The Demons, with a 57-year weight off their shoulders, are in a terrific spot list-wise.

With the exception of acquiring Luke Dunstan (after he was delisted by St Kilda), Melbourne didn't make any noteworthy moves over the course of the off-season, displaying the utmost confidence in its young, premiership-winning squad to go again in 2022.

Heading into Round 1 of 2022 (a Grand Final rematch against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG), Simon Goodwin's men will have all the confidence in the world that they can go back-to-back.

We preview their list and make a call on their best 22 for the season ahead.

Ins: Luke Dunstan (St Kilda), Jacob van Rooyen (National Draft), Taj Woewodin (National Draft), Blake Howes (National Draft), Judd McVee (Rookie Draft).

Outs: Austin Bradtke (delisted), Kye Declase (delisted), Marty Hore (delisted), Neville Jetta (retired), Nathan Jones (retired), Jay Lockhart (delisted), Aaron Nietschke (delisted), Aaron Vandenberg (delisted).


The Demons have two of the best key position defenders in the game in Jake Lever and Steven May, and with Harrison Petty also in the lineup, as well as draftee swingman Jacob van Rooyen waiting in the wings if needed, Melbourne arguably possesses the best key position defence in the AFL.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Jake Lever of the Demons marks during the round 12 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at GIANTS Stadium on June 04, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The Demons also have the pleasure of trotting out the likes of Christian Salem, Michael Hibberd and Trent Rivers across half-back, with fan-favourite Jayden Hunt also fighting for a spot in the side.

Jake Bowey, who was a late-season revelation for the Demons last year, surely figures to keep his spot in the starting side at least to begin 2022.


Melbourne's premiership midfield will remain intact, with Brownlow challengers Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver firmly in place alongside the hard-as-nails Jack Viney and Angus Brayshaw, with skipper Max Gawn leading the way through the ruck.

Likely not to feature right away in the seniors, James Jordon and the newly-acquired Dunstan will be pushing for midfield opportunities throughout the early-to-middle portions of the 2022 season and will be craving playing time wherever (and whenever) possible.

during the AFL First Elimination Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 7, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.

The Demons are also sorted on the wings, with the elite-running Ed Langdon and the hard-nosed Brayshaw forming a formidable duo on opposite sides of the field.


After a slow-ish start to his Demons tenure, we saw the emergence of key forward Ben Brown during last year's finals series as he dominated through the air. His spot in Melbourne's best side is cemented, as is the club's 2021 leading goalkicker Bayley Fritsch.

Fellow tall forward Sam Weideman, who, after extensive external discussions about the potential for him to depart the club re-signed late last year, will be competing with the likes of Brown and Tom McDonald for a spot in Goodwin's side.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Ben Brown of the Demons celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2021 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at Optus Stadium on September 10, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Demons have also been able to utilise young gun tall Luke Jackson as a lethal forward/ruck option, with the 20-year-old having conjured a key role in Goodwin's system last season.

And of course, there is the electric Kysaiah Pickett, who burst onto the scene in his first AFL season and will surely feature prominently in the red and the blue in 2022.

Best 22

FB: Michael Hibberd, Steven May, Jake Lever
HB: Trent Rivers, Harrison Petty, Christian Salem
C: Angus Brayshaw, Christian Petracca, Ed Langdon
HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Tom McDonald, Tom Sparrow
FF: Kysaiah Pickett, Ben Brown, Bayley Fritsch
FOL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney
I/C: James Harmes, Jake Bowey, Luke Jackson, Charlie Spargo

EMERG: Jake Melksham, Jayden Hunt, James Jordon, Luke Dunstan