The Roar
The Roar

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My mid-season All-Australian team

Expert
14th June, 2014
28
1308 Reads

The AFL’s oldest player has snuck his way into my mid-season All-Australian team as part of a defence which includes two little-known players.

Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher may be pushing 40, but his canny performances this season demanded I include him in my competition-wide best 22.

His run out of defence, which shows no signs of waning, combined with his penetrative kicking, sound decision-making and vast experience make him a lock as the third tall defender.

Alongside him, at full back, is Gold Coast greenhorn Steven May who I wrote about on Friday. May fought off strong challenges from the likes of Port’s Alipate Carlile and North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson to claim that spot.

The other relative unknown in my backline is Adelaide youngster Brodie Smith. Averaging 24 touches a game for the Crows, Smith covers a massive amount of ground off half back.

Not only is he second in the league for rebound 50s but he also delivers the ball inside Adelaide’s attacking 50m almost four times a game.

My other two running backmen are similarly constructive with their ball use. Nick Malceski has been running amok for Sydney, while the Bombers’ Michael Hibberd has backed up his stellar 2013 season.

Cale Hooker was an obvious choice at centre-half-back. Hooker has controlled the air in the Bombers’ back half this season, snaring nine marks a match thanks to his strong hands and ability to read the play.

Through the middle of the ground, many of the players picked themselves. There is little that needs to be said about the performances of Gold Coast kingpin Gary Ablett, Collingwood leader Scott Pendlebury or Adelaide game-breaker Patrick Dangerfield.

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Joining that trio of established superstars in the guts of the ground are Fremantle goliath Aaron Sandilands, Collingwood dynamo Dayne Beams and Sydney warrior Josh Kennedy.

The latter of that trio is the only player to get more of the footy than Ablett this season. Kennedy is a monster in contested situations.

Beams, meanwhile, is pure silk. While he is more than capable of winning his own ball, it is in space where the Pies midfielder is most damaging. Beams hits the scoreboard more than any other on-baller bar Ablett.

However, given the calibre of this forward line his scoring input scarcely would be needed.

Classy Port Adelaide pair Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray both score and create goals. The same can be said of Hawthorn’s Luke Bruest, who is not just equal fifth on the goalkicking list this season but is also first for goal assists.

Collingwood forward Jamie Elliott may be diminutive but he is potent overhead while also displaying the ability to hoover up any loose balls.

The key forward posts went to the experienced pair of Nick Riewoldt and Tom Hawkins.

It seemed two years ago as though Riewoldt’s best was behind him. But his efforts in a struggling Saints’ side this year have been phenomenal.

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Riewoldt is second on the goalkicking list but also regularly leads hard onto the flanks and the wings before turning back towards goals and setting up teammates.

In the goal square is the game’s best power forward, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins. The Cats spearhead has been manhandling defenders for fun this year.

On the bench are a quartet of players capable of either running through the middle of the ground or pinch hitting up forward.

Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe is a future Brownlow medallist, Travis Boak has been a monumental influence on the ladder leaders Port, Brent Harvey is playing as well as ever and Joel Selwood is a battering ram adorned with scintillating skill.

That’s my team Roarers. Now tell me, who have I left out?
B: Hibberd, May, Fletcher
HB: Malceski, Hooker, Smith
C: Dangerfield, Pendlebury, Beams
HF: Gray, N. Riewoldt, Breust
F: Elliott, Hawkins, Wingard
R: Sandilands, Ablett, Josh P. Kennedy
Int: Fyfe, Boak, Harvey, Selwood.

Breakdown by team
Adelaide: Two
Brisbane: None
Carlton: None
Collingwood: Three
Essendon: Three
Fremantle: Two
Geelong: Two
Gold Coast: Two
GWS: None
Hawthorn: One
Melbourne: None
North Melbourne: One
Port: Three
Richmond: None
St Kilda: One
Sydney: Two
West Coast: None
Western Bulldogs: None

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