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Picking a 22Under22 team

Coinciding with this year’s 22Under22 concept, each voting fan had the chance to win the ultimate players’ prize pack awarded to the side that best resembled the final 22.

And we’re happy to announce that one fan was able to select the final 22 of 2016’s 22Under22 side, with only one position incorrect on the field.

Mark Clark is this year’s winner and he told how he selected his team.

Mark Clark – 36, Account Manager, tasmania

I’m probably what they call a ‘footy nuffy’ so I picked a team pretty quickly.

Upon reflection, the most difficult part of picking the side was leaving Patrick Cripps out. I was tossing up between putting him in based on his potential and how good of a player he is but I eventually left him out because he missed close to half of the season. Based on pure ability, he would be a lock in the side.

I’m a Hawthorn supporter so Ryan Burton was an easy selection. That was the reason James Sicily made the team also and his second half of the year was as good as any of the back six.

Andrew McGrath is in because he was always going to be in the top two of the Rising Star award – obviously I expected Burton to win.

I watch a lot of footy and for some reason I watched a lot of Melbourne this year – I think because Jordan Lewis decided to move from the Hawks to the Demons in 2017 – so Jayden Hunt was a standout youngster for them.

Jake Lever and Harris Andrews are the best young key defenders in the game so they basically picked themselves.

The midfield was next and it was a star-studded line-up. Despite the talent of the entire midfield in the squad of 40, I actually found the final seven midfielders pretty easy to select.

Those first five players; Marcus Bontempelli, Clayton Oliver, Josh Kelly, Matt Crouch and Zach Merrett are five of the best players in the game full stop. The mids on the bench such as Ollie Wines and Isaac Henney were picked because Wines had a great start to the season and Heeney was in my Supercoach team all year.

Out of the two rucks, Peter Wright and Sean Darcy, I chose Wright because he’s easily in the Suns’ best 22 players, whereas Darcy isn’t quite there yet and tends to play when Sandilands is out through injury.

That position, for me, was about picking the better player throughout the year as opposed to who actually spent more time in the ruck in 2017.

The only one I got wrong was having Orazio Fantasia on a flank instead of a pocket and Jack Martin vice-versa, but the forwards were easy to decide.

The only one I jostled with was putting Daniel Rioli on the bench. I was tossing up between him and teammate in Dan Butler. Butler had a better season but I went for Rioli because of his greater upside.

Bontempelli as skipper was another easy call – he’s the standout player in the team and is clearly regarded as a future leader.

In a nutshell, what made picking the 22Under22 side easier is watching a lot of footy and footy programs every night. I think I would’ve watched six or seven of the nine games every weekend.