It’s getting dangerously close to the end of the AFL season.
And one of the big events for the year will be the announcement of the 2019 All-Australian team.
From the locks to the bolters, we take a look at the All-Australian contenders.
Live stream the 2019 Toyota AFL Premiership Season on KAYO SPORTS. Every match of every round. Live & anytime on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14 day free trial >
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, who’s also the chairman of the All-Australia selection committee, suggested on Tuesday that it was one of the toughest years to select the squad.
“It was the most debated and contested one (yet),” McLachlan said on 3AW’s Sportsday.
“I think this is my sixth year of doing it, it was clearly the most contested. You’re trying to shape it up, you’ve got a strong body of work to look at and it got quite fiery.”
The group will have a final meeting on the day after Round 23 concludes.
ON YOUR PHONE? TAP HERE TO LISTEN
As always, there are a collective of players who just pick themselves for an All-Australian jacket.
Marcus Bontempelli (7.6 score involvements, 26.8 disposals, six clearances) is leading the AFL Coaches’ Association player of the year award, with the silky 23-year-old the creative conductor of the Western Bulldogs midfield. Second in line is Geelong revelation Tim Kelly, closely followed by Fremantle dynamo Nat Fyfe. Meanwhile Patrick Cripps (28.1 disposals, 8.3 clearances, 6.1 tackles) and Lachie Neale (30.4 disposals, 7.8 clearances) are the clearance machines who pick themselves.
Harris Andrews should have the full-back spot locked in after a stellar season up north, while Shannon Hurn will be strongly considered at half-back.
Many of the locks are, understandably, from the competition’s top two teams. Charlie Cameron, Neale, and Andrews just about pencil their own names in, while Geelong duo Patrick Dangerfield (7.3 score involvements, 26.5 disposals) andKelly (25.4 disposals, 6.5 score involvements, 6.2 clearances) slot right in.
When looking at the ruck battle, Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn are clearly, once again, the best two players in their position. This year, Grundy should win out for the starting role, with Gawn on the bench.
In a year where 6-6-6 has made the traditional wingman crucial again, Brad Hill has clearly been the best performer in that category.
There’s really only two locks in the forward line, and they’re both called Cameron: Coleman Medal leader Jeremy Cameron (58 goals) and Lions star Charlie Cameron (47 goals).
This covers everything from the bolters to the consistent performers.
Talented young Lion Hugh McCluggage has a rock-solid case to occupy the opposite wing to Hill and earn his first guernsey. McCluggage has played as a genuine wingman this year, with his poise, run and class setting him apart. Teammate Daniel Rich arguably could earn his first selection too, after a superb season at half-back, while GWS defender Nick Haynes is another who could slot into that role.
In Alex Rance’s absence, Dylan Grimes has become the marshall of Richmond’s defence and should be right in the thick of things, while Robbie Tarrant has enjoyed another stellar year at centre-half back for the Kangaroos and should be in the conversation.
Phil Davis is in the mix for his maiden All-Australian jumper.
There are also players in this team who arguably deserve selection in their specific position. Jake Lloyd and Brad Sheppard are two of the best small defenders plying their trade right now, while Tom Stewart will again be around the mark.
The second tall forward spot remains up for grabs. All of Tom Hawkins, Ben Brown, Jack Darling and Tom Lynch are right in the thick of things. The final Coleman Medal leaderboard will go a long way towards determining who snags that guernsey.
The midfield race is always a tough one. The likes of Travis Boak, Dayne Zorko, Ben Cunnington, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley, Michael Walters and Dustin Martin can all arguably lay claim to a potential spot.
Lachie Whitfield and Zac Williams have both enjoyed fine seasons, but could yet miss out, as could Richmond’s Mr Fix-it Shane Edwards.
STOCKS HAVE FALLEN
Former cricketer Alex Keath has had a much improved 2019 with the Adelaide Crows, averaging 17 disposals and 6.5 marks. A standout performance for the tall defender came against St Kilda in Round 6, where the 27-year-old has 21 disposals and 14 marks. Since the mid-season bye, Keath’s form has somewhat subsided, with an injury keeping him sidelined since Round 18.
Mark Blicavs started the year as one of the true contenders to hold down an All-Australian spot, but like Geelong’s second-half form slump, the athletic tall too has dropped off. Chris Scott used Blicavs as their No. 1 ruck against North Melbourne in Round 21.
Luke Ryan’s bleach-blonde hair certainly made him standout for Fremantle, but it was three 30-plus disposal performances in the first-half of 2019 that caught the eye. Since then, the Docker has struggled to dominate matches like he did when the Dockers were pushing for a September appearance.
Not many players had a more impressive first month than Alex Sexton, with the Gold Coast Suns forward pushing his Coleman Medal credentials as he booted 12 goals in the first four games. He has been a consistent goalkicker for the rest of the year, but won’t be able to slot into the final 22.
Collingwood star Jordan de Goey lifted his credentials with a bag of five goals against Richmond in Round 2, but at times he has been inconsistent in terms of his disposal numbers. The Pie has booted at least a goal in every game, averaging 17.7 disposals.
Shaun Higgins is another midfielder who will likely push for a stop in the All-Australian squad. His performances up to Round 11 were exceptional, collecting 30 or more disposals on eight occasions. Injury will hurt him, given he suffered his injury in Round 12 and didn’t play until Round 18.
Sydney Swans onballer George Hewett drew praise from the On The Couch panel after an impressive patch of 10 games at the start of the season. His performances as a tagger and his ball winning in the midfield put him firmly in the mix. But a five-week period with disposal hauls in the teens should count heavily against him.