Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield has made a record-equalling eighth appearance in the All-Australian team and been selected as captain for the first time.
- Patrick Dangerfield is the sixth player to be named in the All-Australian team on eight occasions
- Lachie Neale won both the AFLPA Most Valuable Player and the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year awards
- Young Docker Caleb Serong won the Rising Star award and Tom Hawkins was announced as the Coleman Medal winner
He was joined in the All-Australian line-up by Brisbane’s Lachie Neale, who claimed the AFL Players’ Association’s (AFLPA) Most Valuable Player and AFL Coaches Association’s (AFLCA) Champion Player of the Year awards.
In the other awards announced on Thursday night, Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong won the Rising Star and Geelong’s Tom Hawkins collected the Coleman Medal following his 42-goal season.
Dangerfield continued his perfect streak of being named in the AFL’s best 22 every year since his high-profile move to the Cats from Adelaide in 2016.
He joins elite company with Robert Harvey (St Kilda), Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide), Gary Ablett Snr, Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong) and Lance Franklin (Sydney) as the only other players to have earned eight All-Australian blazers.
Port Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak was handed the vice-captaincy, with the 32-year-old named in the team for the third time in his career.
Boak is joined in the midfield by Neale, Melbourne ace Christian Petracca and West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, whose second All-Australian appearance comes eight years after his first.
Explosive Demon Petracca is one of 12 debutants in the team, with the entire half-back line all first-timers.
Collingwood’s Darcy Moore was slotted into centre half-back, while GWS’ Nick Haynes and the Power’s Darcy Byrne-Jones are on either side of the Magpies tall.
Eleven clubs are represented with Geelong, Port Adelaide, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs leading the selections with three players each.
Despite Richmond having three players included in the 40-man squad on Tuesday, selectors decided to only pick superstar Dustin Martin from the reigning premiers after the dual Norm Smith medallist’s shock omission last year.
If it was not for the 2019 snub, this would have been Martin’s fifth-straight selection after being one of the first players picked from 2016 to 2018.
Neale firms as Brownlow Medal favourite
Neale, who is the red-hot favourite to take home the Brownlow Medal, was a clear MVP winner with 1,120 votes from his peers.
Boak (419) and Petracca (398) filled out the podium.
“It’s an award that I’m super proud to have won, to be voted by those who I play with and against makes it a really special award,” Neale said.
“I really respect the opinion of the other players and to be voted by them this year is something that I will look back on and be really proud of.
Neale, who earned his second All-Australian selection, led the AFL for disposals in 2020 and ranked in the top five for clearances and contested possessions.
He will be crucial to Brisbane’s premiership chances, starting with next week’s qualifying final against Richmond.
“There’s no guarantees that we get to that last game but we’ve set up the season really well and hopefully we can get there,” Neale said.
“There’s a lot of hard work to do before then and some great teams in our way.
“But I’m really confident in our playing group and our coaching group that we can get there.”
Neale won the AFLCA award with 93 votes, ahead of Petracca (78) and Boak (77).
Serong named Rising Star
Serong became the Dockers’ third Rising Star winner after edging out Gold Coast’s Noah Anderson.
The number eight pick in last year’s draft polled 48 votes to finish nine clear of Anderson, who was selected second by the Suns.
The 19-year-old is the Dockers’ first Rising Star winner since Rhys Palmer in 2008, with Paul Hasleby taking it out in 2000.
He received the maximum five votes from eight of the 10 judges, with Kevin Bartlett and Chris Johnson giving their top honours to Anderson.
Serong shot to prominence in round eight after capturing 22 possessions and kicking a goal in a head-to-head duel with Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield.
Most of the Rising Star hype until that point had been around Gold Coast midfielder Matthew Rowell, but last year’s number one draft pick played just five matches after requiring shoulder surgery.
Serong averaged 16.8 disposals and 3.4 clearances across his 14 matches, combining with fellow young on-ballers Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw to give support to dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe.