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Sorry Jack, but three aces trumped you

Date

Coleman winner Riewoldt misses selection in my national team.

Jack Riewoldt may have won the Coleman Medal, but many would argue (inset, clockwise from left) Lance Franklin, Tom Hawkins and Matthew Pavlich had more impressive seasons.

Jack Riewoldt may have won the Coleman Medal, but many would argue (inset, clockwise from left) Lance Franklin, Tom Hawkins and Matthew Pavlich had more impressive seasons. Photo: Getty Images, Sebastian Costanzo

IT GOES without saying that you can't please everyone when picking an All-Australian team, but generally you'll find reasonable consensus about at least 75 per cent of those selected.

Recent years have followed a bit of a pattern, too, a consequence of the way the modern game has become the province of an army of midfield running types supplemented by a few key position players, a couple of smaller forwards and defenders, and one or two ruckmen.

Rohan Connolly's All-Australian team

Which makes the task in 2012 just a little different. Normally, most of those keys and the ruckmen tend to pick themselves, the debates spared for which of the long catalogue of worthy midfield candidates should make the cut. This time, in my team at least, it has been the other way around.

I've had few issues with my selections of the on-ballers. The far closer call was about which key defenders, forwards and rucks deserved the nod more.

Only one Coleman medallist in the past dozen seasons, St Kilda's Fraser Gehrig in 2005, has failed to get the nod as the All-Australian spearhead. When the official team is announced tonight, it might happen again. It did in my version, anyway.

As good a year as he had, Jack Riewoldt topped the goalkicking in 2012 with the lowest tally for just on 50 years. The Richmond full-forward was consistent, going goalless only twice, but there weren't so many highs for him, kicking three goals or fewer in 14 games.

One of the two runners-up to Riewoldt, Tom Hawkins, just three goals behind, played further afield, and to me was the standout centre half-forward of the season. The other, Matthew Pavlich, was more explosive, won a lot more ball besides, and in a team picked to play, as the team of the year is, sits comfortably in a forward pocket.

In the goal square, I couldn't go past Lance Franklin who, despite missing six games, still booted 59 goals, and whose goals-per-game average of 3.7 was a clear best. Apologies Jack, it was a close call.

At the other end of the ground, meanwhile, I've made a bigger call still. How North Melbourne's Scott Thompson (and Hawthorn's Josh Gibson for that matter) failed to make the official All-Australian squad of 40 is beyond me.

Thompson held the Kangaroos' defence together all season. He shut down plenty of opposition goalkickers, but also proved one of the best defensive rebounders going around, so effective that he led the AFL for intercept possessions and was fourth for rebounds. In my team, both he and his Adelaide midfield namesake get a gong.

West Coast skipper and full-back Darren Glass might be a little stiff, but I couldn't go past Luke McPharlin, who was just as effective a negator, and had significantly more disposals, marks and rebounds.

One key defender was an easy pick, though, Sydney centre half-back Ted Richards, who not only shut down some big names, but was also a leading source of drive and rebound for his team. His would be a very popular All-Australian nod indeed.

I've gone for Grant Birchall and Brent Reilly as my running defenders, with St Kilda's Sean Dempster unlucky, and Brett Deledio perhaps even more so. The Richmond star could have snuck in there or in the midfield, but in the end probably paid a price for time spent in either spot.

I'm happy with Collingwood's Dane Swan as a half-forward flanker. The Brownlow medallist had his critics for alleged lack of defensive pressure, but in this side that's a quality hardly lacking, and how do you overlook an output that is close to an average 36 disposals per game?

As for the small forward spot, it's St Kilda veteran Stephen Milne for me. While you can't fault Cyril Rioli's class or tackling pressure, Milne kicked 56 goals to the Hawk's 35. That's the small forward's bread and butter and, in scoreboard terms, Milne was clearly the most effective of his kind.

In the ruck, Dean Cox is a lock.

My second ruckman is Richmond recruit Ivan Maric. Adelaide's Sam Jacobs had his claims, Nic Naitanui is undoubtedly spectacular, but Maric, as well as running a very close second for hitout numbers, did a power of work around the ground, a clear leader of his type for clearances and tackles.

Midfielders? That's easier. Trent Cotchin, Jobe Watson, Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield, the other Thompson, Dayne Beams, Josh Kennedy and Sam Mitchell were clear selections, and Scott Pendlebury's season good enough.

Close but just squeezed out in the end were Kieren Jack and Andrew Swallow.

The football landscape can certainly change quickly. A glance back at my mid-season team shows it has changed by almost half in just three months. Swans runner and goalkicker Lewis Jetta losing a little touch the longer the season has gone, mids such as Brent Stanton and Steele Sidebottom tailing off. Taylor Walker and Joel Selwood were just surpassed by rivals with bigger finishes.

No shame in that, and those last two in particular are candidates for whom you could still argue a strong case. As with any All-Australian team, though, it's not who makes it, but who doesn't, that is always the bigger bone of contention.

ROHAN CONNOLLY'S ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM

KEY (All figures averages except goals)
D = disposals IP = intercept possessions IM = intercept marks R50 = rebound-50s
CP = contested possessions C = clearances I50 = inside-50s M = marks T = tackles
G = goals total HO = hitouts.

BEAU WATERS (WC)
BACK POCKET
D 22.1 IP 7.2 IM 2.6 R50 3.2
Tough and courageous, smart reader of play, won plenty of the ball and used well. Marshalled Eagles' back line brilliantly. Spiritual leader.

LUKE McPHARLIN (FREM)
FULL-BACK
D 16.6 IP 5.9 IM 2.6 R50 3.1
Even better this year than last, the mobile and athletic Docker was tremendous overhead and also provided plenty of rebound.

SCOTT THOMPSON (NM)
BACK POCKET
D 18.4 IP 9.8 IM 3.2 R50 3.5
Should have been in initial squad. Ranked No.1 for intercept possessions and high for rebounds. Negated but was still creative, tremendous season.

GRANT BIRCHALL (HAW)
HALF-BACK FLANK
D 24.2 IP 5.9 IM 0.9 R50 2.8
Smart Hawk with superb kicking skills went to higher level again with incisive disposal, won more ball than any other defender.

TED RICHARDS (SYD)
CENTRE HALF-BACK
D 14.4 IP 8.4 IM 3.4 R50 3.5
Absolute lock in this team, outstanding in tough defensive post, kept big names in check and stood out for intercept marks and possessions.

BRENT REILLY (ADEL)
HALF-BACK FLANK
D 19.3 IP 7.6 IM 2.5 R50 2.9
Faded a little but still had good enough year to clinch a spot. Great reader of play, high for intercept possessions and lovely kick.

PATRICK DANGERFIELD (ADEL)
WING
D 27.3 CP 16.4 C 6.7 I50 5.8
Magnificent season, high for disposals and clearances, second in competition for contested ball, and damaging with run and carry.

JOBE WATSON (ESS)
CENTRE
D 29.0 CP 14.4 C 7.0 I50 4.3
Retained his consistency, even as teammates crumbled around him. Third for clearances, fifth for contested ball and great leadership.

DAYNE BEAMS (COLL)
WING
D 31.2 CP 11.8 C 5.8 I50 4.6
Dramatic improvement to elite midfield status. Fourth in competition for disposals, second for uncontested ball, damaging outside and good finisher.

SCOTT PENDLEBURY (COLL)
HALF-FORWARD FLANK
D 29.4 CP 13.8 C 6.1 I50 3.7
Form continued from last year, always cool-headed with disposal in heavy traffic and as always a prolific possession winner.

TOM HAWKINS (GEEL)
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD
D 12.8 M 6.7 T 1.2 G 62
Last year's grand final just a hint at this season's coming of age. Powerful presence, second for contested marks and 62 goals.

DANE SWAN (COLL)
HALF-FORWARD FLANK
D 35.7 CP 13.3 C 6.4 I50 4.3
Brownlow winner who copped some stick for lack of defensive pressure but nearly 36 disposals make him impossible to ignore. An enduring ball magnet.

STEPHEN MILNE (STK)
FORWARD POCKET
D 12.5 M 3.7 T 2.1 G 56
Small forward's job is to kick goals - the Saints veteran kicked far more than any other of his type. Always a danger to defences.

LANCE FRANKLIN (HAW)
FULL-FORWARD
D 18.0 M 5.8 T 3.6 G 59
Missed six games but still fourth in Coleman Medal with highest goals-per-game average at 3.7. Explosive champion and excitement machine.

MATTHEW PAVLICH (FREM)
FORWARD POCKET
D 17.9 M 6.2 T 3.0 G 62
Slowish start to season but exploded into life as Dockers' forward lynchpin. Joint runner-up in Coleman Medal, and great leader.

DEAN COX (WC)
RUCK
D 16.0 HO 25.4 C 2.7 T 1.7
Still the AFL's best ruckman, mobile, won plenty of ball, and also able to go forward to kick more than one goal per game.

TRENT COTCHIN (RICH)
RUCK-ROVER
D 27.5 CP 12.4 C 5.1 I50 5.3
Joint Brownlow favourite with good reason. Incredibly classy and consistent year. Failed to pick up at least 24 disposals only twice in 22 games.

GARY ABLETT (GC)
ROVER
D 33.8 CP 14.9 C 6.6 I50 5.1
At times virtually a lone hand, Ablett never let the Suns down and led AFL for disposals, including a career-best haul of 53 in one game.

IVAN MARIC (RICH)
INTERCHANGE
D 15.9 HO 31.0 C 3.1 T 3.8
Tremendous first year with the Tigers and proved an inspired trade, massive hitout numbers and easily the most prolific of rucks around the ground.

SCOTT THOMPSON (ADEL)
INTERCHANGE
D 29.6 CP 14.5 C 7.2 I50 4.1
Crows' midfield machine kept on keeping on, huge disposal numbers, a standout for clearances and contested ball. Terrific season.

SAM MITCHELL (HAW)
INTERCHANGE
D 27.1 CP 12.4 C 6.0 I50 3.9
Another prolific year for still underrated Hawk, high numbers in all categories, a leader for score assists and always used ball well.

JOSH KENNEDY (SYD)
INTERCHANGE
D 28.0 CP 16.7 C 7.5 I50 3.9
Stellar year for Swans' midfield gun, upped disposal numbers significantly and led competition for both contested ball and clearances.

51 comments

  • Good choices, especially with Jack Riewoldt. Perhaps if his focus had been a little less on personal glory this season, and more team-focused, Richmond might have done better this season. Selfish, self-oriented players do not help their teams to win premierships.

    Commenter
    blu
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    September 17, 2012, 4:32AM
    • You don't watch Richmond often, do you? Jack lead Richmond in score assists and he spent much of the year as a lone ranger in the forward line with injuries to Vickery, and only McGuane and Miller to try and give support

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 9:09AM
    • I watched Richmond's last match of the season, where Riewoldt had a little tanty every time he was overlooked by his teammates, and where his mind was clearly on winning the Coleman, and little else. Not a good look at all.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 9:28AM
    • I saw that match too. Didn't see too many "little tany's" but I did see the big fella kicking 6 big ones and showing some physical presence in making a contest trying to bring the ball to the ground all afternoon. Also his second and third efforts and defensive pressure were right up there. But I only watched every game this year so I don't know much about the way he's played.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 10:17AM
    • I agree Rohan. Good call to leave out JR.

      What you have got wrong though, is, there is only 1 north player.

      I see room for at least 6 other north players.
      Jack Ziebell, Daniel Wells, Andrew Swallow, Drew Petrie, Brent Harvey & the amazing Majack Daw.

      While Daw is yet to play a game of seniors, and is still on our rookie list, this would make his selection even the more amazing.

      And what really gets me mad about Richmond supports, is how one-eyed they are, and they always have their heads in the clouds, dreaming unrealistic dreams.

      Them tiger fans got no connection to reality.

      So back to the kangas.

      I rekkon we could squeeze big toddy goldstein in the team. He's better than that richmond ruckman with the mullet.

      And, if you think about it, I think we could put wayne carey in there at center half forward. He would still make this team, even though he's like what? 45 years old?

      Has anyone seen him recently? He's still like an adonis. Strutting around the bayside suburbs.

      So, that should make it 9 north players all up in the All Australian team, including the original Scott Thompson.

      Commenter
      Kam i Am
      Location
      Arden St, North Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 10:23AM
    • You obvioulsy didn't watch the last game. Don't let the facts get in the way of your rant will you? Jack kicked 6 in the last game on merit and was not focussed on himsefl one bit. He immediately to his team mates when he kicked his 4th which put him ahead of Hawkins and didn't now be one bit demonstrative. But then prejudice and bias against this guy is astonishing among the haters. Keep hating.

      Commenter
      Justin
      Location
      right here
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 10:30AM
    • @Justin,

      you're wrong, mate. I don't hate Jack Riewoldt at all - my comments were merely an observation. It's all in the eye of the beholder, ultimately, and clearly our opinions differ. I saw a young fella demanding possession of the ball from his teammates at every opportunity. You, obviously, saw differently. Ce la vie.

      And not sure why you felt the need to mention Hawkins, unless you made the mistake of assuming that I'm a Geelong supporter, just because I come from that area.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 12:28PM
    • @Mick,

      it's all subjective. You're clearly a Richmond supporter, so you'll see things differently to someone who isn't. Riewoldt appeared to be demanding possession of the ball at every opportunity. Perhaps it was just that one game and, knowing Richmond had no hope of making the finals, maybe he decided to aim for the one prize that was still within his grasp. I suppose that's fair enough, but players in his position prove their worth not only by kicking the goals, but in enabling them to be kicked even if it's by other teammates.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 12:34PM
    • @blu
      "I saw a young fella demanding possession of the ball from his teammates at every opportunity."
      is that a criticism?

      Commenter
      googly
      Location
      tiger land
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 1:01PM
    • @Googly,

      It depends on the situation, whether it benefits the team for one player to be demanding possession. If his teammates already have possession and a clear run at goal, then it's not necessarily the best thing to expect the ball to be passed to you - especially if you're being tagged by two or more players.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 2:42PM

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