Halfway home, here’s my mid-year All-Australian team

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor

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    Now that the bye rounds are done and dusted, and every club has played the same number of games, it seems like the fairest time possible to pick my mid-season All-Australian team.

    Backs

    Zach Tuohy
    Has slotted into Corey Enright’s role perfectly since joining the Cats from Carlton and is averaging a career-high 26 disposals, six more than any other previous season of his. The clear leader when picking a small defender.

    Michael Hurley
    Has picked up right where his 2015 All-Australian left off before he was of course suspended for the entire 2016 season. With Cale Hooker playing forward, he’s become the lynchpin in Essendon’s defence and is getting it done expertly.

    Jake Lever
    Might seem like a surprise pick to some but he’s had a really consistent season despite missing the first two games and has been a genuine match-winner on more than one occasion. Plenty of competition for this spot before the year is out, though.

    Half-backs

    Sam Docherty
    Carlton’s best and most important player, averaging career highs in disposals, marks and tackles. Should have been All-Australian this year and barring some serious disruption in the second half of 2017, certainly must be this time around.

    Alex Rance
    Close to the first picked in the All-Australian team these days, which is a compliment given how many AA-quality key defenders there are running around. Enjoying another season as the undisputed best tall back in the league.

    Alex Rance of the Richmond Tigers

    (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)

    Jeremy Howe
    Ironically came to Collingwood with the goal of playing forward, but has once again settled in defence and now looks comfortable there. Close to the best interceptor in the league these days, averaging career-high disposals and marks. His quality as a player finally matches the excitement of his high marks.

    Midfielders

    Josh Kelly
    Not hard to see why clubs are lining up to offer him seven-figure salaries. Has gone from being a really promising winger type to someone who can do it all. An absolute guarantee for the final team so long as nothing goes awry.

    Joel Selwood (Captain)
    Selwood is having another elite season and will be All-Australian for the sixth time, and captain for the fourth time, if he keeps up this pace. Is averaging career-high disposal numbers at the moment, albeit by a razor-thin margin.

    Gary Ablett
    Has wasted no time this year in reminding us all that we were silly to ever doubt him. Not unfeasible that he could win a third Brownlow Medal this year. The prospect of him playing with Dangerfield and Selwood next year is scary as all hell.

    Half-forwards

    Lance Franklin
    Narrowly leading the Coleman Medal race at this point in the season, and as always has shown that incredibly dynamism and excitement power to finish from unlikely situations. Terrifying to imagine a world in which he is a more reliable set shot.

    Jeremy Cameron
    The Giants’ most reliable avenue to goal by a mile in a season where they have been hit hard by injuries, Cameron is just one goal behind Buddy in the Coleman Medal race and every chance of winning it for the first time this year.

    Dayne Zorko
    Quietly putting together a genuinely elite season of footy for the Lions. Was great last year too but has improved his disposal, goal and tackle numbers this year. The best Dayne at the club and in the league – sorry, Beamsy.

    Dayne Zorko of the Brisbane Lions AFL

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Forwards

    Eddie Betts
    Betts has been more consistent rather than explosive this year, with only two games so far in which he’s kicked more than three goals, but has hit that mark eight out of twelve times this year. No one is even in the same league as him when it comes to small forwards in the AFL right now.

    Joe Daniher
    I thought he was excellent in an undermanned side last year and now with the Bombers becoming a strong team again, Daniher has stepped into the elite category for key forwards. Two goals off the Coleman lead, gets it done against good teams, and will only get better.

    Jeff Garlett
    Has really come along as a player this year after being equal parts promising and frustrating in the past. So far this season, Garlett has kicked as many goals as he did all year in 2016. Averaging career-high numbers for goals and tackles per game.

    Followers

    Paddy Ryder
    So tough to pick this spot with as many as half a dozen players in contention, but Ryder narrowly gets the nod from me this time around. Averaging almost eight more hit-outs per game than his next best season, a key factor in why Port Adelaide have improved.

    Dustin Martin
    An absolute lock for the team at this stage and my Brownlow Medal pick with ten rounds left to go. Has learnt to perfectly combine being an elite midfielder with being a regular goal-kicker. Dynamic, strong, horrendous haircut – all the things we value most in footballers.

    Dustin Martin Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Patrick Dangerfield (Vice-captain)
    Averaging thirty touches and nearly two goals a game, as well as career-high tackle numbers. Hard to believe he could be better than he was last year, but he is. Not much more you can say really – back-to-back Brownlows would be well deserved.

    Interchange

    Rory Sloane
    His elite form in the start to the season earns him a place on the bench – the most important player in the Crows’ midfield set-up, combining an elite work rate with a solid helping of class. Will lose his spot here if he keeps getting tagged out of it, though.

    Josh P Kennedy
    While some other Sydney midfielders haven’t replicated their best form at times this year, Kennedy has, and that’s all the more impressive now that he is carrying the responsibility of captaincy. Has a knack for kicking goals at important times.

    Zach Merrett
    I thought he might be less of a ball magnet this year given the sudden return of midfield depth at Essendon, but he has lifted his disposal numbers further and is averaging more than 20 kicks a game. A very well-deserved nod.

    Elliot Yeo
    Yeo is having an absolutely brilliant year and can have an impact in many different areas of the ground. Arguably the best intercepting defender in the game but also elite when placed forward of centre. Can’t go past him as a valuable utility.

    On paper

    B: Zach Tuohy, Michael Hurley, Jake Lever
    HB: Sam Docherty, Alex Rance, Jeremy Howe
    C: Josh Kelly, Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett
    HF: Lance Franklin, Jeremy Cameron, Dayne Zorko
    F: Eddie Betts, Joe Daniher, Jeff Garlett
    Fol: Paddy Ryder, Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield
    Int: Rory Sloane, Josh P Kennedy, Zach Merrett, Elliot Yeo

    Club-by-club

    Adelaide Crows: Eddie Betts, Jake Lever, Rory Sloane (3).
    Brisbane Lions: Dayne Zorko (1).
    Carlton Blues: Sam Docherty (1).
    Collingwood Magpies: Jeremy Howe (1).
    Essendon Bombers: Joe Daniher, Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett (3).
    Fremantle Dockers: none.
    Geelong Cats: Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Zach Tuohy (3).
    Gold Coast Suns: Gary Ablett (1).
    GWS Giants: Jeremy Cameron, Josh Kelly (2).
    Hawthorn Hawks: none.
    Melbourne Demons: Jeff Garlett (1).
    North Melbourne Kangaroos: none.
    Port Adelaide Power: Paddy Ryder (1).
    Richmond Tigers: Dustin Martin, Alex Rance (2).
    St Kilda Saints: none.
    Sydney Swans: Lance Franklin, Josh P Kennedy (2).
    West Coast Eagles: Elliot Yeo (1).
    Western Bulldogs: none.

    The unlucky players
    Key defenders and ruckmen were especially hard to pick this year – Jeremy McGovern, Daniel Talia, Robbie Tarrant all wouldn’t be out of place in the backline, nor would Matthew Kreuzer, Shane Mumford, Sam Jacobs, Brodie Grundy, Ben McEvoy or Aaron Sandilands in the ruck.

    Robbie Gray, Toby Greene and Josh J Kennedy were all very close in the forward line, and as always there’s a wealth of midfielders that could command a spot, with Rory Laird, Lachie Neale and Marcus Bontempelli the hardest to say no to.

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (82)

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:17am
      Tom M said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Granted the midfield is very hard to pick this year but surely Scott Pendlebury deserves a mention at least. Sloane’s form has dropped off a cliff since round 6 whilst Pendlebury is having arguably his best season at Collingwood. Bontempelli was supposed to win the brownlow this year but his form has dropped off and is a key reason why the bulldogs are losing games.

      • Editor

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:51am
        Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        Pendles would definitely be nipping at the heels of those midfielders on the bench, but don’t feel like he’s had the standout performances they have this year.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:33am
      Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Pretty decent crack at it Josh – from a Carlton point of view outside of Docherty the players who could come into contention with a solid second half of the year are Kreuzer (as you say unlucky not to make it on the form so far) Murphy (currently sitting equal 9th for disposals on average) and Gibbs (if he continues his form of the last month for another month he will be hard to go past).

      Bolton would come into discussions for coach I would expect.

      • Editor

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Cheers Macca. I agree those three would be in the mix for the final team if they continue to play good footy, Kreuzer especially was only marginally behind Ryder for mine.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 3:21pm
        Gecko said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        Actually what stands out is that 3 of those are ex-Carlton: Betts, Tuohy and Garlett.

        Several more ex-Carlton players (Kennedy at WC, Henderson at Geelong, Robinson at Brisbane) also seem to play better after they leave Carlton. Another, Michael Jamieson, could have become a top full back at another club but retired at the age of 30.

        We can’t be blamed for speculating about the environment down there.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 3:24pm
          Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

          How many of those played under Bolton?

        • Editor

          June 20th 2017 @ 4:41pm
          Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

          I don’t think any Carlton fan would say the club wasn’t a poor place to be a few years ago, but that has little impact on what they are now.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 9:11pm
            Gecko said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

            Actually it has an impact on what they could have been now. Imagine if Carlton had retained Betts, Tuohy, Garlett, Henderson, Kennedy, Robinson, Waite and Laidley and gotten the best out of them (like their new clubs have). They’d be a top 8 side by now.

            I think Bolton deserves praise but let’s not pretend the past has no impact on the present.

            • June 21st 2017 @ 12:08am
              Kavvy said | June 21st 2017 @ 12:08am | ! Report

              You’re about two or three years late on this topic..haha

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 9:42am
      AdelaideDocker said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      I’d say that’s a pretty good attempt, Josh.

      Missing Zac Dawson though πŸ˜‰

      • Editor

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Shane Kersten too.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm
          Steve J said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          or Suban, Sheridan, Danyle Pearce, Griffen

          Your reputation is in the toilet!

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 12:40pm
            AdelaideDocker said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            Hell, I reckon that Ross should be coach as well.

            And let’s make Don the runner.

            And Anon the single commentator.

            It’ll be fun.

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2017 @ 12:42pm
              Steve J said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

              Anon as sole commentator would be pure joy …. I wonder if he has enough adjectives for Ross to keep him going for 2.5 hours though?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 20th 2017 @ 2:08pm
              FreoFan said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

              I just envisaged a situation where Don is the runner and he gets too close to the play and then Stevic pays a free kick against him.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 2:45pm
                Cat said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                Don’s probably too busy playing his 750th game … must be up to 800th by now 750 was a couple weeks ago.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 3:12pm
                Jon boy said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                Good-one Cat All played on HIS Home Ground,,,,,,,,In his own Back Yard,

            • Editor

              June 20th 2017 @ 4:42pm
              Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

              Don will be too busy with his bbq.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 5:58pm
                Don Freo said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:58pm | ! Report

                Sorry folk. You can do that all you want. Moderators are not allowing any responses when I send a comeback response. No idea why. It seems this goes one way.

                I’d argue for Adelaide’s Lynch ahead of Buddy. Buddy is shut down too often.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 20th 2017 @ 2:12pm
          FreoFan said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          It’s okay Josh – we all make mistakes sometimes! This is only your mid year team so you can learn from this and by the end of the year your squad will be filled with Dawsons & Kerstens.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 9:45am
      Paul D said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

      Good side Josh, no complaints. Be interesting to see how it changes in the next 12 weeks

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:52am
      Tony Tea said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Booooo. No Nev Jetta or Michael Hibberd or Clarrie Oliver.

      • Editor

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:53am
        Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        Oliver definitely in the midfield mix. Love Hibbo but he’s well behind Docherty. I do like having a lockdown small defender ala Jetta, but couldn’t pick him over Tuohy.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 20th 2017 @ 10:10am
      Lamby said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      How does Rory Laird not get a backline spot? As a backman he is 4th in total disposals, 1st in effective disposals – better than most of the midfielders you have picked!

      Compare him to Zac Tuohy and Docherty Laird wins in almost every stat – besides marks. But Laird is 178cm and the other 2 are both 10cm taller.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 10:18am
        Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Lamby – Laird is averaging 31,8 disposal compared to Docherty’s 28.2 and going at a disposal efficiency of 81.1% compared to Docherty’s 80.5% but the difference is that Docherty is averaging 9.7 marks to Laird’s 4.2 and Docherty is averaging 21.9 kicks to Laird’s 14.8 and while I can’t access this stat I remember reading last week that Docherty is leading the metres gained for the league.

        So I would suggest that while Laird gets a little more of the ball Docherty’s disposals hurt more and he takes more intercept marks.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Rissole said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Average metres gained per game:
          Docherty – 539m (4th behind Zorko, Merrett & Martin)
          Laird – 455m (15th)

          Not really a fan of the stat though.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 10:40am
            Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            Thanks Rissole.

            As for the stat all stats by themselves are pretty meaningless but in context they do add something.

            Do you have intercept marks/possessions?

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am
              AdelaideDocker said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              I just looked on a few sources and I can’t find any averages for intercept marks or possessions. πŸ™

              #makeAFLstatisticsgreatagain

            • June 20th 2017 @ 11:16am
              Rissole said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

              Laird 94 (average 7.8) – 6th in the league
              Docherty 78 (average 6.5) – 17th in the league.

              Can’t find intercept marks unfortunately.

              I think metres gained could be a good stat, but only if was based on retained possession. No point gaining 50m if it comes back 70m over your head.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 11:24am
                sammy said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                so it really is a toss of the coin then and maybe docherty is in as he is in a lesser team this year so gets a bit more credit for his work

              • June 20th 2017 @ 11:25am
                Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                Thanks again Rissole – I agree on you opinion of metres gained which is why I think it needs to be looked at in conjunction with DE% – Docherty’s DE% is very high, particularly for a player who kicks the ball over 77% of the time.

                FWIW Docherty averages 19.1m per possession compared to Laird 14.3m

                I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant proportion of Docherty’s intercepts are marks.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 11:30am
                Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                Sammy – they are both quality players.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 11:44am
                Rissole said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

                Yup. I would say both quality players and you can’t argue definitively which should be selected over the other. Unfortunately there is only room for one in the team so it will all come down to who can remain consistent for the run home.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 12:16pm
                sammy said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                as a point of interest macca, what pick was docherty in the draft when he was picked up?. Laird was a rookie listed player and has come on extremely well. The crows have done very well from the rookie list over the years

              • June 20th 2017 @ 12:59pm
                Macca said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

                The Lions too Docherty with a top 10 pick I believe but the blues got him for pick 33

      • Editor

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:56am
        Josh Elliott said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        He’s played a fair chunk of midfield this year so didn’t really feel right to me to put him in the backline, but I think he has played there a bit more as the year goes on so if that continues there’s a good chance I’ll fit him in at the end of the year.

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