The 2018 Tasmanian State League team of the year has been unveiled with nine Northern Tasmanians honoured.
North Launceston leader Brad Cox-Goodyer has been selected as captain on a half-forward flank with teammates Taylor Whitford, Tom Bennett and Jay Foon earning starting positions.
Zach Burt and Josh Ponting were named on the bench, while three Launceston players – Jobi Harper, Hudson Medallist Mitch Thorp and Dylan Riley – are in the best 22.
Clarence boss Jeromey Webberley was named coach of the year by his peers with Whitford and Glenorchy coach Paul Kennedy named his assistants.
All seven TSL clubs were asked to nominate players they believed worthy of consideration with the line-up assembled by a panel containing members from AFL Tasmania and the media.
The selection panel, picked the team and positions as if the team were to play a game.
James Holmes (Clarence)
After bursting onto the scene with a breakout 2017 campaign that saw him award the Richardson Medal, James Holmes has gone from strength to strength this season, becoming a reliable lockdown defender while also maintaining his damaging offensive nature that made him the architect of so many Clarence forays.
Breathtaking bravery and reliability in reading and intercepting play are hallmarks of James Holmes’ game.
Josh Grant (Glenorchy)
One of the competition’s most dependable key defenders, Josh Grant is rarely beaten, having not conceded three goals or more in a single game in 2018.
Grant is the competition’s big bear that you send to shutdown the most dangerous of tall forwards.
Not a high possession getter but his aerial presence, body work and spoiling (averages eight a game) make him a rock and a general of both the Glenorchy and this Team of Year defence.
Jay Foon (North Launceston)
One of the most dependable defenders in the competition, Jay Foon played an integral role in the Northern Bombers’ minor premiership.
His season was cruelly cut short but despite missing a chunk late in the season Foon was instrumental in setting up another Premiership tilt for the Northern powerhouse.
A leader of the North Launceston back line, a slick user who locks down and provides offensive bounce.
Rarely has a poor outing and is so often the driver in North Launceston’s transition.
Daniel Joseph (Glenorchy)
The joint player of the year has made a stunning return to TSL footy after a stint in the NEAFL.
The best running defender in the competition, Joseph has become a marked man by opposition sides as he is integral to setting the Magpies up.
Joseph’s laser-like kicking out of defence has become a staple of Glenorchy’s football this season and few players have had the say he has on this year’s competition.
The best running defender in the game, has averaged 23 disposals and seven score involvements a game.
Jobi Harper (Launceston)
The 2013 South Launceston premiership player and Darrel Baldock medallist made his long-awaited return to senior football this season and it did not disappoint.
The strong-bodied utility made the move to half back several rounds into his return and settled in magnificently, patrolling the Blues’ defensive half.
Rarely beaten at centre half back and a major part of Launceston’s late season charge.
His versatility was also a weapon for coach Sam Lonergan.
Josh McGuinness (Lauderdale) - Vice Captain
One of the most consistent performers in the competition, McGuinness is willing to play whatever role is required of him on the day.
Whether providing offensive drive or blanketing the opposition’s most damaging player, McGuinness can be a match-winner on any given day.
The form of McGuinness has been crucial in Lauderdale’s run at the Finals, with reliable kicking and a willingness to take the game on, he leads the Bombers back half with aplomb.
This Lauderdale leader has sacrificed his game on several occasions this season as well to clamp down and nullify the opposition’s best player.
Rhys Mott (Glenorchy)
One of the most reliable kicks in the TSL, Glenorchy star Rhys Mott has had another consistent season.
A deadly user with ball in hand, Mott has found plenty of the football, averaging 27 disposals per game throughout the season and provided silver service to his teammates inside 50.
A composed, reliable and consistent performer for the Pies.
Phil Bellchambers (Lauderdale)
The general of the Lauderdale midfield in the absence of injured skipper Bryce Walsh, Bellchambers has thrived with the extra responsibility, using his strength and explosiveness from stoppages to break games apart.
Bellchambers has relished more midfield time and has become a consistent weapon and undoubtedly one of the most damaging TSL midfielders.
Jake Cox (Clarence)
A genuine X-Factor in this side who can make the mercurial look easy on a regular basis.
Whether working as a link-up player on the wing or as a goalkicking target inside 50, Cox can win a game off his own boot, and has done throughout the season.
While not exempt from a quiet afternoon, Cox always demands the opposition’s very best defender and when on-song is a genuine match winner with characteristics few others possess.
Jaye Bowden (Glenorchy)
Arguably the greatest Tasmanian footballer of the decade, Jaye Bowden is a model of consistency, backing up his 2017 player of the year campaign with another stellar season.
Playing a variety of roles, Bowden still managed 46 goals, the second most in the competition as he again displayed his elite work rate. Also averaged 24 possessions and nine pressure acts per game.
Tom Bennett (North Launceston)
The best hands in the business. One of North Launceston’s key targets inside attacking 50, Bennett’s ability to read the play and elite marking overhead makes him one of the competition’s most dangerous forwards.
Perhaps his biggest trump card over other forwards is his ability to cover the ground, Bennett works up and down the field and demands an athletic match up from the opposition and is frequently able to work over his matchup with his incredible marking ability.
Kicked 43 goals for the year with two or more goals on 13 occasions, including a bag of eight and three hauls of four.
Brad Cox-Goodyer (North Launceston) - Captain
Despite missing parts of the season through injury, North Launceston captain Brad Cox-Goodyer has been in dynamic touch when fit, as evidenced by his 36 goals from just 14 games.
Rolling through the midfield when not inside 50, Cox-Goodyer is one of the most damaging players in the competition with his elite skills and decision making.
The added responsibility of captaincy has clearly had no ill effect on the first-year skipper, having averaged 2.5 goals a game.
Rival clubs know when Cox-Goodyer loads up from around the arc it spells danger.
Dylan Riley (Launceston)
The former Devonport co-captain was a standout performer in his first season as a Blue. Starting the season as a half back flanker, Riley made the move to become a deep forward midway through the season and was exceptional.
Equally adept at ground level and in the air, Riley is a nightmare match-up for opposition defences. Equalled his goal tally from 2017 where he was also named as a forward pocket. He remains one of the competition’s very best.
Mitch Thorp (Launceston)
A clear winner in the Hudson Medal race, Thorp’s first season at Windsor Park was highly successful.
Kept goalless just once this season, Thorp kicked four or more goals on seven occasions, with a move higher up the field reaping rewards late in the season.
Also competed as a relieving ruckman at times throughout the season.
Thorp worked over defenders across the competition with an appetite to lead for the ball and a ruthlessness in front of goal.
Luke Graham (Tigers FC)
Perhaps one of the biggest surprise packets to be selected Luke Graham put together a season for the Tigers that could not be ignored. One of the more underrated forwards in the competition, Luke Graham has developed in leaps and bounds in 2018. Kicking 29 goals, the most of any small forward, Graham is a competitive beast and made the most of limited supply throughout the season. A bag of six against Lauderdale in round 18 was a clear highlight for the goal sneak.
Ryan Bailey (Clarence)
One of the competition’s breakout performers this season, Bailey emerged as the most influential ruckman in the state.
A strong body with a good vertical jump and cleanliness above and below his knees, Bailey is far more than just a tap ruckman, competing well around the ground and hitting the scoreboard with 14 goals. Bailey also carried the load for his team with ruck relief Wade Wall departing early in the season.
The ‘Roos big man seemed to thrive with the extra responsibility, taking several games by the scruff of the neck, including three best on ground performances in an outstanding mid-season burst.
Taylor Whitford (North Launceston)
The former premiership captain made a seamless transition into coaching this season, guiding the Northern Bombers to the minor premiership, all while maintaining his elite personal form.
Finished as the season’s fifth highest goal kicker, despite playing predominantly as a midfielder and he tied for Insurance Player of the Year. In the pointy end of the conversation for 2018’s most dominant player, Whitford sets the tone for his team and is a picture of consistency.
Nat Franklin (Lauderdale)
Stepping up in the absence of the injured Bryce Walsh and NEAFL-bound Dylan Fyfe, Nat Franklin delivered a remarkably consistent campaign.
Capable of winning the hard ball and feeding it out to prime movers, or breaking out of stoppages himself, Franklin is a hard nut and provides an additional layer of hardness and grunt to this team.
Franklin is the metronome in the middle for Lauderdale, such a reliable extractor for Winter’s men.
Zach Burt (North Launceston)
One of the most versatile players in the competition, Zach Burt finished with the same number of goals as Luke Graham and Taylor Whitford (29), despite finishing the season as a regular at centre half back.
One of the very best key position players in the state who provides flexibility in being able to swing at either end and influence the result.
Burt reads the play so well at both ends of the ground, an ever-reliable set of hands and efficient in front of goal.
Josh Ponting (North Launceston)
One of the TSL’s most prolific ball winners, Ponting was a constant threat around stoppages for the Bombers this season.
Ponting is North Launceston’s fifth Beatle, consistently dominant and perennially underappreciated, with the likes of Brad Cox-Goodyer, Taylor Whitford, Mark Walsh and others often taking the limelight.
An elite user and a difficult player to shut down due to his high work rate and footy smarts, Ponting’s 2018 campaign has been sensational.
Mitch Carter (Tigers FC)
One of the best kicks in the TSL, Mitch Carter’s final season at the Twin Ovals saw him play much of the season as a target inside forward 50. Named in the 2017 Team of the Year on a half back flank, Carter still spent time in defence this season but looked equally as damaging as a forward who can move up the ground to become a link or as a deeper marking forward. Another versatile option in this side.
Harrison Gunther (Glenorchy)
After impressing as a dangerous forward last season, 19-year-old Gunther reinvented himself under new coach Paul Kennedy, becoming one of the best key defenders and most improved players in the competition. Rarely beaten by his direct opponent, Gunther is a terrific reader of the play and alongside Daniel Joseph formed a defensive duo with damaging attacking potential. Averaged 11 turnovers forced and six spoils per game while player on the likes of Bennett, Carter and Thorp.
Jeromey Webberley (Clarence)
Took an inexperienced team into finals football, with the ‘Roos spending much of the season in second spot. Provided plenty of experience to stars of the future, while remaining one of the teams to beat. Often under manned, Webberley got the best out of the Roos in 2018.
Taylor Whitford (North Launceston)
Made a seamless transition into coaching in 2018, guiding the reigning premiers to the minor premiership, all while continuing his own stellar individual playing form.
Paul Kennedy (Glenorchy)
Made a big impact in his first season at the helm, taking the Magpies to second spot on the ladder with a team full of fresh, emerging players. Also one of the league’s most interesting media figures.
Matt Clarke (NWUA)
This is the third time Matt Clarke (28) has won the field umpire of the year award, following his efforts in 2015 and 2017.
Matt, who hails from Moriarty on the North West Coast, has had another consistent season as his reputation only continues to grow.
SELECTION HEADACHES EXPLAINED
With so many impressive performers across the duration of the season, many selection headaches were had by the selection panel.
The battle for ruck spots was hotly debated, with Lauderdale big man Haydn Smith’s form not unnoticed, whilst North Launceston’s Alex Lee and Glenorchy’s Cameron Duffy were also both strong contenders.
Although every candidate had consistent seasons, Ryan Bailey’s efforts to stand up in the absence of Wade Wall and ruck solely for most of the season, all the while delivering best on ground performances in important wins gave him the edge.
Launceston draft prospect Chayce Jones was the form player for the final five rounds of the season and produced some of the league’s most blistering footy.
The selection panel strongly considered picking the brilliant Jones but a handful of games was considered not enough to see him selected.
Clarence skipper Brady Jones was also on the verge of selection but couldn’t quite squeeze into the 22 despite a reliable and consistent season across half back and in the middle.
Blues enigmatic figure Rulla Kelly-Mansell was put forward, having delivered several eye-catching performances as a half back towards the back end of the season.
However, the consistency of Daniel Joseph, Jay Foon and Josh McGuinness saw them preferred for selection in the side.
Josh Arnold, Jack Avent and Arion Richter-Salter were three players that were incredibly unlucky in defence with the trio frequently discussed and deliberated with selectors narrowly preferring the likes of Burt, Gunther, Foon and Holmes.
Tim Mosquito has been a major inclusion into Lauderdale’s setup and has produced some jaw dropping performances.
The pacey forward collected the Stay ChatTY medal amongst other dominant individual performances but the consistency of Graham and Riley edged him out to be picked in the pockets.
North Hobart duo Hugh NJ Williams and Hugh S Williams were the most closely considered from the Demons both having standout seasons in a tough year for their inexperienced side.