Fyfe leads new-look All-Australian team
Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe has edged out cross-town counterpart Shannon Hurn to be named captain of an All-Australian side that included nine debutants - but no Dustin Martin.
Earning his third All-Australian blazer, 2015 Brownlow Medal winner Fyfe capped another brilliant season with the captaincy hounour.
West Coast premiership skipper Hurn, who was unable to attend the gala dinner at the Palais Theatre, was named vice-captain of the side.
"It's incredibly humbling when you look at some of the class players and leaders in this team," Fyfe said.
"I'm still getting a handle on it (leadership) to be honest. I think I'm always learning leadership. In three years as captain I've become aware of my shortcomings and how to buffer that with good people around you make sure there's some good balance."
Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy and Melbourne's Max Gawn switched places from last year's team, with Grundy named starting ruckman and Gawn on the bench this time around.
However, Gawn said he took no offence with being dumped as No.1 ruckman and was simply pleased both players got a blazer once again.
"I don't think it really matters," Gawn said.
"We're both in the side. Obviously Brodie's had an unbelievable year and revolutionised the ruck role. I didn't see myself as the No.1 ruck last year … because he was definitely as good."
Richmond defender Bachar Houli spoke of his surprise at earning his first All-Australian honours on a half-back flank.
Houli's honour comes at age 31, at his second club and in his 13th season since debuting for Essendon in 2007.
He is also, surprisingly, still without a contract for 2020.
But there was no room in the side for Tigers' teammate Dustin Martin, who had been All-Australian the past three years and was named in the initial squad of 40.
Fremantle's Michael Walters was another player made to wait, earning his first blazer in his 11th season.
However, Walters said this season was clearly his "most consistent" after averaging 21.7 disposals and kicking 40 goals across 22 games.
Along with Gawn and Grundy, five other players kept their spots in the side from last year's team, the others being Carlton's Patrick Cripps, Geelong pair Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Stewart and West Coast's Hurn and Jeremy McGovern.
Dangerfield was included in the side for a fifth-consecutive season and a seventh time overall.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury was named on the bench in what was his sixth All-Australian selection but first since 2014.
The 10-man selection panel opted against selecting specialist wingers, with inside-midfielders Marcus Bontempelli and Tim Kelly filling those spots.
That meant there was no room in the side for rising Brisbane star Hugh McCluggage, who had been named in the initial squad of 40.
It was a second All-Australian blazer for Western Bulldogs star Bontempelli and came a day after the 23-year-old was handed the 2019 AFL Coaches' Association Player of the Year award.
Richmond defender Dylan Grimes earnt selection for the first time after coach Damien Hardwick had recently declared him a "no-brainer" for inclusion in the side.
Jeremy Cameron, who kicked 67 goals Greater Western Sydney to win the Coleman Medal, was named at centre-half forward.
Geelong's Tom Hawkins (52 goals) was selected at full-forward despite a quieter second half of the season, chosen ahead of Coleman Medal runner-up Ben Brown (64 goals) who was left out.
Between them, the starting forward line of Dangerfield, Jeremy Cameron, Michael Walters, Jack Darling, Hawkins and Charlie Cameron kicked 292 goals this season.
West Coast's Elliot Yeo, who Melbourne great Garry Lyon last month declared the best player in the competition, was named on the bench.
Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae, who had the second-most disposals of any player this year, was also found a spot on the bench in his first All-Australian team.
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