The Inner Sanctum’s mid-season All Australian team

The Inner Sanctum's mid-season All Australian side.

At the halfway mark of the season, there are plenty of players across the competition who are standing out and pushing to be recognised as the game’s elite.

To be considered in the top handful at your respective position requires consistent excellence, and there are 14 potential first time All Australians in this side who are in the midst of personal-best seasons.

Whether it’s a career renaissance such as Taylor Walker, just reward for an outstanding career like Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s, or the rise to superstardom for young guns including Sam Walsh, each player selected is incredibly deserving of their spot in the side.

The Inner Sanctum has selected its mid-season All Australian team, with a couple of powerhouse clubs dominating selection.

Cats defender Tom Stewart may be the most consistent player in the AFL. The rebounding defender is averaging 25 disposals and 480 metres gained per contest, while nullifying his direct opponent by holding the likes of Dustin Martin goalless in his matchups. Steven May has been the rock in the best defence in the competition, recording 5.6 spoils and 6.3 intercept possessions each game while using the ball well out of the backline. Christian Salem has provided the drive for the Demons this season. Enjoying his best season to date, the 25-year-old has 25 touches a game and 4.3 score involvements to earn his first blazer.

Aliir Aliir has been one of the recruits of the season, and is dominating for Port with 7.8 intercept possessions and 2.2 contested marks a match. The Blues would be lost defensively without Jacob Weitering, who has been a shining light with his 8.3 intercept possessions and 5.6 contested defence one-on-ones. With 24 disposals and five score involvements a game, Bailey Dale is one of the most improved players in the league and hasn’t missed in his six shots on goal running up the ground. His mid-season All Australian selection should come at no surprise as one of the most well-rounded rebounding defenders in the game.

In a sensational season on the wing for Port Adelaide, Karl Amon has combined his elite endurance with smart running patterns to average 470 metres gained from his 23 touches. Amon uses the ball as well as anyone in the competition. Clayton Oliver has continued his contested dominance, with averages of 32 disposals (17 contested), 7.4 clearances and 5.9 tackles a contest to be a Brownlow favourite at the mid-way point. On the other wing is Hugh McCluggage, who has ascended to superstardom with 7.3 score involvements from his 25 disposals. His goal-kicking is a work in progress, but he is causing nightmares for opposition sides in his career already.

The best ruckman in the competition again, Max Gawn has continued his aerial dominance in 2021 with 11.2 hit-outs to advantage and 2.8 contested marks per match. Jackson Macrae is an absolute ball magnet, averaging a league-leading 35 touches per contest. His ball use has been 77 percent on the season and he has eight score involvements a game. Darcy Parish is the most improved player in the competition, and earns his place in the middle of the park with averages of 30 disposals and 7.5 score involvements. He is second in the competition in clearances with 7.7 per game, leading the charge up the ladder for the Bombers. 

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Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli (C) might just be the best player in the competition. He wins it at the source, can hurt you on the outside, and has improved the one area of his game which was his main flaw, goal-kicking, now averaging 1.5 goals a game. The Taylor Walker renaissance has been one of the stories of the season, the Crows veteran is currently second on the Coleman medal leaderboard halfway through the season to claim his first blazer in the mid-season All Australian. Giants star Toby Greene is ranked number 1 among general forwards and is first in the competition for score involvements this season. He has missed two games, but was the most dominant general forward in the game during his nine games this year so far.

Anthony McDonald -Tipungwuiti is pretty good at playing footy. The Bomber goal sneak is averaging 2.5 goals a game this season and is one of the leading pressure players in the competition, ranking elite for forward 50 ground-ball gets scores and score involvements. Harry McKay is leading the Coleman Medal and is the number one ranked key forward in the game. ranking elite for contested marks and marks inside 50. The evergreen Tom Hawkins continues to play quality football well into his twilight years, beating out Tom McDonald for the 3rd key forward post. Hawkins ranks elite for marks inside 50, is averaging 2.3 goals per game, is leading the competition in inside 50 ground-ball gets, and continues to involve himself in scoring chains in a potent forward line, averaging 8.2 score involvements per game.

Lions’ small defender Brandon Starcevich beat out his teammate Daniel Rich for a spot in the mid-season All Australian due to his excellent lockdown defensive work throughout this season to date. Starcevich has quelled the influence of some of the game’s best small-medium forwards including Papley, De Goey, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Martin, Betts, Walters, and more to 1 goal or fewer when they were matched up in games this season. Christian Petracca continues to evolve into the player Demons fans hoped he would one day become. Petracca ranks number one in the competition for midfielders in the forward 50 and elite for average disposals per game at 28.3. the Demons bull is 2nd in the competition for metres gained and score involvements this season.

Carlton midfield star Sam Walsh also earns his spot after an ultra-consistent first half of the season. Elevating himself to one of Carlton’s best and most important players, Walsh ranks elite for clearances, disposals, and score involvements. He has increased his disposal efficiency to make him one of the more damaging players in the Carlton midfield. Gold Coast stalwart Touk Miller takes the last spot on the interchange in the midst of a career-best year in an under-the-radar career. Miller ranks elite for disposals and tackles and ranks 15th in the competition for effective disposals per game.

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About Jasper Chellappah 161 Articles
Jasper writes on Aussie Rules, basketball, tennis and netball for The Inner Sanctum. His main area is player analysis and under-age competitions, with a keen focus on the AFL Draft. He also lends his voice to The Checkside and the SuperCoach Sanctum PODcast each week.

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