The Inner Sanctum’s All Australian Team for 2021

The Inner Sanctum has put together its All-Australian Team for 2021, with Melbourne boasting six selections and 13 players receiving their first blazer.

10 selectors – from four different states – were put to the task of making their own teams from the squad announced, with the most selected 22 making up The Inner Sanctum’s All-Australian team for 2021.

13 players featured in every side submitted, while 10 players of the recently-announced 40-man squad didn’t receive a selection. 

This is The Inner Sanctum’s All-Australian Team for 2021.

Tom Stewart could gain his third blazer by leading a rock-solid Cats defence in various capacities all year. He moves the ball out of defensive 50 with 6.1 rebounds per game from his 24 disposals, launching 1.9 scores. With an ability to play tall or small, Stewart’s most valuable trait is his intercept ability, racking up 7.8 intercepts and gaining 487 metres every game at 84 per cent by foot. 

Steven May has put it all together this season to lead the best team-defence in the league, Melbourne. He has been aggressive in the air, with 6.5 intercepts per game as he heads up a powerhouse defensive outfit. A first All-Australian blazer is on the cards for the Melbourne key defender.

Jake Lever has broken the record for most intercept marks per game in 2021. He spent a staggering 99.2 per cent time on ground per game, and has 10.4 intercepts from his 15.5 disposals per contest as a third tall. On top of that, he averages 5.9 spoils floating across contests to kill the ball. He has been the benchmark of the competition as a tall defender in 2021.

Aliir Aliir had his best career in his first season with the Power after being traded from the Swans. In his 96.2 per cent time on ground, he had 8.4 intercepts, proving a brick wall for every team that came against him. He has been a bargain pick-up by Port Adelaide and has earned his first blazer.

Jacob Weitering slots into centre half-back as shutdown defender who has stood up tall in a side that has struggled to stop fast ball movement. The former number-one pick has averaged 8.3 intercepts and eight spoils per contest, and rarely loses his defensive one-on-ones. 

Daniel Rich has been spectacular this season with 26 disposals and 633 metres gained every game. He’s one of the best kicks in the league with a left boot that can carry 65 metres, and pick out teammates through every defensive zone in the competition. He has put together his best and most consistent season in the league. 

Sam Walsh has made the jump to one of the best players in the competition. His 29.8 disposals per contest leads Carlton, and he averaged a goal every two games and 0.6 goal assists. His work-rate around the ground is second to none, and he’ll poll exceptionally well in the Brownlow.

Ollie Wines has had a career year for the Power with 31.2 disposals and six clearances per contest. He’s a heavy-set, bulldozing player who bursts through packs to win the contested ball, but he’s added a prolific outside game and a goal-kicking ability to his game in 2021.

Touk Miller has been the Suns’ best player by a mile this year, taking his game to the next level after spending time as a tagger over the last few seasons. His work-rate is sensational and earns all of his 31.8 touches on the inside and outside of stoppages 5.7 clearances and 7.1 tackles.

Nic Naitanui flew under the radar all season, and late season performances solidified his standing as the best ruckman in the competition this year. In just 68.1 per cent time on ground, he delivered 12.4 contested possessions, 7.2 clearances and 12.3 hit-outs to advantage per contest.

Jack Steele (VC) was a man possessed for the Saints in 2021 with a career-high 29.2 disposals to go with 6.3 clearances and 8.4 tackles. His attack on the man and the football is unparalleled, continually imposing his will on contests for the benefit of his team. He has also kicked 0.6 goals and delivered 5.9 score involvements per contest to add an attacking element to his brilliant contested work.

Clayton Oliver was the leading tackler of the team who amassed the most tackles this season in a dominant year in the guts. Helping the Demons to top spot, he averaged 31.6 touches, 7.6 clearances and 5.3 tackles a game as he helped the Demons win the ball on the inside. His ability to spend 89 per cent time on ground adds to his value as a midfielder.

Marcus Bontempelli (C) has done what many expected and become arguably the best player in the competition, and captains our team. His capacity to win games from the midfield and up forward is a rare trait. He combines underrated acceleration with strength and skill to dominate opponents with 27.2 touches, 5.5 clearances and 1.2 goals per contest in 2021.

Tom Hawkins has backed up his Coleman Medal with another brilliant season, and continues to get better with age. The spearhead of the Cats, he has kicked 2.5 goals per game this season and was also top five in the competition for forward 50 ground ball gets, showing he’s still effective at ground level.

Christian Petracca has been the third-ranked player this year according to Champion Data, averaging 28.6 touches and 1.1 goals per game in his time between the forward line and midfield. His pure power and capacity to turn a game on its head makes him one of the favourites for the Brownlow this year, and should see him gain another All-Australian blazer.

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Jake Stringer has been amazing this year, but his second half of the year has been simply dominant. He has 16.8 touches and 4.6 clearances at centre bounces, and his 2.2 goals and 0.7 goal assists has made him one of the best players in the league since the bye. He was an All-Australian at 21, and should get his second blazer at 27 years old.

Harry McKay has put together a Coleman Medal-winning season for a side sitting outside of the top eight, which is a remarkable achievement. He kicked 58 goals this season as the focal point of the Carlton offence, and received little help from other key forwards which makes his achievements all the more impressive.

Toby Greene – when he isn’t suspended – has been exceptional all season for the Giants in the forward half, able to create something out of nothing and expose whatever matchup he finds himself in. He has kicked 2.5 goals per game the entire season, to go with his 17.6 disposals and a goal assist. His craft as a small forward that plays well above his height is unique and dynamic.

Christian Salem has had over 25 disposals per game off the half-back, generating the drive out of defence for the Demons all season. He has gone from a good player to an elite player, hitting targets under pressure and always being the outlet for a defensive unit that has suffocated opposition sides all year.

Darcy Parish has been the most improved player in the competition this season. Playing as a pure midfielder, he has won three best on ground medals and averaged 30.3 touches (13.2 contested), 7.5 clearances and 7.6 score involvements per game. He has led the charge up the ladder for the Dons as they surprised everyone to make the eight.

Hugh McCluggage has led the league in goal assists this season, showcasing his ability with ball in hand going inside 50. The wingman averaged 24.9 touches and 6.7 score involvements on the season in a sensational campaign for the Lions, who finished in the top four.

Bayley Fritsch has been the ultimate deadeye for the Demons with his 2.2 goals per game as well as 5.4 score involvements. As a forward, he is able to play above his height with elite marking ability, and persistently leads at the ball with a high work-rate. He has been a constant for Melbourne in the forward 50 all season. 

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About Jasper Chellappah 204 Articles
Jasper writes on Aussie Rules, basketball, tennis and netball for The Inner Sanctum. His main area is player analysis, 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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