Round 6 has concluded and changes are in season as the rolling All-Australian team loses five guys that’ve been in the team from the start. Last week was all about avoiding knee jerk reactions, but this week is about rewarding those who’ve been on the cusp in favour of some who might’ve dropped off All-Australian pace. Here’s the updated team.
There’s one change to our on-field backline this week and it’s a big one. Alex Rance conceded five goals to All Australian teammate Taylor Walker in what was a dirty day for the Tigers and finds himself out of the side. The battle for the two key defensive slots is wide open and on the back of some strong form, Jeremy McGovern jumps in at centre half back. McGovern had 22 disposals and took 13 marks in the derby and continues to be one of the best intercept players in the competition.
Sam Docherty (bench) regains his position in the team after his 39-disposal effort against the Swans on Saturday afternoon. Docherty was incredibly stiff to drop out and only did because Rory Laird was always supposed to be in the team to begin with. A defender doesn’t lose their place because of Docherty’s inclusion however. The team had three midfielders on the bench and in order to fit another defender in, Docherty replaces his captain Marc Murphy who had a good game on the weekend, but sits behind other midfielders who’ve gone passed him in the last fortnight.
The rest of the backline continues to validate their selections with Dylan Roberton (29 disposals and two goals), Zach Tuohy (36 disposals), Taylor Adams (36 disposals) and Rory Laird (34 disposals) all having fantastic weekends. Of course, Adams is almost exclusively a midfielder at this stage, but we can get away with him on a back flank in this side. Nathan Brown also did his job again for the Saints who obliterated Hawthorn down in Tasmania. Jayden Hunt, Zach Williams and Elliot Yeo continue to warrant selection in the side, but there just aren’t any spots for them.
The on-field midfield stays as is (FOR NOW), but the bench has been completely overhauled. As already mentioned, Murphy loses his spot in the team and Trent Cotchin joins the Blues’ skipper on the sidelines. Cotchin has had a very good season to date, finding form he hasn’t had in years, but Clayton Oliver could not be denied any longer. The young Demon’s 33-disposal game against the Bombers has pushed him ahead of Murphy and Cotchin. Oliver is averaging 31.7 disposals per game and at 19 years old, is becoming one of the best contested midfielders in the game very quickly. The third change is an unfortunate one because Tom Scully has been excellent for the Giants without getting massive numbers like some of the other midfielders in the team, but unfortunately for Tom, Gary Ablett is back. The champ has averaged 37 disposals since he was hammered by the AFL media and this was capped off by a 45-disposal game against North Melbourne on the weekend.
As for the rest of the midfield, Rory Sloane continues to establish himself as arguably the best midfielder in the competition. The Crows gun gathered 33 disposals and kicked three goals in their top-of-the-table clash against the Tigers on Sunday. Zach Merrett (32 disposals) continues to get plenty of the ball and is locked on that wing for the foreseeable future. Dayne Zorko had a quiet day against the Power, but he’ll get a reprieve given how badly his team was beaten. He still was influential as far as Lions players went, finishing with 19 disposals and a goal. Nick Riewoldt will probably take Zorko’s spot on the wing if he doesn’t perform next week. Patrick Dangerfield hasn’t been his explosive self for a few weeks now and considering the midfielders omitted this week weren’t exactly in poor form, the reigning Brownlow medallist may lose his spot if he doesn’t get back to his best.
Sam Jacobs has flown under the radar a little this year, but is knocking on the door for the ruck spot in the team. Brodie Grundy (33 hit-outs and 16 disposals) had a decent game, but 50 hit-outs, 26 disposals and a goal from Jacobs has him catching up quickly.
Last week it was made clear one of the key forwards was going to drop out of the team and Tom Hawkins has drawn the short straw. Taylor Walker comes onto the field thanks to his five goal performance, while Jeremy Cameron kicked four and Josh Kennedy kicked six to retain their spots. Hawkins was saved by a strong fourth quarter last week, but a one goal performance against the Pies sees him out. Robbie Gray’s blistering form can’t be overlooked any longer, even if it is against poor opposition. He’s kicked 9.9 in two weeks and that speaks for itself.
Daniel Menzel was managed this week which makes sense given the issues he’s had with his body. He’ll find himself moved to the team’s bench, but it would be heartless to boot him out of the team. Eddie Betts had a quiet day, but isn’t going anywhere either. Essendon’s Orazio Fantasia is knocking on the door though so Betts’ spot certainly isn’t guaranteed. Toby Greene had another fantastic game but now finds himself in trouble with the MRP. We’ll set a rule now: any suspension longer than two weeks and you are out of the team. It would be a shame for Greene who is arguably the in-form forward in the competition. If Greene is to drop out, Luke Dahlhaus is the front runner to take his spot on the half forward flank.
FB: Dylan Roberton, Nathan Brown, Zach Tuohy
HB: Taylor Adams, Jeremy McGovern, Rory Laird
C: Zach Merrett, Patrick Dangerfield, Dayne Zorko
HF: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Robbie Gray
FF: Taylor Walker, Josh Kennedy, Eddie Betts
Foll: Brodie Grundy, Rory Sloane, Dustin Martin
Int: Daniel Menzel, Gary Ablett, Clayton Oliver, Sam Docherty
Out: Alex Rance, Trent Cotchin, Marc Murphy, Tom Scully and Tom Hawkins
On the cusp: Nick Riewoldt, Ollie Wines, Elliot Yeo, Luke Dahlhaus, Jayden Hunt and Sam Jacobs
One the fringe: Patrick Dangerfield, Dayne Zorko, Daniel Menzel and Brodie Grundy