The All Australian side is something that is always hotly debated and never quite the perfect showcase of the league’s true talent.
The standard of young players this season has been incredible, with the likes of Jaeger O’Meara, Chad Wingard, Tom Liberatore, Dustin Martin, Jamie Elliot, and Jeremy Cameron being among the best in their teams, as well as matching it with the league’s top players.
Choosing clear winners between the young talent coming through and the established stars for selection isn’t that simple.
Perhaps the only player guaranteed selection this season will be Gary Ablett Jr. The Gold Coast captain is favourite to win another Brownlow medal and is dominating the new Vero Player Rating system.
The Magpies’ powerhouse duo of Pendlebury and Dane Swan are likely to be in the mix again, while Fremantle probably deserve to have at least one defender make the cut.
Many AFL fans can marvel at how well Ross Lyon has masterminded the Dockers defensive strategy. I hope he’s the All Australian coach.
This year’s selections could also throw up some surprises from teams outside the eight. Don’t be surprised if North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs get a few on the field. GWS are also hoping for a consolation prize after a tough season with a pick in the forward line.
The 2013 AFL season has once again shown that the modern game belongs to the midfielders. Sydney proved last season that you can win a flag without having a key focal point up front.
This year’s top eight has been marked by sides with balanced midfields; players who are capable of winning hard, contested ball and dishing it out to fast outside runners.
Richmond’s first taste to finals footy in over a decade is testament to their midfield dominance. Trent Cotchin has averaged over 27 disposals a game while Dustin Martin is second in the league for handball receives from a set position with 61.
The young Richmond runners probably still need time to develop to the standard of Sydney’s engine room though, with Daniel Hannebery and Kieran Jack in career best form this season. This due are capably supported by Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Adam Goodes, Ryan O’Keefe and a plethora promising young players.
Fremantle’s midfield is also hitting their prime. Nathan Fyfe is playing better then ever and Michael Barlow is a true star of the game.
A common trend in All Australian selections over the past decade is to include a midfielder on the forward flank. The breadth of talent among modern midfielders cannot simply fit into six on-field positions.
Expect Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield to feature in the forward line as a result of the goal-kicking ability he has displayed this season.
In selecting defenders, it is interesting to note that Fremantle and Sydney have conceding less points than any other team by a considerable margin.
For the other sides, Geelong’s Corey Enright and Harry Taylor are definitely two of the best defenders in the league. Carlton’s Andrew Walker could be an exciting selection on the back flank, while North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson has been a big improver.
There are probably about four or five Fremantle players that could feature in this year’s backline.
In the forwards, three tall men is a likely option. Jeremy Cameron and Josh Kennedy should be locked in.
Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead has arguably had his best season to date, and I would like to see him start at centre half forward and be used as a second ruck option.
The league has also given the spotlight to many of the great small forward this year too.
No one has improved more than North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas, and Chad Wingard, Steven Motlop, Jeff Garlett and Jamie Elliot are also in the mix. Dustin Martin probably won’t break into the midfield this year but might be a chance on the flank with his goal scoring abilities.
Here’s my team starting from the fullbacks. Feel free to give feedback below:
FB: Corey Enright (Geelong) Luke McPharlin (Fremantle) Scott Thompson (North Melbourne)
HB: Andrew Walker (Carlton) Harry Taylor (Geelong) Nick Malceski (Sydney)
M: Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) (vc) Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood) Ryan Griffen (Western Bulldogs)
HF: Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn) Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide)
FF: Lindsay Thomas (North Melbourne) Jeremy Cameron (Greater Western Sydney) Josh Kennedy (West Coast)
Foll: Will Minson (Western Bulldogs) Kieran Jack (Sydney) Gary Ablett Jr (Gold Coast) (c)
Int: Dane Swan (Collingwood) Joel Selwood (Geelong) Daniel Hannebery (Sydney) Brendon Goddard (Essendon)