The AFL Players' Association 22Under22 side was finalised Thursday morning, and it was dominated by Melbourne and Gold Coast youngsters.
Introducing the #22Under22 team for 2021! Congratulations to those players selected in this year’s team. We have 12 newcomers, while @CarltonFC’s Sam Walsh was named as captain and @freodockers midfielder Andy Brayshaw was named his deputy.
— aflplayers (@AFLPlayers) August 26, 2021
Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett and Trent Rivers were the Demons' three representatives -- each of them selected in the side for the first time. Meanwhile, the trio of Ben King, Jack Lukosius and Wil Powell made the Suns the equal best-represented AFL club.
The Western Bulldogs' two inclusions in the final team -- midfielder Bailey Smith and key forward Aaron Naughton -- were the two most popular picks among fans, included in 97% and 91% of teams, respectively.
Carlton sensation Sam Walsh has been selected in the 22Under22 side for the third straight season. This time around he was named skipper, with Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw handed the vice-captain mantle.
"It's an honour to be selected alongside so many great young players in the 22Under22 team – they've all had such a significant impact on the competition so early in their careers," Walsh said.
"Thank you to the fans who voted and I'm proud to be selected as the team's captain among so many other worthy leaders."
Arguably the biggest name to not receive a call-up was North Melbourne's Tarryn Thomas.
The 21-year-old averaged 18.2 disposals, 4.6 marks and a goal in 2021 -- including six games where he accumulated over 20 disposals -- but was left out of the final team.
Promising midfielders Tom Green (GWS) and Caleb Serong (Fremantle) were among the unlucky others to be omitted from the final team after being included in the initial squad.