15/04/2024
All-Australian 2022

@geelongcats, @carltonfc, @freodockers

The All-Australian team has thrown up 12 first-timers in 2022, headlined by Leigh Matthews MVP Andrew Brayshaw and dynamic Tiger Shai Bolton.

Narrowed down from a squad of 44, the team was announced at the AFL Awards on Wednesday night.

The Inner Sanctum has run through all 12 of the debutants in the side.

Jack Sinclair – Half-Back Flank

Sinclair has been the standout Saint in his second season as a bonafide running defender, dominating possession counts and attracting tags as opposition clubs worked to nullify his influence. 

The 27-year-old averaged nearly 28 disposals, seven intercepts and an elite 4.5 scores involvements from the backline.

Sinclair was exactly what the Saints needed as they mounted a charge towards the top eight, ultimately falling short in the final rounds of the season.

Adam Saad – Half-Back Flank

In his second year for the Blues, Saad elevated his game to another level. 

He’s been incredibly reliable as a defender, and damaging with ball in hand to the tune of a career-high 22 disposals per game.

Saad has many years of good footy left in him as the Blues look to continue their ascension under Michael Voss.

Sam Taylor – Centre-Half Back

The rock at the heart of a defence that was under siege all season long, Sam Taylor has taken the best forward all season and stood out with his elite defensive ability.

He’s gone from leading the league in spoils, to taking nine intercept marks against Fremantle in Round 9 as his confidence has grown, chopping off seemingly every forward foray the Dockers had.

At 23 years of age, Taylor will be a vital cog for new coach Adam Kingsley as the Giants move into a new era under their third coach in club history.

Callum Mills – Wing

Mills has gone from strength to strength in his career since being drafted under NGA rules, and now adds his first All-Australian blazer after a dominant season for the top-four Swans.

Starting games often on the wing, he averaged 25 disposals and four clearances to go with six tackles, bringing hard hard-nosed element to the burgeoning Swans side.

A midfield mix of Mills, Luke Parker, Chad Warner and James Rowbottom has been scintillating at its best this year.

Shai Bolton – Half-Forward Flank

Possibly the most damaging player in the competition, Bolton has a blazer to add to his two premiership medallions.

The goalsneak has graduated to a full-time role in the midfield, but that hasn’t stopped him bursting forward to hit the scoreboard with regularity. 

If he was a touch more accurate, he would’ve kicked 50 goals in a season for the first time, but finished with 41 goals and 41 behinds in 22 games for the most elusive player in footy.

Charlie Curnow – Forward Pocket

The Coleman Medallist has been relegated to a pocket in the team, but his comeback to footy after effectively two seasons out of the game has been nothing short of remarkable.

Curnow kicked 64 goals in a side that got squeezed out of finals, with he and Harry McKay becoming the first teammates to win back-to-back Coleman Medals at the same club since 1900-01.

Tyson Stengle – Forward Pocket

The transformation of Stengle at Geelong has been one of the great stories of 2022. Living at the feet of Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins, the sharpshooter kicked 46 goals after plying his trade in the SANFL last season.

Stengle’s pressure without the ball and work-rate up the ground is what kept in the team to begin with, but his undeniable goal nous and skill is propelling Geelong forward.

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Andrew Brayshaw – Interchange

With Nat Fyfe out for chunks of the season, the pressure of Fremantle’s midfield was heaped on Brayshaw’s shoulders, and he delivered.

Fitter than nearly everyone in the league, he burnt off attempted tags and delivered week in, week out for his club as it rose up the ladder.

Brayshaw is set to be a key player in the Dockers’ finals series as they chase their elusive premiership.

Mark Blicavs – Interchange

The ultimate utility, Blicavs was deployed in a variety of roles for Chris Scott and was a major reason as to why the Cats sit at the top of the ladder heading into finals. 

He did some of his best work as a ruckman, including a 20 hit-out, 20-disposal and two-goal game against Fremantle in Round 7. 

When the ball hit the ground he played as another midfielder with five tackles and three clearances per game in 2022, and that isn’t to mention his running capacity on a wing and defensive ability in defence.

Connor Rozee – Interchange

Rozee’s second half of the season proved irresistible for selectors, shifting into the midfield permanently and rewarding the faith.

He averaged 23 disposals and nearly a goal per game and he found the balance between winning his own ball, using it effectively, and floating forward to hit the scoreboard.

Rozee is fast becoming the Power’s most important player.

Isaac Heeney – Interchange

Heeney has played in a variety of roles this season, including some minute on-ball at the start and a healthy dose of wing play late in games.

But he’s most effective as a forward, and impossible to match-up on in one-on-one situations.

Heeney soars through the air to mark above his head and hits the ball at full pace on ground level, helping him to average two goals per game in 2022.

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