As always, when an All-Australian team is announced, there are winners and losers.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna said there was ”a really nice blend” between youth and experience in the 2022 team, while dual premiership Kangaroo David King said he was happy with the formation of the side.
“The two pillars in May and Taylor — super strong,” he told AFL 360. You’ve got the lockdown defender and you’ve got the two counterpunch weapons across half-back – that is the modern game. And Stewart is a bit of both – he’s a bit of everything.
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“I think the balance of that back six is spot on.”
Foxfooty.com.au and AFL 360 assess the biggest winners and losers from Wednesday night’s All-Australian team announcement.
The Cats were the big winners of the night, with all five players named in the 44-man All-Australian squad making the final 22-man team.
It means the three forwards – Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron and Tyson Stengle – not only featured in the same team, but in the same starting forward line.
Hawkins, in a shock to most, was named in the side for a fifth time – and first time as captain
“That is incredible,” AFL 360’s Mark Robinson said.
“Most players are winding up, their bodies give it up, it’s too hard this game – what a performance.
“He is still one of the standout key forwards in the game.”
Tom Stewart occupied a spot in defence, while Mark Blicavs was named on the bench – probably the most appropriate spot considering he’s the most versatile player in the game.
“I honestly didn’t think he’d get in this team with about six weeks to go, it’s probably a challenge to find a spot for him,” King told AFL 360.
“He’s played four games as a key defender, five or six games playing wing/ruck and then he’s played the rest of the year as a midfielder changing ruck. I’ve never seen a player used like this before.
“I think it’s great recognition of his versatility which doesn’t always get this sort of accolade.”
You couldn’t wipe the smile off Magpies defender Brayden Maynard’s face when he was announced back pocket in the team.
Robinson said Maynard was Collingwood’s “spirit animal”, while Montagna said of all the players picked, he was “most pumped” for Maynard.
“He hasn’t got the best stats out of all the players who have made this side … but what he did was epitomise Collingwood with their aggression – aggressive with the way they defended, the way they played on offence,” Montagna said.
“He’s been the leader of this Collingwood resurgence … He played on the opposition’s best small forward when he had to, could intercept when he needed to, drive with metres gained on offence, could defend – he was the No. 2 pressure player in the defensive half in the competition – he’s been a star.”
Forty-four doesn’t fit into 22 — and just like every year, there were several members of the 44-man All-Australian squad that were stiff to miss out on the final 22.
Again, there was no room for a genuine wingman — despite several being available for selection from the squad — while the omission of a key defender and a star forward baffled punters.
Foxfooty.com.au assesses and ranks the ‘unlucky 22’ that didn’t make the 2022 All-Australian team.
1. James Sicily (Hawthorn)
The common consensus among fans and pundits on Wednesday night was Sicily was the unluckiest player to moss. As pointed out by dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna, Sicily was the No. 1 rated key defender, had the most disposals as a key defender, was third in the competition for intercepts and conceded the same number of goals as Steven May and Sam Taylor, who both made the final team. Montagna told Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “I think that was a massive snub, when you look through his season … I think he was extremely stiff to miss out.”
2. Tom Lynch (Richmond)
Selectors opted for Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron and Charlie Curnow as the key forwards over Lynch, who can consider himself unlucky. He finished second on the Coleman Medal table, but probably would’ve topped it if he’d had a full season as he only managed 18 games. Lynch was ranked first for both contested marks and goals per game.
3. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
He mightn’t have had the same numbers as other players in the team, but in terms of impact rather on game, Bontempelli has “been outstanding” this year, according to King, and was unlucky not to receive a fifth All-Australian blazer. He was ranked fifth in the league for score involvements and kicked 22 goals – the most of any midfielder in the competition this year. King told AFL 360: “There’s enough ball-winners in this team so he probably loses on rank. But the reason they (the Bulldogs) have made the eight and are still alive, in my opinion, is Marcus Bontempelli. One man’s importance to a team that’s still in the fight to win the flag, I think, supersedes what a couple of others can do as a group … Bont should’ve found a way into this team.” The non-selection of Bontempelli and Jack Macrae meant no Bulldogs player was selected in the final team, despite sneaking into this year’s finals series.
4. Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast Suns)
Witts made a brilliant return from injury in 2022 and was arguably leading the All-Australian race at the halfway point of the season. But, like the Suns, he was slightly below his best during the back-end of the season And with Mark Blicavs named on the bench, only one pure ruckman was selected, with Max Gawn getting the nod over Witts. But King told AFL 360: “Witts had such a big year as a tap ruckman but I think we track back to Max because he does so much around the ground and he’s more than just a ruckman … I think Witts is a little bit unlucky. I feel for him.”
5. Tom Barrass (West Coast Eagles)
Barrass put in a phenomenal season in a side regularly conceding an enormous amount of inside 50s. More impressively, he did it in large part without partner-in-crime Jeremy McGovern in the same arc. King said Barrass was “extremely unlucky”, telling AFL 360: “He’s been in a backline that’s been under siege all year. It’s incredibly difficult to play in a backline that just never gets set. His intercept numbers were ridiculous. If you look at just the second half of the year, the last 11 games he took 55 intercept marks – the next best player in the competition was Sam Taylor with 38 … I think that’s a bit disappointing.”
6. Rory Laird (Adelaide Crows)
A lot of ball-winners already in the side, but few won as much of the footy this year as Laird. In the best year yet of an already glittering career, Laird was ranked in the top five players for disposals, clearances, contested possessions, tackles and ranking points.
7. Charlie Cameron (Brisbane Lions)
Pipped by Tyson Stengle in what would’ve been a close call as there was only one goal difference between the two players this season. Stengle had more games with multiple goals, but Cameron had bigger bags with four four-goal hauls — all, of which, were in Brisbane wins. He was also more accurate than Stengle, booting 47.18 to Stengle’s 46.25. Mighty tough call.
8. Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne)
Brayshaw was probably caught behind Callum Mills in the end. But the Demon had a brilliant 2022 season, re-establishing himself as a gun midfielder and also acting as a superb intercept defender earlier in the year. Was a picture of consistency throughout the whole year, averaging a career-high 26.1 disposals and 7.4 marks.
9. Daniel Rioli (Richmond)
Was pipped by Adam Saad and Jack Sinclair for a half-back flank gig. Was one of the great stories of Richmond’s season as he continued to reinvent himself as a rebounding defender.
10. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
Would he have been more appropriate on a wing? He was the No. 1 player for uncontested possessions this season 32.1 disposals and 4.7 inside 50s.
11. Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane Lions)
Continues to be desperately unlucky not to make the All-Australian cut. That’s now four times he’s been named in the extended squad but failed to make the final team.
The best of the rest …
12. Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
13. Taylor Walker (Adelaide Crows)
14. Tom Papley (Sydney Swans)
15. Chad Warner (Sydney Swans)
16. Bayley Fritsch (Melbourne)
17. Josh Daicos (Collingwood)
18. Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
19. Jack Crisp (Collingwood)
20. Josh Kelly (GWS Giants)
21. Brennan Cox (Fremantle)
22. Callum Wilkie (St Kilda)