The Inner Sanctum has selected a Team of the Week for Round 12 of the 2023 AFL season. (Photos: @WesternBulldogs, @EssendonFC, @HawthornFC, Twitter) Design: Will Cuckson

The Inner Sanctum has put together a team of the week, comprised of the best-performing players from Round 12 of the 2023 AFL season.

Defenders are rewarded for defensive play, midfielders receive accolades for their dominance, while forwards are praised for hitting the scoreboard and applying pressure.

You can read last week’s team here.

The selected side for round 12 is…


Up against in-form Crow, and former Sun Izak Rankine, Ben Long put in a faultless performance as Gold Coast recorded an upset win in Darwin. Long was able to hold Rankine to 15 disposals, and more importantly, ensure he remained goalless for the first time in 2023.

With speculation continuing to surround his future, Ben McKay showed why he is in demand with a strong display against Essendon. McKay picked up 18 disposals at 100 per cent along with 10 marks, and 14 intercept possessions.

Tom Stewart continued his excellent form with another strong performance in the impressive win over the Western Bulldogs. Stewart collected 27 disposals at 88 per cent, 10 marks, and nine rebound 50s.

Despite Saturday night’s defeat, Caleb Daniel enjoyed a significant return to form, finding plenty of the football. Daniel gathered 35 disposals at 88 per cent, six rebound 50s, and booted a goal.

Facing off against Coleman medal leader Charlie Curnow, Melbourne defender Steven May proved he was up to the task. As well as holding Curnow to just one goal, May picked up 18 disposals and five marks.

Second-year player Nick Daicos continues to emerge as one of the favourites for the Brownlow medal, and his display in Saturday’s win over West Coast enhanced his chances. Daicos recorded 30 possessions, nine score involvements, and three goals.


Tim English is one of the favourites for the All-Australian ruck position, and his efforts in Saturday night’s win over Geelong proved why. English put together 30 hitouts, 27 disposals, 12 marks, and eight tackles.

Up against his old side for the first time in his career, Tim Taranto continued his outstanding form as he continues his stellar 2023 campaign. Taranto’s efforts in the tight win resulted in 36 disposals, nine clearances, six score involvements and booted a goal.

Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett put together yet another stellar showing in the tight win over North Melbourne on Sunday afternoon. Merrett set the game alight in the first half, and it would only continue, as he ultimately finished with 34 disposals, 11 marks, eight clearances, and booted two majors.

With the continued absence of Clayton Oliver, star Melbourne midfielder Christian Petracca has stepped up to the plate in fine style, and Friday night’s win over Carlton proved no exception. Petracca picked up 32 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal.

Dom Sheed enjoyed his best performance of the 2023 season, despite the disappointing loss against Collingwood. Sheed finished with 43 disposals, 10 clearances, and eight score involvements.

In Port Adelaide’s crushing win over Hawthorn, Connor Rozee once again found plenty of the football, as he puts together yet another strong season. Rozee collected 29 disposals, 13 inside 50s, and nine score involvements.


In a tight win over North Melbourne, Kyle Langford proved to be the difference up forward with a game-changing display. Langford booted four majors, along with 14 disposals, 12 score involvements, and eight marks.

Veteran Richmond key forward Jack Riewoldt showed his class in the thrilling victory over Greater Western Sydney on Sunday afternoon. The performance was a return to form for Riewoldt, who booted five goals along with eight marks.

Cam Zurhaar enjoyed his best game of the 2023 season with four majors in North Melbourne’s tight loss against the Bombers, booting four majors.

Hawthorn veteran Luke Breust proved too much for the Port Adelaide backline to handle, booting five goals along with 15 disposals and nine score involvements.

Port Adelaide key forward Jeremy Finlayson stood strong yet again despite the absence of All-Australian forward Charlie Dixon. Finlayson picked up 17 disposals and nine marks against Hawthorn, as well as kicking five goals.

TIO Stadium has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Jack Lukosius in recent fixtures, as he kicked his second five-goal haul for the fortnight, this time against the Adelaide Crows. As well as the five goals, Lukosius collected 16 disposals and four marks.


Essendon winger Nic Martin does not appear to be suffering from the second-year blues, and his performance on Sunday afternoon showed why. Martin gathered 21 disposals at 85 per cent, nine score involvements, and two goals.

Liam Duggan enjoyed what was arguably his best game of season 2023 in Saturday’s defeat against the Magpies. Duggan finished with 33 disposals, 13 marks, and six inside 50s.

With the absence of star defender James Sicily missing through suspension, Todd Marshall took full toll against an experienced Hawthorn backline. Marshall kicked five goals along with 16 disposals and 10 marks.

Greater Western Sydney veteran Callan Ward showed his class and kept his side in the contest in the tight loss to Richmond on Sunday afternoon. Ward picked up 32 disposals, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, and booted a goal.

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