If only one player from each team could be selected for an ultimate starting 18 who would make the cut?

This thought experiment only permits one individual per team to fill out a hypothetical starting lineup, based on playing positions.

Deciding who is likely to make such a squad is easier when assessing the league's bottom sides, but becomes increasingly more difficult as you make your way up the ladder and start to break down the best players from premiership contenders.

So this begs the question, would your side's best player be a lock or would they be forced to make way for a teammate in another position?

We at Zero Hanger have weighed in on this great debate and come up with the following starting 18, based on the mentioned criteria.

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1. Defenders

Changkuoth Jiath (Hawthorn)

Jiath was a consistent bright spot for a struggling Hawks outfit in 2021. He displayed a knack for picking off the ball in addition to solid defensive wherewithal, as evident by his 20 plus touches, 3.1 spoils and 6.9 intercepts per game.

He makes this team given that he was likely Hawthorn’s most consistent player and serves as a competitive option for the back-pocket.

Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

Despite being shifted around early and eventually succumbing to injury, Moore has proven to be one of the league's best defenders when fit.

His ability to spoil the ball in contested situations is second to none and his intercept marking sets him apart from most defenders in the game, for these reasons, in conjunction with a struggling Pies side, Moore is the perfect full-back for this starting 18.

Dane Rampe (Sydney)

Rampe is a competitive one-on-one player who is capable of making goal-saving plays but is also deadly efficient with the ball in hand. His 7.6 pressure acts, 394.7 meters gained and 84.8 per cent disposal efficiency highlight how versatile he is down back.

Rampe’s ability to not only perform basic defensive duties but also initiate offence through angle-changing kicks makes him a great option for the remaining back-pocket slot.

Rory Laird (Adelaide)

Laird is a possession machine with the engine to keep up with any forward in the game. Although he’s perhaps preferred in the midfield, he makes up for this with his 5.9 tackles and 20.6 pressure acts per game.

Laird’s been the Crows' for the best part of the past two years, which makes him an easy choice for the half-back line.

Tom Stewart (Geelong)

Tom Stewart was the Geelong defence in 2021.

His ability to intercept, spoil and kickstart the counterattack whenever the ball dare venture down into the Cats' territory was something akin to video gameplay. Stewart was always a lock for this list despite the wealth of talent at the Cats.

Aaron Hall (North Melbourne)

Hall averaged 27.9 touches and 650.5 meters gained per game. He by no means has a defensive bone in his body, but Hall was the driving force behind most of the Kangaroos' offence.

Hall completes this backline as his run and carry sets him apart from most at North, and does just enough to carve a spot for himself in this starting 18. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Darcy Moore of the Magpies spoils Joe Daniher of the Bombers during the round 6 AFL match between Essendon and Collingwood at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 25, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
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