26/05/2024

Paul Seedsman and Karl Amon. Pictures: afc.com.au & portadelaidefc.com.au

The 2021 All Australian team was selected, and again, wingmen have been overlooked in favour of inside midfielders.

The 2021 All Australian team has been revealed on Thursday night, with the 22 players selected all very deserving of the accolades after stellar individual seasons.

However, wingmen have once again been overlooked with Zach Merrett (4.1 per cent of game time on a wing) and Sam Walsh (11.7 per cent) named ahead of genuine wingmen in Karl Amon, Hugh McCluggage and Paul Seedsman.

Amon and McCluggage both spent 53 per cent of their game time on a wing, while Seedsman notched up over 75 per cent on a wing.

In the 2020 All Australian team, Bulldog Jack Macrae (3.5 per cent) and Cat Cam Guthrie (13.7 per cent) were selected on the wings, with McCluggage, Sam Menegola and Andrew Gaff all overlooked from the 40-man squad.

Over the past decade, Gaff has been the premier wingman in the AFL, earning All Australian honours in 2015 and 2018.

Interestingly, he has also been the only player selected on a wing in an All Australian team to spend more than half his time on ground in that position.

You could probably mount a strong case for Dan Hannebery in 2015-16, or Josh Kelly in 2017, but half of the players named on a wing in the last 10 years have spent under 10 per cent of that season playing in that position.

In 2019, Marcus Bontempelli and Tim Kelly didn’t tally up 10 per cent combined.

All Australian Wingmen 2012-2021 and game time on a wing that season

YearWing 1% on WingWing 2% on Wing
2012Trent Cotchin9.2%Dayne Beams7.7%
2013Ryan Griffen9.3%Scott Pendlebury8.0%
2014Nat Fyfe6.6%Dyson Heppell10.5%
2015Dan Hannebery23.8%Andrew Gaff60.4%
2016Dan Hannebery35.2%Rory Sloane7.2%
2017Josh Kelly23.1%Zach Merrett13.5%
2018Andrew Gaff50.7%Steele Sidebottom16.1%
2019Marcus Bontempelli1.1%Tim Kelly8.6%
2020Jack Macrae3.5%Cam Guthrie13.7%
2021Zach Merrett4.1%Sam Walsh11.7%

A standard response from some is β€˜but wouldn’t you take Walsh and Merrett over Seedsman and Amon?’.

In isolation, yes. To be fair, most would take Walsh first, regardless, because he’s an elite inside-outside hybrid mid.

But when your All Australian team is already stacked with inside bulls Clayton Oliver, Ollie Wines, Jack Steele, Christian Petracca, Darcy Parish, Jack Macrae, Touk Miller and Marcus Bontempelli, the choice between Merrett, Seedsman and Amon suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.

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There is no prototype wingman, but it is a critical role in any AFL side – a player that can break the lines, connecting the back half to the forward half and integral to both defensive and offensive structures.

You pick your best 22 on balance – you don’t pick Touk Miller, one of the most prolific midfielders in the competition, in a back pocket because he spent one per cent of game time in Round Five as a defender.

Ask any Port Adelaide supporter just how influential Karl Amon has been to their top two finish this year. Ask a Crows fan how good Paul Seedmsan has been at West Lakes in Season 2021.

These types of players have made the wing their own, and it’s time they were rewarded with their deserved recognition.

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