Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Tonight, The Mongrel Punt is proud of bring to bring to you, the Round One version of the soon to be undeniable, undisputed, all time greatest, ALL AUSTRALIAN TEAM OF THE WORLD!!

Hey everyone, Matt Oman back with you for another year, and I’m excited to once again be at the helm of the Mongrel Punt Rolling All Australian team for season 2022. Let’s get straight into it.

(And if you understood the reference behind my opening line, then I’ve just got two words for ya!)

 

BACK POCKET: SAM DOCHERTY (CARLTON)

I don’t know about you, but when Sam Docherty slammed through a goal for Carlton, and was overwhelmed by ecstatic teammates, I had a tear of joy in my eye. After undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer, Docherty’s return to the Blues’ line-up might just provide all the motivation this group needs to finally fulfil their potential. Docherty’s return was seamless, gathering 26 disposals (15 kicks, 11 handballs), four score involvements, five inside 50’s and six marks, all while going at an astonishing 96% efficiency.

FULL BACK: PHIL DAVIS (GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY)

All the talk going into the Sydney Derby was whether Lance Franklin could nail the five goals he needed to cross the magical 1,000 goal barrier. I have no doubt that Buddy will achieve this massive milestone very soon, but Phil Davis made sure it wasn’t going to happen against the Giants. This entry isn’t necessarily about what did happen, but more what didn’t. Davis had 15 disposals and six marks, but it was his work stopping Buddy having any influence that earns him selection on the last line of defence. Franklin only touched the ball eight times, and only kicked one goal, and that was all due to the magnificent lockdown job done by Davis.

BACK POCKET: CHANGKUOTH JIATH (HAWTHORN)

If there’s one word that comes to mind when I think of Changkuoth Jiath, it has to be “bounce”. Jiath always looks like he has springs for feet, and this was on full show on Sunday against the Roos. Jiath was a machine in the back half for Hawthorn, using his supreme running and leaping ability to get himself in the way of so many North Melbourne inside 50’s. Jiath amassed 24 disposals, five marks and four defensive rebounds, and while others in contention for this spot may have had more of the ball, Jiath’s influence on the contest cannot be understated, and for my money, only Jack Gunston rivalled Jiath for best afield honours.

 

HALF BACK FLANK: LUKE MCDONALD (NORTH MELBOURNE)

In the early game on Sunday, it was Jiath at one end, and Luke McDonald at the other. When the Kangaroos were up and about in the first half, leading the way was McDonald, who was superb in his regular role of half back rebounder. Continuously getting himself in the best position to affect the contest, McDonald gave this Hawthorn supporter far too many headaches, and his stats of 27 disposals (24 kicks), 12 marks, seven defensive rebounds and four inside 50’s, while using the ball at 88% efficiency more than back up the claim that McDonald should be considered one of the best and most consistent half backs in the competition.

CENTRE HALF BACK: MARCUS ADAMS (BRISBANE)

With Charile Dixon on the sidelines, the task confronting Port Adelaide’s key forwards was a daunting one. Their assignment was made almost impossible thanks to the excellent work of Marcus Adams, who played perhaps the best game of his career. Doing a stellar job of blanketing the likes of Jeremy Finlayson and Todd Marshall, Adams was also excellent in the rebounding side of defence as well, gathering 20 possessions (16 kicks, four handballs), taking 11 marks, and sending the ball out of defensive 50 on five occasions.

HALF BACK FLANK: DAN HOUSTON (PORT ADELAIDE)

We can’t speak about Marcus Adams without acknowledging the best payer at the other end of the ground, Port’s Dan Houston. The Power’s best player by a country mile on Saturday night, Houston not only starred on the half back line, but he also spent a decent portion of the game on the wing, using his supreme kicking skills to drive Port Adelaide froward. Amassing 36 disposals (27 kicks, nine handballs), 12 marks, 10 score involvements, 10 inside 50’s, as well as kicking two goals, Houston was everywhere when his team needed him, was still going when Port fell away due to the Lions’ avalanche in the last quarter.

 

WING: ED LANGDON (MELBOURNE)

If you were compiling a list of the most well-known Melbourne players, I’m certain Ed Langdon would barely sniff the top 10. However, since his recruitment, Langdon has become one of the Demons’ most important players, and perhaps their most underrated. While names like Petracca and Oliver get all the credit, Langdon quietly goes about his business on the wing, providing the run and carry the Demons lacked before he arrived at the club. You might think that Langdon’s 22 disposals aren’t enough to warrant selection in this team, but I encourage you to go back and watch the Grand Final rematch. Langdon was a running machine, and a vital link in the chain from defence to forward.

CENTRE: PATRICK CRIPPS (CARLTON)

Finally, after 139 games, superstar Patrick Cripps has the team behind him that can feature in finals football. No longer the lone ranger in Carlton’s midfield, Cripps benefitted from the eased pressure to lead his side to an important, streak breaking victory over Richmond, their first in 11 attempts. In the midfield he was superb, gathering 30 touches, 11 inside 50’s, 10 score involvements, and eight clearances, and he finally put to bed the belief that he can’t hit the scoreboard, venturing forward to cause Richmond plenty of headaches, with three goals. Once Sam Walsh returns, look out AFL. The sleeping giant is starting to wake up.

WING: OLLIE FLORENT (SYDNEY)

It’s easy to feel slightly sorry for Ollie Florent. Let’s not forget, this is still a 23-year-old yet to reach his physical prime, yet Florent is much maligned, not just by Swans supporters, but many pundits around AFL circles. On Saturday’s performance, Florent may just have silenced his critics, with a dazzling display on the wing in Sydney’s derby victory. If his excellency by hand and foot wasn’t enough (20 disposals, of which only two missed the target), Florent gave his coach another weapon, with three important goals.

 

HALF FORWARD FLANK: LUKE PARKER (SYDNEY)

Like Ollie Florent, Luke Parker’s magnificent performance has given John Longmire plenty of freedom to tinker with his line-up during game day. Lance Franklin needed five goals, but Parker stole them all with his own bag of five. Also gathering 21 disposals, 11 score involvements, five marks and five tackles, Parker, along with Florent and Isaac Heeney, represent a strong trio of players who are both equally adept at running through the middle, as well as taking the pressure off Franklin in the forward line.

CENTRE HALF FORWARD: TOM HAWKINS (GEELONG)

Another year, and once again Tom Hawkins occupies the centre half forward position in our team. It seems that whatever Brad Pitt was drinking in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hawkins must also be slurping it down, as he still looks in the peak of his powers. Kicking four goals in the demolition of the Bombers, Hawkins also made sure that if he didn’t mark the ball, he at least brought it to ground for Geelong’s small forwards, particularly Tyson Stengle, to feast on.

HALF FORWARD FLANK: NIC MARTIN (ESSENDON)

Has anyone enjoyed a better debut performance than Bomber Nic Martin? Let’s not forget, a month ago, Martin wasn’t even on Essendon’s list, and in just four weeks, Martin has taken it all before him and earned the Round 1 rising star nomination. The only downside to Martin’s debut is that it didn’t result in a win for his team, but Martin couldn’t have done much more to affect the result, gathering 27 disposals, 10 marks and kicking five goals, a feat that sees him equal top in the Coleman Medal race.

 

FORWARD POCKET: JOSH RACHELE (ADELAIDE)

Another player who had a debut to remember is Crow Josh Rachele, who looked right at home in his first game. There’s a zest about Rachele that you can’t quite measure, but he has that spark in truckloads, and in Rachele, the 19th man has a new fan favourite and cult hero they can all get behind. Like Martin, the only downside to Rachele’s first game is that the Crows were heartbroken on the final siren, but Rachele’s five goals from 14 disposals would’ve come very close to getting the nod for the rising star nomination.

FULL FORWARD: AARON NAUGHTON (WESTERN BULLDOGS)

A man possessed on Wednesday night, Aaron Naughton routinely put his body on the line for his team and very nearly carried them to a victory. Perhaps their most important player in Josh Bruce’s absence, Naughton played a lone hand inside forward 50, with 14 disposals, six marks, including three inside 50, and four goals. Naughton’s only problem is that he needs a tag team partner to take the pressure of him, and fast, because Steven May and Adam Tomlinson had no other Bulldog avenues to goal to worry about, and it showed on the scoreboard.

FORWARD POCKET: JACK GUNSTON (HAWTHORN)

Like Sam Docherty (albeit under different circumstances) it was a welcome return to the field for Jack Gunston, who showed he has plenty left in his tank in the Hawks’ win over North Melbourne. Taking a bit longer than he would’ve liked to cross the 400-goal mark, Gunston eventually found his kicking boots to finish with 3.4 to go with 18 disposals and eight marks. While others in the competition hit the scoreboard more often, Gunston was a recurring nightmare for David Noble, as nothing he did was able to curb Gunston’s influence in a near best afield display.

 

RUCKMAN: JARROD WITTS (GOLD COAST)

You’d never know this was Jarrod Witts’ first game back from an ACL injury, as Gold Coast’s skipper returned to the field like he’d never left, engaging in a tough battle with Nic Natanui. This was the toughest spot to select, as there were more than a few players putting their hands up. However, I gave Grundy the nod for a couple of reasons. First, Brodie Grundy was inefficient with ball in hand, amassing seven clangers and 52% disposal efficiency. Second, Sam Draper’s team lost by 11 goals, and Draper was excellent but undisciplined. Third, Witts’ team was victorious, and he won the battle over Naitanui and set up his midfielders superbly.

RUCK ROVER: CHRISTIAN PETRACCA (MELBOURNE)

So, I think I know the answer, but I’ll ask the question anyway. Luke Beveridge does know who Christian Petracca is, doesn’t he? It was a case of déjà vu for the Bulldogs, as Petracca ran circles around them in another breathtaking display of power and finesse. The stats in both games were practically the mirror image. For context, the first number is last year’s Grand Final. 39 disposals to 38. 13 score involvements to 15. Two goals, 11 clearances and nine inside 50’s in both matches. There really should be no doubt anymore. This man is the best player in the competition, and it looks like nothing can slow him down.

ROVER: MATT ROWELL (GOLD COAST)

After bursting onto the scene to start season 2020, Matt Rowell has had two years of woe, and it left some wondering if we’d ever see the best of Rowell again. Fear not, because it looks like Rowell has shrugged off all the injuries and is ready to assume the mantle of most important Gold Coast Sun. Rowell played like a man possessed in the Suns’ first away win against West Coast, dragging himself to every contest despite copping some physical attention from the Eagles’ players. Rowell amassed 33 possessions, 22 of which were contested, 10 score involvements, nine clearances, six tackles and five inside 50’s.

 

INTERCHANGE:

JACK MACRAE (WESTERN BULLDOGS)

More déjà vu for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night, expect this time it was a positive. Another year, and another round of Jack Macrae suffering a severe case of leather poisoning. With Marcus Bontempelli carrying an injury, Macrae picked up the midfield baton and ran with it, gathering a competition high 39 disposals (15 contested), 11 clearances and six inside 50’s. Macrae has just signed a five-year contract extension to stay at the Whitten Oval, ensuring he will finish his career in the red, white, and blue.

MITCH MCGOVERN (CARLTON)

Moving to Carlton from Adelaide attracted big money for forward Mitch McGovern, but it also gave the former Crow unwanted spotlight. With the big contract came an expectation to perform, and McGovern is yet to live up to the hype that his paycheque warrants. However, under David Teague, and now Michael Voss, McGovern has a new lease on life as an intercepting defender. With Jacob Weitering and Oscar McDonald taking on the lockdown jobs, McGovern was free to do what he does best, and against Richmond, do it is what he did. Like others in this team, the stats may not immediately suggest McGovern is worthy of selection, but in re-watching the game, his influence on the contest was underrated, and was certainly noticed by this onlooker.

TYSON STENGLE (GEELONG)

Another Crow seeking redemption at a new club, Tyson Stengle, playing just his 17th AFL game at his third club, showed the world that he has the potential to be one of the best small forwards in the competition. Forming a partnership with Tom Hawkins, Stengle feasted on any loose ball inside Geelong’s forward 50, kicking four goals from 20 disposals. Stengle also registered 11 score involvements, six inside 50’s, and while he only lay one tackle, his defensive pressure on the ball carrier led to turnovers and more importantly, scores from said turnovers.

MATTHEW KENNEDY (CARLTON)

The man most responsible for taking the pressure off Patrick Cripps’ shoulders. I know Sam Walsh is now Carlton’s best player, but with Kennedy hunting down every contest, Cripps doesn’t have to do as much of the heavy workload. In his first match under fellow bull Michael Voss, Kennedy played the best game of his career, gathering 33 disposals (14 contested), 11 score involvements, eight clearances, and seven inside 50’s in a display of pure brute force. Kennedy looks a man determined to show he belongs in the upper echelon of midfielders, and on Thursday night’s effort, he just might be.

 

Avid readers of this column know the procedure. Here is the simplified version of our team:

B: Sam Docherty, Phil Davis, Changkuoth Jiath

HB: Luke McDonald, Marcus Adams, Dan Houston

C: Ed Langdon, Patrick Cripps, Ollie Florent

HF: Luke Parker, Tom Hawkins, Nic Martin

F: Josh Rachele, Aaron Naughton, Jack Gunston

R: Jarrod Witts, Christian Petracca, Matt Rowell

INT: Jack Macrae, Mitch McGovern, Tyson Stengle, Matthew Kennedy

 

I’m so glad to be back behind the keyboard putting together this team for you. I understand that some of your favourite players were overlooked, and a few of them have already been mentioned as being unlucky to miss selection, but I have no ill will towards any player or team, and for those who narrowly missed the cut, there are still so many weeks to bank the stellar form that this team of excellence commands.

See you next week.

 

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