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Opinion

The all-AFL starting 18 of 2020

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Roar Guru
21st September, 2020
11

Imagine a starting 18 of players with one player from every AFL team.

Stop imagining, as we’re about to bring it to fruition, albeit hypothetically.

In May I theorised an all-18 for the season, which you can read here. From that team, only four players have remained in the side at season’s end: Zach Merrett, Clayton Oliver, Dustin Martin and Jeremey McGovern.

There are two captains for this exercise: Sam Menegola and Caleb Daniel.

The all-AFL starting 18 of 2020

Adelaide Crows: Reilly O’Brien
Brisbane Lions: Harris Andrews
Carlton Blues: Sam Walsh
Collingwood Magpies: Brayden Maynard
Essendon Bombers: Zach Merrett
Fremantle Dockers: Matt Taberner
Geelong Cats: Sam Menegola (co-captain)
Gold Coast Suns: Sam Collins
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Lachie Whitfield
Hawthorn Hawks: Jack Gunston
Melbourne Demons: Clayton Oliver
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Shaun Higgins
Port Adelaide Power: Charlie Dixon
Richmond Tigers: Dustin Martin
St Kilda Saints: Jack Steele
Sydney Swans: Tom Papley
West Coast Eagles: Jeremey McGovern
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel (co-captain)

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B: Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Sam Collins (Gold Coast), Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)
HB: Lachie Whitfield (Giants), Jeremy McGovern (West Coast), Brayden Maynard (Collingwood)
C: Sam Menegola (Geelong), Zach Merrett (Essendon), Sam Walsh (Carlton)
HF: Dustin Martin (Richmond), Matt Taberner (Fremantle), Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne)
FF: Tom Papley (Sydney Swans), Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide), Jack Gunston (Hawthorn)
Foll: Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide Crows), Jack Steele (St Kilda), Clayton Oliver (Melbourne Demons)

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Backs
Harris Andrews will be in strong contention for the AFL All Australian team in 2020. His intercept marking looked effortless.

Sam Collins made Gold Coast a better team with him in it during 2020. They were in finals contention up until later in the season thanks to him.

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Caleb Daniel had a season no words could do justice. He continually provided run out of defence for the Western Bulldogs.

Halfbacks
Lachie Whitfield is a strong chance of winning the Giants best and fairest. What epitomised his season was amassing 28 disposals in a never-say-die effort in the side’s Round 17 obliteration by St Kilda.

Jeremy McGovern is a massive asset for West Coast. There’s no doubt they are a more formidable team with him in the side.

Brayden Maynard deserves to be in the AFL All Australian team based on his consistency.

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Centres
Sam Menegola rarely turns the ball over. It’s been remarkable how easy he makes playing on the wing look. He leads by example.

Zach Merrett has been a shining light for Essendon. His endeavour never wavers, even when they’re losing and the result is a foregone conclusion.

Sam Walsh is a chance to win Carlton’s best and fairest. In Round 18 he showed he is capable of playing on the ball, amassing 31 disposals.

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Half-forwards
Dustin Martin was first picked. It’s difficult to think of any other Richmond player who has nearly as much impact on the game as him. It was a forgone conclusion that he was in this team.

Matt Taberner makes Fremantle look a more formidable team with him in it.

Shaun Higgins was the best player for North Melbourne. They need to keep him going forward, even if they aren’t in the premiership window, as he’s an extremely consistent performer.

Dustin Martin

Dustin Martin (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Forwards
Tom Papley may not have got as many goals as he could have had he played slightly better, but he was a pivotal part of the Sydney Swans structure. To put it simply, they are a better team with him in it.

Charlie Dixon didn’t only kick goals, he also proved he can play as a second ruck. Dixon should definitely be in the 2020 All Australian team.

Jack Gunston was outstanding for Hawthorn. The game was indicative of what an asset he has been to Hawthorn was Round 18 – the game didn’t mean much to Hawthorn given they couldn’t make the finals, but two of their loyal servants were retiring. Gunston didn’t only kick four goals, he also set up a goal for the retiring Ben Stratton, a selfless act.

Followers
Reilly O’Brien would get a lot more credit if he played in a team higher on the ladder. O’Brien carried the Crows at times – he didn’t know the meaning of being deflated by the scoreboard. In Round 18 he was exceptional in a one-sided loss to Richmond.

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Jack Steele is one of the favourites to win the Brownlow Medal for a reason: he had an extremely consistent season.

Clayton Oliver was outstanding for the Melbourne Demons. It’s clear that Oliver never gave up, as he averaged exactly 25 disposals a game.