WE'VE reached the halfway mark of the season and it's a good time to look each club's contenders for the 2018 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team.
Our reporters have nominated the top chances from each of the 18 clubs, totalling 50 in all, including several familar faces and plenty of players pressing their claims for a maiden All Australian guernsey.
Looks well on his way to his second straight selection in the All Australian team. The small defender is a ball-magnet, ranked third in the League for disposals with 32.9 per game. Leads the competition for effective disposals, and second for intercepts.
Has provided plenty of run and carry on the wing. Leads the AFL for metres gained with 588.9 per game. He's also 10th for goal assists and 12th for inside 50s. - Lee Gaskin
After a slow first fortnight, the lanky full-back has been terrific. Can shut down his opponent - he's leading the league in one percenters - and has also shown an ability to intercept mark.
Struggled for the first month but has been on fire since, averaging 30 touches and kicking 11 goals. If he continues this form, should be right in consideration.
A nomination based on reputation and an improving season. After earning AA selection last year, Zorko was poor in the first six rounds but is now blossoming. - Michael Whiting
Dayne Beams has been on fire in recent matches. Picture: AFL Photos
The star inside midfielder has yet to gain an All Australian nomination, but must be in contention this year. The acting captain leads the AFL for contested possessions (206), is equal second for clearances (87) and fourth for centre clearances (34). - Howard Kotton
The combative ruckman has become an extra midfielder, winning more ball than his rivals and leading the Pies in contested possessions (10th in the AFL) and clearances. His duel with Melbourne's Max Gawn on Monday might decide the clubhouse leader.
The AFL's speccy specialist has this year played a more accountable role in defence, and has become a better player. Despite missing a game, the intercept extraordinaire is seventh in the AFL for rebounds.
The goalkicking wingman has been perhaps the most improved player in the AFL this season. The Pies' best endurance runner, the left-footer is 13th in the AFL in possessions and has the equal-most 25-touch, one-goal games this season (seven).
The AFL Players' MVP of the opening month could be on his way to his first All Australian honour. Fifth in the AFL for disposals, the dual-sided star has never been more influential.
The blond jet is the Pies' most prolific midfielder (fourth in the AFL in possessions) and is integral to his team with his inside work and line-breaking running. Equal League-leader in inside 50s. - Ben Collins
Brodie Grundy's versatility has been invaluable for the Pies. Picture: AFL Photos
The former Giant is enjoying a career-best year in his first season at Essendon. He leads the competition for tackles (94) and has been fierce with his pressure around the Bombers' forward line and midfield. He is probably the standout All Australian option for the Dons in a very underwhelming campaign so far. - Callum Twomey
The superstar skipper has been back to his 2015 Brownlow Medal-winning best, averaging 30.5 disposals (compared to 28.8 in 2015), 17.9 contested possessions (17.8), 1.5 contested marks (1.7), 7.9 clearances (8.7) and 0.7 goals (0.9) – all in a rebuilding side. On track for his third All Australian gong.
Has made a stunning comeback from his broken leg. Conceded just six goals in first five games against star forwards, and had Josh Kennedy's measure in the Western Derby. Holding back the tide in past three weeks. Never previously All Australian. – Travis King
Many felt he was unlucky to be overlooked for last year's team and he has started where he left off in his nine games. Averaging 16 kicks – the highest tally of his career.
Has stood up in a defence that has missed Lachie Henderson, while Harry Taylor has been sidelined for seven games. His ability to play small or tall and fly at contests to chop off opposition attacks has been a highlight. Most likely leading the Cats' best and fairest.
The skipper is averaging two more disposals than in three of his All Australian years in 2013, 2014 and 2017. His contribution has gone under the radar with the arrival of Gary Ablett. - Mitch Cleary
The Suns have won three games this season, but suggesting any of their players is in the mix for the 40-man squad is a stretch. Jack Martin has been outstanding as a half-forward who can play in the midfield, while David Swallow (midfield) and defender Rory Thompson are also enjoying fine years, but this trio is a little too far down the pecking order in their respective positions. - Michael Whiting
The star midfielder has averaged 28 possessions, 5.8 tackles, 5.5 clearances and 4.7 inside 50s per game this season, and also kicked 10 goals while resting forward.
Has the sixth-most one-percenters in the competition and has been a strong leader of an often under-siege GWS defence.
The former midfielder has been outstanding in his new role across half-back, averaging a career-high 25.2 touches per game at 78.3 per cent efficiency. - Adam Curley
The leading possession winner in the competition and one of the main contenders for the Brownlow Medal. He's averaging 34.1 possessions a game and has been among Hawthorn's best in all but a couple of games this year. He made the team last year and is in better form 12 months on.
Averages 7.4 marks a game playing as the third defender. His ability to read the play, take contested and uncontested marks in defence and then generate attacking moves through his pinpoint disposal is a reason why the Hawks are going a bit better than expected. He is almost nerveless coming out of defence and teams are going to have to put some work into negating him.
It's a crowded field in the ruck, but McEvoy has backed up from last year, the best of his 10 seasons at the top level. It's not just his 29.1 hit-outs a game, but his contested marking that elevates him. He averages 1.4 a game, which puts him in the top 15 in the AFL and among the top four ruckmen in that category. - Ashley Browne
Tom Mitchell has had the ball more than any player in the competition. Picture: AFL Photos
The dominant ruckman leads the League for hit-outs (48.5 per game) and his influence in Melbourne's six-game winning streak has been profound. Gawn is a crucial part of the Demons' centre-bounce setup and will battle it out with Collingwood's Brodie Grundy for the All Australian ruck spot.
Hogan sits second in the Coleman Medal race behind Kangaroos spearhead Ben Brown after booting 31 goals from 11 matches. The 23-year-old is playing the most consistent football of his career up forward and in stints in the midfield.
The severely underrated defender has been one of the top small defenders in the League for several seasons but has not yet received the external recognition he deserves. Could this be Jetta's year?
This might be one from left field but Demons supporters will know how important Oscar McDonald has been this season. Would be top five in the club's best and fairest award, making giant strides in his role as Melbourne's No.1 key defender.
Oliver has averaged 29.2 disposals and ranks fifth in the AFL for clearances and equal-third for contested possessions. The young star has been one of the most consistent performers through the midfield in the League this year. - Ben Guthrie
Brown leads the Coleman Medal with 35 goals and ranks seventh for scoring accuracy (a career-high 76.1 per cent) among players with at least 15 majors. His two contested marks per game are also above average.
The inside midfielder is averaging a personal-best 15.8 of his 25 disposals in contested situations (fifth in the AFL), including smashing Patrick Dangerfield's single-game record with 32 against Richmond. Cunnington ranks fourth for clearances, too.
North's reigning club champion has gone to another level in 2018, averaging career highs in disposals (26), contested possessions (9.5), clearances (4.7) and metres gained (482.9). Should be in the All Australian best 22 conversation. - Marc McGowan
Shaun Higgins could make his first All Australian team this season. Picture: AFL Photos
An All Australian in three of the past four years, Gray is all class, whether he's in the midfield or stationed up forward. Won the Showdown off his own boot with six goals, including five in a dominant third quarter. Was picked as a forward in the All Australian team last year.
The key defender rarely gets beaten. He's carried on from his strong form last year when he was named in the All Australian squad for the first time. Second in the AFL for marks and sixth for one percenters. - Lee Gaskin
Leads the Tigers' goalkicking and is equal fourth in the competition with 27 from nine games, including 10 over the last two matches. Would have to be in line for his first All Australian gig after carrying on with his late 2017 form and proving himself as a dual midfield/forward line threat.
Will be up there in Brownlow voting at the season's midpoint after a typically consistent start to the year. Missed one game with knee soreness but has averaged more than 24 disposals across 10 games and is third at the Tigers for tackles.
Started the year with a bang. His form tapered off slightly around the round eight mark but it's hard to be too critical given the lofty standards he set for himself in his remarkable 2017. Is the Tigers' leading possession winner and has had the most scoring involvements in the League.
This week's diving incident aside, the defender is on track for his fifth consecutive All Australian honour after an impressive start to 2018. Easily leads the competition for intercepts and is fourth for one-percenters, having again led the Tigers' strong defence. - Jennifer Phelan
Josh Caddy has had his most damaging season in front of goal. Picture: AFL Photos
The tough defender can nullify opponents and is averaging 25 disposals per game. Missing two matches with a hip concern hurts his chances, but Webster has impressed in a backline decimated by injury. - Dinny Navaratnam
The running defender has the fourth-most rebound 50s this season and has averaged 26.8 disposals per game, while setting up plenty of attack from the back half.
The hard nut leads the Swans for tackles and clearances and has kicked 13 goals to go with his 22.6 touches per game.
Rarely beaten by the opposition's best tall forward and has taken some big scalps this year, including that of Coleman Medal leader Ben Brown in round seven. - Adam Curley
Showed signs last year of his newfound maturity and has gone to another level, playing career-best football as the Eagles' main man in attack. Leads the AFL for contested marks (31), is third in the Coleman Medal race (28 goals) and right in the hunt for a maiden All Australian berth.
Ball magnet is averaging 30 disposals (No.10 in the AFL) and is playing more inside midfield, but has become more damaging this season. With seven goals, Gaff is on track for a career-best tally (previously 11 in 2015). All Australian in 2015.
Ranked second in the competition for kicks (201) and his disposal efficiency is through the roof at 87.3 per cent. Whenever he has the ball good things happen for the Eagles and, at this stage, Hurn should be an All Australian lock and possible captain.
Started the season a touch slowly by his lofty standards, but the dual All Australian has had some outstanding patches within games and sits second for contested marks (29) and equal sixth for marks (78).
Anyone doubting Naitanui's influence only needs to compare West Coast in 2018 to last year. The 201cm big man transforms the Eagles' midfield, and has won the 11th-most hit-outs despite only playing 58 per cent game time coming back from his knee reconstruction. Was All Australian in 2012.
The eternally underrated backman is hardly ever beaten despite regularly being given the toughest job on the opposition's most dangerous small forward. Numbers don't do justice for Sheppard, who has never been All Australian.
After a breakout season stationed mainly across half-back, Yeo has answered the call moving into midfield and is averaging career-best disposal (24.3), contested ball (12.5) and tackle (6.0) numbers. A chance to earn back-to-back All Australian gongs. – Travis King
Shannon Hurn is in the form of his career for the red-hot Eagles. Picture: AFL Photos
The Brownlow fancy is having a career-best season, despite receiving a heavy tag most weeks. The 23-year-old sits second across the AFL for possessions (368) and effective disposals (274), and is also top 10 for inside 50s (7th) and clearances (8th). – Ryan Davidson