A single-word tweet is all it took to get the rumour mill running.
In this series of articles, I am going to look at the best player at each club who has not gained All Australian selection.
In Part 1, I look at Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon and Fremantle.
Adelaide: Taylor Walker (forward)
Honourable mention: Bryce Gibbs
Walker has been one of the game’s most prominent key forwards during his time in the AFL. He’s averaged 2.2 goals a game across his career, while winning Adelaide’s goal-kicking three times (2011, 2012 and 2019) and kicking a career-high 63 goals from 19 games in 2012. The Texan made the All Australian squad in 2012, 2015 and 2017, with the 2015 season standing out as the year he was unluckiest to miss.
The last couple of seasons have seen Walker struggle with form, but with the weight of the captaincy off his shoulders, he could get back to his best.
Brisbane: Stefan Martin (ruckman)
Honourable mentions: Daniel Rich and Hugh McCluggage
Martin has been the victim of being the third to fifth best ruckman each season, but he’s never had a year that has firmly put him in the All Australian conversation. His ruck craft is good, but he stars with his work and endurance around the ground.
Across his time in Brisbane, the former Demon tied for the 2015 best and fairest and won the team’s player of the finals last year. At 33 years old and with other ruckmen above him, it’s hard to see Martin making the team now, but he can still play a big part for Brisbane in the final years of his career.
Carlton: Kade Simpson (defender)
Honourable mention: Matthew Kreuzer
Simpson was one of the inspirations behind this list, a tireless servant for the Blues who has somehow never made the All Australian team. He has played over 300 games and won a best and fairest in 2013, so his career is certainly All Australian calibre.
He is probably a victim of Carlton’s poor results throughout his career, meaning the selectors have turned a blind eye to his work off halfback. It is hard to see him getting a blazer now, but the man has continued to defy age by still playing great footy at 35 years old.
Collingwood: Adam Treloar (midfielder)
Honourable mentions: Jeremy Howe and Jack Crisp
Treloar has made been a star during his time at GWS and Collingwood, but has never made the All Australian team. He’s made the squad three times out of the last four seasons, and in 2018 was on track to make the team before injury ended his home-and-away season.
He led the AFL in disposals last year with 789 and has been a runner up in the Magpies’ and Giants’ best and fairest award. It feels like an inevitability that Treloar will make the team at some point during his career, after coming so close across the last four seasons.
Essendon: Devon Smith (midfielder)
Honourable mention: Adam Saad
Smith has established himself as one of the game’s toughest midfielders since joining Essendon in 2018. He was always a good player at the Giants, where he primarily played as a forward, but he took his game to another level when he joined the Bombers.
He got more time in the middle of the ground, which saw him win the best and fairest, make it into the All Australian squad and set the record for the most tackles in a season with 184. A knee injury brought his season to an early end last year, but hopefully Smith can enjoy an injury-free season and push for the team this year.
Fremantle: Stephen Hill (midfielder)
Honourable mention: Alex Pearce
Hill has always been one of the most skilled players and best ball-users at Fremantle. The veteran midfielder is still arguably the best kick in the team and provides some class for a young Dockers side. The former number three pick was crucial to Fremantle’s premiership tilts during the 2010s and was named in the All Australian squad in 2015.
Unfortunately, Hill’s been dealing with recurring injuries in recent seasons and his age makes it unlikely that he will be around the All Australian mark again.