Every season after the drama of the draft and its over-hyped build-up, clubs quietly make their last moves as final list lodgement approaches at the end of November.
Imagine a starting 18 comprising one player from every team.
The players chosen, each having played at least two matches this season, are capable of producing the unfathomable – the X factor. They are unpredictable and capable of doing things their teammates can’t do.
It was a tough challenge to move the magnets around and selecting the starting 18. There is a sole captain for the purpose of this exercise: Nat Fyfe.
Adelaide Crows: Wayne Milera.
Brisbane Lions: Charlie Cameron.
Carlton Blues: Harry McKay.
Collingwood Magpies: Jordan de Goey.
Essendon Bombers: Michael Hurley.
Fremantle Dockers: Nat Fyfe (captain).
Geelong Cats: Sam Menegola.
Gold Coast Suns: Izak Rankine.
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Lachie Whitfield.
Hawthorn Hawks: James Sicily.
Melbourne Demons: Christian Pertracca.
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Shaun Higgins.
Port Adelaide Power: Ryan Burton.
Richmond Tigers: Dustin Martin.
St Kilda Saints: Jack Billings.
Sydney Swans: Tom Papley.
West Coast Eagles: Nic Naitanui.
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel.
FB: Ryan Burton (Port Adelaide Power), Michael Hurley (Essendon Bombers), Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)
HB: Wayne Milera (Adelaide Crows), James Sicily (Hawthorn Hawks), Lachie Whitfield (Greater Western Sydney Giants)
C: Sam Menegola (Geelong Cats), Nat Fyfe (Captain- Fremantle Dockers), Jack Billings (St Kilda Saints)
HF: Jordan de Goey (Collingwood Magpies), Harry McKay (Carlton Blues), Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne Kangaroos)
FF: Charlie Cameron (Brisbane Lions), Dustin Martin (Richmond), Izak Rankine (Gold Coast Suns)
Foll: Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles), Christian Petracca (Melbourne Demons), Tom Papley (Sydney Swans)
Ryan Burton makes the game look effortless. Burton has been a good acquisition for Port Adelaide from Hawthorn as he makes every disposal count.
Michael Hurley isn’t only consistent but also extremely good in creating run out of defence.
Caleb Daniel works tirelessly winning the ball, using it predominantly to perfection.
Wayne Milera has been sorely missed for Adelaide as his run off halfback is electric. He was given a five-year contract because he is a prodigiously talented player.
James Sicily was first picked in the back six as he showed that he is capable of playing with unfathomable talent even when the chips are down in his display in Hawthorn’s horrendous Round 6 shellacking at the hands of Melbourne. That’s the type of player Sicily is. This would be an attacking team, hence why he’s selected at centre halfback and Michael Hurley at fullback, as they create attacking opportunities for their respective teams.
Lachie Whitfield makes footy look easy. His stats aren’t a true reflection of his brilliance, as one possession of his is worth two of any other player. He has done everything possible to keep the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the top eight. He creates run off the halfback flank and, like Milera, has the potential to play on the wing.
Sam Menegola makes a difference every time he gets possession of the footy. The game slows down when he has possession of the ball. He creates many attacking chains with sublime use of the footy. He is an underrated player who predominantly seems to find a teammate with a quick handball or kick, even when under pressure.
Nat Fyfe is an unbelievable talent, making Fremantle a much more unpredictable team. He also has the capacity to go forward and make a difference in that area of the ground. He leads by example.
Jack Billings isn’t only St Kilda’s best player; he’s capable of doing something special every time he has possession of the ball.
Jordan de Goey has the ability to do things that few other footballers can do, as he showed in Round 7 against Geelong. De Goey almost single-handily won Collingwood the game with five goals. He also has the potential to play through the midfield.
Harry McKay is a pivotal part of the Carlton forward line. He’s capable of kicking lots of freakish goals, which he displayed in Round 7 against Port Adelaide, when he kicked three goals, two of which other players may have missed. McKay would play as a second ruckman in this hypothetical team.
Shaun Higgins is the classiest player North Melbourne have. He’s capable of doing things other players can’t. He was unbelievable against Richmond in Round 7 with 36 disposals in a nine-goal loss. Despite the enormity of the margin, he was possibly best on ground.
Charlie Cameron is up there with Jordan de Goey with regards to the freakish stuff he can do. He has the ability to kick some unfathomable goals. He does stuff you can’t teach.
Dustin Martin’s record speaks for itself. He is a quality player. It was a no-brainer to select Martin from Richmond as he is capable of doing the unbelievable. He should play at full-forward as it would be difficult for the opposition to find a match-up for him.
Izak Rankine was just about first picked in this team – even though he has played only two games of AFL footy – because he has kicked five freakish goals. Rankine can get even better, and he also brings youthful exuberance and plays the game well by improvising and doing freakish things.
Nic Naitanui has the ability to improvise and play with freedom. He doesn’t have to get much of the ball to have an impact on the game. He makes West Coast a better team.
Christian Petracca is Melbourne’s most gifted player when it comes to doing the unpredictable and things a player can’t be taught to do.
Tom Papley is clearly the Sydney Swans most creative player, able to do things that none of his teammates can do.