After 198 home and away matches, we have finally arrived. For eight teams, there is a shot at history. For ten others, planning for 2019 is already underway. So who are the talented 22 men who have put together a body of work across this season to be recognised with selection in the prestigious All Australian team? Mongrel Punt HQ was awash with many arguments, with cases being made as to why each player either did or didn’t deserve a place in our team.
Alright enough horsing around, let’s get down to business. Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you, the Mongrel Punt’s All Australian Team for season 2019.
Back Pocket: Shannon Hurn (West Coast) (CAPTAIN)
A man who simply could not be shifted from the team’s backline all season, Eagles skipper Hurn’s defensive work has remained ultra-consistent across his 19 games. Averaging career highs disposals, kicks, marks, and rebounds from defensive 50, Hurn has consistently averaged a disposal efficiency in the highs 80s and his leadership is perhaps his greatest asset, as Hurn often acts as an on field coach for his teammates, and when West Coast’s defence fires, the Eagles are a much more formidable outfit.
Full Back: Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
The AFL’s leading spoiler, Brisbane star Andrews’ second half of the year has been exemplary, and his selection in all of our teams more than justifies his talents. Also leading the league in one percenters, Andrews is man most likely to take over Brisbane’s captaincy once Dayne Zorko calls it a day, and as a pure defensive player, Andrews is now the AFL’s best. Brisbane’s backline has improved greatly this season, and as such Andrews’ key numbers have all slightly decreased, but most importantly, his goals conceded number has gone down too, indicating the improvement the Lions have made in their return to finals.
Back Pocket: Dylan Grimes (Richmond)
With the absence of Alex Rance, perennially underrated Grimes has taken his game to another level in Richmond’s defence and firmly stepped out of Rance’s shadow. Selected in eight Mongrel teams, and forcing his way back into our side after being named in Round 7, Grimes season averages are all at career highs, and along with Astbury, Vlaustin and Broad, the Tigers have been able to cover Rance superbly. Playing 21 games, Grimes is the most important defender in Richmond’s 2019 campaign, and a key cog in their premiership quest.
Half Back Flank: James Sicily (Hawthorn)
Our two half back flankers have been, along with Hurn, Gary Ablett, Michael Walters and Brodie Grundy, the only players to be selected in the same position in each instalment of our team. Sicily in particular had to overcome his failed stint in Hawthorn’s forward line, to cement his place among the competition’s elite rebounding defenders. Interestingly, all of the key stats for Sicily are down on previous years, but that also speaks to the emergence of other defenders in Hawthorn’s backline. Still vital to the Hawks future, more often than not, when Sicily plays well, so do the Hawks.
Centre Half Back: Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)
The AFL’s leading intercept marker, and in the top four for contested marks, Jeremy McGovern has once again taken some big forward scalps in West Coast’s premiership defence. McGovern clearly still reigns supreme as the AFL’s marking star, and he also sits in the top 10 in one percenters. McGovern’s form since the bye has been particularly strong, and unlike Round 17, McGovern was by far the clear choice for the second key defensive post, with his 9 selections vindicating his excellent back half of 2019.
Half Back Flank: Tom Stewart (Geelong)
Amazingly consistent, Tom Stewart has just kept on with the task each and every week and has fully cemented himself alongside the greats of Geelong defenders. Having only missed a solitary match since his debut, Stewart has steadily increased his numbers across the board and currently sits third for total marks taken. Much like previous years, Stewart’s disposal efficiency is above 80%, and he is also third in the competition in metres gained. Never dipping below 19 disposals in a game this season, Stewart continues to defy belief and has become their most important defender in a remarkably short space of time.
Wing: Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
In the simplest terms, the Bulldogs march towards September has been on the back of the stunning form of their army of midfielders. At the top of the pile is Jack Macrae, whose season has reached heights never before the man wearing No.11. Selected in every team, Macrae averaged 34 disposals (15 kicks, 19 handballs), 14 contested possessions, seven score involvements, five clearances and five tackles across his 22 games. A man opposition coaches will need to put a lot of time into, Macrae is one the Dogs most important players come finals time.
Centre: Elliot Yeo (West Coast)
Coming from the clouds after putting together a fine body of work across 21 games, a man some are calling the best player in the game Elliot Yeo has usurped some of the competition’s biggest names to take his place in the middle of our ground. Averaging 24 disposals, eight tackles and four marks, Yeo’s biggest claim to fame this season was his ability to both find the football offensively and take down some the game’s best midfielders defensively. Yeo’s tagging work and football finding ability has him placed as West Coast’s most important midfielder in their quest for back-to-back flags.
Wing: Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
This is the fourth edition of our team for the year, and although he has been featured in each of our teams, remarkably, this if the fourth different position Lachie Neale has found himself in. Once again selected in every Mongrel team, Neale sits third in the competition for total disposals, and has collected an average of 16 contested possessions across his 22 games, second only to Clayton Oliver. Neale is clearly Brisbane’s best Brownlow Medal chance, and is finally in a team that has won enough games for it to be a realistic possibility.
Half Forward Flank: Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
Another Bulldog selected in all of our teams, captain in waiting Bontempelli is perhaps the biggest impact player in the game right now. Averaging 27 disposals, six clearances and eight score involvements in 22 games, Bontempelli’s 27 disposals have the same impact as another midfielder gaining 40 touches. Along with Macrae and Josh Dunkley, another Dog who received selections, Bontempelli is the driving force behind the Bulldogs surge towards September, and if they can stand up, the fairy tale of 2016 is every chance of repeating itself this year.
Centre Half Forward: Jack Darling (West Coast)
Now firmly entrenched as West Coast’s number 1 forward target, Jack Darling taken over from the now aging Josh Kennedy as the Eagles’ main avenue to goal. Kicking a career high 54 goals, Darling appears to have shaken the slight inconsistency that has dogged him in previous years. This season Darling has improved his defensive work when he is without the ball, and he led the Eagles for tackles inside 50 this year. Darling’s work since the bye rounds have been influential on our Mongrels, as he received seven votes in this instalment after only receiving two selections in the Round 17 edition.
Half Forward Flank: Michael Walters (Fremantle)
Fremantle’s most damaging forward, this season saw Michael Walters emerge as another midfield rotation to complement the Dockers array of midfield talent. The stats make for beautiful reading if you are a fan of Sonny. Second at the Dockers for marks inside 50, fifth in total disposals, third for contested possessions, and leading all comers for tackles inside 50 and score involvements, Walters was also Fremantle’s leading goal kicker for the fifth time in his career. With Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb, Walters gives the next Dockers coach a potentially devastating forward line combination and one that Fremantle’s midfielders will relish kicking towards.
Forward Pocket: Gary Ablett (Geelong)
A man on track to receive his ninth All Australian jumper, Geelong great Gary Ablett has added a new string to Chris Scott’s bow, playing exclusively in the forward line and becoming the goal kicking forward of his youth once again. Despite entering his 18th season at 34 years of age, Ablett’s value and importance to the Cats saw him only miss one match, and his 33 goals were his highest tally since 2010. Third at Geelong for score involvements, and second for goal assists, Ablett, despite his advanced years, is still vital to the Cats premiership hopes.
Full Forward: Jeremy Cameron (Greater Western Sydney)
When Kangaroo Ben Brown nailed 10 goals against Port Adelaide, Giant spearhead Cameron must’ve felt the 2019 Coleman Medal slipping through his fingers. Fast forward seven days, and after a nine goal haul against the Suns, Jeremy Cameron has taken his rightful place in history as GWS’s first league leading goal kicker. Another player selected in all of our teams, Cameron kicked 67 in 20 games, and if the Giants are to claim a maiden premiership, it will come largely off the back of some big bags of goals from GWS’s greatest forward.
Forward Pocket: Charlie Cameron (Brisbane)
54 goals in 22 goals was too hard to ignore for our Mongrels, as Charlie became the second Cameron to be selected in the forward line, after receiving nominations from every Mongrel. Since crossing from Adelaide at the end of 2017, Cameron has exploded, and after stepping out of his idol Eddie Betts’ shadow, Cameron has become a bona fide star of the competition himself. With the Lions riding high into the top four on the back of Cameron’s super boot, Brisbane has found a forward line talisman capable of taking them back to glory.
Ruckman: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
Despite facing stiff competition from Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy has retained the first ruck position in our team. For the second time this season, Grundy narrowly missed a selection from every Mongrel, but is still regarded as the game’s best big man. Increasing his season averages in disposals, marks, tackles and hit-outs, Grundy’s hit-out to advantage average has surged, and his impact through the midfield with possession has seen him become a realistic Brownlow Medal threat.
Ruck Rover: Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
When Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove were handed Melbourne’s captaincy, the biggest fear was that they were too young, and their careers would fall under the pressures. This was ultimately proven to be correct, and both Grimes and Trengove would never be the same. Fast forward to 2019, and Patrick Cripps is given the reigns at Carlton, despite being only 23 years old and having less than 100 games under his belt. Would history repeat itself? In short, the opposite has happened, and young gun Cripps has thrived with the added responsibility of leading a rebuilding club back from the football wilderness. Averaging 28 touches across his 20 games, Cripps leads the competition in clearances and contested possessions per game, and while he is clearly Carlton’s best and most important player, he is desperate for the Blues next generation of young midfielders to step up and take some of the pressure off the skipper’s big shoulders.
Rover: Nat Fyfe (Fremantle) (VICE CAPTAIN)
With the emergence of Michael Walters, there was some debate mid-season who was Fremantle’s best player, Walters, or skipper Nat Fyfe? While Walters put together an outstanding season, Fyfe rose again and took back the mantle he had inherited from Matthew Pavlich. Fremantle’s leading player for disposals, contested possessions, contested marks, clearnaces and inside 50’s, Fyfe is statistically having as good a season as his Brownlow Medal winning 2015, and with Lachie Neale out of the way, Fyfe now seems to have clearer air in his path of potential votes.
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
Now I know what you’re thinking. How can Patrick Dangerfield be relegated to sitting on the pine? Leading Geelong for disposals, contested possessions, score involvements, running second in clearances, and seen by many as Tim Kelly’s biggest Brownlow Medal vote threat, Dangerfield’s disposal efficiency of just 66% saw him relegated behind our other midfielders for the starting spots. Although he received selection in eight of our teams, it is interesting that the majority of us picked him on our benches, indicating the strength of this season’s midfielders.
Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
One of Port Adelaide’s feel good stories in a disappointing book, evergreen Travis Boak emerged in 2019 as the player of yesteryear, a tough hard-nosed midfielder and fearless leader. Without the burden of captaincy, Boak thrived, and lead the Power for disposals (a gap of more than 100 to second placed Tom Rockliff), score involvements, contested possessions, tackles, clearances, and inside 50’s. Having the best statistical year of his career, Boak is almost certain to add to his 2011 John Cahill Medal and also receive his third All Australian jumper.
Ben Brown (North Melbourne)
When Ben Brown made an absolute mess of Port Adelaide’s key defenders in the penultimate round of the season, he would’ve felt one hand grasp the Coleman Medal, North Melbourne’s first since John Longmire in 1990. Unluckily for Brown, Jeremy Cameron came up against the struggling Suns, and his nine goals pushed Brown to a definitive second in the race. Receiving selection in five teams, Brown had to compete with Charlie Cameron for the forward pocket position. North Melbourne’s leading player for score involvements and marks inside 50, Brown is entering the prime of his career and is one of the Kangaroos’ most important players for the next 5-10 years.
Max Gawn (Melbourne)
Many of us Mongrels had a very hard time with this selection, but ultimately Grundy kept his spot from a fast finishing Gawn. Receiving the same amount of selections as Nick Haynes and Adam Treloar, it was decided that Gawn’s three selections on the bench tipped the scales in his favour. The AFL’s leading player in hit outs to advantage, Gawn’s second half of the year was in many pundits’ eyes slightly better than Grundy’s, but the combination of Collingwood’s ladder position and Grundy’s incumbent status meant than Gawn will settle for a place on our interchange bench.
As always, the full simplified team goes like this:
B: Hurn (c), Andrews, Grimes
HB: Sicily, McGovern, Stewart
C: Macrae, Yeo, Neale
HF: Bontempelli, Darling, Walters
F: Ablett, J. Cameron, C. Cameron
R: Grundy, Cripps, Fyfe (vc)
INT: Dangerfield, Boak, Brown, Gawn
Looking over the statistics, some interesting nuggets have emerged:
§ Despite finishing in the top four, only one Magpie made our team.
§ Both Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters received unanimous selection; no other Docker received a vote.
§ 10 players were selected in every team submitted.
§ 11 players (Hurn, Sicily, Stewart, Neale, Walters, Ablett, J. Cameron, Grundy, Cripps, Fyfe and Boak) were featured in every version of this team throughout the year.
§ Six players (Sicily, Hurn, Stewart, Ablett, Walters and Grundy) retained their position in every version of this team.
§ 40 players received votes for the final team, the lowest of the year.
§ Despite being the competition’s leading disposal winner, Magpie Adam Treloar was unable to find his way into any team throughout the year.
§ Cat Tom Hawkins made three of our previous teams but was squeezed of the final instalment.
What a season it has been! Through all the twists and turns of a typical AFL season, these players have emerged as the cream of the crop. Who from your club was stiff to miss? How grumpy are you that Lachie Neale was selected on a wing? Who was selected that didn’t deserve it? Tell us about it in the comments.
I can’t wait for finals footy.