By Will Hunter
In the lead up to Round 1, I stuck my neck out and selected an SFNL fantasy team comprising the best defenders
in the competition across all three senior divisions.
These selections were based largely off the player's 2015 SFNL form, and how I expected they would fare in their respective divisions in 2016. As such, I tried to avoid picking newly-recruited players with less exposed SFNL form.
But we are now approaching the pointy end of the home and away season, and having had a good look at all of my selected players, as well as those new to the SFNL this year, it's now to reflect on the success or otherwise of Wilbur's Warriors
Some selections have delivered upon expectations, with Andy Ray, Pat Nicholls and Matt Terech all enjoying stellar seasons so far for their respective clubs, while others have had their 2016 campaigns unfortunately derailed by injury. And in some cases, players I had initially overlooked have warranted inclusion based upon their sublime form in the first half of the year.
So with 10 trades to play with, I have over the course of the last four weeks given the SFNL fantasy side a refresh to include the most in-form players in the competition across all three divisions. See who comes into the team and who makes way for them below.
See the 10 changes to Will's SFNL fantasy side below or view both the current and preseason team line ups at the bottom of the page.
IN: Pat Carroll (Oakleigh District)
OUT: Kieran Knox (St Pauls)
The Oakleigh District ace has simply banged the door down to earn selection after his stellar form so far in 2016. A wonderful user of the footy and super-damaging off half back for the Oaks, Carroll won the medal as the SFNL’s best player after a dominant performance in the interleague clash against Ellinbank in May. He has the ability to play on opponents of all sizes and has been red hot in the early part of the season.
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Pat Carroll was best afield in Southern's interleague win.[/caption]
IN: Anthony O’Shea (Caulfield)
OUT: Will Gayfer (Keysborough)
Gayfer has spent much time forward this year and much like his side, he has lacked the impact he had in 2015. O’Shea meanwhile was stiff to miss selection in the preseason, and has shown his importance to the Bears side throughout the year. A staunch and selfless defender that is rarely beaten, O’Shea frequently nullifies opposing spearheads and helps set up counter-attacks with his great foot skills.
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Anthony O'Shea is the linchpin of the Bears' defensive structure.[/caption]
IN: Chris Horton-Milne (Dingley)
OUT: Liam Wilson (St Pauls)
Wilson was one of the early casualties to the side after his injury in Round 1 saw him miss a number of games. His choice of replacement boiled down to a two-horse race between Horton-Milne and St Kilda City skipper Ricky Thomson, but Thomson’s recent broken arm saved me making that difficult decision. The left-footed Horton-Milne has been a wonderful addition to the powerful Dingoes midfield group this year with his class and pace and his exceptional form earned him Vic Metro representation a fortnight ago.
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Chris Horton-Milne has proved a fine addition to the Dingoes midfield this year.[/caption]
IN: Nathan Robinson (East Malvern)
OUT: Luke Bartholomew (Dingley)
An interrupted start to the season has nullified the nuggetty ball-winner’s influence this year, prompting a like-for-like swap for East Malvern’s raging bull. A tall and powerfully-built midfielder, Robinson has been in super form this season. Has elite endurance, is as tough as nails, can win his own ball and can push forward and kick goals, making him a dangerous asset in the Panther's engine room.
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Wins contested footy, runs all day and kicks goals - Nathan Robinson is the complete package.[/caption]
IN: Jackson Smith (Mount Waverley)
OUT: Jake Chapman (Ashwood)
Smith simply couldn’t be excluded on the weight of his efforts to date. The rangy teenager has been a revelation in Division 3, and one for the driving forces behind Mount Waverley’s dominance. A tall, quick wingman, Smith provides plenty of outside run and underlined his credentials with selection in the SFNL senior interleague team at just 17 years of age. It's hard to believe this is just his first year of senior footy!
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Youngster Jackson Smith has enjoyed an incredible start to his senior footy career.[/caption]
IN: Brad Neurath (St Kilda City)
OUT: Adam Ballard (Caulfield)
I have a tendency to load up on quality ruck stocks and there aren’t many better in the SFNL right now than Brad Neurath. A strong old-school tap ruckman, Neurath influences games by giving his midfielders first use of the pill from stoppages time and again. A genuine leader, the first-year Saint was a standout performer for the SFNL in May’s interleague clash with Ellinbank.
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Brad Neurath is rarely beaten in the ruck.[/caption]
IN: Mitch Clarke (Port Melbourne Colts)
OUT: Stewart Scanlon (Clayton)
An unfortunate broken arm to the Clays’ 2015 leading goalkicker has prematurely ended his season. In his place comes Clarke, a teenage livewire with a full bag of tricks. The fleet-footed youngster has great game sense and awareness despite his tender years and knows where the goals are, currently topping the Division 2 table with 39 majors. Has shown tremendous consistency and rarely plays a bad game.
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Mitch Clarke has class, poise and goal sense in spades.[/caption]
IN: Calhan McQueen (Dingley)
OUT: Travis Ridgway (St Pauls)
‘The Dream’ currently tops Division 1’s goalkicking table after 12 rounds and is the focal point in the most prolific attacking set -up in the comp. Fast on the lead, sure hands and boundless energy makes McQueen not only a dangerous proposition for opposition backs. An excitement machine that is a joy to watch when on song and capable of kicking big bags.
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Calhan McQueen is 'the Dream' to Dingoes fans, but a nightmare for opposition defenders.[/caption]
IN: Nick Gilbert (Caulfield)
OUT: Tyson King (Keysborough)
King was a speculative choice given his ACL injury, and given he hasn’t been sighted this year, it was a gamble that has backfired spectacularly. Gilbert, meanwhile, has been an exceptional footballer at Division 1 level for a number of years, and it comes as no surprise that he has looked a cut above in the lower grade. Gilbert played most of last season in defence with St Pauls, but has acquitted himself well up forward, standing out with his super hands, defensive pressure and attack on the footy.
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Nick Gilbert attacks the footy hard.[/caption]
IN: James Gough (Mount Waverley)
OUT: Luke Galle (Mount Waverley)
The last trade I have made comes purely on the back of an unbelievable month from Gough. The big fella has kicked a staggering 46 goals in the last four weeks, including bags of 20 and 13 to race to the top of the Division 3 goalkicking table, 16 majors clear of teammate Galle. There wouldn’t be many forwards around the country in that sort of form and this simply cannot be overlooked. That said, Galle had been an inspired early-season selection booting 19 goals in the first two weeks of the year and another bag of 10 in Round 10, and is perhaps the most unlucky omission from the team.
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Last month James Gough became just the second player to kick 20 goals in an SFNL senior match.[/caption]
WILBUR'S WARRIORS - CURRENT TEAM
What do you think about Will’s selections? Has he nailed it? Is there someone he has forgotten? Reckon you could pick a better team? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.
WILBUR'S WARRIORS - PRESEASON TEAM