Our fullback line contains the competition’s three leaders in intercept possessions. Rory Laird has backed up his All Australian selection in 2017 with another outstanding season for the Crows this year. The reliable defender is top ten in the AFL for handballs, disposals and rebound 50’s. Alex Rance is almost universally regarded as the best defender in the game and he did little in 2018 to dispel this status. Already a four time All-Australian, you can consider it a given he will receive his fifth jacket when the team is announced on Wednesday. Phil Davis is one of two members of the Pinch Hitters All Australian team to be overlooked for the official squad of 40. One of the more underrated players in the competition he is perhaps the most valuable cog in the GWS machine. Davis is also Vice-Captain of our squad, although his selection did cause some angst with some members of the selection committee adamant that Ben Stratton was worthy of selection.
Lachie Whitfield has been provided tremendous run for the Giants off the halfback line in 2018. Top 10 in the AFL for marks and kicks, it would be a big surprise if he did not earn his first All-Australian selection on Wednesday night. Shannon Hurn has been a rock down back for the Eagles this year in their run to a top two finish and is captain in our All-Australian team. Top two himself in the AFL for kicks and marks and should be one of the first men picked by the All-Australian selectors. Jeremy McGovern provides the Eagles great flexibility being able to play forward or back. His ability to read the play is illustrated in him being sixth in the AFL for marks and he should expect a third All-Australian selection on Wednesday. Hurn and McGovern both add intercept power to the backline, meaning it contains five of the competitions six leaders in this category in 2018.
On-fire in the first half of the season, Jack Macrae demanded selection with an outstanding season in 2018. Top 10 for disposals, the Bulldogs ball-magnet should earn his first All-Australian selection. The leading possession winner in the competition in 2018, Tom Mitchell is a certainty to be named All-Australian for the second time in 2018. Winning more clearances than any other player and top ten for Inside 50’s and tackles, Mitchell was the first player picked in our team. Although his season ended ignominiously, Andrew Gaff is a worthy selection in our All-Australian team. Highly sought after by a number of Victorian clubs, Gaff should have done enough in 19 games to earn selection by the All-Australian selectors for the second time.
Some of the most dynamic players in the competition are contained within the forward line of this team. Dustin Martin, fresh off one the greatest individual seasons in living memory in 2017, has again had an outstanding year. Responsible for more scores than any other player this season, Martin was one of the first picked for our team and should complete a hat-trick of selections on Wednesday. Despite limited preparation, Lance Franklin has done enough to secure the centre half forward position in our team. Fourteen years into his decorated career he remains one of the most dangerous forwards in the game. Jack Gunston rounds out the half-forward line after a return to form this season with 48 goals.
Josh Caddy forced his way into our team on the back of an extremely reliable season kicking for goal and his pressure work up forward for the Tigers. Caddy’s 44 goals placed him tenth on that measure but his 1.3 tackles inside forward 50 per game was a major reason why the Tigers were the second heaviest scoring team in 2018. Having Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt in the side was no doubt another reason for the defending premiers point scoring flurry this year. While not always the case, scoring more goals than any other player was reason enough for Riewoldt to be the spearhead in our All-Australian team. Luke Breust demanded selection in the team with a tremendous season that saw him kick 53 goals. His selection means that the forward line contains four of the seven leaders in score involvements this year, with two of the other three in the team too it wont lack for firepower.
The author of our weekly Collingwood Commentary wanted a say in just one position in our All-Australian team and it proved the decisive vote in the first ruckman debate. Brodie Grundy has been a major factor in the Magpies rise to the top four in 2018 and seen him recognised as the Herald Sun player of the year. Second in hit outs and tenth for clearances, he is a worthy selection as first ruck in our All-Australian team. Patrick Dangerfield had another stellar year in 2018, averaging a tick under 30 possessions and a tick over a goal a game. Dangerfield’s namesake, Patrick Cripps, was herculean in a team that had a disastrous campaign. Setting a single season record for contested possessions, Cripps was also top five in clearances and possessions, prompting some to wonder if he can become just the third man to win the Brownlow from the Wooden Spoon team.
Max Gawn was outstanding in 2018 and, with 1000 hitouts this year, is perhaps a little unlucky not to be first ruck in our team. Melbourne fans might also be a little disapointed in Clayton Oliver not earning position in the first 18. One of the most exciting young players in the competition, Oliver was top five for possessions, clearances, tackles and score involvements in 2018 and can expect his first All-Australian selection this week. A driving force in Collingwood’s ascension to the top four this year, Scott Pendlebury earns a spot in our team to add further depth to a talented midfield. Fourth in contested possessions and sixth in clearances, Ben Cunnington adds some extra grunt to our All-Australian team despite being overlooked for the official squad of 40.
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