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AFL team of the week: Round 22

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Roar Guru
15th August, 2021
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This is a hypothetical exercise with a starting 18 team of players with only one player selected from every AFL team.

Consequently, it’s a remarkably difficult and challenging experiment as at times it can be tough to find one good player from a team and other times it’s the antithesis.

There were some tough decisions that had to be made; it’s reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle; one alteration can cause a domino effect as I try and select the players in the position that they are named in, but I’m up for the challenge!

Check out the team for Round 22.

There were three co-captains for the purpose of this exercise; guess who?

AFL starting 18 (Round 22)
Adelaide Crows: Ben Keays
Brisbane Lions: Dayne Zorko (co-captain)
Carlton Blues: Sam Walsh
Collingwood Magpies: Jack Crisp
Essendon Bombers: Jake Stringer
Fremantle Dockers: Luke Ryan
Geelong Cats: Sam Menegola (co-captain)
Gold Coast Suns: Charlie Ballard
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Tim Taranto (co-captain)
Hawthorn Hawks: Daniel Howe
Melbourne Demons: Max Gawn
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Aaron Hall
Port Adelaide Power: Aliir Aliir
Richmond Tigers: Liam Baker
Sydney Swans: Harry Cunningham
St Kilda Saints: Brad Crouch
West Coast Eagles: Josh J. Kennedy
Western Bulldogs: Jack Macrae

B: Harry Cunningham (Sydney), Aliir Aliir (Port Adelaide), Luke Ryan (Fremantle)
HB: Jack Crisp (Collingwood), Charlie Ballard (Gold Coast), Aaron Hall (North Melbourne)
C: Daniel Howe (Hawthorn), Ben Keays (Adelaide), Sam Menegola (Geelong, co-captain)
HF: Liam Baker (Richmond), Brad Crouch (St Kilda), Dayne Zorko (Brisbane, co-captain)
FF: Tim Taranto (GWS Giants, co-captain), Josh J. Kennedy (West Coast), Jake Stringer (Essendon)
Foll: Max Gawn (Melbourne), Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs), Sam Walsh (Carlton)

Backs
Harry Cunningham finished the game with 26 disposals, which was the third most of any player in the Swans’ Round 22 clash with the Kangaroos.

He also had the fourth highest metres gained with 384. Despite playing in defence, he had four inside 50s!

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Aliir Aliir proved that his performance in Round 21 in the Showdown where he was the best player on the ground wasn’t an aberration.

Aliir Aliir

Aliir Aliir (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

He helped curtail the likes of Charlie Curnow and Mitch McGovern and accumulated 19 disposals. What Round 22 proved was that the Power made the right decision in recruiting him as he wasn’t complacent.

Luke Ryan had 26 disposals and the most metres gained of any player in the Derby; he finished with a total of 663 metres gained. To put things in perspective, the Eagles had 15 more inside 50s than the Dockers, which vindicates what a good job Luke Ryan did in defence for the Dockers.

Halfbacks
Jack Crisp was probably the Magpies’ best player in Round 22 in an embarrassing 85-point loss to the Lions. He finished the game with 30 disposals, four tackles and the equal highest number of clearances of any player on the ground, with seven.

Charlie Ballard from the Suns never stopped trying; he may have only had 11 disposals, but he took six marks and endeavoured to negate the influence of the Bombers’ forwards.

Aaron Hall of the Kangaroos had the most disposals of any player in their game against the Swans with 30 disposals and the most metres gained, with an incredible 771.

Centres
Daniel Howe was the best player on the ground.

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He has embraced his new role on the wing and the Hawks have benefited from that move. In Round 22, he had 34 disposals and the most metres gained of anyone on the ground, with 769.

Ben Keays has been prolific for the Crows. He is probably third in their best and fairest, behind Reilly O’Brien and Rory Laird. In Round 22, he had 29 disposals, 11 tackles and eight clearances.

Sam Menegola incredibly accumulated 35 disposals, to go with the most metres gained of any player on the ground, with 470 and kicked a goal when the game was in the balance. It’s rare that he wastes a possession and he reads the play so well; the Cats are a better team with him in it, but he often goes under the radar.

Half-forwards
Liam Baker had 23 disposals and kicked two goals. He was one of the only Tigers who put in a good performance, as they were beaten comfortably by an emerging Giants team.

Brad Crouch of the Saints finished the game against the Cats with two goals and 24 disposals. He embraced his role of playing as a forward. He also had five tackles to go with his five clearances.

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Brad Crouch of the Saints runs with the ball

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Dayne Zorko led from the front for the Lions; it’s what we have come to expect of him. He had 27 disposals, nine tackles and six clearances as well as the second most metres gained of anyone in the game, with 536.

Forwards
Tim Taranto (co-captain) displayed exceptional leadership in the ‘Toby Greene’ role; he kicked four important goals for the Giants in their upset win over the Tigers.

Josh J. Kennedy kicked three goals for the Eagles, in their narrow loss to the Dockers. He never stopped trying and was a pivotal part of the Eagles’ structure.

Jake Stringer was outstanding with five goals, most of them coming when the game was in the balance. He also had a tackle, four clearances and 511 metres gained in a comprehensive win for the Bombers against the Suns.

Followers
Max Gawn was outstanding for the Demons with 19 disposals. He finished with the most clearances of any player in the game between the Demons and the Crows, with ten in the end.

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Jack Macrae had 32 disposals, six clearances and eight tackles for the Bulldogs; he performed admirably despite his team losing to a resurgent Hawks outfit.

Sam Walsh had 30 disposals and was probably the best Blues player on the ground. He was one of the reasons why the Blues had a 23-point lead in the second quarter and he never stopped trying, despite his team being beaten comfortably in the end.

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