DURING the bye weeks, AFL.com.au journalists assessed the top performers in the first half of the season and submitted their own All Australian teams at the midway point.

We compiled each writer's selections and arrived at a collective All Australian line-up with players from 13 teams.

Now we brace ourselves to take the hits.

No Joel Selwood and we couldn't find a spot for Grant Birchall. There isn't a Tiger in the line-up and Travis Cloke missed selection too.

But let's focus on the positives.

Six-time All Australian Gary Ablett was a certainty.  Some argue he is staking claims as the game's greatest ever player.

Ablett was unlucky not to be named captain, but the performance of Jobe Watson under all sorts of pressure got him the nod.
Essendon joined the Sydney Swans as the only team with three representatives.
Carlton's Andrew Walker pipped Birchall and Richmond's Brett Deledio for the running half-back position. Jordan Lewis tagged Walker last week for Hawthorn, giving some indication of the respect held for him.

The absence of a Tiger is somewhat of an anomaly given Richmond is having its best season for a long time. However it reflects the team-first approach starting to seep into the line-up at Punt Road.
The Eagles' Josh Kennedy just held off Cloke for the full-forward spot. Both have kicked 34 goals. Both are having good seasons but Kennedy was perceived to have done so with less opportunity. It's fair to say there is no right or wrong in that call, just a decision that is certainly debatable.

And that's what we'll be doing as the season heads towards its climax.

That's when we'll know for sure whether the coach of the year title should be bestowed upon Fremantle's Ross Lyon.
But that question, as with most positions, remains open.

There is, as they say, a long way to go.

Scott Thompson (North Melbourne)
Thompson's defensive efforts on the competition's best power forwards this year are best summed up by him keeping Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown, Hawk star Lance Franklin and Swan Sam Reid goalless. Thompson has also given North plenty of counter-attack in 2013, averaging nearly 19 possessions and more than four rebound 50s a game.

Jake Carlisle (Essendon)
Perhaps the most improved player in the competition, the 21-year-old Bomber has played a big role in his side's success. Has taken on and beaten a long list of the competition's best key forwards, including Taylor Walker, Mitch Clark, Travis Cloke and Jack Riewoldt. Also moved forward to be the match-winner against Carlton in round 11.

Michael Hibberd (Essendon)

A full pre-season has allowed Hibberd to emerge as one of the game's most damaging rebounding defenders. Taken as a mature-age recruit in the 2011 pre-season draft, he has averaged 23.7 disposals and is ranked seventh in the AFL for overall kicks. While setting up attacks from the back half, Hibberd has also pushed forward regularly to use his damaging left foot going inside 50.   

Andrew Walker (Carlton)
Walker has thrived in a revamped role at half-back, averaging 23 disposals as a recast defender. His kicking has been potent and his run and carry (he is ranked third for running bounces in the competition with 30 for the season) has also been top notch. He is also ranked equal second in the League for rebound 50s.

Harry Taylor (Geelong)
The 27-year-old has become the standout tall defender in the competition. He has also helped bring the word 'swingman' back to AFL footy. His regular stints up forward this year included a five-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs in round five. He is averaging 17 possessions and seven marks per game in 2013.

Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney Swans)
McVeigh is averaging 26 disposals a game for the Swans and has been thrown around a bit this year, spending time in the midfield and across half-back while Rhyce Shaw is out of the side. The co-captain is in career-best form and is on track for his first All Australian appearance.

Daniel Hannebery (Sydney Swans)
A star in the 2012 Grand Final, the young Swan has flown into second-placed favouritism for the Brownlow after a stunning opening 11 games. He's ranked ninth in the competition for disposals and 14th for effective disposals, and he won the Anzac Medal for his best-on-ground performance against St Kilda on Anzac Day in Wellington.

Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
Pendlebury remains at the top of his game and has been the Magpies' most consistent performer in 2013. He sits equal fourth on the disposals tally, has kicked 11 goals and assisted in 11 more. What makes Pendlebury so important is his ability to set up play from a stoppage and to use the ball so well. He is rarely tackled and has conceded just five free kicks this season, while earning 21.

Kieren Jack (Sydney Swans)
Named in last year's initial All Australian squad, Jack has set himself up to go one better with an incredibly consistent start to the season. The premiership midfielder has averaged a career-high 26.5 disposals (ranked No.17 in the AFL), also pushing forward to kick 9.8. Adding weight to his performances is a willingness to work both ways, averaging 7.3 tackles a game (ranked third in the AFL).  

Steve Johnson (Geelong)
Once a goal-sneak who spent most of his time in the forward line, the three-time premiership player is now a bona fide midfielder. Johnson has been in stellar form this season, averaging 28 possessions and six marks per game. He gathered 36 touches in a best-on-ground display against Essendon in round seven and picked up 33 in the win over Port Adelaide two weeks later.

Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)
The St Kilda skipper is in vintage form with his work rate at an all-time high on the cusp of his 250th AFL game. The 30-year-old has played every match and kicked 30 goals while averaging nearly 18 disposals a game. He's been doing it all, up and down the ground, and is taking nearly 10 marks a game on average.

Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)

The complete package. He has brute strength to win clearances, uses his speed to burst clear from stoppages, and, most important of all, finishes his work to kick bundles of goals. Still just 23, the Crows star has averaged 24.2 disposals per game, 5.4 clearances a game and has kicked 19 goals so far this season.

Lindsay Thomas (North Melbourne)
Where he was once riddled with set-shot yips, Thomas is now the man North wants with the ball in his hands when it really needs a goal. Thomas has kicked 35.16 this season to lead the Coleman Medal race. Now one of the most complete small forwards in the competition, he is a strong mark for his size, dangerous at ground level and a hard worker defensively.

Josh Kennedy (West Coast)
West Coast's Kennedy has kicked 34 goals from 10 games, and sits just one goal behind Coleman Medal leader  Lindsay Thomas. The Eagle forward is tough to dislodge in a marking contest, averaging 6.5 marks a game, and has led a spluttering West Coast attack superbly.

Jeff Garlett (Carlton)
Garlett has been the pick of the Blues' 'Mosquito fleet', kicking 27 goals at an average of 2.2 per game. The Carlton speedster has laid 43 tackles for the season and ranks just outside the top 20 for marks inside 50, an impressive achievement given his size. His ability to meet the ball at full pelt, balance himself and finish has been a feature.

Will Minson (Western Bulldogs)

The veteran Bulldog is enjoying his most consistent season, and has well and truly earned his place in this All Australian side, despite a dearth of quality in this position across the competition in 2013. He has beaten some of the best in the game, despite his side's unpredictable form this season. A big pat on the back for a once-maligned big man.

Jobe Watson - captain (Essendon)
Our captain. The reigning Brownlow medallist is a chance to go back-to-back after a terrific first half of the season. Watson has averaged nearly 29 disposals a game and is considered one of the elite midfielders with his strength and smarts around the contest. The Essendon captain's leadership has been unquestioned in one of the club's most difficult seasons off the field.

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)
Need we say more? The number one player in the Official AFL Player Ratings, the best player in the competition, so therefore he MUST be the first selected when choosing an All Australian side.

Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
With 31 goals to his name after 12 games, he is on track to match his 75-goal haul from 2008. Roughead is enjoying his best season to date and offers the Hawks so much flexibility because he has dominated this year as a power forward, back-up ruckman and mobile on-baller. His kicking for goal has become much more reliable in 2013.

Luke McPharlin (Fremantle)
The 31-year-old has been as dependable as ever at the centre of the AFL's stingiest defence. He has played 10 of 11 games, doing jobs on some of the game's best key forwards while averaging a solid 8.5 marks and 16.1 disposals per game. Has captained Fremantle in the absence of Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands.

Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)
Fyfe is continuing to push through the grades on his way to becoming an elite performer. He is courageous and an excellent high mark. He tackles hard and is benefiting from the performances of David Mundy – who was unlucky not to be part of this team mid-year – alongside him. Fyfe has that honesty that all football watchers love. Now the challenge is for him to bring that class into a finals series.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
The four-time club best and fairest winner has played a different role this season, spending more time at half-back where he can use his damaging foot skills to full effect. He's still winning just as much football as ever, and helping out in the centre square when needed. An ultra consistent contributor.