This would have been a bad way to end a memorable 250th game!
This is a hypothetical exercise with a starting 18 team of players with only one player selected from every AFL team.
This is an entertaining experiment. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the player selected is the best player in the team, but the one that fits the structure.
It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. One change can cause a domino effect. Check out the team following Round 19.
There was one captain for the purpose of this exercise, guess who?
AFL starting 18 (Round 19)
Adelaide Crows: Rory Laird
Brisbane Lions: Harris Andrews
Carlton Blues: Patrick Cripps
Collingwood Magpies: Brodie Grundy
Essendon Bombers: Jordan Ridley
Fremantle Dockers: Nathan Wilson
Geelong Cats: Esava Ratugolea
Gold Coast Suns: Jeremy Sharp
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Lachie Whitfield
Hawthorn Hawks: Jaeger O’Meara
Melbourne Demons: Jake Lever
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Nick Larkey
Port Adelaide Power: Ollie Wines
Richmond Tigers: Daniel Rioli
St Kilda Saints: Max King
Sydney Swans: Isaac Heeney
West Coast Eagles: Dom Sheed
Western Bulldogs: Marcus Bontempelli (captain)
B: Nathan Wilson (Fremantle), Harris Andrews (Brisbane), Jake Lever (Melbourne)
HB: Daniel Rioli (Richmond), Jordan Ridley (Essendon), Lachie Whitfield (GWS Giants)
C: Dom Sheed (West Coast), Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide), Jeremy Sharp (Gold Coast)
HF: Isaac Heeney (Sydney), Esava Ratugolea (Geelong), Jaeger O’Meara (Hawthorn)
FF: Max King (St Kilda), Nick Larkey (North Melbourne), Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Foll: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood), Rory Laird (Adelaide), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs, captain)
Nathan Wilson was prolific for the Dockers in the back line. The defender finished with the fourth most metres gained of any player in their Round 19 clash with the Swans: 469 metres gained to go with his 24 disposals. He tried his best and can hold his head up high.
Harris Andrews had a good game for the Lions as he was pivotal in the Lions, only conceding 11 points in the second half. He may not accumulate a lot of the ball, but he is an instrumental part of their system.
Jake Lever curtailed some of the Bulldogs’ attacks and was one of the Demons’ best players in an enthralling game. He also provided run out of defence with 20 disposals.
Daniel Rioli stood out from the pack for the Tigers. He embraced his role of playing on the half back line, accumulating 19 disposals. He never stopped trying.
Jordan Ridley had the most metres gained of any player on the field in Round 19 in the Bombers’ narrow loss to the Giants with 536 metres gained to go with his 25 disposals. He proved what an asset he is to the team with a great performance both defensively and creating run out of defence.
Lachie Whitfield was clearly the best player on the field. The Giants winger showed he is a versatile and impactful player. He finished the game with 35 disposals, playing the second half on a half back flank. That was a big reason why the Giants outplayed the Bombers in that half and won the game.
Dom Sheed had 32 disposals and scored two goals for the Eagles. He was probably their best player and one of the reasons why they had a narrow win. He was rewarded for his hard work with a couple of goals, which proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Ollie Wines showed great attack on the footy for the Power in what was a crucial game for their top-four aspirations in season 2021. He finished the game with an impressive 30 disposals to go with his seven clearances, which was the second highest of any player on the ground and 572 metres gained, which was also the second highest of any player on the ground.
Jeremy Sharp put in a four-quarter effort for the Suns in a game that looked like they were going to win at halftime, as they led the Lions by 27 points. He was a shining light for the Suns in the second half, as he never gave up. He accumulated 31 disposals for the match and showed what needed to be done to his teammates.
Isaac Heeney scored five goals for the Swans against the Dockers. The goals he scored were good goals. He was probably the difference between the two teams.
Esava Ratugolea was a pivotal part of the Cats’ forward line. He showed that Chris Scott will definitely have to find a spot for him in their best 22 even with Jeremy Cameron in it. The fact that Ratugolea kicked four goals was vindication for his work rate and the effort that he put in against last year’s premiers.
Jaeger O’Meara played well for the Hawks in a game that they could have won, but lost. He finished the game with 24 disposals, a near game-high eight tackles and an equal team-high eight clearances. The effort was there from him, he just needed some teammates to follow in what was an honourable loss against a much improved Crows team.
Max King kicked six goals for the Saints in their Round 19 clash with the Eagles. He was probably the best player on the field, in a game that proved the Saints have potential, despite sitting 12th on the AFL ladder as it stands.
Nick Larkey showed why he can become the most dangerous key forward in the competition. He finished the game with seven goals and consequently the Kangaroos caused an upset against the Blues. It was great to watch him grow in confidence. He was vindicated by kicking a bag of goals.
Patrick Cripps showed that he does have another dimension to his game starting forward, kicking three goals, amassing 21 disposals and having 443 metres gained. He showed that he has the capacity to play the dual role of a forward and a midfielder. He will be forced to in order to prevent injuries.
Brodie Grundy of the Magpies had an incredible amount of the ball as he had 27 disposals. He was forced to step up due to Scott Pendlebury getting injured.
Rory Laird had an extraordinary game for the Crows. He finished with 36 disposals and two goals. He proved why his move to the midfield has been the correct one and why he should win the Crows’ best and fairest in season 2021.
Marcus Bontempelli led from the front with important touches of the ball in key moments during the game. He is a true leader and the reason why the Bulldogs are on top of the ladder. He kicked two goals, had 31 disposals and an incredible ten clearances. He substantiated why he is referred to as the best leader in the competition. There’s no doubt that he was the difference between the two teams.