It’s that time of year once again.
While rugby league fans immerse themselves in the beauty of State of Origin, Aussie Rules fans are left wondering what could be for their code.
But who exactly would be selected for each side if the AFL had a change in heart?
In this series, I will select the best 22 for six State of Origin teams – Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australia, Western Australia, Indigenous All Stars, and the Allies.
As there can be endless possibilities, here are a few things to note:
– The Allies team consists of players from New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, as well as international players.
– Players are predominantly selected based on their 2022 performance so far, but also the value they provide for their team.
– Injured players at the time of selection will not be picked.
The first team to be selected is Vic Metro. This was the toughest team to pick, because of the talent coming from Melbourne.
The only blemish to this side is the lack of small forwards, however, with an overabundance of midfielders.
Note: Bailey Smith was not selected due to his current suspension, while respective injuries have ruled Max Gawn and Jacob Weitering out as well.
James Sicily (Hawthorn)
Vying for his first All-Australian blazer, Sicily has proven he was sorely missed by his Hawks teammates last season. Leading the league for marks and second for intercept marks, the defender will be a vital cog in this Vic Metro outfit.
Sam Collins (Gold Coast)
Needing a replacement for Weitering, Vic Metro would be no worse off with Collins locking down the opposition’s best key forward. Ranking elite for both spoils and contested defensive one on ones, Collins has been front and centre in the Suns’ brilliant start to 2022.
Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
Vlastuin’s value to Richmond throughout the Tigers’ premiership years was first class. Although the Eltham junior has only played the eight games this season, he has provided some much-needed experience and class down back.
Bailey Dale (Western Bulldogs)
Ranking elite for effective kicks, the Bulldogs star is averaging a career-high 27 disposals per game, along with a staggering 605 metres gained. His decision-making coming out of defence would be pivotal for Vic Metro.
Darcy Moore (Collingwood)
The second-tall spot was a difficult one, but the intercepting prowess that Moore possesses would be critical for this side. With Collins and Vlastuin playing lockdown roles, this would free up the Magpie to intercept and launch Vic Metro into fast rebounds.
Jayden Short (Richmond)
Short’s move into the midfield has helped to take his game to the next level, but despite a plethora of options in that role for this team, the Tiger’s elite kicking rounds out the defence nicely, so I’ve slotted him back into his old role.
Ed Langdon (Melbourne)
Although his disposals are not as high as the other midfielders fighting for a spot (averaging 22 touches a game), Langdon’s endurance on a wing has been a valuable asset for the Demons, and would also be for his state as well.
Touk Miller (Gold Coast)
Averaging 28 disposals and 15 contested possessions a game, the Suns contested bull has continued his hot streak from 2021, contributing heavily to Gold Coast’s resurgence up the ladder.
Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne)
The former top-three draft pick is enjoying a career renaissance in 2022 to become an even more vital player for the Demons. Amassing 25 disposals and a career-high seven intercept possessions a game, Brayshaw would play a crucial role in this side.
Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide)
With Vic Metro missing Max Gawn in the ruck, O’Brien is a great replacement. Although he might not be as proactive in general play as Gawn, a high-calibre team around him will allow the Crows ruckman to focus solely on his tap work.
Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)
The Dockers’ Brayshaw has begun to evolve into an elite midfielder in the competition, on the back of a career-best season. Accumulating 31 touches and laying six tackles a game, the gun mid has helped propel Freo to a 10-3 start in Nat Fyfe’s absence.
Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
Racking up 32 disposals a game at 78.6 per cent efficiency, Macrae consistently puts up big numbers, making him a certain starter in the Vic Metro side.
Toby Greene (GWS)
Since his six-game suspension, Greene has barely put a foot wrong, getting better and better with every passing week. Averaging three majors a game in 2022, the Giant’s attacking craft ranks him in the top echelon for small forwards.
Joe Daniher (Brisbane)
In the absence of Eric Hipwood for the first half of the season, Daniher has helped lead the attack for the Lions. Scoring almost three goals a game, the high-flying key forward is smashing his previous best goal accuracy percentage.
Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs) (captain)
Although Bontempelli’s numbers have been down on previous years due to spending more time up forward, the Bulldogs captain has that match-winning knack, which will be immense for Vic Metro.
Bayley Fritsch (Melbourne)
The Melbourne spearhead has carried his 2021 form into the first half of this season. Ranking second behind Charlie Cameron for goals by small forwards, Fritsch would be a key point of difference and a difficult match-up alongside three talls.
Max King (St Kilda)
Along with Jack Sinclair, King has been the other standout for St Kilda so far in 2022. Ranked equal-fourth in the Coleman Medal with 35 goals, King has begun to win games off his own boot.
Tom Lynch (Richmond)
With the equal-highest goal average in 2022, the Richmond key forward has kept the Tigers in the finals picture. A 17-goal span across three weeks against West Coast, Collingwood and Hawthorn proved just how valuable Lynch has been this season.
Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
Like Bontempelli, Petracca is recognised for his match-winning ability. Although generating slightly lower numbers than last year, his explosive speed and strength in the contest makes him a worthy member of this side.
Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)
Arguably the most improved player of 2022, Sinclair’s brilliant kicking across half-back has rejuvenated the Saints, pushing them into finals contention once again. Achieving career high numbers across the field, Sinclair has taken his game to another level.
Adam Treloar (Western Bulldogs)
After a shock release from Collingwood at the end of 2020, Treloar has fitted into the Dogs’ side seamlessly. The speedy midfielder has earned his selection into the side through his versatility to play as an inside or an outside ball-winner.
Dylan Moore (Hawthorn)
There were at least 10 players I could have picked in this spot, but to keep with the balance of the team, I went with the Hawks livewire. Scoring nine goals in first quarters this season, the small forward is a master at putting sides away on the scoreboard early, and despite plenty of injuries around him in the Hawthorn forward line, has remained consistent.
Boasting the best winning percentage amongst coaches with 200 or more games of experience in VFL/AFL history, Scott has miraculously found ways to keep Geelong in the eight for many seasons. His success and ability to win would be beneficial for Vic Metro.