In what came as somewhat of a surprise to many, there were 11 debutantes in this year’s AFL All Australian team, named on Tuesday night at a gala evening in Melbourne.
The familiar high-profile faces such as Ablett, Selwood and Pendlebury were nowhere to be seen as the successful candidates were revealed.
Four teams had the most selections with three players named from each of Hawthorn, Richmond, West Coast and the Bulldogs. But it’s the last one that has the air of a favorite story, capping off an almost fairytale year.
The Western Bulldogs finished the 2015 season playing in the final series having finished in 6th spot; up from 14th in 2014.
The delight of the night at Tuesday’s event was the selection of Bob Murphy as captain of the All Australian team following a stellar first year captaining his beloved Western Bulldogs.
At 33, the highly respected veteran is not done with footy yet and reflected on a ‘magical’ year.
Murphy is joined in the leadership of the team by West Coast Eagle forward Josh Kennedy, named as vice-captain and one of three Eagles players to make the list.
It’s hard to say whether this year’s selections are notable for who was in or for who missed out.
It will always be difficult to select a best 22 out of a lengthy and elite list of sportsmen from 18 teams, but it is indicative of the standard of the competition when players the calibre of Adelaide captain Taylor Walker, high leaping and supremely athletic big man Nic Natanui and Sydney’s Josh Kennedy do not even make the interchange bench.
These ‘best of’ teams will always be open to debate, but the 2015 list is notable mostly for its promise of things to come through the new and exciting talent that permeates the AFL player ranks.