Based on the idea of the two West Australian clubs merging, I have formulated the best 22 players from the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers to form a new team.
I have picked the players based on who I believe will be the top performers for their respective clubs in 2018.
Coach: Ross Lyon
Captain: Andrew Gaff
B: Lee Spurr (Dockers), Joel Hamling (Dockers), Brad Sheppard (Eagles).
HB: Nathan Wilson (Dockers), Eric Mackenzie (Eagles), Liam Duggan (Eagles).
C: Andrew Gaff (Eagles), Luke Shuey (Eagles), Chris Masten (Eagles).
HF: Jamie Cripps (Eagles), Shane Kersten (Dockers), Michael Walters (Dockers).
F: Matt Taberner (Dockers), Josh Kennedy (Eagles), Brandon Matera (Dockers).
Foll: Nathan Vardy (Eagles), Nat Fyfe (Dockers), Lachie Neale (Dockers).
Int: Scott Lycett (Eagles), Jeremy McGovern (Eagles), Elliott Yeo (Eagles), David Mundy (Dockers).
Both coaches have led their respective teams to a grand final but neither has gotten the chocolates on the final Saturday in September. Based on the preseason there is more upside in the Dockers than the Eagles, with Ross Lyon looking the better of the two coaches.
Gaff finished sixth in the AFL for total disposals. Despite playing predominantly on the wing, he was always at the top of the list when it came to possessions. He is an unassuming player who plays his role for the team and leads by example.
The defenders are all good at the role they play for their team. Lee Spurr may not fit into the Dockers’ best 22, but I feel he deserves to be a permanent fixture in my merged team.
Joel Hamling is an extremely capable full back who was an astute pick from the Bulldogs. Nathan Wilson is a new recruit for the Dockers, taken from the Giants.
Liam Duggan is a much-improved player, and Eric Mackenzie should get an opportunity to show his wares in the defensive half; he is a player who possesses a lot of talent.
My choice of midfielders was an easy decision. Andrew Gaff is a definite starter on the wing. Chris Masten’s ability as a player deserves more opportunities at AFL level to play in the midfield. Luke Shuey doesn’t waste a possession and is a quality player in the middle of the ground.
None of the Eagles players warranted a place on the half forward line, except for Cripps. Michael Walters can push up to a wing if needed. Both of those selections help increase the number of midfielders who can rotate through and makes the team less predictable to the opposition.
Shane Kersten is capable of being one of the best tall forwards in the game if he applies himself properly. Jamie Cripps and Brandon Matera are two players who have the ability to hit the scoreboard.
Josh Kennedy is the obvious pick for full forward as he was named in that position in last Season’s All Australian team. I like Ross Lyon’s selection of Matt Taberner as a second ruckman during the preseason.
Nathan Vardy is a ruckman who has the capability of going forward and kicking goals. Nat Fyfe is one of the most talented players in the competition, and Lachie Neale is a ball magnet in the middle of the ground.
Scott Lycett is a useful player who can push forward as well as play the second ruck role. Jeremy McGovern is probably the best tall defender on either side – he was named in last season’s All Australian team and he is also able to play forward.
Elliott Yeo was an All Australian last season, and David Mundy can play through the midfield or play a role up forward.