AFL

Rolling All-Australian Side: First Four Rounds

With four rounds now in the books, it’s definitely the right time and not too early to start putting All Australian sides together. So starting this week, we will be beginning a rolling All Australian team. Obviously, the gap between players on the fringes of the team is razor thin after four rounds so expect lots of changes over the next few weeks. Here is the first team:

Backline:

Putting together a standout backline after four games is difficult, but Taylor Adams and Sam Docherty pick themselves across half-back flanks. Adams has definitely been more of a midfielder this year, but for the sake of team balance he can stay in the back six. Adams has averaged 32 disposals and while his kicking could be better, he’s been one of Collingwood’s only consistent players and probably their best. Docherty hasn’t missed a beat since winning Carlton’s best and fairest last year, establishing himself as the Blues’ general down back. His performance against the Bombers in particular highlighted his footy smarts. Docherty’s former teammate Zach Tuohy has taken his game to a new level since moving to the Cats. He’s become a more attacking defender, pushing up the ground and using his elite kicking skills to become a far more damaging player than he was at the Blues. Dylan Roberton is as reliable as ever as a lockdown defender, but is now also averaging 24 disposals and 7.5 marks to go with it. The hardest part of this backline was selecting the key position slots. Alex Rance is widely accepted as the best key defender in the competition and has been performing consistently despite coming into the season underdone and Steven May edges out Daniel Talia, which is saying something considering his side suffered a 100 point thumping in round two.

Backline: Zach Tuohy, Steven May, Dylan Roberton, Sam Docherty, Alex Rance and Taylor Adams

Midfield:

The reigning Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield has wasted no time planting himself in All Australian contention, averaging 31 disposals and being his usual bullocking self, however former teammate Rory Sloane probably leads the way as the best midfielder so far in 2017. Marc Murphy has had a horror run with injuries, but a full pre-season and a rested body has seen him return to peak form and the same can be said for Trent Cotchin who is back to his best after a few years in the wilderness. Teammate Dustin Martin has already won the Brownlow Medal according to the footy media and was a certain starter for this team. Brodie Grundy has been the clear standout ruckman in the competition so far. He’s the only ruckman to average over 35 hit-outs, four tackles and 15 disposals. Stefan Martin is right on his tail, but Grundy’s more complete performances give him the early edge.

Midfield: Brodie Grundy, Rory Sloane, Dustin Martin, Marc Murphy, Patrick Dangerfield and Trent Cotchin

Forwards:

Dominant round four performances by Eddie Betts and Tom Hawkins have put them on top of the goal-kicking table and into this team. The two kicked 10 goals between them in their side’s respective wins. Fellow Cat Daniel Menzel is having a brilliant year with 13 goals to his name and 15 disposals per game. After such a horror run, he’s finally able to show what he’s capable of. Toby Greene is as consistent as he was in his All Australian calibre 2016 and was the first forward selected in this side. Jeremy Cameron and Josh Kennedy sit in third and fourth on the goal kicking table and can’t be denied spots in the team. Coincidentally, the top six goal-kickers so far this year are also the six players in this forward line… that was not deliberate, promise.

Forward: Eddie Betts, Tom Hawkins Daniel Menzel, Jeremy Cameron, Josh Kennedy

Interchange:

Zach Merrett is incredibly unlucky to not be in the starting 18, averaging 33 disposals at 70 per cent disposal efficiency, which includes the round three game against the Blues in pouring rain. Tom Scully edges out Luke Shuey, Ollie Wines and Clayton Oliver for the final midfield spot because of his impact without the ball as much as what he does with it. Scully’s 17 disposals in the first half against the Power were vital while the game was in the balance. Dayne Zorko has been Brisbane’s best, averaging 26 disposals and kicking six goals. His 26 disposals, two goals and eight tackles against the Tigers highlights just how damaging he can be and gives him the edge over Luke Dahlhaus for that mid who can rotate forward position. Taylor Walker rounds out the team despite missing a game. His clutch goal kicking against the Power got the Crows over the line and he backed it up with five goals against Essendon the next week. Despite being last on the bench, it’s hard to see him dropping out of this side any time soon.

Bench: Zach Merrett, Dayne Zorko, Taylor Walker, Tom Scully

First Four Rounds All Australian Team:

FB: Dylan Roberton, Steven May, Zach Tuohy

HB: Taylor Adams, Alex Rance, Sam Docherty

C: Marc Murphy, Patrick Dangerfield, Trent Cotchin

HF: Toby Greene, Josh Kennedy, Daniel Menzel

FF: Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins, Eddie Betts

Foll: Brodie Grundy, Rory Sloane, Dustin Martin

Int: Zach Merrett, Tom Scully, Dayne Zorko, Taylor Walker

Emg: Luke Shuey, Ollie Wines, Stefan Martin

On the cusp:

Wines and Shuey haven’t done anything wrong so far in 2017, but of course, you can only pick so many midfielders. Martin versus Grundy for the ruck slot is going to be a great battle to watch unfold, especially with Max Gawn on the shelf. Andrew Gaff has gotten more of the ball than any player bar one, but sits below Merrett, Cotchin and Murphy at this stage who have been more influential on their side’s performances. Bulldogs defender Jason Johannisen has been rotated forward a lot, making it difficult to judge him in the best six of any position despite his strong start to the year. Sydney’s Jake Lloyd has also continued to dominate despite the team’s slump and is certainly on the radar. Marcus Bontempelli, Lance Franklin, Nathan Fyfe and Joel Selwood are among the competition’s best and are having good seasons, but name value isn’t going to get you into this side.

Feel free to sling criticism at me on Twitter: @NicNegrepontis

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