The feel good stories of the All-Australian 40

Fremantle's Matt Taberner. Picture: fremantlefc.om.au
Fremantle's Matt Taberner. Picture: fremantlefc.om.au

Every year the AFL All-Australian team causes debate, and more often than not, there’s a case of an unlucky player.

Social media will explode with this player deserved it over this player, and I’ve dived into that discussion myself again this year.

Yet, there are some unbelievable feel good stories in this year’s All-Australian team, and we’re here to look at them.

Jacob Weitering (Carlton)

The 2015 first overall pick has been a sensation in defence this year, and after copping a fair bit of outside flak early in his career, he’s really cemented his spot as one of the competition’s best defenders.

Weitering would be one of the first names on the Carlton team sheet every week and has shut down some of the game’s full forwards.

Jordan Ridley (Essendon)

In a bleak season for the Bombers, Jordan Ridley was the shining light.

He’s won the club’s best and fairest and was in the 22under22 team, and he’s only played 26 games.

There’s some positive signs, Bombers fans.

Matt Taberner (Fremantle)

An incredibly consistent season from the tall Docker, booting 29 goals.

Taberner deserves his selection in the squad of 40 after his remarkable record of kicking a goal in every game bar one, where he snagged three behinds.

A bag of four against Collingwood and two of three against Carlton and North Melbourne showed plenty of promise moving forward.

Mark Blicavs (Geelong)

A rookie selection after Geelong snatched him up as a middle-distance runner and steeplechaser, he’s now one of the most dominant defenders in the AFL.

Two Carji Greeves Medals already in his trophy cabinet, an All-Australian jacket is definitely deserved and would cap a remarkable transition into AFL football.

Tom Hawkins (Geelong)

What a season from Hawkins, written off years ago by many, he’s been reborn and took out the Coleman Medal for the first time in his career.

A powerful force down forward, his last three years have been magnificent and he’s finally getting the recognition he’s deserved.

Sam Menegola (Geelong)

What a journey Menegola has been on.

Delisted by Hawthorn and Fremantle after years on the rookie list, and then scooped up by Geelong at the end of 2015, Menegola has had to fight hard to get to the big time.

He was almost traded back to the Dockers in 2019, but has shown his capabilities at AFL level in a magnificent Geelong side.

It’s hard to look past Menegola as the story of the side.

Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

Constantly under pressure due to his position in his draft year, Petracca has finally delivered on his obvious potential.

An absolute animal in Melbourne’s midfield which struggled with consistency, Petracca should make the final squad and will feature prominently on Brownlow night despite the Dees’ struggles.

Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)

The revolution continues for the former Port captain as he helped guide the club to its fourth minor premiership in the AFL.

Boak is second favourite for the Brownlow Medal behind Lachie Neale and is showing no signs of slowing down despite claims he was cooked at the end of 2018.

Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)

What a second season from this young star.

Butters was the quieter of the three Port draftees in a stellar debut season in 2019, but has shown he may very well be the pick of the bunch.

His ability to read the game, break packs and put his body on the line has made him a cult hero at Alberton already.

Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide)

Repeated injury issues, a mental health battle following his broken leg in 2018 and early stages of 2019, Dixon has become the key forward Port always believed he could.

32 goals for the season, 88 score involvements and 43 contested marks in a dominant season up forward, Dixon has plenty more to come after re-signing with the Power.

Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)

Vlastuin has been a terrific servant of the Richmond Football Club over his career, but took it to a whole new level this year.

His rebound off half back and his ability to read the ball are second to none, and the 26-year-old deserves the nod.

Dan Butler (St Kilda)

What a story.

After winning a flag with Richmond in 2017, Butler was in and out of the side before moving to St Kilda for pick 56.

Pick 56 netted a rejuvenated St Kilda an All-Australian nominated small forward who has produced a stellar individual season, almost mirroring his maiden season at Richmond.

There’s still plenty to come from this jet.

Tom Papley (Sydney Swans)

After requesting a trade to go back to Victoria and it falling back, Papley went back to face his teammates and suit up for his club once again.

What’s remarkable was his ability to be as damaging as he was and prove his place in the side again.

It’s not easy having to go crawling back.

Nic Naitanui (West Coast)

Injury after injury after injury after injury for crowd favourite Nic Nat, but he strung together a terrific campaign.

He and Max Gawn were definitely the two best rucks in the competition, with Todd Goldstein not far behind.

Liam Ryan (West Coast)

There’s not a person in the football community that doesn’t like Liam Ryan.

25 goals and 95 score involvements for a bloke who was scooped up as a 21-year-old at the end of 2017.

Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)

Overlooked due to his height, the Bulldogs were only too happy to scoop on the South Adelaide prospect.

Standing at 168cm tall, Daniel doesn’t shy away from any contest and will sacrifice his body for the good of the team.

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