The clock is counting down to this year’s grand final, a clash of the titans that will have legion football fans at Optus Stadium and at home in Victoria on the edge of their seats.
This is a hypothetical exercise with a starting 18 team of players with only one player selected from every AFL team.
Therefore, it’s a challenging and difficult experiment as sometimes it’s difficult to find any player that warrants selection and other times it’s the antithesis when a given team has many good players. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle; one change can cause a domino effect! Check out the team following Round 20:
There were three co-captains for the purpose of this exercise, guess who?
AFL Starting 18 (Round 20)
Adelaide Crows: Reilly O’Brien
Brisbane Lions: Daniel McStay
Carlton Blues: Sam Walsh (co-captain)
Collingwood Magpies: Brayden Maynard
Essendon Bombers: Jake Stringer
Fremantle Dockers: Andrew Brayshaw (co-captain)
Geelong Cats: Tom Stewart
Gold Coast Suns: Touk Miller
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Josh Kelly
Hawthorn Hawks: Luke Breust
Melbourne Demons: Steven May
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Aaron Hall
Port Adelaide Power: Charlie Dixon
Richmond Tigers: Dion Prestia
St Kilda Saints: Rowan Marshall
Sydney Swans: Tom Papley
West Coast Eagles: Jeremy McGovern
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel (co-captain)
B: Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs, co-captain), Steven May (Melbourne), Brayden Maynard (Collingwood)
HB: Aaron Hall (North Melbourne), Jeremy McGovern (West Coast), Tom Stewart (Geelong)
C: Sam Walsh (Carlton, co-captain), Touk Miller (Gold Coast), Josh Kelly (GWS Giants)
HF: Luke Breust (Hawthorn), Daniel McStay (Brisbane), Tom Papley (Sydney)
FF: Rowan Marshall (St Kilda), Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide), Jake Stringer (Essendon)
Foll: Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide), Dion Prestia (Richmond), Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle, co-captain)
Caleb Daniel led from the front. He kicked a goal, had the most disposals of any player on the ground with 32 disposals.
He had 564 metres gained. Whenever he is around the ball something good generally happens for the Bulldogs. The goal that he kicked showed that leads by example as it was at a pivotal point of the game in the second quarter and he gave the Bulldogs a lead by 32 points.
Steven May made the Demons forward 50 impenetrable for the Suns. He had 16 disposals of his own and kept Suns forward Ben King scoreless and to just three disposals. When the game was there to be won early on, Steven May came to the fore.
Brayden Maynard embraced his role. He amassed an impressive 30 disposals and 401 metres gained. There’s no doubt that he is a quality player in his prime and the Magpies need him firing on all cylinders if they are to play finals in season 2022.
Aaron Hall had a superb game for the Kangaroos. He never stopped trying and was one of the reasons why the Kangaroos were within striking distance on the scoreboard as he had 36 disposals and 757 metres gained.
Jeremy McGovern had a reasonable game for the Eagles. He helped to keep the Magpies centre half forward Darcy Cameron to one goal. Given Jeremy McGovern had 384 metres gained, which is a respectable amount given the fact that the Magpies completely outplayed the Eagles and the fact that he had 19 disposals compared with Darcy Cameron’s nine, Jeremy McGovern warranted being the only Eagles player selected in this team for Round 20.
Tom Stewart finished the game with 24 disposals for the Cats in their Round 20 clash with the Kangaroos. He was part of a defence that only conceded six goals.
Sam Walsh kicked three goals and showed that he warrants being captain of the Blues as he leads by example. He had 26 disposals and was arguably the difference between the two teams, as the Saints didn’t have anyone with the leadership qualities Walsh possesses.
Touk Miller was part of a Suns team that lost by 98 points to the Demons in Round 20. His selection in the team was a no brainer as he was the only Suns player that could hold his head up at the completion of an embarrassing obliteration against a ruthless Demons outfit.
Josh Kelly showed why the Giants need to do everything in their power to keep him at the club. He finished the game with an equal game high 31 disposals.
Luke Breust kicked three goals in the first half of the Hawks game against the Lions. The Hawks were cruising until he got injured in the second half. The game changed when he was subbed out of the game due to injury, as the Hawks only won by two goals, after leading by nearly ten goals at one stage.
Daniel McStay helped his team get back into the game, even though it appeared unfathomable that the Lions would make the game competitive, he kicked four goals and nearly got his team over the line.
Tom Papley kicked four goals for the Swans and was the difference between the two teams when the game was there to be won. He showed how unselfish he is when he gave a handball to Buddy who kicked an elementary goal in the fourth quarter. It’s clear that Papley is a matchwinner; he produced when the team needed him to against a Bombers team who were gallant in defeat.
Rowan Marshall of the Saints had 22 disposals, a goal and 46 hitouts. He played to the best of his ability, but didn’t have many mates, unfortunately, with a possible top 8 spot probably given up due to being outplayed by a dogged Blues outfit.
Charlie Dixon kicked four goals for the Power. When the game was on the line he delivered; it’s what we’ve come to expect from him. It appeared as if it always second nature to him as he showed his class in the big moments.
Jake Stringer played some midfield time to go with his two goals. He finished the game with 19 disposals and nine clearances. When the game was there to be won, he produced and tried everything in his power to get the Bombers over the line. His was one of the reasons that the Bombers had an honourable loss against an impressive Swans outfit.
Reilly O’Brien can hold his head up high as he put in a great effort for the Crows against the Bullldogs in Round 20.
He finished the game with 44 hitouts as well as 19 disposals and six tackles.
Dion Prestia of the Tigers showed why he has been sorely missed due to injuries. He didn’t miss a beat in Round 20 as he accumulated 31 disposals to go with 371 metres gained.
Andrew Brayshaw led from the front for the Dockers and was perhaps the difference between the two teams as the Dockers caused an upset against the reigning Premiers, the Tigers. He finished the game with 39 disposals to go with 12 tackles, eight clearances and 567 metres gained.