Showing the level of talent of the league’s youngsters, four individuals named in the 22Under22 squad for 2016 have also been selected in the initial 40-man All-Australian squad.
Adelaide’s Rory Laird, Carlton’s Sam Docherty, GWS’ Stephen Coniglio and the Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli all have the opportunity to be selected in the All-Australian team announced on Thursday after terrific individual seasons.
Laird is one of six Crows to feature in the 40-man squad – the most of any side – while Docherty joins teammate Kade Simpson, Coniglio is one of five Giants and Bontempelli is one of two Dogs.
Laird was an All-Australian nominee last year and also featured in 2015’s final 22Under22 team. While playing only 17 games this season, Laird has been one of the most important cogs in the Crows defence, averaging 27 disposals and being a key link in the transition from defence to attack.
Docherty’s rise to elite status in 2016 has coincided with an injury-free run for the second-consecutive season. The 22-year-old finished third in the competition for rebounds and is one of the league’s elite interceptors. After averaging nearly 25 disposals per game, Docherty will go a long way to winning Carlton’s best and fairest.
Coniglio’s status within the GWS group was established after captaining the club during the pre-season competition. His rise in form is indicative of the Giants’ launch into premiership contention where he averaged 28 disposals throughout the home and away season.
Bontempelli’s meteoric start to his AFL career continued in season 2016, with the 20-year-old being the mainstay of the depleted Dogs outfit. Bontempelli dominated play throughout the midfield, averaging 24 disposals and a goal per game this year.
2016 All Australian Squad
Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Rory Laird, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane, Daniel Talia
Sam Docherty, Kade Simpson
Scott Pendlebury, Adam Treloar
Patrick Dangerfield, Corey Enright, Joel Selwood
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
Stephen Coniglio, Toby Greene, Tom Scully, Heath Shaw, Callan Ward
Jack Gunston, Sam Mitchell, Cyril Rioli
Dustin Martin, Alex Rance
Lance Franklin, Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dane Rampe
Andrew Gaff, Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey
Marcus Bontempelli, Matthew Boyd
No nominated players: Brisbane Lions, Essendon