Defenders lead the way in WAFL Team of the Year
B: Toby McQuilkin (SF) Matthew Jupp (EF) Cam Eardley (EF)
HB: Lachie Martinis (C) Brandon Erceg (SD) Nathan Wilson (PT)
C: Ryan Lim (C) Jye Bolton (C) Jesse Turner (SD)
HF: Bailey Rogers (C) Tyler Keitel (WP) Jonathon Marsh (EF)
F: Keegan Knott (WP) Ben Sokol (S) Haiden Schloithe (SF)
Fol: Lloyd Meek (PT) Luke Meadows (WP) Blaine Boekhorst (EF)
I/C: Hamish Brayshaw (EP) Stefan Giro (S) Chad Pearson (SF) Angus Schmacher (EP)
Coach: Darren Harris (WP)
Captain: Matthew Jupp (EF)
The increasing value of rebounding defenders armed with great pace and penetrating kicks has been underlined with the make-up of the SportFM WAFL team of the year.
Backmen Toby McQuilkin (South Fremantle), Cam Eardley (East Fremantle) and Nathan Wilson (Peel) kicked the ball more than any team-mate this season and the fourth member of the rebounding quartet - Claremont’s Lachlan Martinis – was only just pipped by his prolific colleague Jye Bolton who spent half the season in defence.
There should be little surprise in the finals contenders providing the bulk of the team of the year, with top three sides West Perth, Claremont and East Fremantle offering 11 of the 22 players selected.
Yet it is an intriguing pointer to West Perth’s improvement this season - in what is their eighth consecutive finals campaign – that only three Falcons made the list.
In the 20 seasons that this writer has been compiling an annual WAFL team of the year, West Perth stalwarts Aaron Black and Shane Nelson have been among the most consistent selections. Neither made the team this season while the selection of their midfield mate Luke Meadows, who was runner-up in this week’s Sandover Medal count and favourite to win the Simpson Medal in the grand final, was a reflection of the changing of the guard at the Falcons.
High-profile midfielders in Sandover medallists Bolton, Bailey Rogers and Haiden Schloithe were impossible to ignore, even though they split their roles with greater time in attack or defence, while the newest member of the exclusive club was an automatic selection.
Blaine Boekhorst only played 14 matches but was best on ground in half of them and it was his ability to cover ground with great pace – either by foot or with his bullet-like kicking – that helped steer the Sharks to their first finals campaign in eight years.
Thirteen of the team played State football this year, including this team’s captain Matthew Jupp.
AFL-listed players were eligible for selection but the SportFM selection panel established an arbitrary minimum of 12 WAFL games to ensure the team was a true reflection of those active in the league for a majority of the season.
Peel duo Lloyd Meek (15 games) and Wilson (16) comfortably met that criteria.
Darren Harris was named as coach after a splendid season that saw West Perth rise from fourth last year to the minor premiership and grand final favouritism.
IMAGE: WA Football