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Your club's best 22 for 2017

Staff writers  October 24, 2016 8:32 PM

AFL 2016 Media - Dion Prestia Press Conference

Dion Prestia will add to the Tigers' midfield strength next season

WITH trade period finished and lists almost finalised ahead of next month's NAB AFL Draft, we predict your club's best 22 for next year.

These teams don't include players who have suffered long-term injuries and will miss the bulk of the 2017 season.

Adelaide

B: Luke Brown, Daniel Talia, Rory Laird
HB: Brodie Smith, Kyle Hartigan, Jake Lever
C: Rory Atkins, Rory Sloane, Charlie Cameron
HF: Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Wayne Milera
F: Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Mitch McGovern
R: Sam Jacobs, Matt Crouch, Brad Crouch
INT: Kyle Cheney, Scott Thompson, Richard Douglas, Cam Ellis-Yolmen
EMERG: David Mackay, Harrison Wigg, Riley Knight

Cameron moves on to the wing to add an injection of speed, while Milera comes into the side on a half-forward flank. Ellis-Yolmen gets his chance after the Jarryd Lyons trade to Gold Coast. Adelaide could also look to bolster its midfield with its first-round selection, No.13 overall, at the draft. Veteran Thompson hangs on to his place in the team, but Mackay is squeezed out of the side.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Lee Gaskin 

Brisbane

B: Tom Cutler, Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner
HB: Marco Paparone, Daniel McStay, Sam Mayes
C: Daniel Rich, Mitch Robinson, Allen Christensen
HF: Dayne Zorko, Josh Schache, Lewis Taylor
F: Michael Close, Eric Hipwood, Tom Bell
R: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams
INT: Rhys Mathieson, Ryan Bastinac, Rohan Bewick, Ryan Lester
EMERG: Ben Keays, Jack Frost, Josh Walker

Star onballer Dayne Beams was limited to two games this year after knee tendinitis and will make the Lions better when he returns. Frost was traded in and handed a three-year deal but it's telling that he spent the second half of 2016 in the VFL despite Collingwood not being blessed with key defensive options. Versatile midfielder Jacob Allison will likely be drafted as an academy selection.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Dinny Navaratnam 

Dayne Beams' return will make the Lions better after their dismal 2016. Picture: AFL Photos

Carlton

B: Simon White, Jacob Weitering, Lachie Plowman
HB: Sam Docherty, Caleb Marchbank, Kade Simpson
C: Dale Thomas, Bryce Gibbs, Sam Kerridge
HF: David Cuningham, Matthew Kreuzer, Matthew Wright
F: Charlie Curnow, Levi Casboult, Jack Silvagni
R: Andrew Phillips, Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy
INT: Jarrod Pickett, Rhys Palmer, Dennis Armfield, Ed Curnow
EMERG: Billie Smedts, Jed Lamb, Harry McKay

NOTES: All three ex-Giants – Marchbank, Pickett and Palmer – secured in the recent NAB AFL Trade Period should find themselves in Carlton's best side next year. Marchbank's arrival squeezes Sam Rowe out of defence, while Pickett and Palmer add depth to the competitive small forward spots. Injury-cursed former Geelong midfielder Smedts should be around the mark for the best 22. Kicking a score again looms as the Blues' biggest issue, which is why Kreuzer pushes forward as a marking target in this team and Phillips becomes the starting ruck.

NOT CONSIDERED: Ciaran Byrne (ACL – might not be back until late in the season) – Travis King

Collingwood

B: Tyson Goldsack, Lynden Dunn, Ben Sinclair
HB:Jeremy Howe, Ben Reid, Brayden Maynard
C: Daniel Wells, Adam Treloar, Steele Sidebottom
HF: Chris Mayne, Jesse White, Will Hoskin-Elliott
F: Jamie Elliott, Darcy Moore, Alex Fasolo
R: Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams
INT: Travis Varcoe, Jack Crisp, Josh Smith, James Aish
EMERG: Jordan De Goey, Levi Greenwood, Tom Langdon

The addition of free agents Wells and Mayne, along with promising ex-Giant Hoskin-Elliott has added class and depth to a strong midfield and the Pies now look decidedly more dangerous forward of the centre. The major issue is the full-back role after they released both Nathan Brown and Jack Frost and controversially threw ex-Demon Dunn a lifeline. The Pies could look for more coverage among delisted free agents and the draft pool, and versatile veteran Goldsack might well reignite his career on the last line.

NOT CONSIDERED: Jack Ramsay and Matt Scharenberg (unrealistic to place high expectations on them after undergoing knee reconstructions), Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas (even more unrealistic to expect this pair to find their feet quickly after missing two seasons with doping suspensions) and Tim Broomhead (highly talented but injury-prone). - Ben Collins 

Essendon

B: Mark Baguley, Michael Hartley, Matt Dea
HB: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Michael Hurley, David Myers
C: Darcy Parish, Jobe Watson, Brendon Goddard
HF: Travis Colyer, Cale Hooker, Aaron Francis
F: David Zaharakis, Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia
R: Matthew Leuenberger, Zach Merrett, Dyson Heppell
INTER: Tom Bellchambers, Jayden Laverde, Brent Stanton, Kyle Langford
EMERG: Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett, James Kelly

The Bombers are as interesting as any side to select their best 22 given the return of their 10 suspended players. This team includes all of them bar Hocking and Howlett, with former Geelong star Kelly also not selected in this side. Essendon can't just rely on its senior group to take it forward, which is why we've picked a few youngsters ahead of them. Martin Gleeson and Patrick Ambrose are also missing, while the No.1 pick – be it Hugh McCluggage, Andy McGrath or someone else – would also likely press for a spot. 

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Callum Twomey 

Jobe Watson is one of 10 Bombers returning from doping bans. Picture: AFL Photos

Fremantle

B: Tommy Sheridan, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr
HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Alex Pearce, Michael Johnson
C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill
HF: Michael Walters, Cam McCarthy, Harley Bennell
F: Shane Yarran, Michael Apeness, Hayden Ballantyne
R: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy
INT: Darcy Tucker, Connor Blakely, Danyle Pearce, Lachie Weller
EMERG: Ed Langdon, Hayden Crozier, Shane Kersten

There are some debatable aspects to the Dockers' best side next season. First is the ruck set-up. Sandilands needs a ruck partner. Both Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke look set to be available but Apeness might give more flexibility. McCarthy slots into Matthew Pavlich's spot. Kersten might not find a role immediately depending again on the forward structure. The Hill brothers on the wings are an exciting prospect. Hamling and Alex Pearce would probably be preferred as the key backs but Ross Lyon does trust Zac Dawson in the big games. Danyle Pearce's experience gives him an advantage but Langdon will make a strong case to push for the first-choice 22 if they look to build for the longer term.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Alex Malcolm    

Geelong

B: Jackson Thurlow, Tom Lonergan, Lachie Henderson
HB: Zach Tuohy, Harry Taylor, Cameron Guthrie
C: Mitch Duncan, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs
HF: Steven Motlop, Rhys Stanley, Nakia Cockatoo
F:  Lincoln McCarthy, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel
R: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Selwood
INT: Jed Bews, Jake Kolodjashnij, Sam Menegola, Josh Cowan 
EMERG: Tom Ruggles, Jordan Murdoch, Andrew Mackie

The facelift of Geelong's squad continues, with Josh Caddy, Shane Kersten, Nathan Vardy and Billie Smedts all moving to opposition clubs through the trade period. The Cats have also lost plenty of experience after the retirements of champions Corey Enright and Jimmy Bartel. Those departures hurt the Cats' depth, although Tuohy is a ready-made replacement for Enright and Aaron Black is talented, and could thrive in a fresh environment. With the return of Thurlow from a serious knee injury, veteran Mackie will have to earn his spot in the side.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Ben Guthrie

Gold Coast

B: Adam Saad, Steven May, Kade Kolodjashnij
HB: Jarrod Harbrow, Rory Thompson, Alex Sexton
C: Pearce Hanley, David Swallow, Matt Rosa
HF: Callum Ah Chee, Tom Lynch, Aaron Hall
F: Sam Day, Peter Wright, Jack Martin
R: Tom Nicholls, Michael Rischitelli, Gary Ablett
INT: Touk Miller, Jarryd Lyons, Jesse Lonergan, Jarrod Garlett
EMERG: Nick Malceski, Jarrod Witts, Jack Bowes

Former Brisbane Lion Hanley adds line-breaking run if he can return to his best form. Rischitelli will miss about half the season as he recovers from a knee reconstruction but his leadership is invaluable to the Suns. A strong hand at the NAB AFL Draft will see the club bring in plenty of talent, with academy players Bowes and Brad Scheer likely to be among those added to the list. Malceski is a somewhat controversial non-selection but his two years at the Suns have been underwhelming.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Dinny Navaratnam 

Gary Ablett should be fit and ready to fire from round one. Picture: AFL Photos

GWS

B: Heath Shaw, Aidan Corr, Nick Haynes
HB: Nathan Wilson, Phil Davis, Zac Williams
C: Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Tom Scully
HF: Brett Deledio, Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene
F: Steve Johnson, Jon Patton, Rory Lobb
R: Shane Mumford, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio
INT: Devon Smith, Lachie Whitfield, Jacob Hopper, Ryan Griffen
EMERG: Adam Tomlinson, Matt Kennedy, Matt Buntine

Star recruit Deledio adds more experience and versatility to the Giants, and while he's likely to spend most of his time at half-forward, he can play anywhere on the ground. Corr gets the nod ahead of the unlucky Adam Tomlinson to fill the second key back spot, a position that could be decided in the pre-season.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Adam Curley

Hawthorn

B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Kaiden Brand
HB: Grant Birchall, Ben Stratton, Shaun Burgoyne
C: Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Billy Hartung
HF: Cyril Rioli, Ty Vickery, Luke Hodge
F: Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, James Sicily
R: Ben McEvoy, Liam Shiels, Jaeger O'Meara
INT: Paul Puopolo, Ryan Burton, Daniel Howe, Josh Gibson
EMERG: Will Langford, Ryan Schoenmakers, Brendan Whitecross

The Hawks are tweaking things for another tilt at the flag, perhaps not next year but the few to follow. Hodge should spend his likely final season playing closer to goal, while Brand gets the chance to cement his place as the second key defender. If boom recruits Mitchell and O'Meara can help the Hawks address their midfield issues there is enough scoring power to ensure the Hawks remain super-competitive. Expect Marc Pittonet, Kieran Lovell, Teia Miles and Kade Stewart to play a few games, and 2017 might also be the year where we learn once and for all whether Tim O'Brien, Jonathan O'Rourke and Will Langford have futures at the club.

NOT CONSIDERED: Jarryd Roughead (illness), Jon Ceglar (knee) - Ashley Browne

Hawthorn will be hoping that Jaeger O'Meara will return from his knee woes. Picture: AFL Photos

Melbourne

B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Michael Hibberd
HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Christian Salem
C: Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince
HF: Dean Kent, Sam Weideman, Christian Petracca
F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts
R: Max Gawn, Jordan Lewis, Jack Viney
INT: Jake Melksham, Angus Brayshaw, Clayton Oliver, Cam Pedersen
EMERG: Tomas Bugg, James Harmes, Sam Frost

The additions of Lewis, Hibberd and Melksham, who sat out 2016 because of a doping suspension, further enhances Melbourne's finals hopes. The trio brings experience and leadership, two qualities that are vital for a young team preparing to take the next step into September. The Demons' line-up is full of talent, although fans will have to be patient as the forward line builds cohesion around the pairing of Jesse Hogan and Sam Weideman. With the squad it has in hand, Melbourne will push for finals next season.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Ben Guthrie

North Melbourne

B: Sam Wright, Robbie Tarrant, Marley Williams
HB: Shaun Atley, Scott Thompson, Luke McDonald
C: Jamie Macmillan, Jack Ziebell, Sam Gibson
HF: Shaun Higgins, Jarrad Waite, Mason Wood
F: Majak Daw, Ben Brown, Lindsay Thomas
R: Todd Goldstein, Andrew Swallow, Ben Cunnington
INT: Taylor Garner, Trent Dumont, Ben Jacobs, Nathan Hrovat
EMERG: Ryan Clarke, Ed Vickers-Willis, Kayne Turner

It will be a different-looking North Melbourne team next season after the farewells of Daniel Wells, Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo. The Roos will hope recruits Williams and Hrovat nail down spots in the best 22, while Daw should finally be a walk-up start after Petrie was moved on. Garner will play if fit after a horror run of injuries, and Wright, McDonald, Higgins, Wood and Ben Jacobs should add plenty in 2017 after long stints on the sidelines this season. It looks a competitive side, although the key defensive depth could be a worry.

NOT CONSIDERED Paul Ahern (ACL – unlikely to play in 2017) - Travis King 

Port Adelaide

B: Jack Hombsch, Logan Austin, Darcy Byrne-Jones
HB: Matthew Broadbent, Tom Jonas, Jasper Pittard
C: Jared Polec, Ollie Wines, Brad Ebert
HF: Jarman Impey, Charlie Dixon, Chad Wingard
F: Aaron Young, Patrick Ryder, Justin Westhoff
R: Jackson Trengove, Travis Boak, Robbie Gray
INT: Tom Clurey, Sam Gray, Riley Bonner, Hamish Hartlett
EMERG: Angus Monfries, Karl Amon, Brendon Ah Chee

The Power welcome back Ryder after spending the year on the sidelines serving an ASADA suspension. He'll start in the forward line before sharing the ruck duties with Jackson Trengove. Bonner deserves a spot on the interchange bench after an impressive debut last season. Monfries provides depth in the forward line. The Power will be hoping Hartlett can recapture his best form after being put on the trade table.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Lee Gaskin 

Riley Bonner will be looking to build on his debut season last year. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond

B: Dylan Grimes, Alex Rance, Chris Yarran
HB: Bachar Houli, David Astbury, Nick Vlastuin
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Brandon Ellis
HF: Shane Edwards, Jack Riewoldt, Josh Caddy
F: Sam Lloyd, Ben Griffiths, Daniel Rioli
R: Shaun Hampson, Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia
INT: Oleg Markov, Anthony Miles, Kamdyn McIntosh, Corey Ellis
EMERG: Jayden Short, Reece Conca, Connor Menadue

Short played 16 games last season but will be pushed out by the returning Yarran. By bringing in Prestia and Caddy, the Tigers have an abundance of inside midfielders but need their runners such as McIntosh and Menadue pushing through. Nathan Drummond is not far off making the team while Ben Lennon's talent should have him on the brink of the senior side.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Dinny Navratnam 

St Kilda

B: Jarryn Geary, Nathan Brown, Sean Dempster
HB: Dylan Roberton, Jake Carlisle, Shane Savage
C: Jack Newnes, Seb Ross, Nick Riewoldt
HF: Jack Billings, Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey
F: Jade Gresham, Paddy McCartin, Mav Weller
Foll: Tom Hickey, David Armitage, Jack Steven
INT: Leigh Montagna, Jack Steele, Luke Dunstan, Blake Acres
EMERG: Koby Stevens, Sam Gilbert, Nathan Freeman

It speaks volumes for the depth the Saints have established that Stevens, the midfielder they traded for from the Western Bulldogs last week is probably the 23rd man at the club. The backline will be considerably stiffened in 2017 with Carlisle free to debut for the club after his 12-month suspension and Brown stepping in after crossing from Collingwood. Provided St Kilda gets a good run on the injury front, it should expect to be in finals contention all year because this team ticks so many boxes – pace, hardness, scoring power and youthful exuberance.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Ashley Browne

Jake Carlisle will finally be the anchor of St Kilda's defence in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

Sydney Swans

B: Nick Smith, Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe
HB: Callum Mills, Aliir Aliir, Jarrad McVeigh
C: Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy, Isaac Heeney
HF: Tom Papley, Sam Reid, George Hewett
F: Lance Franklin, Kurt Tippett, Gary Rohan
R: Sam Naismith, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery
INT: Jake Lloyd, Zak Jones, James Rose, Harry Cunningham
EMERG: Jeremy Laidler, Dean Towers, Daniel Robinson

The loss of Tom Mitchell is countered by Heeney's permanent move to the midfield, and while he was outstanding on the wing late this season, next year he will spend more time in the middle. The Swans will be praying that Sam Reid can get on the park, and if he does, he'll be a huge bonus inside 50. With no additions during the trade period, the likes of Hewett, Cunningham and Rose will all need big years.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nil - Adam Curley

West Coast

B: Tom Barrass, Will Schofield, Shannon Hurn
HB: Sam Butler, Jeremy McGovern, Brad Sheppard
C: Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis, Lewis Jetta
HF: Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling, Chris Masten
F: Jonathan Giles, Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras
R: Scott Lycett, Luke Shuey, Sam Mitchell
INT: Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo, Sharrod Wellingham, Josh Hill
EMERG: Mark Hutchings, Jack Redden, Eric Mackenzie

There's only one change to the team that beat Adelaide comprehensively in round 23. Jetta missed the elimination final with a calf injury but he returns. Nic Naitanui is unavailable but the Lycett- Giles combination would be preferred over new recruit Nathan Vardy. Mitchell's addition to the midfield gives it some real depth. Hutchings gets squeezed out but he is always in consideration at the Eagles' match committee meetings and will press his case. Redden, Mackenzie and Liam Duggan will also push their cases after strong pre-seasons.

NOT CONSIDERED: Nic Naitanui (ACL – will battle to be back before finals) - Alex Malcolm    

Western Bulldogs

B: Shane Biggs, Marcus Adams, Dale Morris
HB: Jason Johannisen, Easton Wood, Robert Murphy
C: Liam Picken, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae
HF: Jake Stringer, Tom Boyd, Stewart Crameri
F: Luke Dahlhaus, Travis Cloke, Tory Dickson
R: Jordan Roughead, Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter
INT: Caleb Daniel, Matthew Boyd, Clay Smith, Matt Suckling
EMERG: Josh Dunkley, Bailey Williams, Toby McLean

Murphy (knee) and Crameri (suspension) are automatic inclusions, while Cloke will help the forward line structurally and can give a chop-out in the ruck. Impressive youngsters Dunkley, McLean and Zaine Cordy are premiership players, but a strong list sees them just miss out. After a promising debut season was cut short by injury, Adams replaces Fletcher Roberts in the key defensive post. Expect rising midfielders Williams, Bailey Dale and Lukas Webb to be vying for spots early in the season.

NOT CONSIDERED: Jack Redpath (knee – won't return until late in the season), Mitch Wallis (broken leg – will battle to return to his best next season) - Ryan Davidson