sydney: Lance Franklin, Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dane Rampe
West Coast: Andrew Gaff, Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey
Western Bulldogs: Marcus Bontempelli, Matthew Boyd

For those who have only joined Bulldogs Centre recently, a couple of months ago, I did my mid-season All-Australian team and it's always fun to compare teams like this.

This was my team at the midway point of 2016:

B: Dale Morris, Alex Rance, Heath Shaw
HB: Sam Docherty, Daniel Talia, Jasper Pittard
C: Lachie Hunter, Lachie Neale, Dan Hannebery
HF: Luke Dahlhaus, Lance Franklin, Aaron Young
F: Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch (GC), Eddie Betts
FOL: Todd Goldstein, Luke Parker, Patrick Dangerfield
INT: Dylan Shiel, Josh Kennedy (SYD), Steve Johnson, Adam Treloar 

If you want to see the explanations of the mid-year team, you can click here

From this team of 22, only seven players didn't get selected into the squad of 40, but how many of them have made Bulldogs Centre's final cut? Here we go predicting the final All-Australian team for the 2016 season

The Back Line

Back Pocket – Jeremy McGovern (West Coast Eagles)

 McGovern became one of the game's most improved players last year for his ability to read the play and take intercept marks in the back line, and has backed up that season with a statistically even better year. While stats like 15 disposals a game, six marks and six one-percenters a game don't look like much, McGovern has usually been the one that saves West Coast's behind in the back half.

Full Back – Alex Rance (Richmond)

Even when the Tigers have been at their absoloute worst this season, Rance has established himself as one of today's best key defenders. Has proven time and time again this season, that he can get the ball and use it effectively as well as shut down the game's star forwards in one-on-one situations. Rance has averaged 19 disposals, seven marks, eight one-percenters and three rebound 50s a game.

Back Pocket – Heath Shaw (Greater Western Sydney)

Heath Shaw has enjoyed another great year at the land of the Giants and has even managed to record more disposals, kicks, and rebound 50s this year than he did in his All-Australian season last year. This season he's averaging 24 disposals, with 21 of those being kicks and just under eight rebound 50s a game, he is also third in the AFL for marks, averaging just under eight a game.

The Half Backs

Half-Back Flank – Sam Docherty (Carlton)

 Docherty was in this same position in the mid-year team, and has since then, continued to star across the Blues' defensive six. He's averaging 25 disposals a game, eight marks a game (second in the AFL) and five rebound 50s a game (third in the AFL). He's only 22 and has emerged as one of the game's elite running defenders.

Centre Half Back – Daniel Talia (Adelaide)

Like Docherty, Talia was in this same position in the mid-year team, and has continued to play his defensive role at Adelaide to perfection and looms as the contender to Rance's crown as the number one defender. He's hardly been beaten at all this year and is starting to get his hands on the ball a little bit more, averaging career-highs in disposals, marks, rebound 50s and one-percenters.

Half-Back Flank – Dane Rampe (Sydney Swans)

 One that's flown a little under the radar this season,  as he was strongly considered in the mid-year team, only to lose out to Port's Jasper Pittard on the flank, but I think over the second half of the season, he's shown that not only can he provide run and carry out of defence (second in AFL in rebound 50s), but he can also do a solid job on some of the game's elite forwards, nullifying the likes of Jack Riewoldt, Ben Brown and Jeremy Cameron in the second half of the season.

The Centre Line

Wing – Dustin Martin (Richmond)

Another individual that has flourished in a team that has floundered in season 2016, whether you approve of his behaviour or not. Martin's talent has always been unquestionable, but this season saw him broke out into the star many believed he'd become, averaging 31 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s – all three statistics career-highs. He gets a spot on the wing due to his ability to making things happen when he gets space, but can also win the ball in close, averaging a career-high 12 contested possessions a game.

Centre – Lachie Neale (Fremantle)

Lachie Neale is another player that has emerged as an elite midfielder this season in a team that's been very disappointing. Neale led the AFL in both handballs (20 per game) and disposals (33.5 per game) and was third in the AFL for clearances, averaging seven per game. He was very unlucky not to get a spot in the All-Australian team last year, but this season has him banging down the door for a spot, and with Nat Fyfe to come back in the team next year, it could provide to be a very lethal one-two combination in Freo's engine room.

Wing – Andrew Gaff (West Coast Eagles)

Gaff emerged as one of the game's best runners last year after averaging just under 30 disposals per game and won himself a spot on the All-Australian team. This year he looks set to reclaim his spot on the wing after averaging similar numbers this year. He's averaging under 30 possessions, and four inside 50s per game. He runs hard, and manages to use the ball very well whe

n he has time and space.

The Half Forwards

Half-Forward Flank – Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)

This selectionmay not sit well with the anti-Hawthorn contingent that read this, but Cyril sits probably only second to Eddie Betts in terms of small forward contributions, but he is by no means over rated. He's doesn't need a big possession game to star, only give him a dozen of possessions and he will give you anything from two to six goal hauls. Has already bettered his 2015 tally of 42 goals with 44 goals in five less games this year and his pressure remains elite as a small forward, averaging six tackles a game.

Centre Half Forward – Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans)

There wasn't going to be any other real option here, Franklin finished second in the Coleman medal with 74 goals in 22 games in a fantastic bounce back from his mental illness episode at the end of last year. There are a number of reasons why the Swans finished on top of the ladder this year, and Franklin's presence in the forward line is a key factor.

Half-Forward Flank – Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)

Half-forward flankers in All-Australian teams can often be confused as another midfielder, but in this team, their should be one player that can be that midfield presence, but can also push forward for a couple of goals, Marcus Bontempelli can do this. He has been magnificent for the Bulldogs in what is only his third season. He's averaged 24 disposals a game and has kicked 22 goals in 2016. His impact in games – particularly in the second half of the season cannot be ignored.

The Forward Line

Forward Pocket – Eddie Betts (Adelaide)

After a spectacular 2015 season, Betts has firmly established himself as the game's premier small forward in season 2016, kicking 66 goals across all 22 games this year, and plays a pivotal part in Adelaide's superior forward line. Eddie's ability to make the impossible shots on goal look so good makes him that much better of a player, but he does have his odd quiet day at the office, but there's no denying that when he's on, he is a joy to watch.

Full Forward – Josh Kennedy (West Coast Eagles)

 I deliberately left out Kennedy of the mid-year All-Australian team because I thought that the majority of his goals came from weaker opposition, but since then he has risen to the challenge and has stormed home to win his second consecutive Coleman medal, finishing the year on 80 goals. From rounds 12-22, Kennedy kicked three goals or more on nine occasions, which included 20 goals from the last four rounds, remarkably, still is an outside chance to kick the ton.

Forward Pocket – Tom Lynch (Gold Coast Suns)

Lynch deserves a spot in this All-Australian team for performing admirably in a team that has been cruelly decimated by injury this year. Lynch played every game, and kicked 66 goals for the year to finish equal-third in the Coleman medal. He's easily been Gold Coast's best player all year long, and at only 23 years of age, it's scary to think what he can become in a few years time.


Ruckman – Max Gawn (Melbourne)

This one was a no-brainer as Gawn has easily been the best ruckman this season and has set main rival Todd Goldstein a task for 2017. Gawn led the AFL in hitouts, averaging 42 per game, as well as averaging 14 disposals and three clearances a game. Over the course of the last two years, Gawn is fastly becoming one of the game's elite ruckmen.

Ruck Rover – Josh Kennedy (Sydney Swans)

With every year that goes by, I keep wondering how Hawthorn let this guy go to the Swans, where he's obviously blossomed into a star in the midfield. 2016 saw Kennedy finish seventh in the AFL for disposals, averaging a career-high 31 possessions a game, as well as a career-high five inside 50s per game. Kennedy is also a well-known clearance specialist, and for the fifth time in six seasons. averaged over seven clearances and is second in the AFL for this statistic this season

Rover – Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)

Whether you like him or not, it's hard to argue how good of a season Dangerfield has had in his first year in Geelong colours. He's averaged career highs in disposals (31 per game and second in the AFL for disposals), inside 50s (eight per game) as well as averaging six clearances, four tackles and a goal a game. Many have suggested that Dangerfield, the outright favourite for the Brownlow medal, will be miles away from the next best player on Brownlow night.

The Interchange

Adam Treloar (Collingwood)

Treloar has had a magnificent first season for Collingwood and I just couldn't leave him out, he's been incredibly consistent all throughout this year, and is amongst the top five in the AFL for disposals, averaging a career-high 30 disposals per game, as well as five clearances per game and career-high numbers in tackles (six per game) and inside 50s (four per game) and along with Dangerfield, should be one of the recruits of the year.

Dan Hannebery (Sydney Swans)

Sydney's midfield have been amongst one of the more elite midfield groups of this competition. Hannebery has enjoyed another stellar year, averaging 31 disposals per game this season, which sits him third in the AFL this season for most disposals and is second in the AFL for clearances, averaging five per game and is fourth in the AFL for inside 50s, averaging five per game.

Luke Parker (Sydney Swans)

Another integral member of Sydney's elite midfield group, Luke Parker has again had another outstanding season that saw his numbers again improve, recording career-highs in disposals (28 per game), clearances (six per game, eight ) and inside 50s (four inside 50s) and for the second season in a row, he's averaging nearly a goal a game.

Rory Sloane (Adelaide)

When Dangerfield left the Crows to join Geelong this season, it meant that the likes of Rory Sloane had to stand up in season 2016 if Adelaide were to provide a serious chance for the flag, and credit to him and the rest of the Adelaide midfielders this season, they have been brilliant. Sloane has turned the Adelaide engine room into his own, averaging 25 disposals, seven tackles, and five clearances a game.


There were a few players that deserve a mention, because I couldn't get everyone I wanted in the side. Adelaide's Josh Jenkins has had a superb year, kicking a personal best 60 goals for the year, but with Kennedy, Franklin and Lynch occupying the three tall forward slots, Jenkins was incredibly stiff to miss. St. Kilda's Jack Steven was another that was unlucky to miss out as he has enjoyed another stellar year, as was GWS' Toby Greene who broke out in 2016 to make the half-forward slot his own. Robbie Tarrant was also very unlucky to miss out as he's been consistently solid in North Melbourne's defensive half.

The Predicted 2016 All-Australian Team:

B: Jeremy McGovern, Alex Rance, Heath Shaw
HB: Sam Docherty, Daniel Talia, Dane Rampe
C: Dustin Martin, Lachie Neale, Andrew Gaff
HF: Cyril Rioli, Lance Franklin, Marcus Bontempelli
F: Eddie Betts, Josh Kennedy (WCE), Tom Lynch (GC)
FOL: Max Gawn, Josh Kennedy (SYD), Patrick Dangerfield
INT: Adam Treloar, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Rory Sloane

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