Bulldogs stars recognised in wafl.com.au Team of the Year

Friday, September 15, 2017 - 1:49 AM by Chris Pike

FIVE South Fremantle players have been named in the wafl.com.au Team of the Year and another as an emergency in recognition of the Bulldogs' outstanding 2017 McDonalds WAFL Premiership Season.

Steven Edwards was named in the back pocket of the Team of the Year, Haiden Schloithe and Cory Dell'Olio both on the half-forward flank, Blaine Johnson the forward pocket, Tim Kelly on the ball and then ruckman Brock Higgins as an emergency.

Each round during the season, a Team of the Round was named on wafl.com.au, with 192 different players named at least once across the 23 weeks, making them eligible for selection in the overall Team of the Year.

The Team of the Year has been selected based not only on the number of times each player was selected in the Team of the Round, but also on their playing positions and strengths to achieve the best overall team of 2017 WAFL players. 

Subiaco had the most appearances in the Team of the Round throughout the season, with 25 different Lions players named at least once as they claimed the minor premiership with 19 consecutive victories.

Those 25 players from Subiaco totalled 88 appearances in the Team of the Round. Five Subiaco players have been selected in the Team of the Year.

South Fremantle finished second on the WAFL ladder with a 16-4 record and 24 Bulldogs players featured in the Team of the Round at least once, for 79 appearances. Five South Fremantle players made the final 22 in the Team of the Year, plus one emergency.

Claremont missed out narrowly on playing finals but had some standout individual performers throughout the season. The Tigers had 18 players named at least once for a total of 58 appearances. Three Claremont players made the Team of the Year.

Swan Districts ended the season in fourth position and 19 of the black-and-white’s players featured in the Team of the Round on a total of 56 occasions. One Swans player features in the Team of the Year and one as an emergency.

West Perth finished in fifth position on the ladder and 17 of their players were named in the Team of the Round at least once for a total of 54 nominations. Four West Perth players ended up named in the Team of the Year.

East Perth just missed out on the top five and the Royals had 26 players named throughout the season at least once for a total of 52 times. One East Perth player made the Team of the Year as an emergency.

Peel Thunder qualified for a third straight finals appearance and the reigning premiers had 24 players make the Team of the Round for a total of 47 times. Two Peel Thunder players have been selected in the side.

Perth finished with the wooden spoon but had 20 players named at least once in the Team of the Round on 36 occasions, while East Fremantle had 19 players make it, also for 36 overall appearances. The Demons and Sharks had one player each in the final 22.

Subiaco excitement machine Liam Ryan and South Fremantle star on-baller Tim Kelly were both named 10 times throughout the season while West Perth's Shane Nelson, Subiaco's Leigh Kitchin, South Fremantle's Haiden Schloithe and Swan Districts ruckman Corey Gault made nine appearances.

Subiaco captain Kyal Horsley and Claremont's Jye Bolton were named on eight occasions with Claremont ruckman Mitch Andrews, Perth skipper Clint Jones, East Fremantle attacking defender Jayden Schofield, Subiaco big man Lachlan Delahunty and Claremont defender Haydn Busher named seven times.

wafl.com.au TEAM OF THE YEAR 
BACK: Steven Edwards (SF), Haydn Busher (C), Jordan Lockyer (S)
HALF-BACK: Jayden Schofield (EF), Sam Collins (PT), Kody Manning (WP)
CENTRE: Aaron Black (WP), Leigh Kitchin (S), Kyal Horsley (S)
HALF-FORWARD: Haiden Schloithe (SF), Lachlan Delahunty (S), Cory Dell'Olio (SF)
FORWARD: Liam Ryan (S), Tyler Keitel (WP), Blaine Johnson (SF) 
RUCK: Corey Gault (SD), Tim Kelly (SF), Shane Nelson (WP)
INTERCHANGE: Rory O'Brien (PT), Jye Bolton (C), Clint Jones (P), Mitch Andrews (C)
EMERGENCIES: Patrick McGinnity (EP), Tony Notte (SD), Brock Higgins (SF)

BACK POCKET – STEVEN EDWARDS (South Fremantle)
5 x Team of the Round
Having joined South Fremantle from Claremont ahead of the 2016 season looking for more opportunities, those presented to him originally as a lively small forward. But he was soon back to his more customary role as an attacking defender and he had a standout season with the Bulldogs. With his teammate Jason Maskos equally impressive as a lockdown defender, not only did he show he could do well in one-on-one defensive battles but his run out of defence was at times scintillating to watch, and he was a big reason the Bulldogs won 16 games in 2017.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – HAIDEN SCHLOITHE (South Fremantle)
9 x Team of the Round
Had a standout 2014 season for South Fremantle winning the fairest and best award and continued to play well in 2015 and 2016 when on the field but was hampered by injury. But has been fully fit in 2017 and has simply taken his game to another level and become among the elite in the WAFL. Became an unstoppable force around the stoppages, in the contested ball area and then could get out into space and be damaging. Capping off his all-round game was his ability to go forward and kick bags of goals highlighted by five goals and 27 possessions in his 100th game. Kicked 27 goals and averaged 28.5 possessions a game.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – CORY DELL'OLIO (South Fremantle)
5 x Team of the Round
Even he was unsure how his return a South Fremantle would go in 2017 after being forced to miss all of 2016 on the back of a strong 2015 campaign in his first season back from Essendon. After a bit of a slow start with nine goals in his first seven matches, he quickly got back to some of his very best and most damaging form. Regained his fitness, speed and ability to kick goals from any number of situations. Ended up booting 49 goals to be third in the Bernie Naylor Medal race highlighted by six in Round 14 against Perth.

FORWARD POCKET – BLAINE JOHNSON (South Fremantle)
5 x Team of the Round
Had a good season back with South Fremantle in 2016 after time in the AFL with Carlton kicking 35 goals, but he was a player possessed and was at times unstoppable. He took his defensive pressure in the forward 50 up a cog and reaped the rewards as it only helped his ability to showcase his vast array of skills around goals. Ended up kicking 53 goals for the season to be second in the Bernie Naylor Medal including a haul of nine in Round 14 against Perth.

RUCK ROVER – TIM KELLY (South Fremantle)
10 x Team of the Round
Was a colts premiership player in 2012, reserves premiership player in 2013 and has been building himself up as a star WAFL player in the years since. But in 2017 he made himself an unstoppable force and one that surely has banged down the door to demand an AFL opportunity. Had a remarkable season winning the hard ball, dominating clearances and showing the ability to break away from packs, run and carry the ball, and his kicking is now a treat to watch. Nothing highlights his abilities more than his WA Day Foundation Derby 35 possessions and seven goals.

EMERGENCY – BROCK HIGGINS (South Fremantle)
6 x Team of the Round
The South Fremantle ruckman has become the heart and soul of his Bulldogs team since arriving from East Perth in 2014. Brought up his 100-game milestone in 2017 and continues to thrive on the workload of virtually carrying the Bulldogs ruck on his own. Loves the physicality and throwing his weight around and usually gets better as the game goes on as he wears down his opponents. An inspirational workhorse for his team averaging 13.6 possessions and 37.2 hit outs a game.

PLAYERS OF THE ROUND
Round 1 – Xavier Ellis (Swan Districts)
Round 2 – Kyal Horsley (Subiaco)
Round 3 – Alex Manuel (Claremont)
Round 4 – Clint Jones (Perth)
Round 5 – Scott Simpson (West Perth)
Round 6 – Haiden Schloithe (South Fremantle)
Round 7 – Rudy Riddoch (West Perth)
Round 8 – Leigh Kitchin (Subiaco)
Round 9 – Devin McFarlane (Perth)
Round 10 – Andrew Strijk (West Perth)
Round 11 – Tim Kelly (South Fremantle)
Round 12 – Andrew Stephen (East Fremantle)
Round 13 – Dylan Main (South Fremantle)
Round 14 – Jamie Bennell (Swan Districts)
Round 15 – Ryan Nyhuis (Peel Thunder)
Round 16 – Adam Cockie (Subiaco)
Round 17 – Matt Taberner (Peel Thunder)
Round 18 – Shane Nelson (West Perth)
Round 19 – Matt Riggio (Swan Districts)
Round 20 – Brock Higgins (South Fremantle)
Round 21 – Stan Wright (East Perth)
Round 22 – Cody Ninyette (Perth)
Round 23 – Liam Ryan (Subiaco)

UNLUCKY BUNCH
Those named four times who just missed out on the final 25 were Marlion Pickett, Jason Maskos and Blayne Wilson. Meanwhile, Mason Shaw, Shane Hockey and Adam McIntosh were named three times in the Team of the Round.

Ryan Cook, Zac Strom, Brendan Verrier, Dylan Main and Steve Verrier were all named twice in the Team of the Year, and Ashton Hams, Ben Saunders, Kyle Russell, Jarrod Garlett, Brandon Donaldson, Jake Florenca, Josh Pullman and Matthew Parker once each.