Death, taxes and on-ballers being named on a half-forward flank for the All-Aus outfit. Earning a spot on the ‘team of the year’ aka the All-Australian team each season is a lofty honour for the 22 players who are selected and the competition for spots this year will be hotly contested once again. Last season we saw half the team made up of first timers and as we enter a new season seven players are primed to contend for their first blazer and crack the All-Aus rotation for the first time in their careers.
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Adam Treloar, Bulldogs
I was pretty surprised to learn that Adam Treloar had never squeezed his way into an All-Aus lineup before with the former Giant/Magpie turned Bulldog one of the best accumulators the league has to offer. Joining a star-studded Footscray lineup meant that Treloar’s per-game averages have taken a slight hit, although, if he can stay on the park he’ll be primed to earn his first blazer – even if it is as a member of the bench.
Tom Barrass, Eagles
West Coast already has a 4x All-Australian in their backline, but I won’t be shocked if Tommy Barrass soon emerges as a contender for the team of the year as soon as 2022. Playing alongside Jeremy McGovern has seen Barrass take a back seat when viewed by most footy pundits, but the iron fist Eagle, who is set to appear in his 100th AFL game in Round 1, deserves to be in the conversation when talking about the best lockdown defenders in the league.
Callum Mills, Swans
It feels like Callum Mills has been around for a decade, but the 24-year old is still honing his craft as a midfielder for the Swans. The newly-promoted co-captain and former Rising Star winning produced career-best numbers a year ago, finishing in the top-20 for average disposals (27.5) and Brownlow votes (18). It’s no secret that Sydney is charging the guard in their midfield with Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy in the twilight of their careers, paving the way for Mills to make his presence felt and prove his 2021 exploits were no fluke.
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Jacob Weitering, Blues
Carlton’s former No. 1 pick continues to flourish more and more with every season he plays, winning the club’s best and fairest award in 2020 and putting forth his best statistical campaign last year. With the absence of Liam Jones in the Blues’ backline, Jacob Weitering will have a heavier burden to shoulder as the marshall of their defence, but it’s a role he’s certainly capable of fulfilling. Doing so should see him get more recognition and in turn, pave the way for Weitering to contend for his first All-Aus selection.
Sean Darcy, Dockers
Max Gawn, Nic Naitanui and Brodie Grundy have had a stranglehold on the ruck mantle for the All-Australian side, combining to feature as the lead ruckman in 5 of the last 6 seasons. Now, it’s time for Sean Darcy to enter the chat, with the hefty Docker emerging as one of the brightest young talents in the AFL. He may not crack the starting 22, but another strong campaign could see Fremantle’s lead ruckman earn a berth on the interchange.
Aaron Naughton, Bulldogs
My pick for the Coleman Medal this season, you can expect great things from the Western Bulldogs spearhead. Aaron Naughton generated 87 shots on goal last year, but his wayward boot saw him finish with 40 behinds – second only to Toby Greene. He’ll clearly be on the end of some decent deliveries inside-50 and if Naughton can improve on his accuracy, coupled with the high number of games we expect the Bulldogs to win, there’s no reason why he can’t take up residence in the goal square for the All-Aus squad in 2022.
Jack Crisp, Magpies
The AFL’s current leader for consecutive games played, it’s about time Jack Crisp got some reward for his prolific efforts. After gathering the most total disposals for the Pies a season ago, Crisp seems set to feature in more of an on-ball role following a successful stint on the half-back line at Collingwood. The back-6 is where he stands the best chance of breaking into the 22 and another ripper season for the Magpies could see him finally crack the rotation.
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