Ahead of the Virgin All-Australian team being unveiled, the AFL Coaches have named their team of the year, based on the 2015 coaches’ votes.
The lineup features four Eagles, three Bulldogs, three Swans and just one Hawk.
It has been picked according to specialist positions, with flexibility a key consideration.
Brisbane Lions, Geelong Cats, Gold Coast SUNS, GWS Giants and St Kilda are the only sides not to be represented in the 22.
While many of those named in the coaches’ team are also expected to receive a 2015 All-Australian blazer, there are a number of surprise inclusions.
The side is also structured in a way that may differ from the Virgin All-Australian team.
Scroll down for further details and analysis. For more information about the AFL Coaches’ Association, head to aflca.com.au.
The coaches selected four players that weren’t named in the All-Australian squad of 40: Carlton’s Zach Tuohy, Essendon’s Cale Hooker, Melbourne’s Bernie Vince and Sydney’s Jarrad McVeigh.
Three of those – Tuohy, Hooker and McVeigh – have been named in the starting back six.
Tuohy brings speed and foot-skills to complement half-back Bob Murphy, while McVeigh brings composure and leadership.
Hooker, an All-Australian defender in 2014, has a proven ability to shut down the opposition’s best power forward, but it’s his ability to read the play and take intercept marks that sets him apart from pure lockdown defenders such as Adelaide’s Daniel Talia.
While very few AFL teams line up with two genuine ruckmen – a second ruck who can spend the bulk of his time forward, such as Adelaide’s Josh Jenkins or Gold Coast’s Charlie Dixon, tends to be most sides’ preferred option – the coaches have opted to go with two of the game’s premier ruckmen.
North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein is named on the ground, while West Coast Eagles excitement machine Nic Naitanui has been selected on the bench.
The coaches have chosen just one genuine winger, West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, to complement the AFL’s best inside players.
Sydney’s Dan Hannebery – who is ranked third in the AFL for uncontested possessions but also averages more than 11 contested possessions and four clearances per game – has been named on the opposite wing.
The four players leading the competition for contested possessions in 2015 – Docker Nat Fyfe, Swan Josh Kennedy, Crow Patrick Dangerfield and Eagle Matt Priddis – have all been selected in the starting 18.
Big-bodied clearance machine David Mundy, run-with midfielder Bernie Vince and silky inside/outside star Scott Pendlebury have been named on the bench to provide balance.
While most All-Australian sides include two or even three power forwards, the coaches have selected just one – Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy, of West Coast.
In previous years, we’ve seen the likes of Tom Hawkins (197cm), Lance Franklin (196cm), Travis Cloke (196cm) and Jack Riewoldt (195cm) occupying key forward posts in the All-Australian team. The 2015 coaches’ side is instead made up of a range of agile medium-sized forwards.
Jack Gunston (193cm but just 81kg), Jake Stringer (192cm), Patrick Dangerfield (188cm), Brett Deledio (188cm) are all included in the forward six.
Even the smallest forward of the bunch, 182cm Power livewire Chad Wingard, is an aerial threat.
All forwards are dangerous once the ball hits the ground, but there’s no genuine crumber in the side.
Your team’s selections
Adelaide Crows – Dangerfield
Brisbane Lions –
Carlton – Zach Tuohy
Collingwood – Pendlebury
Essendon – Hooker
Fremantle – Fyfe, Mundy
Geelong Cats –
Gold Coast SUNS –
GWS Giants –
Hawthorn – Gunston
Melbourne – Vince
North Melbourne – Goldstein
Port Adelaide – Wingard
Richmond – Rance, Deledio
St Kilda –
Sydney Swans – McVeigh, Hannebery, Kennedy
West Coast Eagles – Gaff, Kennedy, Priddis, Naitanui
Western Bulldogs – Wood, Murphy, Stringer