Is picking a half-way All Australian team a silly thing to do? Perhaps, but that has rarely if ever stopped me. Let’s have some fun.
A real breakout year coming from relative obscurity to be the most important player in the Cats’ defence, which also happens to be the league’s stingiest after 11 rounds.
Still the league’s premier key defender, even with the extra time commitments of training towards his dream of being an Olympic diver (do ho ho, very original joke I know).
Has played genuinely elite footy this year when he’s not busy being suspended. An argument could be made that he’s Hawthorn’s most important player.
Shannon Hurn (captain)
His form and leadership this year undoubtedly are among the key reasons why West Coast are not just better than expected but in premiership contention.
After his career nearly came to an end last year, he’s returned to his very best form in 2018. No.3 in the league for intercepts (behind only Rance and Laird).
One of the most prolific players in the league and an almost automatic selection in the team these days.
Has become a more damaging player this year, averaging a goal and a half per game while still having the same impact on the wing that he always has.
One of the first picked – just as prolific as he was last year, and seems to be having more impact per possession than he did last year. New Brownlow favourite.
Has chosen a good year to be in the best form of his career, giving the Eagles plenty of reason to make him a better offer when it comes to a new contract.
Now that Tom McDonald is back, his roaming-up-the-ground role is working splendidly. Averaging just short of 20 touches and 3 goals a game (19.9 and 2.8, to be exact).
Flourished in the absence of Josh J Kennedy earlier in the season, and then seemed to get even better when Kennedy came back – sadly, will miss the next four to six weeks.
Might be a bit of a surprise selection, but he leads the league for both pressure acts and tackles – invaluable in the modern game, contender for ‘recruit of the year’.
In an era where every AFL player would like to have a few more midfield minutes, Caddy is proving that sometimes less is more. Three goals a game.
Does kicking the most goals for the year so far make him the best key forward of the year so far? That wasn’t a rhetorical question, the answer is yes.
The league’s most well performed small forward in a year where there haven’t been many standouts, though he’s only kicked one goal in the last three weeks.
Arguably the hardest choice to make in the team, but he beats out Max Gawn and Nic Naitanui because while he may have less ruck-related stats, he has a bigger impact on games.
Nat Fyfe (vice-captain)
The best player in the league so far this year, no question.
Has made the leap from being a very good midfielder to a genuinely elite midfielder. Career-high numbers in disposals, tackles and clearances.
Certainly isn’t having the year he had last year, but still doing more to belong in the All Australian team, albeit only on the bench.
See: Patrick Dangerfield.
Up there with Fyfe and Mitchell among the top three players for clearances this year – one of the few positives in Carlton’s 1-10 season.
Despite having played a game less than most of the other contenders for the title, he still has the most metres gained by any player in the league this year.
B: Tom Stewart, Alex Rance, James Sicily
HB: Shannon Hurn (c), Scott Thompson, Rory Laird
C: Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Andrew Gaff
HF: Jesse Hogan, Jack Darling, Devon Smith
F: Josh Caddy, Ben Brown, Luke Breust
Fol: Brodie Grundy, Nat Fyfe, Jackson Macrae
Int: Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin, Patrick Cripps, Paul Seedsman
Adelaide Crows: Rory Laird, Paul Seedsman (2).
Brisbane Lions: none.
Carlton Blues: Patrick Cripps (1).
Collingwood Magpies: Brodie Grundy (1).
Essendon Bombers: Devon Smith (1).
Fremantle Dockers: Nat Fyfe (1).
Geelong Cats: Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Stewart (2).
Gold Coast Suns: none.
GWS Giants: none.
Hawthorn Hawks: Luke Breust, Tom Mitchell, James Sicily, Isaac Smith (4).
Melbourne Demons: Jesse Hogan (1).
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Ben Brown, Scott Thompson (2).
Port Adelaide Power: none.
Richmond Tigers: Josh Caddy, Dustin Martin, Alex Rance (3).
St Kilda Saints: none.
Sydney Swans: none.
West Coast Eagles: Jack Darling, Andrew Gaff, Shannon Hurn (3).
Western Bulldogs: Jackson Macrae (1).
The title of most unlucky would have to go to Dayne Beams who could easily be in here by the end of the year, and Max Gawn and Nic Naitnaui could rightly be miffed to have missed selection.
Elliot Yeo, Steele Sidebottom, Bryce Gibbs, Stephen Coniglio and Tom Phillips were all considered for the midfield, as were Robbie Gray and Shaun Higgins at half-forward.
Picking a second key defender after Rance was very hard – Thompson got the nod on weight of numbers, but Jeremy McGovern, Daniel Talia or Harris Andrews would all be equally as deserving.
It’s pretty rare that Lance Franklin misses a team like this, but the foot injury that cost him a few games means he’s just behind the three key forwards I picked – for now.
Charlie Cameron and Mark LeCras were next in line for consideration as small forwards, but neither has been quite prolific enough to justify their inclusion.