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The Roar


Almost All-Australian: The AFL's 2023 team of near misses

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Roar Guru
4 days ago

They’re the ‘best of the rest’: A team of players who missed out on the All-Australian squad of 44, but may well have had justified claims for selection. Let’s take a look.

*To be eligible for selection, a player must have featured in at least 16 games.

FB: Nic Newman (Carlton), Steven May (Melbourne), Brayden Maynard (Collingwood)
HB: Lachie Whitfield (GWS), Jake Lever (Melbourne), Lachie Ash (GWS)
C: Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane), Josh Dunkley (Brisbane), Mason Wood (St Kilda)
HF: Shai Bolton (Richmond), Jeremy Cameron (Geelong), Gryan Miers (Geelong)
FF: Izak Rankine (Adelaide), Jeremy Finlayson (Port Adelaide), Jamie Elliott (Collingwood)
Foll: Max Gawn (Melbourne, captain), Brad Crouch (St Kilda), Tim Taranto (Richmond)
Int: Will Day (Hawthorn), Sam Docherty (Carlton), Matt Rowell (Gold Coast), Josh Kelly (GWS, vice-captain)


Nic Newman was one of the reasons why Carlton is playing finals; he can lock down the best opposition small forward and hit a target when he has the ball. In Round 3 he managed to restrict Toby Greene to five disposals; that says it all, as Newman had 24 disposals himself. He can do damage when he is in possession and is a player that significantly improved the defensive side of his game.

Steven May averaged 6.57 intercepts per game; Melbourne can rely on him when the opposition are in control of the game. He has averaged 17.1 disposals per game and used the ball well with an average disposal efficiency of 82.93 per cent.

Brayden Maynard is a player that never shirks a contest. He has averaged 5.73 intercepts per game to go with an average of 18.50 disposals per game and is a part of the Collingwood leadership group.

Steven May

Steven May. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)


Half backs

Lachie Whitfield has been a revelation for GWS; he is now an experienced player that provides plenty of run off the half-back flank. He also contributed defensively in the 21 games that he featured in, with an average of 6.19 intercepts per game. In Round 2, Whitfield was unavailable due to injury, GWS lost to West Coast, which substantiates how important he is to the Giants team.

Jake Lever is one of the most important players for Melbourne; he is a player that should’ve been in the All-Australian squad of 44. He leads the back six for Melbourne extremely well as he always seems calm and composed. Lever averaged the sixth most intercepts per game of any player in the AFL with 8.32. The one game that he missed for Melbourne in season 2023 was a 27-point loss to Essendon in Round 5, which highlights his importance to the team.

Lachie Ash created a lot of run out of the GWS back line with the second most metres gained of any of their players on average per game with 434.30. Ash featured in all 23 games of the home and away season; he is an underrated player that plays his role for the team.

Centre line

Hugh McCluggage is one of the players that Brisbane could least afford to lose; he has the capability to win the ball on the inside along with the outside. He is a player that does whatever he needs to do in order to play to his optimum level.

Josh Dunkley during a Brisbane Lions training session.

Josh Dunkley. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


Josh Dunkley has been a pivotal part of the Brisbane team. There’s no disputing that he works hard and had a big impact on Brisbane making the top two and hosting a final. Dunkley choice to leave the Western Bulldogs was vindicated by his performances for Brisbane.

Mason Wood looked rejuvenated and to have put in a good preseason as he was a revelation playing on the wing for St Kilda. Wood was a revelation as he averaged 5.09 score involvements per game and was extremely durable as he featured in every game in season 2023. He worked hard patrolling the wing and kicked 15 goals, along with 3.87 intercepts per game, which indicates that he worked hard with and without the ball.

Half forwards

Shai Bolton averaged 7.00 score involvements per game and featured in all 23 games for Richmond. He is a player that has x-factor and is starting to deliver on his potential.

Jeremy Cameron had a good season as he averaged 2.65 goals per game, which was the fifth most of any player in the AFL on average. Along with that, Cameron averaged the equal fifth most score involvements per game of any AFL player with 7.70.

Gryan Miers averaged the tenth most score involvements per game with 7.17. He has an unconventional kicking style that’s difficult for the opposition to read.



Izak Rankine was one of the recruits of the season. He is a player that has a lot of x-factor and is someone that’s a prodigious target and a match winner.

Jeremy Finlayson averaged 6.80 score involvements per game. He did a great job for Port Adelaide as the second ruckman and was pivotal to their structure, along with their system. Finlayson is a tough match up for the opposition.

Jamie Elliott has had a good season as he has helped Collingwood win games; Elliott has kicked multiple goals in 12 out of the 21 games that he featured in. Along with that he has averaged 5.86 score involvements per game.

Jack Ginnivan and Jamie Elliott of the Magpies celebrate.

Jamie Elliott with Jack Ginnivan. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


Max Gawn is the captain of Melbourne and he drags his teammates with him; he never stops working and continually endeavours to make the team better. He is a ruckman that gets possessions around the ground as he averaged 16.40 disposals per game in the 20 games that he featured in.


Brad Crouch has had a good season for St Kilda as he has been extremely consistent; he averaged 12.00 contested possessions per game. Crouch is a player that hasn’t had enough recognition as he also worked hard defensively as he has averaged 6.09 tackles per game and hasn’t missed a game in season 2023.

Tim Taranto has been a revelation in the first year of his seven year deal at Richmond. He averaged 12.39 contested possessions per game and was extremely unlucky to miss out on the All-Australian squad of 44.


Will Day is a player that’s got plenty of talent and can play through the midfield or as a loose player in defence. Day nearly always delivered his best and when he doesn’t it isn’t through lack of trying. In the two games Day was unavailable due to suspension, Hawthorn lost by under a goal; in Round 5 against GWS and in Round 6 against Adelaide.

Sam Docherty is an important player for Carlton as they lost all three games that he didn’t play in. Docherty is a key part of the Carlton team as he is experienced and always gives his all; the players around him are made better, because of his presence.

Matt Rowell was one of the best players for Gold Coast as he averaged the fourth most clearances per game of any player in the AFL with 7.65. He hunted the ball and never shirked a contest and was durable as he played every game. Rowell had the most tackles of any AFL player in season 2023 with 190!

Josh Kelly has the ability to play on the wing or in the midfield. His value to the team was clear when he kicked what proved to be the winning goal in Alice Springs in Round 16 when GWS beat Melbourne and effectively meant his team will be playing finals.


Those are the fine margins in the game that matter, as Kelly kicked a goal from close to 70 metres out in a low scoring affair. His importance to the team was evident when GWS lost to West Coast in Round 2 by a 19-point margin, which was a game he missed through injury.