Well, we’ve had the first nine games of the year, seen some shocking results and, most importantly, we’ve seen some damn good football. It really is the best sport in the world, all things considered.
Already, we’ve seen social media inundated with so-called experts and different accounts lodging their team or players of the weekend. It’d be rude of us to not show them up – sorry, I mean, rude of us to not offer our voice to the conversation.
There are lots of things to consider when picking this side. Are stats the sole motivating factor? Is it an influence on the game? Does a team’s result play a part on the selection of the players? All of these things are considerations, but not defining principles. We have scrolled through the footage from the weekend, sought out some opinions from our colleagues here at The Mongrel Punt, and Hodgey and I have landed on our Round One Rolling All-Australian team.
There has been some vociferous debate and a few tweaks from the first team, but we have found consensus in who we think deserves their place. Unlike most teams compiled by others, we don’t just create a team of midfielders. We respect the forwards and the wingmen. We place value on defenders doing their job. So, we have endeavoured to choose a side where players are named in their predominant/usual position. We have also tried to balance the team as well.
I guess I should stop stalling and dragging this out. *cue drum roll* here’s the Mongrel Punt’s Rolling All-Australian Team for Round One.
FB: James Sicily, Lewis Young, Jack Sinclair
HB: Harry Sheezel, Darcy Moore, Mason Redman
C: Finn Callaghan, Tom Green, Ryan Byrnes
HF: Kysaiah Pickett, Harry McKay, Toby Greene
FF: Junior Rioli, Nick Larkey, Charlie Dixon
Foll: Jarrod Witts, Darcy Parish, Luke Davies-Uniacke
Int: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Jordan de Goey, Chad Warner, Archie Perkins, Nick Daicos (sub)
Across the weekend, there were many fantastic performances, particularly in the defensive portion of the ground. From those with dazzling displays of dash and their trademark foot skills, to those trying to stem the flow and using their intercept play to benefit their side, our back six are a combination of well-known stars, those beginning to entrench themselves in the game, and a debutant who blew everyone away.
While the Hawks had their pants pulled down by the boys in the red sash, newly appointed Hawks skipper James Sicily was a rock for the Hawks. He led from the front throughout the game, repelling forward forays where he could, and trying to setup plays for his side. Lewis Young and Darcy Moore hold down the key defensive posts for this side, having contributed in numerous ways to their sides weekend fortunes. Moore has seemingly taken to captaincy like a duck to water, as he not only curtailed many of Geelong’s offensive threats, but was a key distributor in the back half; and Lewis Young did it in the air, on the ground, and applying pressure all game long. The leg speed and run in this side comes from Jack Sinclair who torched the Dockers, Mason Redman who did as he pleased against the Hawks, and debutant Harry Sheezel, deployed on the back flank for North, showing class that belies his years. All three of these contributed to the success of their sides, through their positioning, outside run, and ability to hit targets.
As we head to the middle of the ground, there are some surprises – not in terms of ability, but more some of these players names haven’t been in lights before. As always, we choose to honour the wingmen. They play a vital role in our great game, and too many get fixated on the ‘other’ midfielders, dismissing those running countless kilometres for their team. In round one, Finn Callaghan and Ryan Byrnes led the way out wide. The gut run from Callaghan set the tempo for the Giants and helped them to power over the Crom late in the game. And for Byrnes, he was involved in everything. If he continues in this vein, expect more recognition to come his way.
From the wing into the centre square, Jarrod Witts was IMMENSE for the Suns. There’s no other word to describe his efforts around the ball and giving his side first use. Tom Green repaid the faith (albeit in just one game so far) with a dominant display in the middle of the ground. He collected clearances and contested possessions for fun, ensuring the Giants outside runners could get the orange tsunami happening. Joining him is Darcy Parish, who continues to fly under some radars as one of the premiere midfielders in the competition. He set the tone for the Bombers and if they don’t sign up him soon, he will look great in the blue and white hoops in 2024 and beyond. And then there’s Luke Davies-Uniacke. I feel like under Clarko, he will thrive. He gets to lead the centre line for the Roos
Up forward, the key posts are taken by early Coleman Medal leader Nick ‘Souva’ Larkey and Harry (Ben) McKay. If it wasn’t for some errant kicking and poor shot selection from McKay, the Blues would have four points instead of two. That said, he presented all night, had sticky hands, and was clearly the best big forward on the ground on Thursday night. Larkey continues to build, and as the year goes, North fans will be hoping that these glimpses become consistent. They will be ably assisted by King Charles Dixon. The big man in teal had a day out, monstering the Lions defenders and throwing them aside like he was Andre the Giant! If he stays fit, he could be a big reason the Power shoot up the ladder.
Another of those that could help Port is Junior Rioli. He was in everything and reminded us all of how much talent he has. On the flanks are two players familiar with scrutiny – Toby Greene, who isn’t the MRO target for once, but he led the new Giants well, kicking timely goals and bringing the edge we love to see. And human rocket Kysaiah Pickett starred on Saturday night, but will miss the next weeks for almost blasting a hole in Bailey Smith.
On the bench, Darcy Byrne-Jones, Jordan de Goey, the Chad – Chad Warner – and Archie Perkins all were vital contributors to their teams over the weekend. Whether it was hitting the scoreboard, setting the tone through their actions, or simply just playing their role, they were standouts across the weekend. As was our sub, who we needed to include because his numbers were huge – Nick Daicos. All of these players played well on the weekend and deserve their spot.
As always when a team is chosen, there is debate and people saying we have no idea because their mum’s favourite player wasn’t picked. Round One is tough, let’s be honest. Many players start the year well and there’s no body of work to go by. There was some healthy debate and there are some players who were incredibly stiff to miss out.
Daniel Rich being at the top of the list. He was incredible and about the only shining light for the Lions. His stats are huge, as was his impact for his side, and it was tough to leave him out. The same can be said for wingman Josh Daicos, small forwards Bobby Hill and Izak Rankine, defenders Brennan Cox and Jake Lloyd, and Clayton Oliver who had a great game, it was just standard for him. There are others who were discussed, but we don’t have time to list everyone. Hodgey and I will be on watch in the coming weeks to see if the incumbents maintain the rage or if others can come in like a wrecking ball and stake their claim to be in the most important All Australian side that gets chosen. Who will be in next week? Follow us on socials to find out.
You can buy the boys a coffee for their efforts if you like?