We’re nine rounds in and Grundy, Fyfe, Cripps, Bontempelli and Dangerfield haven’t made the cut. What a strange season.
Dangerfield was a very unlucky omission. He could’ve been squeezed on the half forward line, but for the sake of keeping players in their traditional positions as much as possible, he missed out.
Cripps has copped plenty of unfair treatment from taggers, limiting his effect. Now that it’s been brought to the forefront, and umpires are cracking down, don’t be surprised to see him in the side by season’s end.
Marcus Bontempelli has been up and down. Nathan Fyfe missed a few games through injury. Brodie Grundy has simply been overshadowed.
Honourable mentions in the backline go to Caleb Daniel, Brayden Maynard, Jordan Ridley and Brad Sheppard.
In the midfield, Jack Macrae and Taylor Adams can count themselves unlucky.
The biggest omission from the side was no doubt Josh J. Kennedy. He’s leading the Coleman Medal and was very very stiff. He’s kicked bags of four, seven and four in his last three games and if he maintains that form over the next two or three weeks he’d be impossible to pass up. Charlie Dixon got the nod ahead of Kennedy at full forward, mainly for his contested marking – Dixon has taken 27 contested marks and leads the competition by six, Kennedy has taken 13 – and the fact that Dixon has been Port Adelaide’s most valuable player in their extraordinary rise to the top of the ladder.
The centre half forward is Tom Hawkins, he’s the third best key forward in terms of goals, but has 13 goal assists (1st) and 57 score involvements (2nd). Dixon has four goal assists and Kennedy has one.
The forward pockets are occupied by Tom Papley and Dan Butler. Tom Papley is the best small forward in the game right now. Charlie Cameron is on the interchange, and was very stiff not to start. He’s coming third in the Coleman and has kicked two more goals than Butler. However, Butler is ranked elite for tackles and tackles in forward 50, Cameron is average with Butler more than doubling his figures in those areas. Butler’s pressure got him over the line.
In the midfield Lachie Neale, Travis Boak and Christian Petracca are the three standouts. Jack Steele gets a spot on the interchange, he’s been racking up impressive numbers whilst playing an effective shutdown role. It’s no coincidence those four are the top four in the Coaches Votes.
Hugh Greenwood also gets a spot on the interchange, which could raise a few eyebrows. He’s been influential at Gold Coast, and his contested work has earnt him a spot. He’s one of the best in the competition for clearances, and has laid 17 more tackles than any other player.
I’ve opted for two traditional wingers on the field in Hugh McCluggage and Mitch Duncan, the position is undervalued and criminally overlooked at the All Australian selection table.
Max Gawn gets the nod in the ruck, he’s been the standout of the season. Todd Goldstein earns a spot on the interchange, he’s leading the competition for clearances.
The backline is admittedly tall. Harris Andrews and Jacob Weitering make up the spine, Andrews is the best defender in the game. Weitering has held Tom Lynch, Tom McDonald, Shaun McKernan, Jacob Townsend, Josh Shache and Justin Westhoff scoreless. He conceded just one goal against Ben Brown, two against Tom Hawkins and Max King.
Sam Collins could be another eyebrow raising selection, he’s 2nd for intercept marks and 3rd for intercept possessions.
Travis Boak is the standout captain choice, and most experienced leader on the field.
You can’t go past Brett Ratten as the coach. The Saints rise has been outstanding, and he’s been instrumental.