By ZAC MILBANK
South Australians loved nothing more than seeing the treasured West End State of Origin guernsey sported by our best footballers on the national stage.
While this is sadly a thing of the past in the modern era, there’s still plenty of intrigue as to how the Croweaters might line-up if this year’s best South Aussies were assembled to tackle the Big V or the Sandgropers.
So here it is, courtesy of loyal State Team sponsor West End, we are releasing the 2020 West End State of Origin Team line-by-line.
And for the final installment, here is the last line on the field to announce, the First Ruck, which includes arguably the best ruckman currently in the game and one of the AFL’s most consistent ball magnets.
It is difficult to argue against Brodie Grundy being the best ruckman in the AFL. In the past two seasons, the Sturt draftee has not only won the Copeland Trophy as Collingwood’s best-and-fairest but also been named the All-Australian ruckman. Despite standing at 202cm, the 26-year-old plays as an extra midfielder once the ball hits the ground such is his flexibility. Grundy can also be used in attack, where he puts his clean marking overhead to good use for the Magpies. The Unley Jets junior is also a master at being able to palm the ball in the direction of his midfielders at the stoppages, so they don’t have to break stride before earning a valuable centre clearance.
Experienced West Coast premiership midfielder Jack Redden bolsters the centre square combination with his nice blend of winning the ball on the inside and outside of the contest. The Glenelg draftee has now logged 212 games of AFL experience, enjoying a career-best season with the Eagles in 2018 where he averaged 25 disposals en route to earning a treasured premiership medal. Originally from Keith in the state’s south-east, Redden also prides himself on a strong defensive stance, illustrated by his high tackling numbers. Last year, the 29-year-old averaged 5.6 tackles per game, laying 13 against the Gold Coast in Round 7 and 15 against the Crows in Round 10.
Brisbane’s Lachie Neale is a natural ball-winner and the ideal man to have at the feet of Brodie Grundy in the centre square for the West End State of Origin team. Having banked two Doig Medals as best-and-fairest with Fremantle, the 26-year-old headed north to Brisbane last year where he continued to thrive. The Glenelg product averaged 33.7 disposals for the Lions in 2019 as he earned his first All-Australian selection and Merrett-Murray Medal as club best-and-fairest. Now with 160 AFL games to his name since making his debut in 2012, the boy from Kybybolite is considered one of the contenders for this year’s Brownlow Medal having placed third for the AFL’s most prestigious individual trophy last season.
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