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TABtouch WAFL Team of the YearFriday, September 7, 2018 - 3:30 PM - by Chris Pike

THE TABtouch WAFL Team of the Year has been selected for 2018 and 20 of the 26 players named will all be taking part in this Sunday's semi finals featuring Subiaco, South Fremantle, West Perth and Claremont.
Over the course of the 2018 WAFL season, the team selected a Team of the Round after each weekend of football.
Based on those 21 teams selected, the TABtouch WAFL Team of the Year has been named featuring 22 players and four emergencies that have earned their place in the side based on the number of times they were named throughout the season.

That might mean some star players who missed large parts of the season or weren’t quite as consistent miss out like Swan Districts' Rhys Palmer, South Fremantle's Cory Dell'Olio and Mason Shaw, Claremont's Jared Hardisty, Haydn Busher and Alex Manuel, Subiaco's Brad Stevenson, and East Perth's Luke Partington.
Every player that was named to the Team of the Round on six or more occasions has been included in the Team of the Year, with Subiaco's Lachlan Delahunty and West Perth's Shane Nelson named in 13 of their 18 games for the season.
Subiaco captain Kyal Horsley and West Perth veteran Andrew Strijk were both named 12 times throughout the season with Perth's Michael Sinclair, Subiaco's Hayden Kennedy and Josh Deluca, and Aaron Black named nine times.
Subiaco's Chris Phelan, Peel Thunder's Danyle Pearce and Claremont's Jye Bolton were selected on eight occasions, and Claremont's Anton Hamp and Kane Mitchell, Perth's Brant Colledge, South Fremantle's Shane Hockey and Nick Suban, and Subiaco's Zac Clarke picked seven times.
South Fremantle's Haiden Schloithe and Marlion Pickett, Subiaco's Ben Sokol, West Perth's Blake Wilhelm and East Fremantle's George Hampson were named to the Team of the Round six times and made it into the final 26 of the Team of the Year.
Of the 10 players who were nominated five times throughout the season, West Perth's Tyler Keitel, Subiaco's Jordan Lockyer and East Perth's Patrick McGinnity made the final 25.
Throughout the 21 rounds of the 2018 WAFL season, a total of 161 players were named at least once to the Team of the Round.
East Perth had the most players nominated with 23 of them earning a spot at least once, while Subiaco had 22 players, Swan Districts 19, Peel Thunder 18, South Fremantle 18, Claremont 18, Perth 16, West Perth 15 and East Fremantle 12.
In terms of players earning the most spots over the season, Subiaco was the dominant team and understandably so given they went through the campaign undefeated. The Lions made up 99 of the 462 positions available across the 21 rounds.
West Perth players claimed 65 of the positions, South Fremantle 62, Claremont 53, East Perth 47, Perth 41, Swan Districts 31, Peel Thunder 34 and East Fremantle 26.
The back-line of the TABtouch WAFL Team of the Year features Subiaco's Lockyer and Claremont's Hamp as the key position players with Subiaco's Kennedy, Perth's Sinclair, South Fremantle's Suban and West Perth's Wilhelm around them.
Subiaco's Aaron Heal, East Fremantle's Jayden Schofield, Claremont's Haydn Busher and South Fremantle's Shaun Bewick all made strong cases throughout 2018 too.
The midfield was the one most difficult to narrow down but Subiaco's Horsley, West Perth's Nelson and Claremont's Bolton picked themselves as did Subiaco's Phelan and West Perth's Black as the wingmen.
South Fremantle's Pickett, Claremont's Mitchell, Subiaco's Deluca and Peel's Pearce made up spots on the bench with East Fremantle's Hampson, East Perth's McGinnity, South Fremantle's Hockey and Swan Districts' Turner the emergencies.
Peel's Ben Howlett, Subiaco's Leigh Kitchin, West Perth's Luke Meadows, East Perth's Luke Partington and Claremont's Tom Curren were the next cabs off the rank in terms of midfielders.
West Perth pair Keitel and Strijk shared the Bernie Naylor Medal making them natural selections in the forward-line alongside Subiaco's Ben Sokol and Lachlan Delahunty. South Fremantle's Schloithe and Perth's Colledge fill the half-forward spots as players who can go in the middle too.
Perth's Cody Ninyette, South Fremantle's Brandon Donaldson and Mason Shaw, and Claremont's Alex Manuel were other forwards named in the Team of the Round at least four times.
At different points of the season, South Fremantle's Brock Higgins and East Perth's Fraser McInnes were in line for the ruck spot, but Subiaco's Clarke finished off so dominant he banged down the door for selection.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 9

The 2015 premiership-winning small defender has battled shoulder problems the past two years but has delivered a career-best season in 2018 winning more of the ball than ever and providing the undefeated Lions with plenty of run and drive from the back-line. The 23-year-old Kalgoorlie native has averaged 21.4 disposals in his 17 games including a high of 34 against East Fremantle in Round 20.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 5

The Subiaco key defender missed the first round of the season and had a slightly slow start to 2018, but the former West Perth product who spent time with the Sydney Swans has been a mainstay of the Lions' back-line alongside Aaron Heal and Angus Litherland. Not only has he averaged 14.1 disposals and 4.3 marks a game, but has done tremendous defensive jobs and is hard to beat in one-on-one battles. Named in Team of the Year for second straight season.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 9

The 2016 Perth fairest and best winner played through injury in 2017 and then only played two of the first seven games of 2018, but even his two games he did play in the first eight rounds were outstanding. Then he was superb the rest of the way for the Demons as the biggest ball-winning defender in the competition and equally outstanding chopping off opposition forays forward and setting up play. Ended up averaging 25.8 possessions and 7.2 marks in his 13 appearances for which he was named to Team of the Round nine times.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

It was somewhat of a surprise when he was delisted by Fremantle at the end of 2017 despite finishing the AFL season playing the last 10 games and with 156 matches under his belt, and plenty of gas left in the tank. But that has worked out to South Fremantle's benefit and after doing well at half-back early in the season, he has settled into the middle and the triple WAFL premiership player has been superb going on to average 22.4 possessions a game.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

It's hard to conceive now but he actually started the season in the reserves and slowly worked into things in Round 3 against East Fremantle but from then on he cemented himself as the premier key defender in the competition once again. Often given the job on the opposition's most dangerous key forward, he rarely was beaten and also did well as an intercept marker and to set up play the other way. 

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 6

Continues to thrive as a footballer after making the change from basketball and is now one of the best rebound and attacking defenders in the competition. Kody Manning's season-ending knee injury could have derailed West Perth's plans given his ability to often swap between forward and defence with Andrew Strijk. But by holding down half-back, that allowed Strijk to stay forward while he had an outstanding himself averaging 21.6 possessions and with 67 WAFL games under his belt now looks right at home.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 8

The 30-year-old decorated veteran went through a period in 2017 with a knee injury where he questioned his future in the game, but he did make it back for last year's Grand Final and has gone on to have one of the best and most consistent seasons of his career in 2018. Despite already having two premierships and two fairest and bests under his belt, motivation remains at an all-time high with the 166-game veteran averaging 28.1 disposals through 2018 including seven games with seven or more possessions.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 8

The 2016 Sandover and Simpson Medallist could very well have had an even better 2018 season than that first year of his with the Tigers. Has also claimed a State Game Simpson Medal this year and has been remarkably outstanding and consistent in the Claremont midfield. Averaging 30.9 possessions which has included 30 or more on 11 occasions and never fewer than 20 when he still kicked two important goals in a win over Perth.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 9

His first year as captain at West Perth likely saw him go to another level and that sure is saying something for someone who already was a premiership player, life member, fairest and best winner and Sandover Medallist. But splitting his time between being an inside and outside midfielder, he's been superb in 2018 and the 170-game skipper went on to average 31.2 disposals a game and having 30 or more 10 times, and never fewer than 18.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 6

The reigning Sandover Medallist and South Fremantle fairest and best winner shook off the disappointment of not being at an AFL club in 2018 to have another fine season for the Bulldogs. He split his time effectively between playing at half-forward and in the middle, and went on to average 24.9 possessions a game to lead the Bulldogs while kicking 21 goals from his 27 shots.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 13

He has been forced to spend much of his time in the ruck in recent seasons, especially come finals time, and he's been able to more than hold his own. But the arrival this year of Zac Clarke has freed him up to spend more time playing forward where he can be a marking target inside-50, be a lead-up centre half-forward and also backup in the ruck and a big-bodied midfielder. Finished the season averaging 24.2 possessions and 7.1 marks while also kicking 30 goals.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

He returned to his original WAFL club, Perth, last year following his time in the AFL with West Coast and his body didn’t quite allow him to have the sort of impact he hoped. But that all changed this year and especially from Round 8 onwards when he spent more time in the midfield while resting forward, he was outstanding in Perth's push for the finals. Ended up averaging 26.4 disposals and kicking 13 goals, with his touches swelling to 28.1 over the last 11 matches which included five with 30 or more.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 12

He started the season in his more customary role at half-back with Kody Manning forward. But once Manning injured his knee, he went forward and ended up at full-forward the rest of the season somewhat reminiscent of Gary Ablett starting to play out of the goal square for Geelong back in 1993. Unstoppable in one-on-one contests and a natural around goals, he went on to kick 43 goals to share the Bernie Naylor Medal with teammate Tyler Keitel and it looks a role the 225-game veteran can do for a long time to come.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 5

Back in 2016, he was named to the Team of the Year at full-back, then he was full-forward last year and has backed that up again in 2018 as the standout key forward goalkicker in the competition. Kicked 43 goals to share Bernie Naylor Medal with teammate Andrew Strijk and continues to develop as a key position player with all the tools to at least deserve an opportunity at the next level.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 6

With the departures of Liam Ryan and Liam Baker from last year's forward-line and then with Clancy Wheeler and Brad Stevenson battling injuries in 2018, Subiaco needed someone to step up consistently and the former South Fremantle forward was that man. After a strong season in 2017 kicking 49 goals on the back of 22 goals in 12 games in 2016 after 39 goals in the reserves at the Bulldogs in 2015, he has cemented himself as one of the best forwards in the competition. Kicked 37 goals to lead Subiaco in 2018 including hauls of five in Round 2 against his former team and in Round 21 against Perth.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

The former Fremantle ruckman with 101 games of AFL experience wasn’t sure how he would return in 2018 at Subiaco after missing all of 2017 with a knee injury, but he needn’t have been worried. After a slightly slow start after he built form and fitness, he ended the season as the dominant ruckman in the competition and following the Round 9 bye, he averaged 17.3 possessions, 4.7 marks and 41.4 hit outs while kicking 18 of his 25 goals for the season in that stretch too.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 12

The inspirational Subiaco captain is showing no signs of slowing down despite having gone through the pain of the past two Grand Finals and some on-going knee issues. He has had as good a 2018 season as any other in a decorated career that includes three premierships and two fairest and best awards among a host of accolades. The 31-year-old 180-game veteran has averaged 31.5 possessions this season including 40 or more three times, and 30 or more another seven times.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 13

For someone to already be a triple fairest and best winner and premiership player but go on and improve to have a career-best season is quite the feat, and that's exactly the case with the West Perth ball magnet in 2018. With 136 games now under his belt, he's right at the peak of his powers and delivered a remarkable season made up of 676 possessions at an average of 37.6 a game. He was named to the Team of the Round in 13 of his 18 appearances while racking up 40 or more touches six times, 30 or more another 10 times and never finishing with fewer than 26.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 6

He has been a strong contributor to South Fremantle's back-line over the past three years but with the departure of Tim Kelly to Geelong, the Bulldogs needed to find some electricity in its midfield and he has provided. With the combination of his breakaway speed, his ferocious attack on the ball and opposition, and his natural flair and creativity, he has thrived in the midfield. Has gone on to average 21.8 possessions a game and produce a host of match-winning and eye-catching displays. 

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 9

The Subiaco premiership player from 2014 left for Fremantle in the AFL after that as a lively small forward but over the past three years turned himself into a tough and prolific ball-winning inside midfielder. Came back to the Lions with two more WAFL premierships to his credit and aside from a three-week suspension early in 2018, has been superb for Lions averaging 27.9 possessions a game in a dominant on-ball brigade.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 8

He had every reason to feel down on his luck through 2018 given the tremendous football he was playing with Peel while unable to play regularly at AFL level with Fremantle. While he perhaps deserved to add to his 258-game AFL career at Port Adelaide and Fremantle, the 2017 WAFL premiership player had a superb season for the Thunder averaging 29.6 disposals in his 16 appearances.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

The 2012 Sandover Medallist and dual Claremont premiership player has returned to the Tigers in 2018 after four years in the AFL at Port Adelaide and then a year travelling through Canada, Central America and South America, and hasn’t missed a beat. Is now a 100-game player with Claremont too and went on to average 28.3 possessions on his return WAFL season including 40 or more in two of his first five matches, and then a combined 63 in the last two rounds.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 5

The East Perth co-captain produced another fine season for the Royals to lead his team into the finals by playing effectively both as a tenacious on-baller and a lively small forward at different times. Has now finished 2018 on 99 WAFL appearances after delivering a season where he averaged 21.2 possessions and kicked 14 goals.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 6

His team had a disastrous two-win season but he couldn't have possibly fought any harder or more consistently against the tide. Having sorted out his injury troubles, he played 17 matches in 2018 including reaching 100 games in the WAFL while performing admirably for the Sharks mostly through the middle but then at half-forward. Ended up averaging 27.2 possessions and kicking 18 goals in what is surely another fairest and best winning campaign.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 7

The 2016 fairest and best winner at South Fremantle started the 2018 season in career-best form over the opening six games before copping a heavy knock in Round 8 against Claremont. He missed two of the next three games and it took him a while to return to his best but he certainly did over the last month of the season averaging 34.8 disposals to head into the finals in hot form with the Bulldogs.

Times named in TABtouch Team of the Round: 3

He has now played 60 league matches at Swan Districts and continues to get better season after season. Had the best year of his career in 2018 under new coach Adam Pickering settling mostly on the wing but showing he could also play as an inside midfielder at times too. Ended up as Swans' leading ball winner for the season averaging 23 disposals a game including 30 or more on three occasions.

M & J Chickens Players of the Round
Round 1 – Rhys Palmer (Swan Districts)
Round 2 – Fraser McInnes (East Perth)
Round 3 – Cody Leggett (Perth)
Round 4 – Shane Nelson (West Perth)
Round 5 – Patrick McGinnity (East Perth)
Round 6 – Marlion Pickett (South Fremantle)
Round 7 – Andrew Strijk (West Perth)
Round 8 – George Hampson (East Fremantle)
Round 9 – Nick Suban (South Fremantle)
Round 10 – Ben Howlett (Peel Thunder)
Round 11 – Michael Bennell (Perth)
Round 12 – Kyal Horsley (Subiaco)
Round 13 – Lachlan Delahunty (Subiaco)
Round 14 – Cody Ninyette (Perth)
Round 15 – Brant Colledge (Perth)
Round 16 – Aaron Black (West Perth)
Round 17 – Patrick Italiano (Swan Districts)
Round 18 – Shane Hockey (South Fremantle)
Round 19 – Luke Partington (East Perth)
Round 20 – Zac Clarke (Subiaco)
Round 21 – Alex Manuel (Claremont)