Minor premiers Melbourne headline the All-Australian team, with five Demons players slotting into the AFL’s best 22 and ruckman Max Gawn named captain.
- Gawn earned his fifth All-Australian selection and fourth in a row
- Eleven players were selected for the first time in their careers
- Clayton Oliver and Luke Jackson were awarded coveted individual honours
It was a golden night for the Demons, who are chasing their first premiership since 1964, with Clayton Oliver taking out the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award and Luke Jackson crowned the Rising Star winner.
Gawn collected his fourth straight All-Australian blazer — and fifth overall — as he was named as the starting ruckman, with West Coast star Nic Naitanui left to claim a bench spot.
Demons star Steven May was named fullback for the first time, joined by teammate and fellow All-Australian debutant Jake Lever in a back-pocket.
Oliver and Christian Petracca were Melbourne’s other representatives.
Only seven players — Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Hawkins, Jack Macrae, Naitanui, Petracca, Gawn and Steele — retained their spot from last year’s team.
Selectors, who included AFL greats Matthew Richardson, Nick Riewoldt and Kevin Bartlett, chose 11 debutants.
Port Adelaide’s Aliir Aliir was selected at centre-half-back in his first season with the Power after crossing from Sydney at the end of last year.
Coleman medallist Harry McKay was predictably named at full-forward, while his young Carlton teammate Sam Walsh and Power midfielder Ollie Wines earned their first All-Australian blazers.
Brisbane veteran Daniel Rich was the Lions’ sole representative, making the team for the first time in his 13th AFL season.
Sydney dynamo Tom Papley was preferred to Rich’s Lions teammate Charlie Cameron for a forward pocket spot.
Tireless Gold Coast midfielder Touk Miller and Essendon’s Darcy Parish, who enjoyed a breakout season, were worthy inclusions on the interchange bench.
Oliver, Jackson earn top awards
Oliver, who is among the Brownlow Medal favourites, polled votes in 17 of the 23 matches this season to finish with 114 in the Coaches Association Award standings.
The star midfielder finished ahead of Bontempelli and Wines, who tied for second with 101 votes.
The other Coaches’ Association award was shared by Gold Coast’s Noah Anderson and Fremantle gun Caleb Serong.
After Serong edged Anderson for last year’s Rising Star, the pair were named as joint winners of the Coaches Association Best Young Player Award.
Jackson, an athletic ruck-forward, became Melbourne’s third recipient of the Rising Star honour, after Jesse Hogan (2015) and Jarred Rivers (2004).
He polled 51 out of a possible 55 votes.
Jackson finished ahead of GWS midfielder Tom Green (38 votes) and Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades (28).
The 19-year-old earned the maximum five votes from every judge apart from Chris Johnson and Jude Bolton, who went with Green instead.
Jackson was taken at pick three in the 2019 draft, playing six matches in 2020 before going to another level with 21 appearances this season.
The East Fremantle product has averaged 12 disposals, nine hitouts and almost three marks in his first two seasons, including 18 goals.
Jackson’s Rising Star nomination came in round seven after collecting a career-high 22 disposals in a victory over North Melbourne.