Down back opens up with Sydney club champion Jake Lloyd in the pocket. Lloyd has made many 40-man squads, but never received AA honours. He’s averaging 30.6 disposals and 6.6 rebound 50s – a career-high in both areas. In the other pocket is Geelong’s Tom Stewart, who collected his first AA jacket last year and has reached new heights in 2019. Averaging 24 disposals, Stewart ranks elite for rebound 50’s, effective kicks and meters gained.
For the key defenders, it was settled that young Lion Harris Andrews and Geelong utility Mark Blicavs have been worthy of selection. For Andrews, he ranks first in the competition for spoils, and while only collecting 14 disposals per game, his ability to lead Brisbane’s defence at such a young age is a credit to his character.
Blicavs is in a similar position, since moving to the full-back position at the beginning of the year, he’s looked right at home getting the better of some of the premier forwards in the league. Also averaging 14 touches at an elite 87% effectiveness, what stands out is his tackling with 3.1 per game the best of all key defenders.
Across the flanks we placed players from opposing Western Australian teams, filling up the same position as last season is Eagles captain Shannon Hurn, while Coburg product Luke Ryan has been a huge reason for Fremantle’s sudden rise. Despite doing his best work as a spare man, Ryan is a premier one-on-one defender, ranking elite for intercept marks and disposal efficiency – a force that is growing with confidence.
Hurn was fast out the blocks this season, he didn’t dip below the 20-disposal mark until round 11, and has averaged 25 for the year so far. Similar to the previous players mentioned, his kicking efficiency is the standout of his game. Hurn ranks elite for efficiency, intercept possession and rebound 50s. The Eagles skipper is averaging a ridiculous 17 effective kicks per game.
Through the wing positions, the two Kelly’s are above and beyond most runners in the competition, due to their ability to play inside and outside to perfection. While Josh Kelly averages more disposals at a higher clip, Tim Kelly’s contested possession rate goes above and beyond. Both players win centre clearances, but Tim Kelly’s stoppage work can be seen all around the ground averaging 4.4 stoppage clearances for the year. Tim has kicked 13 goals, while Josh has recorded many more score involvements, and is currently first in the league for that stat.
On-ball, we have three players who pretty much pick themselves. Lachie Neale has exceeded expectations during his first year at Brisbane, coming second for total disposals and fifth for average contested possessions. The others inside the top five for contested disposals are two dominant leaders of their respected clubs, Nat Fyfe and Patrick Cripps – who fills out the centre position.
Neale is leading the league in stoppage clearances, while Fyfe and Cripps are ranked fourth and fifth, with Cripps leading average centre clearances.
As expected, the two dominant rucks in Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn have found their way onto the team – they are currently neck-and-neck for the main ruck spot. And it’ll be debated right up until years end. Both players lead all other ruckmen in the contested possession count, and while Max Gawn has a handful more hitouts to advantage, Grundy averages 13.2 contested possessions to Gawn’s 10.4 per game.
Across the forward flanks, two guys who are more dominant as midfielders have been chosen here due to their ability to hit the scoreboard regularly. While Marcus Bontempelli has kicked just the 10 goals, he’s third in total score involvements, fifth for total inside 50s, fourth for both total metres gained and centre clearances. The ‘Bont’ has done it all this year.
On the other flank, top free-agent target Stephen Coniglio from the Giants. The Western Australian has slotted 15 goals from 13 matches, and it was a battle out of him and Patrick Dangerfield for this position, with Coniglio a nose in front due to a higher average of disposals and goal accuracy.
Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron are the key forwards that we couldn’t resist. While also coming first for marks inside 50, Cameron is leading the Coleman with 43 goals, while Hawkins is second with 37. Both players have been immense in regards to helping their sides remain at the forefront of the top four. A simple decision.
In the pockets, our pressure forwards are currently Michael Walters and eight-time All-Australian Gary Ablett. Walters is enjoying a career-best season with 30 goals to his name (leading all small forwards) while also averaging 21 disposals – helped by added midfield time, and ranks fifth for total score involvements.
It’s remarkable that people questioned Ablett’s ability to play as a stay-at-home forward earlier this year, when that was his role to begin his career. Across the league, Ablett sits fourth for score involvements and sixth for goal assists, sitting pretty with 26 goals for the season – second to Tom Hawkins at the club.
This team will see movements over the next few weeks, and the three remaining spots on the bench are all worthy nominations. Travis Boak has been Port’s top ball-winner this year, and is playing like a fine red wine. The 31-year-old is averaging upward of 30 disposals for the first time in his career, while also coming fifth in clearances per game and third for stoppage clearances.
A player who has arguably received more All-Australian snubs than any other, Ben Cunnington from North is putting in a fair year’s work. His contested work and ball-winning ability have continued to be praised, but it’s his effectiveness with the ball that has seen him receive the well-deserved recognition.
Brisbane leader Dayne Zorko gets the nod for the final spot. While he’s been a major factor in Brisbane’s rise, Zorko is first in the league for inside 50s and tackles inside 50 while also ranked second for total tackles. His disposal count is not as high as previous seasons, but his clearance work has remained the same.
Zero Hanger’s Rolling All-Australian side
B: Jake Lloyd | Marc Blicavs | Tom Stewart
HB: Shannon Hurn (C) | Harris Andrews | Luke Ryan
C: Josh Kelly | Patrick Cripps | Tim Kelly
HF: Marcus Bontempelli | Jeremy Cameron | Stephen Coniglio
F: Michael Walters | Tom Hawkins | Gary Ablett Jnr
R: Brodie Grundy | Lachie Neale | Nat Fyfe (VC)
I/C: Max Gawn, Travis Boak, Ben Cunnington, Dayne Zorko