LONG this column has advocated for the return of State of Origin. But alas, and it’s a strong rebuttal, the logistics of such a revival make for work too hard.
However, ten-game Big V veteran Garry Lyon last week on football’s preeminent analysis program Front Bar, when asked by the game’s best, hard-hitting journalist Mick Molloy, certainly promoted the naming of a team even if such a fixture wasn’t to be held.
“Answer me this GaRry, why don’t they still just symbolically hand out the jumper?” Molloy poised.
“They should,” the five-time All Australian, former Demon captain responded.
“Even if they don’t play,” Molloy continued, “like they do All-Australian, here’s our Big V best 22 of the year, because that would still mean something.”
“It should be on their resume, at the end of their footy career, (for example) Patrick Cripps, he is a Western Australian, he should be a (hypothetical) eleven-time Western Australian player, and I’m (really big on that); and (Marcus) Bontempelli should be recognised as Victorian player,” Lyon suggested.
Mick. Garry. Next time we get a beer the first one is one me. What common sense!
So, without further ado, and to be honest these teams where in the can for this week anyway but the timing from the lads last Thursday is just gravy, let’s name the 2019 teams for the three main states (sorry Tassie), as if they were to actually pull on the boots.
Therefore, unlike the All-Australian team which is constructed for naming-sake only, knowing there are no repercussions for picking players out of position – this is the opposite.
In an ideal world, and anyone who knows this column well, we’d have a game in March to look forward to, so we’re pretending at least that this is the case.
Alrighty, no more dribble, here’s South Australia:
FB: Rory Laird (Adelaide) – Phil Davis (GWS) – Shannon Hurn (West Coast, captain)
HB: Hamish Hartlett (Port Adelaide) – Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide) – Ryan Burton (Port Adelaide)
C: Brad Ebert (Port Adelaide) – Shane Edwards (Richmond) – Jared Polec (North Melbourne)
HF: Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane) – Tim O’Brien (Hawthorn) – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
FF: Orazio Fantasia (Essendon) – Darcy Fogarty (Adelaide) – Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn)
Foll: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) – Chad Wingard (Hawthorn) – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
Inter: Jack Redden (West Coast), Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide), Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn), Jack Graham (Richmond)
Not their strongest side in their history but still an interesting one. Totally bereft of key position talent but O’Brien and Fogarty the last month saved the selectors bacon, otherwise it was picking a ruckman out of position or putting all the eggs in the Justin Westhoff basket.
Onball ain’t super strong but with Grundy and still some decent players its competitive at least, and the backline is pretty robust, not short on talent even if not at the level of the other two teams below.
In truth there were a few too many drafts the last five-seven years without top-end SA talent but the last few drafts have plenty so come back in a few years and this team looks a lot better. Now the Vics:
FB: Tom Stewart (Geelong) – Michael Hurley (Essendon) – Nick Vlaustin (Richmond)
HB: Lachie Whitfield (GWS) – Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne) – James Sicily (Hawthorn)
C: Jackson Macrae (Footscray) – Dustin Martin (Richmond) – Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
HF: Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide) – Tom Lynch (Richmond) – Gary Ablett (Geelong)
FF: Jordan De Goey (Collingwood) – Jeremy Cameron (GWS) – Toby Greene (GWS)
Foll: Max Gawn (Melbourne) – Marcus Bontempelli (Footscray) – Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
Inter: Luke Shuey (West Coast), Josh Kelly (GWS), Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne), Travis Boak (Port Adelaide, captain)
Lots of stiff blokes here. Houli gets pipped by Whitfield, Houli had the better year but we’d prefer Whitfield if we’re actually playing a game next March. Vlaustin picks himself for a pocket. Stewart and Sicily in the same team is bananas
Treloar, Worpel, the list goes on for stiff blokes in that midfield. But wanted to pick some inside blokes as we’re planning for a ‘real game’ so Cunnington and Boak get a Guernsey.
Lynch demands centre-half-forward and can relieve Gawn in the ruck for all of a few minutes when needed, otherwise it’s a forward line where everyone is the best in their respective position. Now for their equals right now, the Sandgropers:
FB: Ben Stratton (Hawthorn) – Alex Rance (Richmond) – Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
HB: Lewis Jetta (West Coast) – Jeremy McGovern (West Coast) – Jason Johannisen (Footscray)
C: Mitch Duncan (Geelong) – Nat Fyfe (Fremantle, captain) – Bradley Hill (Fremantle)
HF: Lance Franklin (Sydney) – Rory Lobb (Fremantle) – Michael Walters (Fremantle)
FF: Jack Darling (West Coast) – Josh Kennedy (West Coast) – Liam Ryan (West Coast)
Foll: Nic Naitanui (West Coast) – Patrick Cripps (Carlton) – Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Inter: Tim Kelly (Geelong), Stephen Coniglio (GWS), Elliott Yeo (West Coast) Jaeger O’Meara (Hawthorn)
Right, this team beats the Big V, it just does. And its arguably the state’s best ever team, that we’ll never see. Firstly, yes, Lobb, have to pick him to relieve Naitanui and to be honest, as centre-half-forward, his best footy at the Giants before moving home certainly can’t be scratched at. Plus Buddy at this age is more than happy to dominate the arc
Midfield is ridiculous. O’Meara as the eighth wheel, Jesus Christ.
And the backline balances shutdown and elite speed of half back with the best contested mark in the country at centre-half-back.