Max Gawn named Captain in AFL team of the year

Melbourne’s Max Gawn is captain of the AFL team of the year as five players from the minor premier Demons earned selection.

Gawn earned his fifth blazer as the No.1 ruck and was joined in the star-studded 22-man squad by teammates Steven MayJake LeverClayton Oliver and Christian Petracca.

Backline anchors May and Lever were two of 11 first-time selections, which also included 31-year-old Brisbane veteran Daniel Rich.

Western Bulldogs’ skipper Marcus Bontempelli was named as Gawn’s vice-captain, getting the nod for the fourth time,as did Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins.

Hawkins, who will play his 300th game in Friday night’s qualifying final against Port Adelaide, was named as one of two key forwards alongside Carlton’s Coleman medallist Harry McKay.

The hotly contested midfield spots were split up between a mix of debutants and regular faces.

Gawn and Oliver were joined on-ball by Bulldogs ball-magnet Jack Macrae, who averaged almost 34 disposals a game in another wonderful season.

Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines, Essendon’s Zach Merrett and Carlton’s Sam Walsh made up the centreline.

For Wines and Walsh it was a first selection, while Essendon’s Merrett, who committed to his club long-term earlier in the year, won his second selection following 2017.

The interchange bench was made up exclusively of midfielders, with West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui named as a back-up to Gawn, while Saint Jack Steele, Gold Coast’s Touk Miller and Bomber Darcy Parish were all named.

Aliir Aliir confirmed his status as the recruit of the year, named as a key defender alongside May and Lever for his intercepting exploits, while Bailey Dale and Cat Tom Stewart join Rich to round out the back six.

The forward line compromised Hawkins, McKay, explosive duo Bontempelli and Petracca, along with Greater Western Sydney’s Toby Greene and Swan Tom Papley.

The selection panel was Gillon McLachlan (non-voting Chairman), Andrew Dillon, Chris Johnson, Glen Jakovich, Warren Tredrea, Cameron Ling, Jude Bolton, Matthew Richardson, Nick Riewoldt and Kevin Bartlett.