It sure has been a weird season hasn’t it! However, we could all use some positivity and keeping that in mind, it’s time to highlight some of the competition’s best players thus far in 2020. Amid all the uncertainty, both in the AFL world and indeed around the globe, we here at the Mongrel have all put our heads together to find 22 players that have produced sustained excellence in the six rounds that have been played.
Eight of our writers submitted their teams to be compiled into the one below.
So without further ado, the Mongrel Punt’s Rolling All Australian Team for the first six rounds of the 2020 AFL season.
BACK POCKET: DARCY MOORE (COLLINGWOOD)
A defensive mainstay for the competition heavyweights, Moore has taken his game to new heights after a stellar 2019. Equally adept at stopping and rebounding, Moore has taken some impressive scalps in 2020, most notably Jack Gunston, whom he kept to a solitary goal, while gathering 21 disposals himself. Averaging 14 touches, Moore was selected in all bar one of the teams submitted by our writers. Still only 24, Moore has a long career ahead of him, and seems to have finally put his injury riddled past behind him.
FULL BACK: HARRIS ANDREWS (BRISBANE)
It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same, as Brisbane star Andrews has again backed up a rock solid 2019 to be named our team’s full back. Regarded by many as the best defender in the game, Andrews has added another string to his bow, averaging a career high four rebound 50’s. Interestingly, Andrews’ disposal average has decreased on last year’s numbers, but that highlights the Lions attacking game style, which negates the need for the ball to be in Andrews’ hands. Undoubtedly the Lions next captain, Andrews was selected in all eight teams submitted, all but one of them at full back.
BACK POCKET: BRAYDEN MAYNARD (COLLINGWOOD)
Another mainstay in Collingwood’s defence, 23-year-old Maynard, having recently passed 100 games, is firmly coming into his own as a rebounding and stopping machine. Averaging a career-high 22 disposals, Maynard’s rebounding average has also increased, and his role has slightly changed due to the injury to Jeremy Howe. Selected in four teams, Maynard received selection in the final team as he was placed in the backline of every team he appeared in.
HALF BACK FLANK: SAM DOCHERTY (CARLTON)
After missing two full seasons due to knee problems, Blues co-captain Docherty has highlighted his importance to Carlton’s defence, enjoying a stellar return to the team as the Blues have surged up the ladder. Averaging 23 possessions, Docherty is also rebounding superbly (averaging a career-high eight defensive rebounds a game), and his disposal efficiency of 78% is elite for medium defenders. Due to play his 100th match against North Melbourne in Round 8, Docherty was selected in seven of our teams, five of which were on half back.
CENTRE HALF BACK: JACOB WEITERING (CARLTON)
With David Teague at the helm of the Blues, former number one pick Weitering is evolving into one of the game’s best defenders, and given his age, the Carlton coach has seemingly rescued a player that threatened to flame out before his time under Brendon Bolton. Interestingly, like Harris Andrews, Weitering’s 2020 numbers have all decreased on his 2019 form, but that highlights Carlton’s improvement this year. Weitering received selection in six teams, as he battled with Andrews and Moore for the two key defensive slots. Weitering edged out Moore due to his placing at centre half back in five of the teams he was selected in.
HALF BACK FLANK: NICK HAYNES (GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY)
A player that is seems shocking never appeared in last year’s Mongrel All Australian side, Haynes has taken his place amongst the superstars after having a career best season. Averaging career highs in disposals, marks and tackles, Haynes is also rebounding brilliantly, with an average of five rebounds a game. GWS’s best defender, Haynes is firmly in the prime of his football life, and was selected in seven of the eight team submitted, each time on the half back flank.
WING: HARRY PERRYMAN (GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY)
Coming from the clouds to emerge as one of Leon Cameron’s most important players, 21-year-old Perryman has taken control of GWS’s outside play and added another weapon to his arsenal. Coming into 2020, Perryman had kicked four goals in his career. He has nailed nine in 2020 to be his team’s leading scorer. Perryman is also enjoying career best numbers across the board, improving his numbers in disposals, marks, inside 50’s and rebounds from defensive 50. Perryman only missed selection in two of the Mongrel’s teams.
CENTRE: LACHIE NEALE (BRISBANE)
With dark horse wunderkind Matt Rowell exiting the race, Brisbane superstar Lachie Neale is undoubtedly the clear frontrunner in Brownlow Medal betting. Regarded by many as the competition’s best player, Neale has added goal kicking to weaponry, kicking seven goals from 16 shots across his six matches. Neale is leading the completion in contested possessions and total disposals, and is second in the league for handballs. Unsurprisingly, Neale was selected in every team submitted, either in the centre of the ground, or underneath the ruckman to be named shortly.
WING: SAM MENEGOLA (GEELONG)
Last season the Mongrel received some criticism for selecting two players on the wing that in reality didn’t venture there too much in 2019. Taking this into consideration, in selecting Menegola and Perryman, two pure wingmen have found their rightful place in our team. Menegola is perhaps the competition’s most effective winger, and is equally adept at rebounding from defence as well as entering forward 50 with accuracy. Menegola was selected in seven teams, and won the wing position with Perryman over the likes of Petracca and McCluggage due to being selected the most times on the field.
HALF FORWARD FLANK: MICHAEL WALTERS (FREMANTLE)
There is a strong argument to be made that without Michael Walters, Fremantle would still remain winless. The driving force behind seemingly all of the Dockers late comebacks, Walters has consistently dragged his team across back into contention and/or across the line, and is seen by some as Fremantle’s best player this season. Averaging 21 disposals, six score involvements and five clearances, Walters was particularly superb in the win against the Saints, and it is for this reason that he has achieved selection in our team.
CENTRE HALF FORWARD: TOM HAWKINS (GEELONG)
The AFL’s premier centre half forward for most of 2019 until usurped by Jack Darling, veteran Cat Hawkins has once again taken command of Geelong’s forward, enjoying another year of supreme delivery from his midfielders. Kicking 11 goals from his six games to sit equal fourth in the Coleman Medal race, Hawkins is also averaging seven score involvements as he brings teammates into the game. Selected in seven teams, Hawkins was placed at centre half forward in all bar one of the teams in which he was selected.
HALF FORWARD FLANK: CHAD WINGARD (HAWTHORN)
When Hawthorn gave up their first two picks in the 2018 draft along with Ryan Burton to obtain Chad Wingard, many Hawks fans lambasted the plan, and after an injury riddled 2019, the writing was on the wall for the former John Cahill Medallist. Fast forward to Round Six of 2020, and Wingard has found his groove in Hawthorn’s forward line and is quickly returning to his best. It is true that Wingard’s numbers are down on his best form, but after the average years he had in his final two years at Alberton, and the injury troubled 2019, Wingard has established himself as a crucial cog in Alastair Clarkson’s quest for another premiership.
FORWARD POCKET: TOM PAPLEY (SYDNEY)
In the absence of Lance Franklin, and all the injuries happening around him, Tom Papley is far and away Sydney’s best chance to score in a season where goals have been fewer and farther between for the struggling Swans. The clubhouse leader in the race for the Coleman Medal, Papley is also fourth in the competition for score involvements, highlighting his importance to John Longmire’s ailing forward setup. Selected in all of our teams, each time Papley appeared, it was alongside the man we speak of next.
FULL FORWARD: CHARLIE DIXON (PORT ADELAIDE)
After so many seasons where he threatened to take control of the game, the new King of Port Adelaide, Charlie Dixon seems to have finally found all the potential he has tucked away. The AFL’s best big forward, Ken Hinkley has deployed Dixon closer to goal this year, and this strategy has paid dividends. Selected in every team, all of which at full forward, Dixon is one of Hinkley’s most vital cogs in Port Adelaide’s quest for a much sought after premiership.
FORWARD POCKET: DAN BUTLER (ST. KILDA)
After five seasons with Richmond that included 45 matches, Butler found himself squeezed out of the Tigers forward line and was trade to St Kilda at the end of 2019 for a late third round pick. It is safe to say that Butler has made an immediate impact for his new side, playing every match and kicking ten goals to be the Saints leading goal kicker. Butler is undoubtedly enjoying a career best season, improving his number across the board, and his work without the ball is not often mentioned, but is just as vital to Brett Ratten’s game plan. Butler appeared in five Mongrel teams.
RUCKMAN: TODD GOLDSTEIN (NORTH MELBOURNE)
Three seasons ago, Todd Goldstein’s career was at the crossroads. Aging, ailing, and struggling to keep pace with the young up and comers, questions surrounded whether Goldstein should hang up the boots or move elsewhere to fast track a young ruckman’s development. Three years later, and Goldstein is well and truly back to his best. Averaging a career-high 18 disposals, Goldstein’s ruckwork has remained as consistently brilliant as any year he has produced. Such is Goldstein’s dominance this season that only one Mongrel selected Collingwood big man Brodie Grundy ahead of him.
RUCK ROVER: SCOTT PENDLEBURY (COLLINGWOOD)
Sitting second behind Lachie Neale, Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury is once again putting together a season of excellence that we have just come to expect from a man of his talent. Scheduled to break Tony Shaw’s record and become Collingwood’s games record holder later in the year, Pendlebury has led the Magpies superbly this year, and is one of the main reasons they have kept their standing as one of the teams to beat this year. Selected in every team, Pendlebury is in the group of elite midfielders jostling for a select few spots on the field of our team.
ROVER: PATRICK CRIPPS (CARLTON)
What can we say about Patrick Cripps that hasn’t already been said 1,000 times? Co-captain with Sam Docherty, Cripps has been the consistent driving force for the Blues, and is a key reason for their current ladder position. Interestingly, Cripps’ position in our team wasn’t as concrete as last season, and a mistimed average performance against the Bulldogs almost count against him. In the end, it came down to Cripps and Sun Touk Miller for the final midfield spot, and it was ultimately the weight of selections that won the day for Cripps.
CHRISTIAN PETRACCA (MELBOURNE)
The man with the biggest quads in football industry, Melbourne star Petracca is having a career best season, and appears to be finally fulfilling his potential. Improving his numbers in every category, Petracca is still just 24 years old and is yet to reach his prime as a footballer. When putting together this team, Petracca battles with Perryman and Menegola for a place on the wing, but it seems that his team’s slow start to the season has counted against him, as Petracca ultimately did not receive enough selections on the field and has to settle for a place on our interchange bench.
HUGH MCCLUGGAGE (BRISBANE)
Another player that had to battle for the wing positions, young gun McCluggage is a key cog in Brisbane’s team of fresh, vibrant talent. Still just 22 years of age, McCluggage looks ready to take his game to the next level, and still has areas of his game to fully master. Goal kicking still appears a slight issue, as he has only kicked three goals from 12 attempts. However, McCluggage is still one of Brisbane’s best young players, and is vital to his team’s push for a premiership.
TRAVIS BOAK (PORT ADELAIDE)
One of the group of individuals that retained selection from the 2019 team, former skipper Travis Boak has continued his career renaissance. Consistently brilliant across his six games, Boak has cemented his place as the Power’s best and most important midfielder. Averaging 23 touches, Boak’s disposal efficiency is at a career-high, and he is Port’s leading contested player. With the Power on top of the world, it has been a complete team performance that has got them to the top of the table, but you could make the argument that they would not be in the position they are without Boak leading from the front.
BRODY MIHOCEK (COLLINGWOOD)
One of Collingwood’s biggest strengths is their unpredictable forward line. Anyone and everyone could pop up on any given match and kick the Magpies to victory. While this game plan has largely remained into 2020, one man in particular has stepped up his game to great effect and become a focal point for the Magpies to kick to. Second in the Coleman Medal behind Tom Papley, late bloomer Brody Mihocek has come a long way from his days playing as a defender in the VFL. Averaging two goals a game, Mihocek has often played closer to goal than in previous years, and a result he sits equal second for marks inside 50. With other key forward Mason Cox’s development slightly stalling, Mihocek is vital to Collingwood’s success as their main avenue to goal.
As with last season, the simplified version of our Round 6 team goes like this:
B: Moore, Andrews, Maynard
HB: Docherty, Weitering, Haynes
C: Perryman, Neale, Menegola
HF: Walters, Hawkins, Wingard
F: Papley, Dixon, Butler
R: Goldstein, Pendlebury, Cripps
INT: Petracca, McCluggage, Boak, Mihocek
When looking over the statistics, some interesting nuggets have emerged:
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, no player from the winless Crows was selected in any team the Mongrels submitted.
- Despite only losing the solitary match, no Essendon player was selected in our final team. Adam Saad was the closest with two selections.
- Gold Coast also missed a player being selected, and if not for his shoulder injury, Matt Rowell would’ve been the closest to have been selected.
- Top of the table Port Adelaide had less players selected in the team than eighth placed Carlton.
- Five players (Andrews, Neale, Papley, Dixon and Pendlebury) were selected unanimously.
It has truly been a wacky and confusing start to the 2020 season, with every team experiencing enough twists and turns to last them a lifetime. Looking at the final team of last season, only five players have been fortunate enough to remain in our esteemed group of individuals for this year. Of the few players that would consider themselves unlucky to miss selection, Matt Rowell before his injury, Jake Stringer before his injury, Levi Casboult and his golden boot, Charlie Cameron and his highlight reel and Jy Simpkin’s improving brilliance all put forward compelling cases, but unfortunately things didn’t go their way this time around.
See you again in Round 12.
As an addition for our members, and seeing as how I will be copping most of the flak for the team, I’ve added my own submitted team below for your perusal. Cheers, HB Meyers