Season 2019 has reached the dreaded bye rounds. With that in mind, it’s time we revisited our ongoing All Australian team. How many have put together a string of performances worthy of an inclusion? Who among our players have lost their wheels and fallen out of favour?
The Mongrel Punt loves an argument, and here are the 22 players guaranteed to start one.
Back Pocket: Shannon Hurn (West Coast)
Very difficult to move Shannon Hurn out of the way, be it in West Coast’s back half, or the back pocket of our team. Dealing with a hamstring that shouldn’t keep him out of the reigning premier’s side too long, Hurn will taking the next few weeks to freshen up and ready himself for a big second half of the season.
Full Back: Mark Blicavs (Geelong)
Another defender that is simply too challenging to shift from his position. Stops his opponents from having any effect on the game and is able to repel attacks with elite efficiency, Blicavs continues to remind us that he is Geelong’s most important player, and remarkably, still their most underrated in the mainstream media.
Back Pocket: Jake Lloyd (Sydney)
Our back pockets have swapped places, with Lloyd making his way onto the field at the expense of Adelaide’s interceptor Alex Keath. Selected in only 6 of our teams, Lloyd gets the back pocket spot as he was picked in 5 of our defences. Leading Sydney’s disposals by the length of the Flemington straight, Lloyd’s efficiency of 84% ranks elite amongst small defenders.
Half Back Flank: James Sicily (Hawthorn)
Our half back flankers from Round Seven both retain their positions based on their absolute consistency. Sicily has had his issues with aggression, and has seen himself in the firing line of the MRO, but has so far gone without a suspension. Selected in all 11 of our teams, Sicily sits in top 10 for both total marks and intercept marks, and his disposal efficiency of over 80% is crucial to Hawthorn’s precision game style.
Centre Half Back: Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
A new addition to our group of superstars, Andrews gets the nod over Darcy Moore for our second key defensive post. Danny Frawley’s favourite player leads the league in spoils, and as a pure defensive stopper Andrews is without a doubt the best the AFL has to offer. Once Luke Hodge arrived in Brisbane, Andrews’ development skyrocketed, and is seen by some as the Lions long term leader. Like half of his Mongrel teammates, Andrews saw himself picked in every team.
Half Back Flank: Tom Stewart (Geelong)
As with James Sicily, Tom Stewart’s ultra-consistency has made it all but impossible to shift him from our half back flank. Averaging 24 disposals at 80% efficiency, Stewart is also ranked in the top 5 for marks taken, and still hovers around 85% in kick to handball ratio. Only one Mongrel did not select Stewart, indicating his seamless fit into Geelong’s back half and the improvement of other small defenders over the last month.
Wing: Lachie Whitfield (Greater Western Sydney)
In Round Seven, Whitfield averaged 28 disposals, nine marks, and went at 78% efficiency. The more things change, the more they stay the same. A collarbone injury may hurt his standing in our next instalment, but at this stage of the season, Whitfield is considered by the Mongrel to be the best wingman of the season.
Centre: Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
A change of positon for Brisbane’s highly valued acquisition, Neale leads all comers for overall possessions (an average of 33), and is ranked 3rd for contested possessions. The handball king of the AFL, Neale was picked in all of our teams, and would take some extraordinary performances from others in his category to see Neale squeezed out.
Wing: Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Port Adelaide’s spiritual leader has continued his career renaissance, and like many of his teammates, found himself in every team our Mongrel contributors put forward. Selected on the wing due to his proficiency in the forward line, Boak averaged 32 disposals, seven score involvements, and six tackles. Underrated by some due to where his team is based, a strong showing in this year Brownlow Medal will see him finally getting the recognition he deserves from media in Victoria.
Half Forward Flank: Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney)
In the last four weeks, Coniglio has elevated himself past the Giants’ array of ultra-talented young midfielders with some stirring performances. Selected in all but one of our teams, Coniglio’s proficiency in front of the big sticks saw him picked on the half forward line in every team in which he was featured. GWS’s biggest concern going forward is that Coniglio still remains unsigned for the next season and beyond, and losing him to another team would be a nightmare for Leon Cameron and co.
Centre Half Forward: Tom Hawkins (Geelong)
Geelong’s leading goal kicker has closed the gap in the Coleman Medal race between he and Jeremy Cameron. 35 goals (averaging just under 3 a game) has Hawkins on track to beat his best year in front of goal. Benefitting greatly from Geelong’s army of brilliant midfielders, Hawkins has found a forward partner in Gary Ablett, with the two taking the pressure off one another, and both are in almost career best form.
Half Forward Flank: Michael Walters (Fremantle)
What an argument Walters made, being Fremantle’s hero in victories over Brisbane and Collingwood. Selected in all 11 teams, 9 of which were alongside Hawkins and Coniglio, Fremantle’s leading goal kicker has teamed with Bradley Hill to provide the Dockers with plenty of speed and elite ball use across half forward and along the wide expanses of Optus Stadium.
Forward Pocket: Gary Ablett (Geelong)
Despite the over the top aggression shown by the normally docile Ablett, all 11 Mongrels could not be swayed and the Little Master keeps his place alongside Jeremy Cameron. Selected in eight teams in the forward pocket, Ablett returned to Geelong’s team seamlessly against the Tigers, but teams now know that Ablett has an angry side to him that is prone to expose itself at the wrong times.
Full Forward: Jeremy Cameron (Greater Western Sydney)
The current clubhouse leader in the Coleman Medal race, Cameron weight of numbers continues to provide the easiest of arguments for the full forward position. 39 goals from 12 appearances, if Cameron keeps his output of goals going, no one will be able to surpass him, and it really is that simple.
Forward Pocket: Jeremy Finlayson (Greater Western Sydney)
A drop in consistency has seen incumbent Gary Rohan dropped out of our side in favour of young Giant Jeremy Finlayson. Forming a devastating forward line with Cameron and Harry Himmelberg, Finlayson currently sits seventh in the Coleman Medal leader board with 24 goals. Selected in seven of our teams, all of which were in the forward pocket, Finlayson’s improvement has been excellent this year, and is a big reason why GWS is a premiership contender.
Ruckman: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
The best ruckman in the competition has fended off the in-season improvement of Max Gawn and Jarrod Witts to retain his place in the centre circle. Grundy’s last four weeks have been especially brilliant, with Adelaide considering sending the current Pick One to the Magpies in order to get the big man home.
Ruck Rover: Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
Much like Jake Lloyd in defence, Fremantle skipper Fyfe has elevated himself into the Mongrel’s midfield based on his last four weeks. Three match winning performances, Fyfe’s output mirrors his own team, as Fremantle soars up the ladder towards the finals. Leading Fremantle in possessions, handball, contested possessions and tackles, Fyfe is in the prime of his footballing life and as Fremantle lurches towards September, so too does Fyfe towards a second Brownlow Medal.
Rover: Tim Kelly (Geelong)
If there is nothing that can get Kelly to remain at Kardinia Park, at least the Cats hierarchy can take solace in Kelly’s performances have both established Geelong as the team to best this year, and ensured that either West Coast or Fremantle will need to pay handsomely for Geelong to send Kelly home. Kelly essentially takes the spot from teammate Dangerfield, with the Cats’ number 35 suffering from the smallest drop in form, enough to see him out of our side in favour of perhaps the best second year player ever.
Alex Keath (Adelaide)
It was very interesting when looking over our teams that Keath was selected in nine teams as opposed to Jake Lloyd’s six, but that Keath was selected on the interchange bench for seven Mongrels. Ranks second in the AFL for total possessions for players over 195cm, Keath is third for intercept marks, and his contested possession numbers are the best amongst key defenders. When discussing the team after Round Seven, many Mongrels expressed the belief that Keath was the most vulnerable to retain his spot, but his continued output of noteworthy performances has him still in our best 22 halfway through the season.
Bradley Hill (Fremantle)
Like his teammate Michael Walters, Docker Bradley Hill has the speed and endurance to carve up Optus Stadium and has been a key in Fremantle’s resurgence. Having a career best year, Hill has personal best number in possessions, marks and tackles. Selected in six of our teams, Hill’s last six weeks in particular have seen him elevated past his peers, and onto the interchange bench.
Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
We’re a ruthless bunch at the Mongrel. Despite Cripps’ breathtaking performance against Brisbane, there were two matches in the last four weeks where Cripps was taken to the cleaners by Matt de Boer and Dylan Clarke. With other midfielders in our team producing ultra-consistent seasons, Cripps has been relegated to our interchange bench. More exhibitions like his against the Lions will see Carlton’s young captain soar into our midfield once again.
Luke Ryan (Fremantle)
A man that came close to selection in Round Seven, Luke Ryan’s development into a tough rebounding defender ensured his place as the final member of our superstar clan. Of the five Mongrels to select Ryan, four picked him in defence, indicating his standing as one of the AFL’s premier small defenders. Averaging 23 disposals at 84% effectiveness, Ryan is also in the top 10 for intercept marks.
As with Round 7, the simple version of our best 22 looks like this:
B: Hurn (c), Blicavs, J Lloyd
HB: Sicily, Andrews, Stewart
C: Whitfield, Neale, Boak
HF: Coniglio, Hawkins, Walters
F: Ablett, Cameron, Finlayson
R: Grundy, Fyfe, T. Kelly
INT: Keath, B. Hill, Cripps, Ryan
IN: Andrews, Finlayson, Hill, Ryan
OUT: Dangerfield, Grimes, Moore, Rohan
For those of you interested in our team’s stats, here are some of the most interesting:
41 players were selected, down from 57 in Round 7.
11 players were picked in every team; only 4 were unanimous in Round 7.
Both Dylan Grimes and Patrick Dangerfield received no selections this time around, with each player receiving 9 and 11 selections respectively after Round 7.
Ladder leaders Geelong provided our team with the most players, with 5 Cats making our best 22.
Despite sitting second on the ladder, only one Collingwood player (Grundy) was selected.
Another edition of The Mongrel Rolling All-Australian team is now in the books. Of the players that narrowly missed selection, contested possession king Ben Cunnington has become North Melbourne’s best midfielder, Magpie Adam Treloar had an exhilarating month, Max Gawn’s in season improvement continues, and Jordan De Goey would consider himself supremely unlucky given his performances across his 12 games. Which players do you think were the unluckiest to miss selection? Who made the team the shouldn’t’ve?
See you in Round 17.