What a fantastic festival of fast, ferocious, formidable football we’ve finally feasted our fingers upon! Okay, I’ve run out of words beginning with F, but to get back to the serious side of why we’re all here, it’s time for the next edition of the Mongrel Punt Rolling All Australian team. Like many teams across the football frenzy, many players have jostled for position and put together performances of significance to be considered worthy of a positon in our esteemed team.
So who has done enough to retain their place? Who has improved enough to leapfrog an incumbent member? We give you now, the Round 12 instalment of the Rolling All Australian team of 2020.
BACK POCKET: BRAD SHEPPARD (WEST COAST)
An equal combination of stopping defence and rebounding attack, underrated Eagle Brad Sheppard has replaced Magpie Darcy Moore in our backline, much like Sheppard’s Eagles have replaced Moore’s Magpies as flag fancies in many an AFL watcher’s eyes. Averaging 16 touches at an efficiency rate of 81%, Sheppard has also taken an average seven marks a game. Selected in seven teams, many Mongrels selected Sheppard because of his ability to clamp down on an opposition small forward, as well as rebound the Eagles out of defence.
FULL BACK: HARRIS ANDREWS (BRISBANE)
There can now be absolutely no doubt anymore. Harris Andrews is this generation best defender. Assuming the mantle vacated by Alex Rance, Andrews just keeps doing all the things necessary to stop his direct opponent and secure victory for the Lions. Undoubtedly Brisbane’s next captain, Andrews is quickly establishing himself as the new Stephen Silvagni, and given he is still just 23 years of age, I am sure we will be seeing Andrews’ name in this position for the next decade at least.
BACK POCKET: BRAYDEN MAYNARD (COLLINGWOOD)
This was one of the most hotly contested spots in our team, and in the end it was Brayden Maynard edging out teammate Darcy Moore by the smallest of margins. In Jeremy Howe’s absence, Maynard has thrived, and even with Collingwood falling down the ladder, Maynard has continued to impress with his rebounding ability to go with sheer uncompromising defence. Maynard received seven votes compared with Moore’s five, thus awarding him the final place in the backline.
HALF BACK FLANK: LUKE RYAN (FREMANTLE)
Replacing Sam Docherty on the half back line, Docker Luke Ryan has taken his game to new heights in season 2020. Asked to play a variety of roles, Ryan has played as an undersized full back, as well as a rebounding ace, often all within the same passage of play. Averaging 18 possessions a game, Ryan has improved his disposal efficiency to a career best 84%, and is also enjoying career best averages in defensive rebounds and contested marks.
CENTRE HALF BACK: JACOB WEITERING (CARLTON)
Still just 22, and with 87 games under his belt, Jacob Weitering has never been more important to the Blues than at this moment in his young career. Like Harris Andrews, Weitering is in line to be the next captain of Carlton, such is his leadership qualities that have been on display since his debut. Selected in eight of the 11 submissions, Weitering is in the group of young key defenders that will be a mainstay of the competition for the next decade to come.
HALF BACK FLANK: NICK HAYNES (GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY)
It is becoming almost routine that in any best 22 that is written, Nick Haynes is listed on the half back flank. Selected in nine teams, Haynes is so much more important to GWS’s setup than he is ever given credit for. An intercepting beast who leads the Giants in kicks, marks (both contested and uncontested), and has a disposal efficiency of just under 80%, it stands to reason that for all of the Giants forward scoring woes, without Haynes marshalling their defence, GWS would be in a far worse position than they already are.
WING: JACK MACRAE (WESTERN BULLDOGS)
Since our first edition of this team six rounds ago, no player (besides Lachie Neale) has dominated the game like Jack Macrae, who has put together six weeks of sublime performances. Averaging 31 disposals since Round 6, Macrae has benefitted from sharing a midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, and as such can play with a little more freedom given the tags that the Dogs skipper attracts. It is perhaps a little contentious that a midfield star like Macrae is placed on the wing in our team, but we felt that Macrae’s outside run and carry made him a worthy recipient of his place.
CENTRE: CLAYTON OLIVER (MELBOURNE)
The turning point in Melbourne’s campaign occurred in the Demons’ 43 point victory over Hawthorn. It is also the point in the season that Clayton Oliver came to the party and reminded the competition just how talented he is. Averaging 26 disposals, seven clearances, four inside 50’s and five tackles, Oliver, along with a teammate to be named shortly, has been the main reason that Melbourne has surged back into finals contention. Selected in six teams, Oliver won the centre square position over Travis Boak due to being placed on the field in the majority of the teams he featured in.
WING: SAM MENEGOLA (GEELONG)
Formally taking over from Andrew Gaff as the best wingman in the competition, Cat Sam Menegola has become arguably Geelong’s most important midfielder. Enjoying another career best purple patch of blistering form, Menegola has ensured that despite losing Tim Kelly, Geelong are just as dangerous in the middle of the ground. Averaging six marks, five score involvements, a goal a game and leading all comers for disposals, Menegola is the prototype for what a star wingman looks like, and any future stars of the midfield perimeter should watch his work very closely, as many valuable lessons can be learned.
HALF FORWARD FLANK: CHRISTIAN PETRACCA (MELBOURNE)
Just like teammate Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca’s form in 2020 has been a key reason for Melbourne’s resurrection. Sitting second at the Demons (all behind Oliver) for disposals, handballs, tackles and contested possessions, and leading all comers for score involvements and goal assists, Petracca has finally turned the corner and become the complete four quarter dominator that the Demons have been waiting for. This year, Petracca has spent far more tome in the midfield, but it hasn’t impacted his work in the forward line, as he is still averaging just under a goal a game.
CENTRE HALF FORWARD: TOM HAWKINS (GEELONG)
The current clubhouse leader in the race for the Coleman Medal, Tom Hawkins has proved to many that he was written off far too soon. Kicking 19 of his 30 goals in the last six rounds, Hawkins shown, alone with Josh Kennedy and Charlie Dixon, that a dominant key forward is the way to go in the search for a premiership winning formula. Selected in every Mongrel team, interestingly only one of us didn’t name Hawkins at centre half forward. Despite entering the twilight of his career, Hawkins is vital to the Cats, as his replacement is still a few years away from being ready to take Hawkins’ place.
HALF FORWARD FLANK: TOM PAPLEY (SYDNEY)
Ask yourself this question. How bad a position would the Swans be in if Tom Papley was wearing a different jumper? Absolutely dominating Sydney’s forward line, Papley leads the Swans in all the key stats forward of centre, and in some cases, the next best is miles behind. Seeking a trade at the end of last season, the Swans wound be doing everything in their power to keep Papley happy, as his value has skyrocketed, even in the shortened season we find ourselves in. Papley was placed in the forward line of all bar one team submitted, and that Mongrel went with a forward/midfielder rather than a true forward for his last slot.
FORWARD POCKET: CHARLIE DIXON (PORT ADELAIDE)
Despite dropping down the key forward pecking order, we felt that King Charlie had done enough to retain his place in our team, albeit shifting to the forward pocket position. Sitting equal fifth in the Coleman Medal race, Dixon is without question Port Adelaide’s most important player, and teams have found out that if Dixon can be nullified, the Power becomes that much easier to get a hold of. The clear leader in contested marks, if the Power are to salute in 2020, Ken Hinkley will need Dixon at his best, because Port Adelaide look vulnerable without him.
FULL FORWARD: JOSH KENNEDY (WEST COAST)
Such is the talent of West Coast’s big key target, that since the release of our Round 6 team, Josh Kennedy has kicked 20 of his 27 goals. Sitting second in the Coleman Medal race behind Tom Hawkins, Kennedy has pulled the Eagles out of the fire and catapulted his team into equal flag favouritism. Many predicted this season to be Kennedy’s last dance, and after Round 6 it looked like the pundits were right, but Kennedy has in the last six weeks reminded everyone of his talent, scoring power, and value to Adam Simpson’s plans for 2020 and beyond.
FORWARD POCKET: DAN BUTLER (ST. KILDA)
Richmond would be on their knees begging St Kilda for Dan Butler back, such has been the impact that the former Tiger has made at Moorabbin. Sitting equal fourth alongside Dixon and Matt Taberner in the race for the Coleman Medal, Butler has taken his game into the stratosphere compared with his days at Punt Road, and his work was recognised by all eleven Mongrels. The clear leader in the competition for tackles inside 50, Butler is outstanding both with and without the ball, and is crucial to the Saints forward setup.
RUCKMAN: TODD GOLDSTEIN (NORTH MELBOURNE)
Still the dominant ruckman in the league, but the gap has closed from six weeks ago. Second in the competition for hit outs, and third for clearances, Goldstein’s work this year has been hard to read, as the team he plays for has endured a season of poor performances, making his dominance hard to quantify given it doesn’t translate to wins for the Kangaroos. However, the next generation of North Melbourne big men still looks a while away, so Goldstein is vital to the Kangaroos for the next two years at least. Goldstein was selected as the starting ruckman in six of the Mongrels teams, with the other five spots going to a player to be named later.
RUCK ROVER: TRAVIS BOAK (PORT ADELAIDE)
A player that would be rated far higher if he played in Victoria, Travis Boak has put forward a strong case why he could go down as Port Adelaide’s greatest ever player. The numbers speak for themselves. Boak is number one at Port for disposals, contested possessions, handballs, inside 50s, clearances, score involvements and goal assists, and is second for kicks and tackles. The youth at Alberton is often highly regarded and is indeed leading the Power into the future, but Port are all about the now, and with Travis Boak leading the way, success may be just around the corner.
ROVER: LACHIE NEALE (BRISBANE)
This selection was as obvious as the sun is bright. I’m actually having trouble elaborating too much more, as the AFL might as well just put this year’s Brownlow Medal around Neale’s neck, such is his dominance.
NIC NAITANUI (WEST COAST)
Since escaping from the dreaded Queensland hub, no team has turned their season around quite like West Coast. Surging into premiership favouritism, the Eagles are the team to beat, especially if Western Australia is given the Grand Final. West Coast’s dominance since the hub has coincided with the surge in form of perhaps their most important player, Nic Naitanui. As mentioned previously, Naitanui was the man that gave Todd Goldstein the biggest challenge to his throne, and if he can keep up his form and (touchwood) stay injury free, you might see shift towards the big Fijian at the end of the season.
MATT TABERNER (FREMANTLE)
If you had told me at the start of this season that Matt Taberner would be featured in an All Australian team, I would’ve had you committed to an institution. But this has been by far Taberner’s best season, and due to his form, Justin Longmuir has made moves to bring star recruit Jess Hogan back into the line-up as a key defender. Kicking 21 goals to be level on the table with Papley and Dixon, Taberner has already achieved his biggest season tally for goals, and that number will only grow. Leading the Dockers in every marking stat, Taberner received selection in five Mongrel teams, and it seems that he has finally turned the corner and is now ready to take the AFL world by storm.
JACK STEELE (ST KILDA)
St Kilda’s season of significant improvement has come largely off the back of the improvement of one of their midfield stars, a player that has quickly become one of their most important cogs. Leading the Saints in disposals, contested possessions, score involvements, inside 50’s, tackles and clearances, Jack Steele has turned himself from a good role player into a genuine star of the competition. A man with leadership qualities for days, and could be considered St Kilda’s next captain, Steele is vital to Brett Ratten’s plans for delivering a second premiership to the Saints trophy cabinet.
JORDAN RIDLEY (ESSENDON)
An absolute no name six months ago, 21-year-old Jordan Ridley has quickly become one of the best young key defenders in the game. Having only just notched up his 20th appearance at AFL level, Ridley has taken the focus away from Michael Hurley and may just surpass the Bombers veteran by season’s end. Ranked first at Essendon for kicks, marks, contested marks, third in defensive rebounds and fifth for total disposals, Ridley featured in five teams submitted, and got the nod over other players due to his selection on the field more than others.
As with Round 6, the simplified version of our Round 12 team looks like this:
B: Sheppard, Andrews, Maynard
HB: Ryan, Weitering, Haynes
C: Macrae, Oliver, Menegola
HF: Petracca, Hawkins, Papley
F: Dixon, Kennedy, Butler
R: Goldstein, Boak, Neale
INT: Naitanui, Taberner, Steele, Ridley
Statistics from our collective teams revealed some interesting observations:
- Just two players (Harris Andrews and Lachie Neale) have received unanimous selection across the two instalments of our team.
- Along with Andrews and Neale, Luke Ryan, Sam Menegola, Tom Hawkins, Dan Butler and Travis Boak all received selection in every team submitted.
- Adelaide, Gold Coast, Hawthorn and Richmond did not have a player selected in the final 22.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, both Adelaide and Hawthorn did not have a single player selected in any of the 11 teams submitted by Mongrels.
Many players would consider themselves unlucky not to receive a jacket in this version of our team. Darcy Moore has paid the ultimate price for his team’s form slump, Sam Docherty was overtaken by Luke Ryan, Hugh McCluggage battled with Menegola and Macrae for a spot on the wing and just couldn’t get enough votes, and Charlie Cameron’s last two weeks have seen him fall down the pecking order in the eyes of many. However, there are others that are putting forward a strong case for selection in the final team, to be released at the end of the season. Hugh Greenwood has been the one of the recruits of the year, Jake Lloyd will have to shoulder more responsibility in Dane Rampe’s absence, Caleb Daniel continues to impress, and Max Gawn is still a top three ruckman if he can maintain his form.
Another frenzy of football awaits us as we make our way towards finals, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. See you on the other side.
HB here – I am adding my own team below as an addition for members. I figure I am going to be answering most of the questions, so if I had my own team here, you might see what I did and didn’t vote for.
This content is for members only. Want to read more?