You know, when I started this Rolling All-Australian Team, I thought it’d be pretty easy. Every couple of weeks, just update based on the players’ last couple of weeks and we’ll be all set, right?
How wrong I was.
We’re now in the midst of the "bye weeks" and we’ve got players who looked like locks for their positions now on the sidelines, some of whom are not returning any time soon. But we’re judging on the season as a whole to this point, so as it stands, they may still be the standout performer in their position.
A lot to get through so I won’t ramble. Looking forward to your comments, but do me a favour? If you’re gonna say “So and so should be in!” then how about telling me who should be out? It always makes it a little more interesting.
THE MONGREL PUNT ROLLING ALL AUSTRALIAN TEAM – ROUND 13
A few have criticised Rance for “not playing on anyone”. They may wanna take that back. In the last two weeks he’s found himself isolated on Charlie Dixon and Patrick Dangerfield, many times left one-on-one with no help in reach.
So how’d he go? Dixon started out like the young bull on the hill. You know the story, right? The young bull and the old bull are on the hill looking down at a field full of cows. The young bull is all excited and says to the old bull “Hey, let’s run down there and screw one of those cows!” And the old bull looks at him and smiles and says “Nah, let’s walk down there, and screw them all.”
Dixon went hard early (tee hee), but Rance battled back over the duration to fight to a draw. Not sure how many cows he slept with, but he's a good looking fella. Anyway for all his effort, Dixon kicked one goal, which is what was expected of him given given his form this season.
Against Dangerfield, we were treated to a glimpse of a salivating clash that, in better weather, would be incredible. Danger finished with 0.0 to his name. Rance wins that contest. Next in line - Phil Davis/Shannon Hurn
Had a bye to deal with, but hardly put a foot wrong with his one performance since our last team. 24 touches and 12 marks against the Bombers is the performance we have to grade him on since his last selection in the full back spot.
Gimme a reason to remove him. I can't find one. Next in line line - Robbie Tarrant/Daniel Talia
Every week that ticks by, Stewart is looking more and more like a lock in this position. 27 touches and seven marks against the Roos were instrumental in Geelong’s victory.
He had a couple of nervous moments early in the weekend’s loss to the Tigers, but he steadied after quarter time to be one of Geelong’s best. He finished with 24 touches and four marks, however the big goose egg in the tackle column is a bit of a concern. Next in line - Dylan Grimes/Neville Jetta
In case you missed it - Has Lance Franklin gone past Wayne Carey?
By the skin of his teeth…
Two weeks on the sidelines and a bye upcoming… for the first time this season, Rory Laird’s position in the team is not a complete lock. The vultures are circling as he recovers from a broken hand, but no one has been more consistent than Laird when he has played.
He will hopefully be back after the bye. If he can’t get back, it might spell trouble for his place here. Hes in for the moment because his first 10 or so weeks were spectacular. Next in line - Heath Grundy/Brad Sheppard
Had the big job on Buddy this week after sitting out with the bye. Franklin had two goals to his name, but McGovern drifted off him whenever Buddy ventured past half forward. And Buddy wasn't exactly accurate.
His 13 disposals and six marks are down on his season averages thus far, but he was right on the money with nine intercept possessions. You allow McGovern to zone off at your own peril. A beautiful pair of hands and a strong frame mean he is a difficult man to move when he has position, and he’s close to impossible to stop if he gets a free run at it. Next in line - Tom Jonas/Nick Haynes
Welcome to the team, Mr. Sicily.
I’ve wavered on him for a little while. A couple of missed games early, due solely to his own stupidity, made it difficult to include him, but he has strung together a series of high quality games, capped by his best on ground effort against the Crows on the weekend.
Sicily had 24 touches at 88% efficiency and drifted forward to lead all players with three goals – all from distance. Sicily has been displaying superstar potential this season, but will his temper cost him once something doesn’t go his way? I’m looking forward to Round 18 when he gets to renew acquaintances with nemesis, Jed Lamb. Next in line - Jake Lloyd/Jeremy Howe
Still the best pure wingman in the game, and still no signature on a contract to stay at West Coast next year. Looking at this team, with both he and McGovern gracing key positions, their importance to the West Coast side is tremendous.
He had the bye last week, but had 24 touches against the Swans in conditions that didn’t really suit his game. I'll go out on a limb here... he will have a career-high amount of disposals against Essendon. Magic number is 42. Next in line - Paul Seedsman/Devon Smith
Only one game to judge Mitchell on, and that was this week against the Crows.
How does the last 40 touches at 80% efficiency sound? Not impressed? How about 16 contested disposals? Still not happy? Nine clearances do it for you?
Tom Mitchell is the lockiest of all locks in this team. He’d almost have to get injured this weekend and sit out the season to miss the team. Next in line - Clayton Oliver/Shaun Higgins
I fear this may be the last time we see Jack Macrae in this side for a while. After a Round 12 bye, Macrae collected 12 touches before tweaking his hamstring and sitting the game out against Port.
Chances of him being back this week are probably slim, and I already felt pretty ordinary having a genuine mid sitting on the wing. I’m hopeful he makes a quick recovery, but you don’t rush hamstrings. Next in line - Adam Treloar/Tom Phillips
In case you missed it - Sydney v West Coast - The Good, Bad and Ugly
The most dangerous small forward in the game is going from strength to strength. Gray’s season, after his testicular cancer scare in the off-season, has been a ripper. He’s had 44 touches and five goals in the past two weeks as the Power head into a huge clash against the rebounding Demons.
I’m thinking Gray might have the company of Neville Jetta in their match, which may go a long way to deciding whether one, or both of these guys make the final cut. Next in line - Patrick Dangerfield/Gary Ablett
I get the feeling that this may be the last time we see Jack Darling in the spot he’s made his own since we started this project.
That ankle injury right before the bye opened the door for Buddy Franklin to stroll right on in and grab another All Australian Centre Half Forward spot. The only problem is… Buddy’s play hasn’t justified moving on Mr. Darling just yet.
My gut feel tells me that Franklin with occupy a spot in this team come season’s end, and right now, Darling’s position looks most vulnerable. Next in line - Lance Franklin/Jeremy Cameron
Dusty is not having a 2017-level season – I think even the most one-eyed Tiger fan would happily admit that. He is averaging five less disposals, less marks, less clearances, less tackles and less goals… but what he is providing is still very good.
I’m not sure anyone could have expected a repeat of the brilliant 2017 season. He had 22 touches and a goal against the Eagles, and missed the game against the Power with a calf injury. I thought he was close to losing his spot last time we put a team together. He's now right on the edge.
The Tigers have a bye next week, and then face Sydney in what should be a blinder at the MCG. Dusty will need a big one in that one to keep this spot. Next in line - Justin Westhoff/Will Hoskin-Elliott
I was tossing this position around in my head for a while. You have Luke Breust who was excellent early on, but has had just two goals in his last three games. Then you have Josh Caddy, who was in the Round 11 team. He had just one goal in the last two weeks since we put him in. Then we had Tom McDonald banging down the door with the highest goals per game average in the top twenty goal-kickers, and the highest goal assist average amongst the three mentioned.
In the end, I settled on Breust due largely to him playing all 12 games thus far (TMac has just seven), and having three times as many goal assists as Caddy.
Caddy had a brilliant month prior to the past couple of weeks, but he is often the finisher and doesn’t create too much for teammates. He has only four goal assists for the year.
All that said, on current trajectory, I expect TMac to leap into this spot by the Round 15 version of the team. Next in line - Tom McDonald/Shane Edwards
The once vice-like grip on this spot is starting to slip. Big Bad Ben had a bye this week, and was goalless the week before.
Still, he leads the Coleman race, and I’d be foolish to displace him at this stage. Buddy, Jeremy Cameron and Josh Kennedy are all looming large. Next in line - Josh Kennedy/Jack Riewoldt
Another vice-like grip now looking just slightly shaky. Hogan has had a spectacular season, but when faced with a big game in front of a huge crowd on Queen’s Birthday Monday, he didn’t stand up. He shrunk. His teammate, Tom McDonald stood up. Hogan went goalless.
Against weaker opposition, he has been great, but next week he has the opportunity to solidify his spot, with a match up against Port Adelaide and any of their high quality defenders (Howard/Jonas/Clurey). Next in line - Josh Caddy/Will Hayward
In case you missed it - Sydney v West Coast - The Good, Bad and Ugly
I was relying on Queen’s Birthday to help me out here. I think we can safely say that the All-Australian ruck position is now in the hands of either Grundy or Gawn. They went head to head on the public holiday and I gave the contest to Grundy, marginally.
Gawn was thrown forward late in the game to try to generate some offence, but the game was gone. Grundy was the incumbent in the role after Round 11, and I wasn’t going to reverse their positions based on one game where Grundy came out marginally ahead. Next in line - Max Gawn/Stefan Martin
He had a week off courtesy of some carelessness, but bounced back with a brilliant performance against Patrick Cripps and Carlton.
Fyfe, and his little buddy, Lachie Neale, tore the Blues to shreds in the first half. Fyfe, going head to head at stoppages with Cripps, put his stamp on the game early. Cripps fought back well in the second half, but the game was gone, and Fyfe was one of the two components that propelled the Dockers into the winning position they found themselves in. Next in line - Scott Pendlebury/Ben Cunnington
The other component was Lachie Neale. He had 21 touches and three goals in the first half against the Blues to be the best player on the ground, but unlike Fyfe, he had a couple of strong outings since we last visited the team.
Against the Crows in Round 12, Neale was on song again, collecting 32 touches to power the Dockers home. It’s feasible to think that Neale could’ve grabbed six Brownlow votes in the past fortnight, but it’s probably more like 4-5 given the performances of those around him. Thoroughly deserved his jump from the bench into an on-ball position. Next in line - Dylan Shiel/Joel Selwood
Steele hasn’t done a heap wrong to warrant his demotion from the midfield to the bench, but sometimes it’s not about what you’re doing wrong, but rather what others are doing right. He swaps spots with Lachie Neale this fortnight due to weight of numbers and performance from the Dockers on-baller.
Sidebottom had a good week against the Dees, collecting 32 touches, but Neale did it in back to back weeks and hit the scoreboard. Sidey remains entrenched in the overall squad, despite positioning. His 2018 season will more than likely see him repeat as the Pies’ best and Fairest.
Had a bye to contend with in Round 12, but came out swinging against the Swans in Round 13 and almost willed his team over the line. His long goals to both end the third quarter, and start the last gave the Eagles a reason to believe.
A Best and Fairest award last year looks as though there might be another to keep it company if he keeps this up. Not only is he a powerful offensive force, Yeo works hard both ways, and is a capable defensive midfielder as well
Quite possibly the only highlight for the Blues this season has been the form, and the durability of Cripps. He looked banged up heading into the Round 12 bye, but the week off seemed to have worked for him.
He accumulated a game-high 38 touches against the Dockers, whilst engaging another of the game’s elite contested ball winners, Nat Fyfe head to head. Cripps led the game with 16 contested touches. Fyfe was behind him with 12, though most of Fyfe’s damage was done early, and you could argue that anything after half time was just wall papering.
Poor old Bryce. He is working so hard for the Crows. He is their engine, and he’s working as hard as he can while the rest of the vehicle falls apart and the wheels fall off.
Gibbs was the only Crow who even looked like getting a clearance against the Hawks, and his 28 touches and nine tackles against Fremantle in Round 12 almost propelled the Crows over the line in hostile territory. He has delivered more than what was promised, as the team has delivered so much less.
One big week, and he and Grundy swap places. That’s how close this decision was.
Had he got the better of his Magpie counterpart in their Queen’s Birthday game, he’d take back the spot as the number one ruckman that Grundy took from him in our Round 11 team.
He had a horrible first quarter against Richmond in Round 12 and a lesser player would have gone into his shell. He bounced out to collect 11 disposals in the second quarter and every one of them hurt the Tigers.
He backed it up with a 19-touch performance against the Bulldogs in slippery conditions, but it wasn’t the number of touches that impressed – it was the quality. Twice he kicked booming goals from the left boundary pocket that reminded me of Jason Akermanis’ efforts against Geelong all those years ago. Not quite as good, but two goals from the boundary… beautiful.
And here's a horribly-designed image for the lazy people amongst us who just want a quick reference. Reddit... I'm looking at you!
Tom Phillips. Just made it last time. Effectively tagged out of the game by Angus Brayshaw v Demons.
Ben Cunnington. Quieter last month. 22.5 touches per game over last four games.
Josh Caddy. Much quieter the last couple of weeks after a huge month prior.
WHO ELSE IS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?
Couldn't find a spot for these blokes, but they're not far off - Stephen Coniglio, Ollie Wines, Isaac Heeney, Jack Gunston, Mark Blicavs, Ben Jacobs, Trent Cotchin, George Hewett, Alex Pearce, Jimmy Webster, Connor Blakely.
So, what do you think? Who should come in? Who should come out to make way for them? Who did we miss all together? Give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and let us know all about it. We'll be heading into another version after Round 15.