Alex Docherty’s 2018 Mid-Year All Australian Team

From My Blog Page – Bulldogs Centre

11 rounds in the 2018 AFL Premiership season have passed now and as I have done in years gone by, it’s time to reveal who would make the All-Australian team at the midway point of the season. It’s usually around this point of the year that all the media experts name their respective sides, it is a fun topic to discuss.

In my mid-year team this year I have 13 teams with at least one player representing their club. Brisbane, Gold Coast, Essendon, Port Adelaide and GWS do not have a player in this side this year. For most of these teams, there would have to be at least one player that could consider themselves extremely unlucky that they didn’t make the final cut.

The Backs

Back Pocket – Shannon Hurn (West Coast)

The West Coast Eagles are having an incredible season to date in 2018, and a big reason is the career year of their captain Shannon Hurn. He doesn’t turn 31 until September, but he’s averaging career-highs in disposals (22.2 per game), marks (8.5 per game) and rebound 50s (4.7 per game). Sits first in the league for marks and inside the top 10 in the league for rebound 50s, which speaks volumes of his ability to create drive off half back.

Full Back – Alex Rance (Richmond)

It almost sounds pretty automatic now whenever I do an All-Australian side. Last year’s All-Australian captain is having another brilliant year and is well on track to be named in the side for a fifth consecutive year. Continues to average reasonable numbers for a full-back, 17.2 disposals, 6.5 marks and nearly four rebound 50s per game and is in the top five in the league for one-percenters.

Back Pocket – Tom Stewart (Geelong)

After a solid first year at the Cattery for mature-aged draftee Tom Stewart, his second year has seen him improve out of sight. In 2018, he is averaging 21.5 disposals, 7.5 marks, and 6.1 rebound 50s per game. The Cats are the stingiest defence in the league right now, and Stewart’s ability to run and create, as well as shutting down forwards, has been well identified around the league and has him in a good spot for a maiden All-Australian selection.

Half Back – Rory Laird (Adelaide)

He broke through for his first-ever All-Australian selection last year after missing out in previous years. Season 2018, though, has seen Rory Laird continue to play scintillating football off half-back. As it currently stands at the moment, he is sitting third in the league for disposals, averaging a career-high of 32.9 disposals per game, as well as career-best averages of 6.7 marks and 5.6 rebound 50s per game. He is firmly stamping his case of being the game’s best running defender right now.

Centre Half Back – Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)

He has been in the last two All-Australian sides, so it comes as no shock to see him here once again. Playing in a side that has won 10 consecutive games, McGovern’s form has been as good as it has been in consecutive years. He sits just outside the top five in marks, averaging 7.8 per game, but is second in the competition for contested marks, averaging nearly three per game. He has also improved on his rebounding game, averaging a career-high 4.2 rebound 50s per game.

Half Back – Jimmy Webster (St Kilda)

I know it sounds a little strange given St. Kilda’s struggles this year, but Jimmy Webster is among some of the game’s most improved players. He has often been very consistent in running the ball out of half-back, being the top three players in the competition for rebound 50s, averaging a career-high 6.9 rebound 50s per game, as well as a career-best 5.2 marks per game and a career-best 25.4 disposals per game.

The Midfield

Wing – Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)

After breaking out with his first Copeland Trophy win last year, Steele Sidebottom has backed up an impressive 2017 with an even better 2018. The fact that he leads the competition in uncontested possessions has him on the wing here. But make no mistake, he’s just as good in close as he has on the outside. This year he averages a career-high 31.4 disposals, as well as 4.4 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and five marks per game and has kicked eight goals in his 11 games.

Centre – Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)

In his second year at Hawthorn after a mammoth breakout year, Tom Mitchell has proven that what happened last year was definitely not a fluke. It started with a 54-disposal game against Collingwood in round one and has continued on his way. Averaging 34.1 disposals, 4.2 marks and 5.8 tackles per game in 2018 – all numbers down on last year, but he leads the competition in clearances, averaging a career-high 8.7 clearances per game.

Wing – Andrew Gaff (West Coast)

Arguably today’s best outside midfielder, Andrew Gaff has been consistently solid over the past couple of seasons, and is continuing to play great footy in 2018. He averages 30 disposals and 6.2 marks per game – both personal bests, but what he’s managing to improve on is his contested game. This year he’s taken his contested possession average from seven last year to nearly nine per game and is averaging nearly four clearances per game, which is a career-high.

Ruckman – Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)

It was so hard to choose between Grundy or Melbourne’s Max Gawn. But in the end, I’ve opted with Grundy to start as the ruckman. Whilst Gawn is miles ahead of Grundy in hitouts, it’s what Grundy does around the ground that’s impressive. Averages more disposals, more clearances, more inside 50s and more tackles than his red and blue counterpart. It was a very hard decision, but their Queen’s Birthday clash will help decide who is the better until the end of the season.

Ruck/Rover – Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)

We are witnessing the return of the Brownlow-winning form of Nat Fyfe. Last year was somewhat of a struggle due to the broken leg that he suffered in 2016, but the way he is currently playing right now, he is certainly to be up there again come Brownlow night (with the dreaded asterisk against his name, however). Averaging 30.5 disposals, 7.9 clearances, 4.4 inside 50s and 4.5 tackles in all 11 games – and all their highest since his Brownlow year.

Rover – Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)

Jack Macrae is one of a few shining lights in a gloomy 2018 for the Bulldogs. He averages a career-high 33.4 disposals, which includes a personal best 47 disposals in round eight, along with 5.4 marks, 4.7 inside 50s, 6.3 clearances and 6.3 tackles per game, the last three all career-highs. He’s only just starting to get recognition in the mainstream media, but Bulldogs fans have known for a while now that he is a star.

The Forwards

Half Forward – Luke Breust (Hawthorn)

The last 12 months haven’t been the best for triple premiership forward Luke Breust, but it looks as if he’s back to some of his best footy. Often known for his reliability in front of the big sticks, Breust has been on target this year, kicking 24.9 in 11 games for the Hawks and averaging over two goals per game for the first time since Hawthorn’s premiership win in 2015. He also averages 4.5 tackles and 14.8 disposals per game.

Centre-Half Forward – Jack Darling (West Coast)

2018 has been a breakout year for Jack Darling. Some will call his form in previous seasons inconsistent, but he has started this year on fire. Sitting third in the Coleman Medal race, Darling has kicked 28.11 so far in his 11 games, but an ankle injury sustained from the weekend could derail his season. On track to beat his personal best of goals in a season, which currently stands at 53, which he achieved in his second year, so we’ve known for a while that his best is certainly All-Australian worthy.

Half Forward – Will Hoskin-Elliott (Collingwood)

People outside of Collingwood will most likely overlook the former Giant, but hear me out here, this man is well and truly in the mix of All-Australian forwards as he sits third in small/mid forwards in goals. After a solid first-year at the Pies, he is a part of a damaging small forward line, kicking 23.9 on top of 15.5 disposals and 5.8 marks per game. Love how he works hard and his pace makes him very hard to stop.

Forward Pocket – Josh Caddy (Richmond)

Among some of this year’s most improved players. After coming across from Geelong at the end of 2016, Josh Caddy has found himself a key cog in Richmond’s premiership forward line and is having a massive year. Not many people can say at this stage of the season that they have an accurate tally of 27.6 and sit in the top five of the Coleman Medal. Yet Caddy was someone recruiters said back in 2010 that he had the potential to be a contested ball-winning midfielder. He’s having a stunning year.

Full Forward – Ben Brown (North Melbourne)

In my eyes, this was the man that I thought was incredibly stiff to miss out on the All-Australian team, and it looks like Big Ben Brown has made it a mission to be in the team this year. After only registering four disposals in atrocious conditions in Round 1, Brown has managed to kick 35.11 in his last 10 games to lead all comers in the Coleman Medal after 11 rounds of footy. He’s continuing to show his reliability in front of big sticks and if things continue this way, you can lock him into the team.

Forward Pocket – Jesse Hogan (Melbourne)

Given his form since winning the 2015 Rising Star award, Jesse Hogan has improved so much. He currently sits second in the Coleman Medal behind Ben Brown with 31.10 for the year and will most certainly break his personal best of 44 goals in a season set in his first year. But it’s not just his ability to constantly hit the scoreboard that’s improved, it’s his work rate, averaging 19.9 disposals, 7.1 marks and 3.1 inside 50s per game – all of those career-high averages for him.

The Interchange

Jake Lloyd (Sydney)

Another player that has been horrendously underrated for quite some time now, Lloyd is just starting to get some well-deserved recognition. He provides solid drive out of Sydney’s defence and, along with Dane Rampe, is one of Sydney’s more vital runners out of defence. He’s in the top five in the AFL for rebound 50s, averaging a career-high 5.3 rebound 50s per game, as well as averaging 26.8 disposals and 6.6 marks per game.

Adam Treloar (Collingwood)

It’s his third year in the black and white, but Adam Treloar is on track for another standout season, with the ability to break the lines such a highlight in his game. Currently he is averaging career-highs in disposals, averaging 32.1 disposals per game along with 5.1 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and 4.9 clearances per game. Hard to argue against the fact that he is in career-best form, his only two times that saw him rack up 40 disposals or more have come from this year. He continues to shine for Collingwood.

Max Gawn (Melbourne)

It sounds strange for me to have a second ruck here on the bench, but hear me out. It was so impossible to decide between both Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn. So why not both? Both men have shown at times throughout the year that they can go forward, Gawn in particular has been a threat whenever he goes there – but now he’s just got to get the ball to go through the big sticks more often than not. Gawn is currently smashing everyone in hitouts, averaging 48.5 per game, as well as solid numbers of 16.1 disposals, 4.1 marks, 3.2 tackles and 2.3 clearances per game.

Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

I wanted a contested ball-winner on the bench and I was going to settle on Clayton Oliver, but Patrick Cripps, statistically, is putting together a ripper of a season. He sits second behind Tom Mitchell in clearances, averaging eight per game and is number one in the league for contested possessions, with an average of 18.8 per game. Currently the only person in the league to notch up 200 contested possessions. He is also averaging 6.1 tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and 27.4 disposals a game.

The AFL Mid-Year All-Australian Team

B: Shannon Hurn (WCE), Alex Rance (RICH), Tom Stewart (GEEL)
HB: Rory Laird (ADEL), Jeremy McGovern (WCE), Jimmy Webster (STK)
C: Steele Sidebottom (COLL), Tom Mitchell (HAW), Andrew Gaff (WCE)
HF: Luke Breust (HAW), Jack Darling (WCE), Will Hoskin-Elliott (COLL)
F: Josh Caddy (RICH), Ben Brown (NM), Jesse Hogan (MELB)
FOL: Brodie Grundy (COLL), Nat Fyfe (FREM), Jack Macrae (WB)
INT: Jake Lloyd (SYD), Adam Treloar (COLL), Max Gawn (MELB), Patrick Cripps (CARL)

For more of my readings – opinions or match previews/reviews – go onto www.adbulldogscentre.com

 

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

Comments

  1. Peter warrington says:

    Cotchin in.

    I think Hogan is a great chance for the Brownlow. Tom Lynch, but with presence.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Really good team Alex, your reasons for each selection well explained.
    As a Collingwood fan, really hope Steele Sidebottom makes his first AA team this year. Love that you picked Hoskin-Elliott, been fantastic this year though I hadn’t given him consideration for AA honours. Grundy and Gawn, nothing between them, Monday’s game could well decide the ruck position. As for Treloar, he’s been great, his disposal let’s him down at crucial moments often enough for me to not have him quite in this company. Tom Phillips would be in my AA team, having a truly wonderful season, breaks lines, lifts the team and regularly kicks goals. Scott Pendlebury is criminally underrated for his work, he’s been harshly judged by the AA selectors the past few years, rate his ability to influence a game more than Treloar at this stage. A victim of his own incredibly high standards.

  3. Peter_B says:

    Very good side Alex. Jeremy McGovern has not played as well this season as in the past couple. His good has been as good, but he is less consistent and oppositions are working out how to exploit him. Bodying him under the ball to exploit that he always marks and rarely punches. He overdoes being creative with his disposals, and turns it over a lot.
    I still love watching him play, and he has plenty of upside for later in the season. But Tim Membrey kicked 6 on him last week, which shows his defensive vulnerability. His intuitive creativity and refusal to defend conventionally is his greatest strength – and acchiles heel.
    Wouldn’t be in my team currently. Nic Nait on the Interchange. Best 10 minute burst player in the AFL.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Rance for mine is the 1 to often the start of the season is forgotten average 1st game against Carlton,beaten convincingly by Jenkins ( of all players ) in round 2 average against Melbourne and now this diving stupidity fast losing respect with in the footy industry ( players are saying privately good player but etc ) Talia,Pearce and Tarrant for mine in front of Rance enjoyed your explanations re each player like,Luke I hadn’t really considered Hoskin-Elliott but he certainly has a case

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