Sturt’s Martin Mattner has been named as The Advertiser SANFL Coach of the Year for the second year in succession as the final 21 was released on Tuesday night at an Adelaide Oval function.
After guiding the Double Blues to last year’s drought-breaking premiership, Mattner was staring down the barrel at the start of the season with his side laden near the foot of the table with a 0-4 win-loss record.
Not securing a win until defeating North Adelaide in Round 6, Mattner refused to hit the panic button as he started the season with injuries to key players such as midfielders James Battersby and Aidan Riley.
Instead, the boys from Unley rose to finish the minor round in third place to earn the valuable double chance in September, culminating in Sunday’s second consecutive Grand Final berth.
Just as the Macca’s League team turned its fortunes around at Oxford Terrace, so to did the Reserves and Under-18 line-ups, with the latter winning the Torrens University Cup premiership and the Reserves tackling West Adelaide in the Grand Final in Sunday’s curtain-raiser.
Mattner’s whole of club philosophy has played a major role in the success across all three grades while as many as five Double Blues have been chosen in the final 21 players of The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year.
This included Battersby, who finished third in the Magarey Medal despite missing the first seven matches with a serious finger injury. Big-bodied midfielder Pat Wilson enjoyed a breakout season in the centre square which resulted in an invite to the State AFL Combine while Kory Beard, Fraser Evans and Jack Stephens all retained their places from last season.
Minor premier Woodville-West Torrens also have five players selected including Joe Sinor, who underlined his credentials with 17 marks playing in defence in last Sunday’s Preliminary Final.
Fellow defender Luke Thompson has again been listed at full back, assuming the captaincy after being awarded vice-captain last season.
Norwood has three representatives, including 2017 Magarey Medallist Mitch Grigg in the midfield and the versatile Matt Panos, who can come off the interchange into a number of roles, similar to Pat Wilson of Sturt.
Port Adelaide has Ken Farmer Medallist Brett Eddy at the goalmouth and sizeable midfielder Brendon AhChee across half forward while Central’s Nick Holman is a fitting selection after a standout season for the Bulldogs.
South Adelaide has its star veterans Joel Cross and Nick Liddle in the side after strong campaigns, Cross winning his second R. O Shearman Medal.
Adelaide’s Harrison Wigg and West’s Kaine Stevens were the sole players chosen from their respective teams, regularly racking up big numbers despite their teams enduring challenging seasons.
Players were selected on their form across the entire minor round, with AFL-listed players eligible for Macca’s League finals also considered eligible for The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year.
This year’s team was selected by SANFL’s Adam Kelly, Tom Hurley and Zac Milbank, Channel 7’s Mark Soderstrom and The Advertiser’s Chief SANFL Writer, Warren Partland.
F: Jake Johansen (Eagles), Brett Eddy (Port), Nick Hayes (Eagles)
HF: Justin Hoskin (Central), Kory Beard (Sturt), Brendon Ah Chee (Port)
C: Joel Cross (South), Nick Holman (Central), Kaine Stevens (West)
HB: Harrison Wigg (Adelaide), Fraser Evans (Sturt), Paul Stewart (Eagles)
B: Jack Stephens (Sturt), Luke Thompson (Eagles), Joe Sinor (Eagles)
R: Sam Baulderstone (Norwood), Mitch Grigg (Norwood), James Battersby (Sturt)
INT: Matt Panos (Norwood), Nick Liddle (South), Patrick Wilson (Sturt)
CAPTAIN: Luke Thompson (Eagles)
VICE-CAPTAIN: Joel Cross (South)
COACH: Martin Mattner (Sturt)
Travis Schiller, Darcy Fort, Chris Jansen
Matt Snook, Terry Milera, Dom Barry
Kristian Roocke, Alex Georgiou
Steven Summerton, Jimmy Toumpas
Aidan Riley, Zane Kirkwood, Sam Colquhoun
Jared Petrenko, Scott Lewis, Chris Hall
Jake Johansen (Eagles)
Transferred from Glenelg during the summer and has embraced returning to his original club under coach Michael Godden. Averaged 22 disposals while also hitting the scoreboard with 24 goals for the season.
Brett Eddy (Port)
Different club, same result. The star full forward earned his second Ken Farmer Medal in succession with 53 goals in the minor round despite missing three games at the start of the season while playing with the Power.
Nick Hayes (Eagles)
Strong overhead and a versatile size, Hayes produced a consistent season inside 50m for the Eagles. Kicked a total of 32 goals for the season while shouldering the scoring load in the absence of the injured Michael Wundke.
Justin Hoskin (Central)
Finished the season strongly much like the majority of his team-mates to end with a tally of 31 majors, including a game-breaking haul of seven against West in Round 17.
Kory Beard (Sturt)
Like Eddy, Beard retains his place in the 21 from last year after another commanding performance in attack. Strong one-on-one and on the lead, the the Double Blues spearhead finished just two goals behind his Magpie counterpart in the race for the Ken Farmer Medal.
Brendon Ah Chee (Port)
Strong-bodied midfielder enjoyed a consistent and influential season for the Magpies, averaging 22 disposals in his 15 games while also contributing on the scoreboard with 13 goals.
Joel Cross (South)
Won his second R. O Shearman Medal with another eye-catching season for the Panthers, chalking up nearly 25 disposals per game while displaying his leadership qualities as vice-captain.
Nick Holman (Central)
After a solid year last season, Holman stepped it up a notch in his second SANFL season. The former Carlton midfielder had a major influence for the Bulldogs, collecting more than 26 disposals per game while also kicking 16 goals for the year.
Kaine Stevens (West)
Shouldered much of the responsibility in the midfield for the battling Bloods yet still managed to notch 24 disposals on average. Also attracted 14 votes in the Magarey Medal despite his team winning just five matches for the season.
Harrison Wigg (Adelaide)
Smooth-moving left-footer found plenty of the ball for the Crows in 2017, averaging more than 25 disposals. Elevated his game by adding great consistency to the point he was on the verge of AFL selection on multiple occasions.
Fraser Evans (Sturt)
Another player to retain his place in the line-up from last year, Evans is a commanding presence at centre-half back. Not only locks down on his opponent but also uses his raking left-foot kick to great advantage rebounding from defence.
Paul Stewart (Eagles)
Embraced his return to the Eagles, where he played in the 2006 SANFL premiership before embarking on a 100-game career with the Power in the AFL. Uses his experience to great effect in the backline while also offering versatility in standing talls and smalls.
Jack Stephens (Sturt)
Last year’s Jack Oatey Medallist has continued his fine form in 2017, playing a steady role in defence for the Double Blues. Displays great courage and gets plenty of the ball – taking the second most marks in the competition.
Luke Thompson (Eagles)
The captain of the Team of the Year has been a rock in the backline for the Eagles, retaining his selection from last year as vice-captain. Determined and courageous, Thompson leads by example on the last line of defence.
Joe Sinor (Eagles)
Posted a breakout season for the Eagles, playing every game after managing just 10 League appearances in the three years prior. Averaged a staggering 24 disposals ranking him fifth in the League while also taking more marks (142) than anyone in the Macca’s League.
Sam Baulderstone (Norwood)
The Macca’s League’s most influential ruckman retained his place in the centre square after averaging a league-leading 38 hitouts per game while also using his long left-foot kick to the Redlegs’ advantage in 2017.
Mitch Grigg (Norwood)
The Magarey Medallist enjoyed a blistering start to the season before also finishing the minor round with a second surge. Averaged 26 disposals while also hitting the goal scorers list regularly with 19 for the season.
James Battersby (Sturt)
May have won the Magarey Medal had he not missed the opening seven rounds with a serious finger injury. Impacts games with his use of the football, which he finds plenty of at an average of 26 touches.
Matt Panos (Norwood)
Despite having an injury-interrupted season which restricted him to 13 matches, Panos made his presence felt whenever he pulled on the Norwood jumper, particularly at the clearances. Averaged 26 touches and kicked a total of 17 majors for the year.
Nick Liddle (South)
Turned back the clock in 2017 to be arguably South’s most consistent player. Chalked up 23 disposals per game while balancing his game nicely with inside ball-winning and outside run.
Patrick Wilson (Sturt)
Like Sinor, Wilson has enjoyed a career-best season after missing last year’s premiership due to a shoulder injury. A strong body in the centre square, Wilson averaged 21 disposals and kicked 18 goals en route to earning an invite to this year’s State AFL Combine.