Melbourne has dominated the AFL Awards night with the most players named in the All-Australian side, Max Gawn selected as the captain of the team, and youngster Luke Jackson taking out the Rising Star gong for 2021.
The Demons finished on top of the ladder courtesy of an after-the-siren goal by Gawn last weekend, and that success from the season has carried through to a host of honours at the prestigious awards night on Thursday.
Gawn, Oliver, Jake Lever, Steven May and Christian Petracca were the Demons’ selections in the All-Australian 22, with three players from the Western Bulldogs – Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Dale and Jack Macrae – the next best represented club. Bontempelli was named vice captain of the side, to go with his fourth All Australian selection.
Demons midfielder Clayton Oliver was also awarded the AFL Coaches Association player of the year award ahead of Marcus Bontempelli and Ollie Wines who tied for second. Jack Steele came third.
Other highlights of the All-Australian side included 11 first time selections. One of them, Port Adelaide’s Aliir Aliir, is the first player of South Sudanese descent to make the side, the AFL said.
The midfield of Ollie Wines, Jack Macrae and Oliver is flanked on the wings by Essendon’s Zach Merrett and Carlton youngster Sam Walsh, who had an incredible season shouldering much of the engine room load for the Blues.
Lance Franklin could not make a record eighth All-Australian side with the forward line pillars of Tom Hawkins and Coleman Medal winning Blues sharpshooter Harry McKay ahead of him. Toby Greene and Tom Papley were picked as the small forwards, while Bontempelli and Petracca were selected in the team as forwards.
Dale’s switch to the half-back line could not have gone any better with his selection in the 22, while Brisbane’s Daniel Rich has made his first All Australian side on the other half-back-flank after his debut back in 2009.