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State teams: We name the best of the best

AFL.com.au  May 31, 2017 11:32 AM

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It's been 18 years since State of Origin footy last graced the AFL calendar but the concept continues to capture the imagination of fans across the country.

The debates are seemingly endless. Which state boasts the best midfield? Which club would be best represented across all four state teams? And would the Big V still reign supreme, or does one of the rival states have claims to the crown?

Our writers have put their heads together and come up with four State of Origin teams - Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Allies (NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, NT) - that could take the field if the games were played this weekend (so injuries were considered).

Under our rules, a state could only claim ownership of a player if he had played his junior football (U15-U18) in that state - the player's birthplace was considered irrelevant. Overseas players were aligned to the Allies.

ALLIES

B: Jarrod Harbrow, Dane Rampe, Jeremy Howe
HB: Callum Mills, Steven May, Zac Williams
C: Isaac Smith, Dayne Beams, Nick Riewoldt
HF: Steven Motlop, Taylor Walker, Mav Weller
F: Jack Riewoldt, Ben Brown, Luke Breust
R: Toby Nankervis, Isaac Heeney, Dayne Zorko
INT: Sam Gilbert, Zach Tuohy, Jack Steele, Lachie Weller 
UNLUCKY: Harris Andrews, Jarrod Witts, Josh Green

A versatile line-up from around the country
The Allies line-up is young but stacked full of talent, with the spine as good as any representative team you'll see. Williams, Howe, and Harbrow give the back half plenty of dash and attack, with Rampe and Howe able to play tall or small depending on the opposition and, along with May and Mills, all six defenders use the footy well by foot. Gilbert and Tuohy are also outstanding options when they get on the ground.

Smith and Nick Riewoldt bring two totally different looks on the wing, while Nankervis is a huge presence in the ruck and has Ben Brown as back-up when he needs a rest. Beams and Heeney add class to the midfield, Zorko brings the pace, and Steele and Lachie Weller the back-up run off the bench.

Mav Weller can be added to the onball mix when he's not inside 50, along with Motlop and Breust, with Walker and Jack Riewoldt able to be deep threats or play up the ground.

Rampe was a selection headache given he's only played three games, but he was just too good to leave out, with Andrews stiff to miss the team, along with the injured Cyril Rioli, Grant Birchall and Mitch Robinson.

SELECTORS: Adam Curley (chairman), Michael Whiting, Peter Ryan, Matt Thompson, Nat Edwards

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 

B: Rory Laird, Phil Davis, Tom Jonas
HB: Shannon Hurn, Heath Grundy, Shaun Burgoyne
C: Jared Polec, Bryce Gibbs, Bernie Vince
HF: Paul Puopolo, Justin Westhoff, Shane Edwards
F: Orazio Fantasia, Daniel Menzel, Brodie Grundy
R: Sam Jacobs, Brad Ebert, Lachie Neale
INT: Caleb Daniel, Brodie Smith, Ryan Burton, Trent Dumont
UNLUCKY: Hamish Hartlett, Andrew Mackie, Jack Hombsch

Small forward lines are the way to go
There's no shortage of quality defenders in the South Australian team. The job Tom Jonas did on shutting down Gold Coast star Tom Lynch got him over the line, Rory Laird is in brilliant form, veteran Hawk Shaun Burgoyne rose to the occasion against the Swans while Heath Grundy (Sydney) and Phil Davis (Greater Western Sydney) have been superb in key defensive posts for their respective sides. 

It was tough to leave out Hamish Hartlett and Jack Hombsch, who have both been important contributors for the Power, while Andrew Mackie's smarts and experience are an essential piece of the Cats' backline. 

The starting midfielders pick themselves. Brad Ebert is in career-best form, Bernie Vince can be employed as a tagger or win his own ball, while Jared Polec's raking left foot is valuable on the wing. 

A lack of key forwards means Daniel Menzel starts at full-forward. The general consensus was to start Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy on the bench, but the chairman pulled rank to have a tall target inside the forward 50.

Chad Wingard's calf injury rules him out, while Travis Varcoe also wasn't considered.

There was quite a bit of debate about the make-up of the bench. Selecting Trent Dumont ahead of Wayne Milera to add another midfielder instead of a winger/forward was another chairman's call, while the versatility of NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Ryan Burton gives him the edge over several other contenders.

SELECTORS: Lee Gaskin (chairman), Ben Guthrie, Jennifer Phelan, Marc McGowan, Dinny Navaratnam

VICTORIA

B: Heath Shaw, Robbie Tarrant, Dylan Roberton
HB: Easton Wood, Michael Hurley, Sam Docherty
C: Josh Kelly, Joel Selwood, Zach Merrett
HF: Marcus Bontempelli, Joe Daniher, Dustin Martin
F: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Eddie Betts
R: Shane Mumford, Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane
INT: Ollie Wines, Gary Ablett, Andrew Gaff, Clayton Oliver
UNLUCKY: Marc Murphy, Scott Pendlebury, Tom Lynch (Gold Coast), Matthew Kreuzer, Seb Ross

How can you not love this team?
It contains a few players who would have been staples of any Victorian team for years such as Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Rory Sloane and Gary Ablett, but also recognises those whose stars have risen over the last season or so, such as Marcus Bontempelli, Toby Greene, Dustin Martin and Robbie Tarrant. We've also picked the bolters, those whose form this year has been too good to ignore. So welcome to the Big V Joe Daniher, Dylan Roberton, Josh Kelly, Zach Merrett and Sam Docherty and brace yourself for the firm E.J. Whitten handshake when you are presented with your first jumper. Clayton Oliver gets in based on potential as much as anything. We want him to be committed to the cause for years to come and what better way than to be around these players.

We've also picked the bolters, those whose form this year has been too good to ignore. So welcome to the Big V Joe Daniher, Dylan Roberton, Josh Kelly, Zach Merrett and Sam Docherty and brace yourself for the firm E.J. Whitten handshake when you are presented with your first jumper. Clayton Oliver gets in based on potential as much as anything. We want him to be committed to the cause for years to come and what better way than to be around these players.We've structured this side so that Daniher would give Shane Mumford a chop-out in the

We've structured this side so that Daniher would give Shane Mumford a chop-out in the ruck, which leaves Matty Kreuzer, who is having a cracking season for the Blues, as a very unlucky omission. And when Scott Pendlebury cannot get a game, we must be going OK.Max Gawn is probably the one player who would have been picked if not for injury.

Max Gawn is probably the one player who would have been picked if not for injury.

This team won't let the Big V down and in the words of the late great E.J., will "stick it right up them".

SELECTORS: Ashley Browne (chairman), Nick Bowen, Ben Collins, Howard Kotton

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

B: Nathan Wilson, Alex Rance, Brad Sheppard
HB: Elliot Yeo, Jeremy McGovern, Jason Johannisen
C: Bradley Hill, Patrick Cripps, Mitch Duncan
HF: Michael Walters, Lance Franklin, Cam McCarthy
F: Jeff Garlett, Paddy Ryder, Charlie Cameron
Ruck: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, Tom Mitchell 
INT: Connor Blakely, Matt Priddis, Daniel Wells, Stephen Hill
UNLUCKY: Jack Darling, Sam Menegola, Sam Powell-Pepper 

How would this team look without so many injuries?
Injuries to key players caused the WA selection panel one or two headaches. Traditionally the Sandgropers' forward line is the envy of every state, but losing dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy to a calf hurts, especially with Jesse Hogan on the comeback from testicular cancer and Rory Lobb battling a groin complaint. Jack Darling has booted 19 goals this year and his forward pressure is elite, but there was plenty of debate about his spot in the line-up and he loses out to Cam McCarthy (14 goals).

Paddy Ryder arguably deserves the No.1 ruck spot, but a reshuffle has landed him at full-forward, while Aaron Sandilands has been rushed back from hamstring tightness to lead a midfield dominated by Dockers.

The engine room boasts a nice blend with ball-winners Nat Fyfe, Patrick Cripps and Tom MItchell complemented by the leg-speed and class of Stephen Hill, brother Bradley, Daniel Wells and even Michael Walters pushing up as a high half-forward. Connor Blakely would tag the opposition's best onballer.

The backline practically picked itself, although Ben Stratton being unavailable due to a knee complaint was a blow. Alex Rance and Jeremy McGovern would have to be the best full-back and centre half-back combo going around, while Nathan Wilson, Elliot Yeo and Jason Johannisen are walk-up starts.

SELECTORS: Travis King (chairman), Nathan Schmook, Ryan Davidson, Callum Twomey

Taylor Walker (Allies), Sam Jacobs, Rory Laird, Brodie Smith (SA), Eddie Betts, Rory Sloane (Vic), Charlie Cameron (WA)

Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko (Allies)

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Bryce Gibbs (SA), Sam Docherty (Vic), Patrick Cripps (WA)

Jeremy Howe (Allies), Brodie Grundy (SA), Daniel Wells (WA)

Orazio Fantasia (SA), Joe Daniher, Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett (Vic) 

Lachie Weller (Allies), Lachie Neale (SA), Connor Blakely, Nat Fyfe, Bradley Hill, Stephen Hill, Cam McCarthy, Aaron Sandilands, Michael Walters (WA)

Steven Motlop, Zach Tuohy (Allies), Daniel Menzel (SA), Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood (Vic), Mitch Duncan (WA)

Jarrod Harbrow, Steven May (Allies), Gary Ablett (Vic)

Zac Williams (Allies), Phil Davis (SA), Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene, Josh Kelly, Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw (Vic), Nathan Wilson (WA)

Luke Breust, Isaac Smith (Allies), Shaun Burgoyne, Ryan Burton, Paul Puopolo (SA), Tom Mitchell (WA)

Bernie Vince (SA), Clayton Oliver (Vic), Jeff Garlett (WA)

Ben Brown (Allies), Trent Dumont (SA), Robbie Tarrant (Vic)

Brad Ebert, Tom Jonas, Jared Polec, Justin Westhoff (SA), Ollie Wines (Vic), Paddy Ryder (WA)

Toby Nankervis, Jack Riewoldt (Allies), Shane Edwards (SA), Dustin Martin (Vic), Alex Rance (WA)

Sam Gilbert, Nick Riewoldt, Jack Steele, Mav Weller (Allies), Dylan Roberton (Vic)

Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Dane Rampe (Allies), Heath Grundy (SA), Lance Franklin (WA)

Shannon Hurn (SA), Andrew Gaff (Vic), Jeremy McGovern, Matt Priddis, Brad Sheppard, Elliot Yeo (WA)

Caleb Daniel (SA), Marcus Bontempelli, Easton Wood (Vic), Jason Johannisen (WA)