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2017 wafl.com.au Team of the Year Friday, September 15, 2017 - 8:25 AM

THE 2017 wafl.com.au Team of the Year has been finalised, with the best 22 players plus three emergencies named based on weekly nominations throughout the McDonald’s WAFL Premiership season.

Each round during the season, a Team of the Round was named on wafl.com.au, with 192 different players named at least once across the 23 weeks, making them eligible for selection in the overall Team of the Year.

The Team of the Year has been selected based not only on the number of times each player was selected in the Team of the Round, but also on their playing positions and strengths to achieve the best overall team of 2017 WAFL players.

Subiaco had the most appearances in the Team of the Round throughout the season, with 25 different Lions players named at least once as they claimed the minor premiership with 19 consecutive victories.

Those 25 players from Subiaco totalled 88 appearances in the Team of the Round. Five Subiaco players have been selected in the Team of the Year.

South Fremantle finished second on the WAFL ladder with a 16-4 record and 24 Bulldogs players featured in the Team of the Round at least once, for 79 appearances. Five South Fremantle players made the final 22 in the Team of the Year, plus one emergency.

Claremont missed out narrowly on playing finals but had some standout individual performers throughout the season. The Tigers had 18 players named at least once for a total of 58 appearances. Three Claremont players made the Team of the Year.

Swan Districts ended the season in fourth position and 19 of the black-and-white’s players featured in the Team of the Round on a total of 56 occasions. One Swans player features in the Team of the Year and one as an emergency.

West Perth finished in fifth position on the ladder and 17 of their players were named in the Team of the Round at least once for a total of 54 nominations. Four West Perth players ended up named in the Team of the Year.

East Perth just missed out on the top five and the Royals had 26 players named throughout the season at least once for a total of 52 times. One East Perth player made the Team of the Year as an emergency.

Peel Thunder qualified for a third straight finals appearance and the reigning premiers had 24 players make the Team of the Round for a total of 47 times. Two Peel Thunder players have been selected in the side.

Perth finished with the wooden spoon but had 20 players named at least once in the Team of the Round on 36 occasions, while East Fremantle had 19 players make it, also for 36 overall appearances. The Demons and Sharks had one player each in the final 22.

Subiaco excitement machine Liam Ryan and South Fremantle star on-baller Tim Kelly were both named 10 times throughout the season while West Perth's Shane Nelson, Subiaco's Leigh Kitchin, South Fremantle's Haiden Schloithe and Swan Districts ruckman Corey Gault made nine appearances.

Subiaco captain Kyal Horsley and Claremont's Jye Bolton were named on eight occasions with Claremont ruckman Mitch Andrews, Perth skipper Clint Jones, East Fremantle attacking defender Jayden Schofield, Subiaco big man Lachlan Delahunty and Claremont defender Haydn Busher named seven times.

wafl.com.au TEAM OF THE YEAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK POCKET – STEVEN EDWARDS (South Fremantle)

5 x Team of the Round
Having joined South Fremantle from Claremont ahead of the 2016 season looking for more opportunities, those presented to him originally as a lively small forward. But he was soon back to his more customary role as an attacking defender and he had a standout season with the Bulldogs. With his teammate Jason Maskos equally impressive as a lockdown defender, not only did he show he could do well in one-on-one defensive battles but his run out of defence was at times scintillating to watch, and he was a big reason the Bulldogs won 16 games in 2017.

FULL-BACK – HAYDN BUSHER (Claremont)
7 x Team of the Round
The Claremont key defender thrived this season having cemented his place at the Tigers in the back-line having been previously used as a forward and even makeshift ruckman in his early Claremont career and previously with Perth. But his second half of the 2017 season for Claremont was brilliant not only doing good defensive jobs on some of the league's best forwards, but he became a real attacking threat averaging 22.3 disposals over his last eight games including a high of 33 against Swan Districts in Round 22.

BACK POCKET – JORDAN LOCKYER (Subiaco)
4 x Team of the Round
Subiaco had the stingiest defence in the WAFL right throughout 2017 conceding just 63.4 points a game and his defensive work largely from centre half-back was a huge reason for that. He was rock solid right throughout the Lions' 19-game winning streak playing all but one game. He could win his one-on-one battles, help his fellow defenders to win or split the contests, and his intercept marking was important. Also not afraid to win his own ball with 12.3 disposals a game.

HALF-BACK FLANK – JAYDEN SCHOFIELD (East Fremantle)
7 x Team of the Round
The former East Fremantle colts premiership player spent a season in the AFL at the Western Bulldogs, but it wasn’t until 18 months ago when coach Rob Wiley put him to half-back that he found his best spot at WAFL level. The response has been him delivering an outstanding run of form providing tremendous run and drive for the Sharks off half-back. Despite his team struggling, he brought up his 100th WAFL game during 2017 averaging 25.7 disposals and 6.5 marks while racking up more than 30 possessions on five occasions.

CENTRE HALF-BACK – SAM COLLINS (Peel Thunder)
4 x Team of the Round
Proved himself a standout key defender for Thunder in his second season on Fremantle's list and after being an important player in last year's premiership triumph. Played another 17 WAFL games during the season but appears to have proven he deserves a regular shot at AFL level. Not only did he average 16.5 possessions a game but he took the second most marks in the league (152) as continually intercepted opposition attacks and did well on the league's best key forwards.

HALF-BACK FLANK – KODY MANNING (West Perth)
5 x Team of the Round
He is the most physically intimidating player in the WAFL and the way he attacks the contest, the football and the opposition must be admired. It also leads to him being banged up more than most. But there's also much more to his game than that and he has proven he can do some strong lockdown defensive jobs on the likes of Liam Ryan. But he is also terrific with the ball in hand as a good, long kick who loves setting up play out of defence but also driving it inside-50 and kicking a long goal. Is versatile but off half-back is where he is best suited and had the best season of his 102-game career in 2017.

WING – AARON BLACK (West Perth)
6 x Team of the Round
Despite being yet to turn 25, has now played over 150 games and continued to have a tremendous impact for the Falcons whether on the wing or playing as an inside midfielder. Already a premiership player, Sandover Medallist and fairest and best winner, averaged 28.7 possessions a game to be third in the WAFL including a high of 47 and having it 30 or more times on another seven occasions.

CENTRE – LEIGH KITCHIN (Subiaco)
9 x Team of the Round
The tough and tenacious on-baller has been remarkably consistent in his brilliant performances in Subiaco's midfield in his three years since crossing from Frankston in the VFL that he's one of the very first picked in the Team of the Year. Is a clearance and contested ball machine and throughout 2017 averaged 24.5 disposals a game but did some damage on the scoreboard kicking 12 goals as well.

WING – KYAL HORSLEY (Subiaco)
8 x Team of the Round
The inspirational Subiaco captain was having another stellar season for Subiaco up until his home and away campaign ended prematurely after Round 19 through injury. But up until that point he had been averaging 26.0 possessions a game, had kicked 15 goals and it was the big moments he continued to shine in including kicking the match-winner against Peel in Round 11. Split his time from the wing to playing inside-mid and equally effective in both roles.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – HAIDEN SCHLOITHE (South Fremantle)
9 x Team of the Round
Had a standout 2014 season for South Fremantle winning the fairest and best award and continued to play well in 2015 and 2016 when on the field but was hampered by injury. But has been fully fit in 2017 and has simply taken his game to another level and become among the elite in the WAFL. Became an unstoppable force around the stoppages, in the contested ball area and then could get out into space and be damaging. Capping off his all-round game was his ability to go forward and kick bags of goals highlighted by five goals and 27 possessions in his 100th game. Kicked 27 goals and averaged 28.5 possessions a game.

CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – LACHLAN DELAHUNTY (Subiaco)
7 x Team of the Round
Again spent plenty of time in the ruck for Subiaco in 2017 splitting his time on the ball to being a key forward whose great strength is roaming up the ground as a leading option who then drives the ball inside-50. Despite his lack of confidence at times in his kicking on goal, still kicked 16 for the season combined with averaging 21.1 possessions and 15.3 hit outs as the best versatile big man in the WAFL.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – CORY DELL'OLIO (South Fremantle)
5 x Team of the Round
Even he was unsure how his return a South Fremantle would go in 2017 after being forced to miss all of 2016 on the back of a strong 2015 campaign in his first season back from Essendon. After a bit of a slow start with nine goals in his first seven matches, he quickly got back to some of his very best and most damaging form. Regained his fitness, speed and ability to kick goals from any number of situations. Ended up booting 49 goals to be third in the Bernie Naylor Medal race highlighted by six in Round 14 against Perth.

FORWARD POCKET – LIAM RYAN (Subiaco)
10 x Team of the Round
The dynamic small forward who plays well beyond his height to be a marking target whether on the lead, in one-on-one battles or flying over packs showed that what he delivered in 2016 was from a fluke. He took his performances to another level again in 2017 to end up kicking 68 goals to win the Bernie Naylor Medal booting six on three occasions, five another three times and four in another five instances.

FULL-FORWARD – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
6 x Team of the Round
After being named in the 2016 Team of the Year at full-back after his tremendous season as an attacking key defender, he shifted forward in 2017 for the Falcons and showed he is just as capable of being a match-winner in attack. He took 109 marks for the season to be second among key forwards while having more shots than everyone aside from Liam Ryan. Ended up kicking 46.43 for the season, the most of all key forward targets, including a career-best seven in Round 18 against Perth.

FORWARD POCKET – BLAINE JOHNSON (South Fremantle)
5 x Team of the Round
Had a good season back with South Fremantle in 2016 after time in the AFL with Carlton kicking 35 goals, but he was a player possessed and was at times unstoppable. He took his defensive pressure in the forward 50 up a cog and reaped the rewards as it only helped his ability to showcase his vast array of skills around goals. Ended up kicking 53 goals for the season to be second in the Bernie Naylor Medal including a haul of nine in Round 14 against Perth.

RUCK – COREY GAULT (Swan Districts)
9 x Team of the Round
This is likely the most hotly contested position in the Team of the Year but the Swan Districts young big man gets the nod having earned the most Team of the Week nominations against two other deserving candidates, Mitch Andrews and Brock Higgins. In his first season back from Collingwood, settled into life as the No. 1 ruckman after time early in the year up forward and delivered some tremendous performances virtually as another midfielder. Averaged 18.6 possessions and 25 hit outs a game.

RUCK ROVER – TIM KELLY (South Fremantle)
10 x Team of the Round
Was a colts premiership player in 2012, reserves premiership player in 2013 and has been building himself up as a star WAFL player in the years since. But in 2017 he made himself an unstoppable force and one that surely has banged down the door to demand an AFL opportunity. Had a remarkable season winning the hard ball, dominating clearances and showing the ability to break away from packs, run and carry the ball, and his kicking is now a treat to watch. Nothing highlights his abilities more than his WA Day Foundation Derby 35 possessions and seven goals.

ROVER – SHANE NELSON (West Perth)
9 x Team of the Round
As a remarkably consistent performer over a 116-game career that has already included a premiership and two fairest and best awards, it's hard to say that 2017 was his best season but it likely was. Had a remarkably consistent season in a rollercoaster ride for his team as the league's leading ball winner with 664 disposals at an average of 33.2 a game. High of 51 against Perth in Round 18, had 40 or more on another four occasions and then 30 or more another nine times.

INTERCHANGE – RORY O'BRIEN (Peel Thunder)
5 x Team of the Round
Is clearly Peel Thunder's greatest ever player and the 31-year-old premiership winning veteran of 246 games is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down. Could very well win the sixth fairest and best award of his career this year having again played every match, averaging 25 possessions and splitting his time between half-forward and the midfield.

INTERCHANGE – JYE BOLTON (Claremont)
8 x Team of the Round
The reigning Sandover Medallist had a lot to live up to after a brilliant first season with Claremont that also included the Simpson Medal. Things got off to a slowly slight start including a knee injury he aggravated on Good Friday against South Fremantle. But following the Round 11 bye and state game, he clearly was back to his peak physically and his form was likely even better than at times in 2016. Over his last 11 games he averaged 31.3 disposals to almost lead the Tigers into the finals.

INTERCHANGE – CLINT JONES (Perth)
7 x Team of the Round
The Perth skipper deserves the most commendation for anyone on this team for the way he has shown tremendous professionalism, commitment and consistency when it would have been so easy for someone of less character to have grown frustrated. Having played in a premiership with South Fremantle and taking part in three grand finals at St Kilda, being part of top teams has been what he has been accustomed to. That hasn’t been the case in two years at Perth but not through any fault of his. Been an outstanding leader and ball-winning midfielder again averaging 32.9 disposals including a high of 53 in Round 6 against East Perth.

INTERCHANGE – MITCH ANDREWS (Claremont)
7 x Team of the Round
For most of the season was the standout candidate as the No. 1 ruckman earning all his seven Team of the Round nominations by Round 17. He deserved his place in the WAFL state team with the dual premiership winner having the best season of his 135-game career. Carried Claremont's ruck singlehandedly most of the time and did a tremendous job. Ended up averaging 13.7 possessions and league-high 38.9 hit outs.

EMERGENCY – PATRICK MCGINNITY (East Perth)
5 x Team of the Round
His first season in the WAFL without being listed at West Coast saw him join East Perth in 2017 and be named co-captain and once he overcame an injury-interrupted first half of the season, played some outstanding football to give the Royals a crack at playing finals despite the 0-5 start. Equally effective as an inside midfielder and dangerous half-forward highlighted by averaging 20.6 possessions over his last 11 games and kicking 14 goals including a haul of five in Round 18 against South Fremantle in Busselton.

EMERGENCY – TONY NOTTE (Swan Districts)
4 x Team of the Round
He brought up his 200th appearance for the black-and-whites in the elimination final victory against West Perth and the form of the 27-year-old was as good as it's ever been throughout 2017. While he can go forward at times and even do well in the ruck when asked to, it's at centre half-back where he is outstanding. He reads the play and takes overhead intercept marks better than anyone in the competition, and that was never more the case than this year. Ended up averaging 15.2 disposals and 5.9 marks a game.

EMERGENCY – BROCK HIGGINS (South Fremantle)
6 x Team of the Round
The South Fremantle ruckman has become the heart and soul of his Bulldogs team since arriving from East Perth in 2014. Brought up his 100-game milestone in 2017 and continues to thrive on the workload of virtually carrying the Bulldogs ruck on his own. Loves the physicality and throwing his weight around and usually gets better as the game goes on as he wears down his opponents. An inspirational workhorse for his team averaging 13.6 possessions and 37.2 hit outs a game.

PLAYERS OF THE ROUND
Round 1 – Xavier Ellis (Swan Districts)
Round 2 – Kyal Horsley (Subiaco)
Round 3 – Alex Manuel (Claremont)
Round 4 – Clint Jones (Perth)
Round 5 – Scott Simpson (West Perth)
Round 6 – Haiden Schloithe (South Fremantle)
Round 7 – Rudy Riddoch (West Perth)
Round 8 – Leigh Kitchin (Subiaco)
Round 9 – Devin McFarlane (Perth)
Round 10 – Andrew Strijk (West Perth)
Round 11 – Tim Kelly (South Fremantle)
Round 12 – Andrew Stephen (East Fremantle)
Round 13 – Dylan Main (South Fremantle)
Round 14 – Jamie Bennell (Swan Districts)
Round 15 – Ryan Nyhuis (Peel Thunder)
Round 16 – Adam Cockie (Subiaco)
Round 17 – Matt Taberner (Peel Thunder)
Round 18 – Shane Nelson (West Perth)
Round 19 – Matt Riggio (Swan Districts)
Round 20 – Brock Higgins (South Fremantle)
Round 21 – Stan Wright (East Perth)
Round 22 – Cody Ninyette (Perth)
Round 23 – Liam Ryan (Subiaco)