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The stats behind the 22Under22 team

${customImageCaption} - Brisbane Lions,Harris Andrews,Eric Hipwood,Alex Witherden,Hugh McCluggage

Four Brisbane Lions players – two returnees and two new ones - are in the running for selection in the 2018 22Under22 team of the year.

Harris Andrews and Eric Hipwood, chosen last year in what is a fan-based honorary team for players aged under 22, are in line for selection again in an award driven by the AFL Players’ Association.

They have been joined in the 40-man squad for this year’s 22Under22 team by Alex Witherden and Hugh McCluggage.

The preliminary squad has been chosen by the AFLPA Board based on performances across the 2018 home and away season. 

Now in its seventh year, 22Under22 is the AFL’s only recognised fan-voted award and provides the football public with the power to select the final 22. 

To be eligible players must be aged 22 years and under for the entirety of the season, including the finals series. 

The 40-man squad is divided into backs, midfielders, forwards and rucks, and fans are invited to nominate an 18-man starting team comprising six defenders, five midfielders, one ruck and six forwards, and a four-man interchange bench of two midfielders, one defender and one forward.

Fans can visit 22under22.com.au to cast their votes before the final team is revealed at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Thursday, 30 August.

Voting closes on Tuesday 28 August.

Historically the Lions have not fared well in the 22Under22 team, with only three representatives in the first six years – Andrews and Hipwood last year and Jack Redden in 2012. 

Former Lions captain Dayne Beams won selection in 2012 when playing with Collingwood. 

But with four players in the 40-man squad this year they have the third-biggest representation behind Melbourne, with six players, and the Western Bulldogs, with five.

Four clubs are not represented – Geelong, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and West Coast,

The 40-man preliminary squad on a club by club basis, classified as either a defender (D), midfielder (M), forward (F) or ruckman (R), is:-

Adelaide: Tom Doedee (D), Wayne Milera (D).

Brisbane: Harris Andrews (D), Eric Hipwood (F), Hugh McCluggage (M), Alex Witherden (D).

Carlton: Charlie Curnow (F), Zac Fisher (M).

Collingwood: Jordan DeGoey (F), Tom Phillips (M), Jaidyn Stephenson (F).

Essendon: Andrew McGrath (D), Conor McKenna (D), Zach Merrett (M)

Fremantle: Sean Darcy (R), Ed Langdon (D).

Gold Coast: Touk Miller (M), Lachie Weller (D).

GWS: Jacob Hopper (M), Tim Taranto (M).

Melbourne: Angus Brayshaw (M), Bayley Fritsch (F), James Harmes (M), Alex Neal-Bullen (F), Clayton Oliver (M), Christian Petracca (M).

Port Adelaide: Dougal Howard (D), Sam Powell-Pepper (M).

Richmond: Dan Butler (F), Jayden Short (D).

St Kilda: Jade Gresham (F), Jack Steele (M).

Sydney: Isaac Heeney (M), Will Hayward (F), Ben Ronke (F).

Western Bulldogs: Marcus Bontempelli (M), Tim English (R), Billy Gowers (F), Toby McLean (M), Bailey Williams (D).

The Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli, captain of the 22Under22 side in 2016-17, is in the running to win selection for the fifth year in a row. 

Players who have won 22Under22 selection three times have been Jake Lever (playing with Adelaide – now at Melbourne), Daniel Talia (Adelaide), Dyson Heppell (Essendon), Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide), Brandon Ellis (Richmond) and Jack Darling (West Coast).

Brisbane’s Andrews and Hipwood are two of eight players from the 2017 22Under22 side in the 2018 squad. The others are Bontempelli, Charlie Curnow (Carlton), Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath (Essendon), Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) and Isaac Heeney (Sydney).

Patrick Dangerfield, now at Geelong, was named captain of the inaugural 22Under22 side in 2012 when playing at Adelaide, while Heppell was captain in 2013-14, Western Bulldogs' Jake Stringer (now at Essendon) was captain in 2015. 

North Melbourne’s Jack Ziebell was vice-captain in 2013, followed by Hawthorn’s Jack Gunston in 2014, Sydney’s Luke Parker in 2015, and Essendon’s Zac Merrett in 2016-17. No vice-captain was named in 2012. 

Overall Gold Coast (13) have had most different players chosen in the 22Under22 team over the first six years, ahead of GWS (9),  Adelaide (8), Essendon (8) and Collingwood (7).

And Gold Coast (17) have won most selections overall, ahead of Adelaide (13), Essendon (12), GWS (11) and Collingwood (10).

Players selected in the 22Under22 side in 2012-13-14-15-16-17, with their years of selection, have been:-

Adelaide: Rory Sloane (12), Danial Talia (12-13-14), Patrick Dangerfield (12),Taylor Walker (12), Brodie Smith (14), Rory Laird (15-16), Jake Lever (15-16-17), Matt Crouch (17).

Brisbane: Jack Redden (12), Harris Andrews (17), Eric Hipwood (17).

Carlton: Patrick Cripps (15-16), Sam Docherty (16), Jacob Weitering (16), Charlie Curnow (17).

Collingwood: Dayne Beams (12), Steele Sidebottom (12-13), Tom Langdon (14-15), Jarrod Witts (14), Jamie Elliott (14), Brodie Grundy (15-16), Darcy Moore (16).

Essendon: Dyson Heppell (12-13-14), Michael Hurley (12), David Zaharakis (12), Jake Carlisle (13-14), Zach Merrett (16-17), Joe Daniher (16), Orazio Fantasia (17), Andrew McGrath (12).

Fremantle: Nat Fyfe (13), Michael Walters (13), Lachie Neale (15).

Geelong: Steven Motlop (12-13).

Gold Coast: Dion Prestia (13-14), Trent McKenzie (13-14), Jaeger O’Meara (13), Tom Nicholls (13), Rory Thompson (13), Kade Kolodjashnij (14-15), Steven May (14), Harley Bennell (14), David Swallow (14). Adam Saad (15), Tom Lynch (15), Jack Martin (16-17), Peter Wright (17).

GWS: Phil Davis (12), Callan Ward (12), Jeremy Cameron (13-15), Adam Treloar (14-15), Devon Smith (15), Dylan Shiel (15), Stephen Coniglio (16), Zac Williams (16), James Kelly (17).

Hawthorn: Luke Breust (12-13), Jack Gunston (14), Ryan Burton (17), James Sicily (17).

Melbourne: Jeremy Howe (12), Jesse Hogan(15-16), Christian Petracca (15), Jack Viney (16), Jayden Hunt (17), Clayton Oliver (17).

North Melbourne: Aaron Mullett (13), Jack Ziebell (13), Luke McDonald (14).

Port Adelaide: Jackson Trengove (12), Chad Wingard (13-14-15), Ollie Wines (15-16-17), Jack Hombsch (15).

Richmond: Dustin Martin (12-13), Alex Rance (12), Trent Cotchin (12), Brandon Ellis (13-14-15), Daniel Rioli (17).

St Kilda: Tim Membrey (16), Jack Billings (17).

Sydney: Dan Hannebery (12-13), Luke Parker (13-14), Isaac Heeney (16-17), Callum Mills (16-17), Tom Papley (17).

Western Bulldogs: Tom Liberatore (13-14), Marcus Bontempelli (14-15-16-17), Jake Stringer (15-16), Lachie Hunter (16).

West Coast: Jack Darling (12-13-14), Nic Naitanui (12), Elliot Yeo (15).

Interestingly, 17 of the 92 players to win 22Under22 selection are no longer at the club where they won this honour.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs