Both the Richmond Tigers and Geelong Cats have named unchanged teams for tomorrow night’s grand final.
It’s halfway through the AFL season and the bye rounds are done. We have a sample size for a mid-season All-Australian team, so who makes the cut?
Laird was unlucky to not make the final All-Australian team last season after having a prolific season in Adelaide’s backline. Backing up from his breakout year, Laird has gone to another level justifying the tag of elite.
He is averaging over 30 possessions and 450 metres gained, giving Adelaide valuable rebound from defence.
Alex Rance (VC)
The last few years have seen the likes of Daniel Talia and Tom McDonald emerge as genuine chances for All-Australian Selection, yet Alex Rance is undeniably the best key back in the game.
That is some compliment. In the conversation as one of the best defenders of all-time when his career ends, Rance is rarely beaten and combines being a shutdown player with a magnificent intercept player. First name on the team sheet.
Touhy had me surprised when he crossed to Geelong as the heir to Corey Enright’s role in the Cats backline. I wasn’t exactly sure why they chased him but now I am utterly convinced. Touhy is averaging career high possessions (26) and rebound 50s (5.6) and has averaged a level of consistency to his game which wasn’t there at Carlton.
The reigning best and fairest winner has picked up where he left off putting together a brilliant 2017.
The statistics don’t lie, Docherty has become an elite defender, top five in metres gained (averaging 539), number one for marks (averaging 9.7) and kicks (averaging 21.9). Docherty has a penetrating kick and adds offensive flair that Carlton desperately needs.
Along with Cripps and Gibbs, Docherty is one of Carlton’s most damaging weapons and rarely gets beaten by his opponent.
A shining light in an up and down season for North Melbourne, Tarrant has become the lynchpin of the Roos defence. Regularly takes the best forward in a shutdown job and has recently transformed into a great intercept player, Tarrant is in the top five best defenders in the AFL.
Has been one of the recruits of the year and offers Melbourne physicality and hardness which it has sorely lacked over recent years. The metres gained is exceptional, possession wise Hibberd has been phenomenal. Gets it done and in great style.
Honourable Mentions: Jeremy Howe, Michael Hurley
If Kelly leaves GWS, they probably will be disappointed but no one could deny he is putting together a stellar year. Kelly is the epitome of the modern-day midfielder, he wins the contested ball, has great breakaway pace and kicks goals.
And he’s done all of those to career highs this year. A very smooth mover who is breaking into the elite bracket.
Joel Selwood (capt)
If you made an All-Australian team and Selwood wasn’t in there, you’re probably doing it wrong. One of the best for a reason and has only got better since Dangerfield joined, living up to his high standards.
A fearless leader who knows no bounds, Selwood is the personification of elite, averaging high numbers all over the place including being third for contested possessions and second for centre clearances.
If you are involved in AFL Fantasy, you know who this guy is. If you don’t, you probably should get to know him. Merrett had a breakout year last season and has improved on that once again this year.
Offers great punch in the midfield, with lighting pace and racks up possessions for fun, a highly damaging player. second overall in the AFL for disposals averaging 32 and second for metres gained averaging 577 metres.
Imagine a world where Zorko played for a Melbourne club, he’d be in the conversation for a Brownlow. He should still be in the conversation because his numbers are off the charts. Averages 26 disposals, 1.5 goals a game and 585.8 metres gained, that’s as complete as you can get. Has improved his efficiency with disposal and his tackles, he’s become an all-round great player.
He’s had ups and downs and been wildly in accurate but he’s still in the race for the Coleman medal in an emerging team. Offers a solid chop-out in the ruck and has a monstrous kick which allows him to kick goals from anywhere.
If Essendon can become more consistent in the second half of the year there’s no reason Daniher couldn’t claim the Coleman given he’s currently equal third.
As far as Richmond are concerned Dustin Martin can be out of contract every year if this will be his output. Averaging the second highest goals as a midfielder as well as nearly 30 possessions a game, Martin has continued his form from last season with an arguably even better 2017.
When he retires everyone will tell their grandkids about the time they saw Eddie Betts play live, he’s a once-in-a-generation player who does things very few can match. A key component to Adelaide’s forward line set-up, Betts has been in among the goals with 34, making him equal third in the Coleman Medal. The best small forward currently in the AFL by a country mile.
Some people don’t like Jeremy Cameron. I don’t understand why, he’s one of the best forwards in the competition and is having something of a career year. On track to beat his personal best of 65 goals in a season, Cameron sits second in the Coleman Medal and ranks highly for marks and score involvements.
A key to Melbourne’s promising season, Garlett has shed his inconsistency and become one of the best pressure forwards in the league. Melbourne is one of the best pressure teams in the comp and Garlett is a major reason for that with his relentless running. If he’d improve his accuracy in front of goal the sky is the limit but 29 goals is very good.
Honourable Mentions: Toby Greene, Lance Franklin, Daniel Menzel
Faultlessly consistent, ‘Sauce’ Jacobs has been one of the best big men in the game for a long period of time, often battling one out in the ruck for the Crows. Jacobs has improved his work around the ground increasing his possessions and hit outs averaging 41 a game.
2017 has seen Patrick Dangerfield continue to do Patrick Dangerfield things, which is to say, he has continued to be the best player in the competition. Averages around 30 touches, has kicked goals, maintained a good balance of contested ball and uncontested ball.
You already knew that though. Back-to-back Brownlow’s aren’t out of the question.
Hands up if you wrote off Gary Ablett Jr, also known as the GOAT? It looked like injuries had robbed Ablett of his twilight years, yet, as he has done so many times before he has proven everyone wrong with a fine season. Averages 31 disposals and six tackles, has returned as a goal-kicker as well snagging eight goals.
Honourable mentions: Clayton Oliver, Lachie Neale, Seb Ross and Matthew Kreuzer.
Bench: Bryce Gibbs, Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo, Rory Sloane