As we hit towards the midway point of the 2016 premiership season, and footy experts and amateurs alike have given their say in who should be in this years All-Australian team. I read the team made by Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell's and the team made by The Age's Rohan Connolly. Intriguing selections by both teams.
Now it's my turn to give it a shot in naming the All-Australian team if it was to be announced today. There were numerous players considered in my mid-year All Australian but at the end of the day, there was only 22 spots to give away and there were many that were extremely unlucky to miss out, and we will get to them.
So without further ado I give you my All-Australian team: Mid-2016 edition.
The Back Line
Back Pocket – Dale Morris (Western Bulldogs)
Full Back – Alex Rance (Richmond)
Rance was named Full-Back in the All-Australian team last year, and it's no surprise to see him back here again. Whilst the Tigers have been utterly disappointing at times this year, Rance had never stopped giving his all even when games were decided by half-time. Has beaten the likes of Jesse Hogan, Matthew Pavlich, Jarrad Waite and Josh Kennedy this season.
Back Pocket – Heath Shaw (Greater Western Sydney)
The Half-Back Line
Half-Back Flank – Sam Docherty (Carlton)
Centre Half Back – Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
Talia's been amongst the elite key defenders in the past couple of years, so it's no real big shock to see him have another great year in defence for the Crows. Talia's kept the likes of Drew Petrie, Charlie Dixon, Tom Lynch and Tom Hawkins quiet so far this year and has been one of Adelaide's most important players so far this year.
Half-Back Flank – Jasper Pittard (Port Adelaide)
Pittard's been the whipping boy around Port Adelaide for a number of years, but I've really loved how he's gone about his footy this year. He's always looking to run and take the game on off of half-back and more often than not it comes off really well. Pittard's averaging 24 disposals a game and is in amongst the top five in the AFL in rebound 50s, averaging just under five a game.
The Centre Line
Wing – Lachie Hunter (Western Bulldogs)
Hunter's been one of the season's biggest improvers in 2016. This time last year, he was struggling to get a look in the Doggies' side and now here he is averaging over 31 disposals a game on the wing, this includes a career-best 44 touches against North Melbourne in round six. Whilst some may knock on the fact that he averages 22 uncontested possessions a game, you can't deny the fact he has an enormous work-rate and always finds himself in the right spots.
Centre – Lachie Neale (Fremantle)
With their star player Nat Fyfe suffering a season-ending injury early on in the year, this young man from the Glenelg Footy Factory has been one of the shining lights in an otherwise dark year for the Dockers. Neale is averaging a staggering career-high 34 disposals a game, which includes a career-high 16 contested possessions a game. One who was extremely unlucky not to get an All-Australian last year, he might just have Freo's best and fairest sewn up at this point of the year.
Wing – Dan Hannebery (Sydney)
Hannebery's enjoying another fine season, and is backing up his All-Australian selection from last year, averaging a career-highs in disposals (31 a game), contested possessions (15 a game), clearance (five a game) and inside 50s (five a game). Hannebery is heavily considered as one of the Brownlow Medal favourites right now, and it's not hard to see why, he gets involved in the play quite a fair bit.
The Half-Forward Line
Half-Forward Flank – Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs)
Whilst his numbers reflect more of a midfielder, averaging 26.5 disposals, six tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s a game, Dahlhaus' year can't be ignored and his capabilities to play as a forward lands him a spot on a forward flank. Works as hard as anyone in that Bulldogs' team, and when he doesn't have a massive game, he still provides something to the contest.
Centre Half Forward – Lance Franklin (Sydney)
After missing the finals last year due to mental illness, Buddy has bounced back in 2016 in a mammoth way, leading the Coleman Medal by kicking 41 goals in only 11 games of footy. Some are even suggesting that he could get the ton by the end of the year, but let's not get carried away here. For Swans fans, it's just fantastic to see one of the AFL's best forwards back and playing some of his best footy.
Half-Forward Flank – Aaron Young (Port Adelaide)
Young has been one of the real surprise packets of season 2016, kicking 25 goals in ten games this year after being handed the substitute vest in a majority of his games last year. He's kicked bags of four goals in three games this year and his staggering improvement has earned him a spot on the other half-forward flank. He's also averaging career-highs in disposals, averaging 17 touches a game.
Forward Pocket – Josh Jenkins (Adelaide)
Full Forward – Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)
In a season where the Suns have just been absolutely abysmal, Lynch is one of the rare few who can hold his head up high throughout the year. He sits third on the Coleman Medal, kicking 35 goals so far for the year, including two bags of five goals and four bags of four goals. Lynch also sits second in contested marks, averaging 2.5 contested marks a game.
Forward Pocket – Eddie Betts (Adelaide)
Eddie is probably the best small forward in the game today, and has 28 goals in 11 games so far this season. He's had moments when he's set a game alight with his fancy skills and footy smarts, and then he's had his moments where we're all searching for Eddie because he completely disappears, but his good absolutely outshines his bad and any team, even Carlton would want him in their team.
Ruckman – Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)
It was a 50-50 battle between Goldstein and Gawn for the number one ruck spot, but I stuck with last year's All-Australian ruckman (Sorry Maxy), Whilst Goldstein is third in the AFL for hitouts, he still has an influence around the ground and has kicked a few bags throughout this year, including a bag of five against Gawn's Demons back in round three, although a knee injury in recent weeks may derail his chances of All-Australian come season's end.
Ruck-Rover – Luke Parker (Sydney)
Parker is part of an elite midfield group in Sydney that missed the tail-end of 2015 with a ankle injury, but he's started off 2016 on fire, is averaging a career-high 27 disposals, and he sits in amongst the top 10 in the AFL for contested possessions averaging a career-high 14 contested possessions a game. Parker also has the capabilities of pushing down forward, kicking nine goals so far across 11 games.
Rover – Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
Dangerfield has proven to be a terrific acquisition since crossing from Adelaide in the off-season, averaging a career-high 29 disposals a game, along with five tackles, five clearances and a career-high seven inside 50s a game. Whilst his kicking for goal needs a little bit of work, no one can deny that Dangerfield's work in the midfield is one of the few reasons that Geelong are back in the top four.
Dylan Shiel (Greater Western Sydney)
A highly touted youngster who is reaching elite numbers this season, averaging career highs of 29 disposals and five clearances a game. In a team that has elite talent all across the board, Shiel oozes class in a midfield boasting the like of Ward, Scully, Coniglio and others, and his ability to break the lines and use the ball effectively is just simply outstanding.
Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
Was incredibly unlucky not to get a selection in the All-Australian team last year, after averaging 30 disposals a game last year, but has followed it up with averages of 30 disposals, 7.5 clearances, six tackles and five inside 50s (Career-high). Kennedy is as hard and tough as they come and is an intergral part of an elite Sydney midfield.
Steve Johnson (Greater Western Sydney)
I wanted a forward/midfielder to fill in a spot on the bench, and Stevie J fits the description perfectly. Was written off when Geelong shipped him off to the Giants, but has responded magnificently, kicking 22 goals in the first 11 games, whilst averaging 19 disposals a game in a more stay-at-home forward role.
Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
Has probably been the best recruit of the year for mine. Consistent and an effective member of Collingwood's engine room. He's averaged a career-high 30 disposals a game across all 11 games so far and has been an outstanding contributor since crossing over from GWS at the end of last year. He's averaged a career-high six tackles a game, as well as five clearances and four inside 50s a game.
There are so many apologies to be made, but you can only fit 22 people in the team. There was about 60 names that were considered, but I'll name about a dozen or so that were strongly considered
Defenders: Robbie Tarrant was extremely stiff to not get a spot, but with Rance and Talia playing solid footy, and Dale Morris providing a solid lock-down player on the smaller forwards, there was really no room to put him. Dane Rampe is in a similar boat. Some may have him over Pittard, but I think that Pittard's thoroughly deserved his spot. Adelaide's Rory Laird was another one considered, but missed a few weeks with a toe injury.
Ruckmen: The obvious apology goes to Max Gawn who has been awesome for the Demons this year, leading the AFL in hitouts, but Goldstein's work around the ground is second to none. Nic Naitanui is another one whose name was tossed around during the conversation, but wasn't a serious chance for the ruck slot.
Midfielders: Where do I begin? Midfielders are a dime a dozen. Sam Mitchell was extremely close to getting selected, but I felt he's less impacted games this year as opposed to last year. Zach Merrett from Essendon, Jack Steven from St. Kilda, Joel Selwood from Geelong and Scott Pendlebury from Collingwood were all strongly considered, but couldn't fit them in behind the likes of Shiel, Kennedy and Treloar.
Forwards: There were a number of key forwards that you just couldn't fit In the forward line. Jarrad Waite had a extremely strong start to the year, but his form the last month has tapered off a little bit. West Coast's Josh Kennedy sits second in the Coleman on 38 goals but I'm not sold on him one bit as he often gets his goals on the much weaker teams in the competition. Dayne Zorko was strongly considered, but I thought Stevie J was a much better option on the bench.
B: Dale Morris, Alex Rance, Heath Shaw
HB: Sam Docherty, Daniel Talia, Jasper Pittard
C: Lachie Hunter, Lachie Neale, Dan Hannebery
HF: Luke Dahlhaus, Lance Franklin, Aaron Young
F: Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch (GC), Eddie Betts
FOL: Todd Goldstein, Luke Parker, Patrick Dangerfield
INT: Dylan Shiel, Josh Kennedy (SYD), Steve Johnson, Adam Treloar