ESPN's mid-year All-Australian team

The bye weeks are upon us and with the All-Australian panel meeting this week for the first time in 2019, our footy writers have had a crack at their own team from the first half of the season.

A quick disclaimer: We've selected this 22 as though it would be lining up on the weekend, rather than loading it up with A-grade midfielders at the expense of genuine forwards and defenders.

We've also asked our AFL expert Jude Bolton to pick his best 22 from 2019, and we're asking our readers to judge who's done the better job in picking their midyear AA teams.

Have a read of both and have your say below!

Back line:

Tom Stewart (Geelong): Of course stats aren't everything, but how could Stewart miss out on selection judging by the following: the star Cat is ranked third in kicks, 10th in marks, second in rebound 50s and sixth in metres gained. The fact he can play tall or small, is averaging 24 touches a game and takes Mark of the Year contenders means he's just about first selected in this backline.

Alex Pearce (Fremantle): One of the new breed of 200cm+ key position players who has been at-times impassable for the Dockers. The 23-year-old lost almost two years of his career after two leg breaks in 2016/17 and is now unfortunately out with another leg fracture. His height, pace, positioning and intercept ability have been cornerstones for a Fremantle defence that is the league's second-stingiest.

Shannon Hurn (West Coast): Perhaps more than any backman in the league, Hurn balances the art of defending an opponent with sensational intercept ability and the power to launch breathtaking counter-attacks with his booming leg. Raking first in kicks across the league, fifth in total intercepts and fourth in total rebounds, the West Coast skipper seems to be getting better with age.

Half-back line:

Alex Keath (Adelaide): It's incredible to think after just 23 games, this 27-year-old former elite cricketer is now one of the best key defenders in the league. Keath uses his 197cm frame and impressive athleticism to lock down on opponents, and also is a key intercepting weapon, ranking second in total intercepts so far this year.

Dylan Grimes (Richmond): Grimes has been immense for the Tigers after the season-ending injury to defensive stalwart Alex Rance. Able to negate talls and smalls thanks to his rangy athleticism and agility, Grimes is on track to be named in the All Australian team after making the squad of 40 last year.

Daniel Rich (Brisbane): Finally, at almost 29 years of age and closing in on 200 games, Rich is producing the quality and consistency of play the football world craved after his Rising Star-winning season in 2009. Playing with intensity and leadership previously unseen, the Lion with the booming left boot is fourth in total kicks this season, fifth in metres gained and is averaging 23 touches.


Andrew Gaff (West Coast): Being forced to watch on as his teammates celebrated a premiership has certainly motivated Gaff to great heights in 2019. He's developed into the competition's premier winger, averaging 33 disposals, four clearances and four inside 50s per game in a side that is charging towards the finals yet again.

Lachie Neale (Brisbane): The former Dockers star has played a huge role in Brisbane's sensational 7-4 start to the season. Neale's arguably having a career best year, leading the league in disposals and managing to extract eight clearances per game to be the biggest Brownlow bolter of the lot, going from 51-1 to 5-1 with after 11 rounds.

Ricky Henderson (Hawthorn): Season number 10 for Henderson has been by far and away his best. Like Gaff, Henderson has excelled on the wing in 2019 and could very much be leading Hawthorn's best and fairest at the midpoint of the year. The former Crow is averaging 27 disposals and a touch under five inside 50s per game. He has also managed to boot eight majors.

Half-forward line:

Jeremy Cameron (GWS): He's seven goals clear in the race for the Coleman Medal despite having gone goalless in two games, leads the league for score involvements (97) and marks inside 50 (43), and is behind only Brody Mihocek, Adelaide's Tom Lynch and Taylor Walker for inside 50s for a key forward. He's a star and will only keep getting better.

Tom Hawkins (Geelong): The very picture of consistency, Tom Hawkins might be the best key forward in the AFL. He hasn't been held goalless since Round 4, 2018, leads the league for goal assists this season (15) and over the past five weeks has been incredibly accurate, having kicked 18.3 in that time (and 31.12 overall in 2019). He's an All-Australian lock at this stage of the year.

Jack Darling (West Coast): The third key tall slot was a toss-up between Darling and North's Ben Brown, but we've selected Darling as he would better complement Hawkins and Cameron considering the role he already plays with Josh Kennedy. Darling has been accurate in front of the big sticks (25.8 this year) and is starting to find form. Should have a strong end to the year.

Forward line:

Jordan De Goey (Collingwood): De Goey might be one of the most impactful players in the league right now. When he stamps his authority on a game, the rest of the Magpies stand taller around him, and his ability to crack a game open in a quarter, or a patch of ten minutes is extremely valuable.

Eddie Betts (Adelaide): Some were quick to write off the 32-year-old after he managed just 29 goals last season -- his lowest tally since 2013 -- but Betts has bounced back with aplomb to once again show he's one of the most dangerous forwards at ground level. He's kicked 22.13 so far this season to go with 31 forward 50 ground ball gets (second only behind Christian Petracca) and 16 tackles inside 50.

Gary Ablett (Geelong): The Little Master is still on top of his game at 35 years of age, and is on track to secure a ninth All-Australian blazer. He's kicked a goal in all bar one game this season and is averaging 20 touches, two goals and a goal assist per game. Hard to argue against having him in.


Brodie Grundy (Collingwood): He now sits alone as the competition's premier ruckman -- averaging 21 disposals and 43 hitouts per game -- and is likely leading the Magpies' best and fairest in what could shape up as a premiership year for the black and white army. When Grundy's on his game he's arguably the hardest player in the league to contain.

Patrick Cripps (Carlton): The inspirational Carlton co-captain has taken his game to even greater heights in 2019, averaging 29 disposals, nine clearances and seven tackles per outing. Despite the Blues being anchored to the bottom of the ladder, few would be surprised to see Cripps actually win the Brownlow Medal. Just stop and think about that.

Nat Fyfe (Fremantle): Still arguably the best player in the competition, Fyfe has wowed crowds all year with his elite ball winning, contested marking and ability to single-handedly swing games in the Dockers' favour. As good as he's been throughout his career, Fyfe is averaging more disposals, contested possessions and inside 50s this year than he has in any other.


Tim Kelly (Geelong): It's hard to believe Kelly has only played 34 games in the AFL. The smooth-moving, classy Cat has been a colossus this year and overshadowing many of the big names at the Cattery. On top of his 26 disposals per game, Kelly has already been able to kick nine goals and provide that spark for the Cats when they have struggled.

Jeremy Finlayson (GWS): Finlayson has been a revelation up forward for the Giants, having kicked 24.11 this season after having previously kicked just four goals in his career. He's also sixth in the league for goal assists with 12. The added beauty about having Finlayson in your team? You can swing him back and know he'll be more than capable in defence.

Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood): There's an argument the Pies captain is producing a career-best season and he's unlucky not to be named in our starting 18. He's averaging a smidgen under 30 touches a game and always uses the ball beautifully. Pendlebury has the second-most inside 50s in the league so far, as well as fourth in involvements.

Matt de Boer (GWS): He's far from the most talented or eye-catching player in the league but we've picked this team as though it would be lining up on the weekend, and we want a defensive midfielder who can take down some of the league's premier players, as de Boer has done this year. His stopping jobs on the likes of Zach Merrett, Patrick Cripps, Tim Kelly and Dustin Martin have played a vital role in the Giants' premiership charge.


Chris Fagan (Brisbane): This time last year, the Lions were 1-10 and now they're sitting fifth on the ladder at 7-4. It's been a dramatic improvement, they're playing an attractive brand of footy and they're every chance to play finals and even win one or two. Fagan narrowly edges out Ross Lyon and Chris Scott for this role.