By ZAC MILBANK
The 2020 The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year has been released, with selectors naming an evenly-balanced line-up in terms of club representation.
Seven of the eight SANFL clubs have at least one player chosen in the best 22, with the top three sides – North Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens and South Adelaide – fittingly providing four each.
The Panthers’ quartet is led by co-captain Joel Cross – who has been named skipper of the Team of the Year – while being listed to start on a half-forward flank.
Earning a staggering eighth Team of the Year selection since his first season in 2011, the dual Magarey Medallist was joined by versatile defender Joseph Haines, fellow veteran Matthew Broadbent and ruck revelation Paul Hunter.
A late-season recruit from VFL club Williamstown, Hunter earned his place on the interchange after reaching the minimum qualification of seven games while averaging a competition high average of 135 Champion Data ranking points.
The minor premier Eagles supply two crucial cogs in attack – joint Ken Farmer Medallist James Rowe in the forward pocket and game-breaking tall Jack Hayes at centre half-forward. Jordan Foote starts on a wing and Joseph Sinor, arguably a front-runner for his team’s club Champion award, is on the interchange.
Unheralded North midfielder Campbell Combe has earned his first Team of the Year selection as the starting rover, having displayed his multi-faceted game by averaging 23.5 disposals, seven clearances and 10 tackles this season.
The triple Mail Medallist with Crystal Brook is alongside fellow Roosters Andrew Moore, Harrison Wigg and Cameron Craig, who was the League’s premier full back before suffering an untimely pectoral injury in the dying stages of Round 14.
Fourh-placed Glenelg has dual Ken Farmer Medallist Liam McBean named at full forward with Magarey Medallist Luke Partington at half-forward and Jack Oatey Medallist Matthew Snook in the centre after averaging 27 disposals, eight tackles and eight clearances.
The career of Norwood premiership ruckman Sam Baulderstone ended on a high with his fifth Team of the Year selection as the lead bigman in the centre square, joined by fellow Redlegs Brad McKenzie and Richard Douglas, the former Crow named in the forward pocket.
Sturt captain James Battersby had his outstanding campaign rewarded with selection as the starting ruck rover while also acting as Cross’ deputy in the leadership group.
Retiring Double Blues premiership ball magnet Sam Colquhoun is on a wing after his late-season surge while defender Sam Wundke is one of the success stories of 2020 after slotting in at CHB after initially intending on playing with Glenunga before a late call-up at Unley.
The competition’s leading disposal-winner, James Boyd, is Central District’s sole selection on the interchange.
The coach will be the last man standing on the dais at 6pm on Grand Final day given the last three remaining mentors – North’s Jacob Surjan, Eagles’ Jade Sheedy and South’s Jarrad Wright – have all steered their sides deep into the major round from outside of the top five last year.
The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year was selected by The Advertiser’s Andrew Capel and Peter Cornwall, SANFL’s Matthew Duldig and Zac Milbank, Channel 7’s Mark Soderstrom and, in the absence of the annual West End State match, State chairman of selectors Stephen Rowe.
As a result of the West End State match against the WAFL being cancelled this year due to coronavirus, State guernseys will be awarded to each selected player for the first time.
F: James Rowe (Eagles, 2nd selection), Liam McBean (Glenelg, 2nd), Richard Douglas (Norwood, 1st)
HF: Joel Cross (South, 8th) CAPTAIN, Jack Hayes (Eagles, 2nd), Luke Partington (Glenelg, 2nd)
C: Jordan Foote (Eagles, 2nd), Matthew Snook (Glenelg, 2nd), Sam Colquhoun (Sturt, 2nd)
HB: Harrison Wigg (North, 2nd), Sam Wundke (Sturt, 1st), Matthew Broadbent (South, 1st)
B: Joseph Haines (South, 2nd), Cameron Craig (North, 1st), Brad McKenzie (Norwood, 2nd)
R: Sam Baulderstone (Norwood, 5th), James Battersby (Sturt, 3rd) VICE-CAPTAIN, Campbell Combe (North, 1st)
INT: Paul Hunter (South, 1st), Joseph Sinor (Eagles, 2nd), Andrew Moore (North, 1st), James Boyd (Central, 4th)