THE AFL Media match committee burned the midnight oil as we agonised who should fill the midfield in our proposed Four'N Twenty All Australian team.
Our deliberations won't go down well in South Australia, with Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield a particularly unlucky omission and Port Adelaide's Travis Boak also not selected.
Both have played some scintillating football during the year, but we decided on a group whose body of work over the entire season stacks up just that little bit better.
Another South Australian, Ryan Griffen, is missing from this selected group but fans of the Western Bulldogs should stay tuned – there may yet be a berth for the dominating ball magnet.
We have also decided to pick one specialist ruckman, in the belief that some of the key forwards to be selected next week could also pinch hit in the ruck if required.
Having said that, Carlton's Matty Kreuzer has enjoyed a great second half of the season and nearly played himself into the side. This time next year, we would have strong expectations that he, Matthew Leuenberger and Nic Naitanui would all be in the All Australian selection frame.
DAN HANNEBERY (Sydney Swans)
In a recent interview, Garry Lyon said the one player he would love to see sporting the big, white V was Dan Hannebery, the hard running Swans midfielder who always has an appetite for the contest. Hannebery is averaging 27.1 touches a game – the fourth most in the AFL – and just continues to grow in stature after a stunning finals series last year. Athletic, but flint hard, he is the prototype 2013 midfielder.
SCOTT PENDLEBURY (Collingwood)
His average possession tally per match (29.3) is the third most in the AFL and while teammate Dane Swan racks up even more possessions, Pendlebury continues to have a major influence on games such as against Adelaide in round 16 where his brilliant last quarter helped steer the Magpies over the line. His great skills and awareness keep bringing teammates into the game.
NAT FYFE (Fremantle)
Tough and courageous, but gifted with the ball and a great overhead mark. Footy has come together superbly for Fyfe in 2013 and a feature of his game is his season average of 14.2 contested possessions, the sixth most in the AFL. A feature of the Dockers this year has been their even spread of contributors. David Mundy has been in stellar form as well, but Fyfe's best is All Australian worthy.
WILL MINSON (Western Bulldogs)
The big-name ruckmen have run hot and cold in 2013 but the one who has performed consistently for his team week in and week out has been Will Minson. After 10 years of toil, he is in line for All Australian selection. He averages 39.4 hit-outs a week and has beaten many of the competition's big names this year. A popular selection.
GARY ABLETT (Gold Coast)
Once again, Ablett's work has been sublime even though this year he has enjoyed a decent support cast around him and hasn’t had to carry the burden on his own. His average of 32.5 disposals leads the AFL and he also is No.1 for inside 50s and no.2 for contested possessions. His 2013 highlights reel is as good as ever and he is now the raging favourite to win his second Brownlow Medal.
KIEREN JACK (Sydney Swans)
Last year, Jack was a fine player in a premiership team. This year, he has become a standout player in a side tracking beautifully to win the flag again. Jack is in the AFL's top 10 for total possessions and leads the competition with 129 tackles. His hard running and great finishing has been a feature this year and the punters agree, with Jack now figuring in the top three in most Brownlow markets. Clearly, the captaincy agrees with him.
JOBE WATSON (Essendon)
Last year's Brownlow medalist opened 2013 in equally slashing form and approaching the midway point of the season was favourite for back-to-back Brownlows. His form started to fall away and then he missed three matches with a fractured collarbone, but his numbers still stack up well – an average of 27.2 possessions and 2.7 centre clearances a match.
DANE SWAN (Collingwood)
The 2011 Brownlow medalist gets in through sheer weight of numbers. He leads the AFL in total possessions (569), while his average possession figure per game (31.6) trails only Gary Ablett. Swan's sheer weight of numbers (he is also ranked sixth for centre clearances) and his overall brilliance has helped the Pies sit comfortably inside the top eight in a year in which injuries have dug deep.
The views in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily of the AFL or its clubs