Every AFL finals series delivers narratives about the competing teams.
Geelong and Hawthorn have developed a great rivalry over the years, so I’ve theorised the best Hawks-Cats combined team from the players of the last 12 months.
To be eligible to be chosen for this team a player must have played a minimum of five games in 2019.
I’ve chosen 13 Geelong players and nine Hawthorn players. The players must be on their team’s list for the 2020 season, and I’ve chosen them because they’re the best to fit their position in my formulated combined team.
Coach: Alastair Clarkson
Co-captains: Mitch Duncan, James Worpel
B: Sam Frost (Hawthorn), Mark Blicavs (Geelong), Cameron Guthrie (Geelong)
HB: Blake Hardwick (Hawthorn), James Sicily (Hawthorn), Tom Stewart (Geelong)
C: Ricky Henderson (Hawthorn), Liam Shiels (Hawthorn), Mitch Duncan (Geelong)
HF: Brandan Parfitt (Geelong), Mitch Lewis (Hawthorn), Joel Selwood (Geelong)
F: Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong), Tom Hawkins (Geelong), Gary Rohan (Geelong)
Foll: Jonathan Ceglar (Hawthorn), James Worpel (Hawthorn), Jack Steven (Geelong)
Int: Rhys Stanley (Geelong), Isaac Smith (Hawthorn), Sam Menegola (Geelong), Gary Ablett (Geelong)
Alastair Clarkson is a master tactician and is the better coach of the two. It was a difficult decision as Geelong made the finals last season while Hawthorn didn’t feature in September. In the end Clarko got the role as Hawthorn play a fairly entertaining style of footy and had a good finish to the year.
Mitch Duncan and James Worpel are both quality players and lead by action. They’re also pivotal players to their respective teams. Duncan just signed a four-year contract with Geelong, while James Worpel won the best and fairest for Hawthorn in 2019.
Sam Frost is a quality defender and will flourish in defence for Hawthorn this season. Mark Blicavs would have Sam Frost to help assist him to deal with the opposing teams’ tall forwards – not that he would need much of it, as he’s is regarded highly as a defender. Cameron Guthrie would be suited to being the only small defender as he’s a quality player who deserves an opportunity to ply in defence.
Blake Hardwick came fifth in the Hawthorn best and fairest in 2019 and is one of the best half back flankers in the competition. James Sicily’s best position is centre half back as he can provide plenty of run from there. Tom Stewart finished third in Geelong’s best and fairest last season and is one of the best defenders in the game.
Ricky Henderson starting on a wing is a no brainer – he played every game in 2019 and averaged almost 25 possessions per game. Liam Shiels deserves to start in the middle of the ground as he averaged over 20 possessions a game last year and should flourish in 2020. Mitch Duncan is a quality player who plays his best footy on the wing.
Brandan Parfitt is a quality player who can play on a half forward flank and also through the midfield. Mitch Lewis is one of the best young players in the competition and would benefit from playing centre half forward. Joel Selwood would be an ideal fit for the half forward flank position as he could provide plenty of forward pressure and play through the middle of the ground.
Patrick Dangerfield kicked 27 goals in 2019 – imagine how many goals he’d kick if he spent more time forward. What a tough match-up he’d be for opposition defenders. Tom Hawkins is clearly the best full forward in this combined team. Gary Rohan doesn’t need to get much of the ball to impact on the game and deserves an opportunity to play in the forward pocket.
Jonathan Ceglar warrants the No. 1 ruck role as he is a quality ruckman. James Worpel is one of the best midfielders in the competition. Jack Steven should flourish playing in the middle of the ground.
Rhys Stanley has the ability to play up forward and in the ruck. Isaac Smith would start on the interchange bench but play on the wing. Sam Menegola and Gary Ablett would benefit from starting on the interchange bench as they can play up forward and through the middle of the ground and have an impact on the game.