The Mongrel's All-Australian Team after Round 7

So, it has been two weeks since we last looked at the possibilities for All-Australian this season, and my, how times have changed. For the record, here's our team after Round Five

A couple of injuries, a form slump here or there, and a couple of players making huge strides to usurp the position of rivals - it’s all happening in The Mongrel’s rolling All-Australian team, or as I like to term it, The All-Mongrel Team.

So rather than harp on, let’s jump straight in.

 

BACKS

Tom Stewart (Geelong)

Stewart was in contention for the Round 5 version, but has bypassed the bench and jumped straight into the back pocket for the Round 7 side. His run out of the backline and willingness to take the game on and back himself have made such a difference to the Cats’ ability to run and carry.

Having Stewart’s confidence and all or nothing attitude has aided a backline that was supposed to struggle this season, and were supposed to struggle more when Harry Taylor went down injured. Stewart has helped hold the fort, and done it brilliantly.

Daniel Talia (Adelaide)

Out goes Tom Doedee, and in comes Talia. He has been a rock down back for the entire season, with great defensive efforts in recent weeks including holding Tom Lynch goalless against the Gold Coast.

Similar to our next member, Talia makes the jobs of those around him much easier by taking the best, or at least the second best forward every week. He is rarely beaten.

David Astbury (Richmond)

He is an unsung hero, so I am more than happy to sing his praises. Whilst Alex Rance will get the praise and the actual AA nod in the end, it is the work of Astbury and his partner in crime, Dylan Grimes that is the glue holding everything together in the Tiger backline.

Astbury rarely loses a contest, bring the ball to ground, or, as was the case in Round 7, winning in the air. A well-deserved spot to a guy who doesn’t get his just desserts.

 

HALF BACKS

Rory Laird (Adelaide)

He’s a record-breaker. Retains his spot from our Round 5 team, and if anything, has made it impossible, barring injury, for anyone to displace him by the time we revisit this in a couple of weeks.

He is the only man to ever record 30+ disposals in the first seven games of the season. He’s also the first to ever do it in the first six games. Haha. Could he be the first to do it in the first eight? They’re going to head into the Showdown this week, and you could imagine Ken Hinkley wanting to limit his influence.

Could a defensive forward role slow him down? The Crows will back their man, as they have all year up until now. It’ll have to be a great effort to stop him.

Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)

McGovern continues to be a brick wall across half back. Want proof? Go and track down the first quarter of the Derby from Round 6, and watch McGovern repel attack after attack. He was mammoth. He finished with 10 marks because Ross Lyon realised that he simply couldn’t allow McGovern to continue floating across packs and clunking marks.

The Eagles are winning, and McGovern continues to hold his spot in the All-Mongrel team. Putting that contract on hold until the end of the year must be weighing heavily on the minds of the the Eagles’ management.

Paul Seedsman (Adelaide)

The Seed is another to retain his spot. He is still the number one ranked man in the competition in metres gained for his team, and not by a little bit.

His run and carry, and penetrating kick open the game up for the Crows time and time again. 26 touches per game is almost nine up on his previous best. He is having a career-best season, and has moved from the bench to half back from the Round 5 to Round 7 version.

 

CENTRES

Lachie Neale (Fremantle)

Interesting that Robert Walls gave him votes in the game against Richmond (and didn’t give any Richmond players votes). His tag team with Nat Fyfe is a stoppage nightmare.

Neale is averaging almost 32 touches per game (14 contested) and a goal assist per game.

If there is one knock ion his season thus far, it would be that he has not pushed forward to hit the scoreboard at all.

Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)

Just when you thought he could be slowed by a tagger, Mitchell trotted out against St Kilda and had the lazy 45 touches, and backed it up with 29 and 10 tackles against the Bombers.

Mitchell’s place in the middle is guaranteed at this point in the season. He is far and away the best at what he does.

Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)

The Dogs have won their last couple in no small part to the efforts of Macrae. He had 32 touches against the Blues, and backed it up with 40 disposals against Gold Coast in Ballarat.

Macrae is now averaging 32 touches a game and is chugging along at 75% efficiency. He has made the leap into the All-Mongrel midfield on the back of his great combination of contested and uncontested ball. Macrae has become exactly what the Bulldogs need in the absence of Tom Liberatore and recently, Marcus Bontempelli.

 

HALF FORWARDS

Dustin Martin (Richmond)

Dusty’s numbers are still good. He is still pushing blokes over with “don’t argue” fend offs, and he is still running hard forward to create havoc. I don’t quite think he is having a season comparable with the one he had in 2017, but he is still slotting into this team quite easily.

Martin’s 25 touches per game have only been 67% efficient. What is not being brought up is that this is on par with his 2017 (65%) and 2016 (67%) numbers.

Sure Dusty hacks it here and there, but his good far outweighs the bad

Jack Darling (West Coast)

What a turnaround for Darling. He’s long been a West Coast whipping boy, but he has more than stood up this season.

This is the spot that was held by Buddy Franklin after Round 5, and here we are after Round 7, and Darling has jumped into his spot. It’s easy to argue that Franklin would own this spot is he were playing, but he isn’t playing, and Jack Darling right now is the AA Centre Half Forward.

Darling has 18 goals for the season, and is equal with Jeremy McGovern as leader in contested marks, providing west Coast with an impressive set of bookends at half forward and half back.

Jesse Hogan (Melbourne)

The Hulkster makes his way into the team on the back of two impressive performances against Essendon and St Kilda.

Despite playing up the ground a fair bit, ala Nick Riewoldt, Jesse Hogan is spending enough time near goals to snag himself 17 for the season so far.

The Demons are thrilled to have a key forward that is prepared to work up the ground. Personally, I would love to see him closer to goal more often, but that’s probably why I am a jerk on the internet writing about it, and not an AFL coach.

 

FORWARDS

Luke Breust (Hawthorn)

Breust continues to be the best small forward in the game. He sits second in the Coleman medal despite only one to his name in Round 7.

Hawthorn’s resurgence is indebted to Breust, who has revitalised his career this year, and is looking at a career-best season in front of the big sticks.

Again, me being a stat-head, I am barracking for him to become the first player to ever hit the 50 goals and 100 tackles in a season milestone. For those interested, current projections have him sitting at 103.62 tackles and 62.70 goals for the year. Go Breust!

Ben Brown (North Melbourne)

Coleman leader. Not much more needs to be said. Easily the best big forward in the game at the moment.

His accuracy adds to appeal of Brown. He has kicked 24 goals and only seven behinds for the year. It’s an enviable conversion rate – over 77% of his shots at goal have resulted in majors.

Mark LeCras (West Coast)

LeCras holds his spot despite a slight drop off in output since Round 5.

He is still averaging a touch under 5 touches a game and over two goals per game as well. LeCras joins the tandem of McGovern and Darling, which is a good reflection of the Eagles’ surprising position on the ladder.

Amazingly, LeCras is only travelling at 50% scoring accuracy. His 15 goals have been accompanied by nine behinds and six out of bounds on the full. If he kicks a little more accurately, he is rivalling Breust for the #1 smaller forward in the comp.

 

FOLLOWERS

Max Gawn (Melbourne)

Max was on the bench last time, pipped by Brodie Grundy. This time he gets the main role.

How has he gone past Grundy? It’s as much Grundy’s slight drop off as it is Gawn’s play that sees him usurp his position.

Firstly, Grundy. Might be carrying an injury, but was soundly beaten by Toby Nankervis in the second half against the Tigers. Also lowered his colours against Stefan martin in the Brisbane game, however I did love his effort in laying a game high 11 tackles.

For Gawn, he was magnificent against Essendon, and kicked a couple of banana goals that made you wonder how the hell he missed goals right in front earlier in the season. He backed up that game with 20 touches and a goal in another excellent ruck performance against the Saints.

I’ve got a feeling this position will chop and change amongst three, or maybe even four players as the season goes on.

Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)

He is now the Brownlow favourite after a best on ground performance in a 77 point defeat. That’s not something you see every weekend.

Fyfe is a contested ball beast, and he complements that with aerial ability not often seen in a midfielders.

Check this out. In his Brownlow year, Fyfe averaged 28.8 disposals at 70% efficiency. He averaged 4.2 marks and 8 clearances per game. In 2018, Fyfe is averaging 31 disposals at 69% efficiency. He is at 5.3 marks and 8 clearances. Tempted to put some coin on him yet?

Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)

Sidey comes off the bench this time and into the starting line-up. He has emerged as Collingwood’s most consistent midfielder this year, and is the perfect man to sit between the Rolls Royce in Pendlebury, and the Ferrari in Treloar in at the centre bounce.

His 34 touches against Brisbane were as important as anyone on the ground, and it is looking more likely that Sidebottom will repeat as the Magpies best and fairest.

 

INTERCHANGE

Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

Without Josh Kelly, Coniglio has claimed the title of best midfielder at GWS this season. I could’ve went with Dylan Shiel, but his inability to convert in front of goal was a real drawback. Shiel has kicked two goals in 2018, but is going at just 20% accuracy. Coniglio has hurt a couple of teams on the scoreboard, with seven goals at 41% accuracy.

Coniglio is averaging 28 touches per game compared to Shiels’ 26.6, which is enough to get him over his closely-matched teammate.

Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)

It’s hard to argue against Tarrant’s record this season. He’s not had many goals kicked against him at all.

His game against Hawthorn in Round 5 was a thing of beauty, as he compiled 20 touches and 16 marks.

Stefan Martin (Brisbane)

OK, I am ready to cop a whack for this. I am putting Martin in over Grundy due to his performance against him in Brisbane’s game against the Pies. Martin was great around the ground, picking up 28 touches and eight marks.

One display of ruckwork put him over the top for me – he jumped into Grundy at the centre bounce, used his knee to push off him, took possession of the ball and slammed it forward. It resulted in a goal to Dayne Zorko in possibly the best centre clearance of the year.

Martin is averaging 20 touches and just over 4 marks a game, but as I said before, I expect the ruck slots to swap and change several times over the course of the year.

Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

OK, Carlton fans need something to hang their hat on. Here’s a spot in the All-Mongrel team for an absolute Mongrel, in the best way possible.

Cripps has been incredible since we compiled the Round 5 team. He has had 32 touches (24 contested) and 25 disposals (18 contested) in consecutive matches. The winless Blues are not in the position they are due to the actions of Cripps. Without him, things would be much, much worse.

 

WHO’S IN?

Tom Stewart (Geelong)

Daniel Talia (Adelaide)

David Astbury (Richmond)

Lachie Neale (Fremantle)

Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)

Jack Darling (West Coast)

Jesse Hogan (Melbourne)

Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)

Stefan Martin (Brisbane)

Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

 

WHO’S OUT?

Tom Doedee (Adelaide) – Was a surprise pick in the first team. Has dropped slightly as others has improved.

Alex Pearce (Fremantle) – Was incredible through the first five rounds. Was brought back to Earth a little vs West Coast

Jeremy Finlayson (GWS) – Made a few costly mistakes in the last few weeks. Switched forward late in the game vs Geelong.

Michael Hurley (Essendon) – Too many meaningless touches for my liking. Beaten in several one on ones and too easily put out of contested situations recently

Dylan Shiel (GWS) – It came down to either him or Coniglio in this team. Shiel’s lack of conversion in front of goal cost him

Lance Franklin (Sydney) – Not much explanation needed here. Buddy’s hurt.

Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide) – Very unlucky. Had him at HF in the previous team, but thought others were more deserving this time.

Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) – I reckon he might be carrying a niggle. Got smashed in the second half vs Nankervis and went down on points to Martin vs Brisbane.

Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide) – Drop in form for Wines the last couple of weeks. Midfield is so competitive. Wines with 21 touches per game in R6-7

Jarryd Lyons (Gold Coast) – Sorry Jarryd, but as I said above, the midfield is so competitive. You averaged 18 touches over the last couple of rounds. Undid a bit of your great early work.

 

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Obviously those who have dropped from the All-Mongrel team are just a couple of games away from being included once again.

Others that would be a chance with continued good form include Ben Cunnington, Lachie Hunter, Tim Kelly, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Jared Polec, Ben Jacobs, Lachie Whitfield, Isaac Smith, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver, Adam Treloar, Tom Phillips, Neville Jetta, Trent Cotchin, Jeremy Howe, Kane Lambert, Andrew Gaff, Shannon Hurn, Elliot Yeo, Dylan Grimes and Brad Sheppard. Quite a few names, and that's why someone is always unlucky.

 

So, do you agree? Disagree? Are you indifferent? Confused? Unsure if you’re confused? How about giving your old pal, The Mongrel a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter? That’ll make things better.