Before last night’s All-Australian team was revealed, Geelong’s Mitch Duncan selected his best 22 from the 40-man squad. This article was originally published in the Geelong Advertiser and can be accessed here.
THE All-Australian team will be announced next week, and I have a new appreciation for the job of the selectors.
Sitting down to pick my own side, I can now see how hard a task it would be to pick the squad of 40, let alone the best 22 for the year.
There are so many good players I’ve left out of my all-Australian team that could easily have gone in there.
Players such as Dayne Beams, Scott Pendlebury, Cale Hooker, Alex Rance and Hayden Ballantyne have all had great seasons, but I just couldn’t squeeze them in.
Obviously I’m a little bit biased, so I’ve picked all four of my Geelong teammates that were picked in 40-man squad.
Tom Lonergan, Harry Taylor, Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins make up the majority of the spine of my team.
Both Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan are worthy All-Australian defenders.
They’ve all had outstanding years and should be rewarded with selection in the team.
It’s great to see a lot of new faces in the side.
From the team I’ve picked, 13 of them would be first-time All-Australians.
A few of them are younger faces, and guys I played with or against in under-age footy, such as Nat Fyfe, Jack Gunston and Dustin Martin, while Luke Parker, Dyson Heppell and Brodie Smith were the year below me.
There are probably no surprises that I’ve picked Joel Selwood as the captain of the team.
I know Luke Hodge was named best captain at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards, but obviously I’ve been able to see Selwood’s leadership up close.
I think he’s been super this year, and his game last week against Hawthorn was amazing.
When we needed players to step up he was the one to inspire the team and he’d do that if he ever got the chance to play a game with these blokes.
I think they’d really appreciate the leadership qualities he has and brings to games.
‘I voted for Fyfe [as MVP] – I just think his flexibility is fantastic.’
I’ve got Robbie Gray, who won the Coaches’ Association award; and Nat Fyfe, who was named the players’ player of the year in my side.
I voted for Fyfe in that award, I just think his flexibility is fantastic.
My skipper is my All-Australian skipper too…
He’s a marking player; he can play at either end of the ground. He’s just a match-winner.
I played with him for Western Australia in the Under-18 national championships, he was actually a late pick to make that state side, so to see him go from there to where he is now is a great achievement and he’s a player I really respect.
He’s really hard to play on because if he’s getting a hard tag, he can go forward and pluck marks out of packs.
I’ve gone with three talls in the backline, which a lot of teams, mine included, do these days.
It’s just too hard to leave them out. I even thought about putting another tall on the bench.
There weren’t too many half-back flankers to pick from. There’s Brodie Smith and Nick Malceski, but Nick Smith is a completely different player to them, as is Shaun Burgoyne who was stiff to miss out.
I’ve gone with Buddy Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Tom Hawkins in the forward line, but this is an area where quite a few really good players missed the cut.
Ballantyne and Eddie Betts in Adelaide both had good years, while I went close to putting Dayne Beams on a half-forward flank.
So it was a tough task, but for the 22 that get recognised, it will be just reward for such a great season.
MITCH DUNCAN’S ALL-AUSTRALIAN LINE-UP
B: E. Mackenzie (WC). T. Lonergan (Gee), N. Smith (Syd)
HB: N Malceski (Syd), H. Taylor (Gee), B. Smith (Adel)
C: D. Heppell (Ess), J. Selwood (Gee), T. Boak (PA)
HF: R. Gray (PA), L. Franklin (Syd), J. Gunston (Haw)
F: L. Breust (Haw), T. Hawkins (Gee), J. Roughead (Haw)
R: A. Sandilands (Fre), N. Fyfe (Fre), G. Ablett (GC)
INT: J. Lewis (Haw), L. Parker (Syd), D. Martin (Rich), T. Rockliff (Bri)