Dayne Zorko has joined Queensland football ‘gold class’ with selection in the 2017 AFL All-Australian team.
Zorko defied the Brisbane Lions’ position at the bottom of the AFL ladder to become the sixth Queenslander to be recognised in this fashion.
It’s a “Who Who?” of Queensland football, with Zorko joining a group headed by five-time All-Australians Michael Voss (1996-99-2001-02-03) and Nick Riewoldt (2004-06-08-09-14).
Other Queenslanders to have earned this honor have been four-time picks Jason Akermanis (1999-2001-04) and Jason Dunstall (1988-89-92-94) and Dayne Beams (2012).
Zorko was named at half forward in the All-Australian side in recognition of a magnificent season in which he averaged 25 possessions and kicked a team-high 34 goals in 21 games.
He was also third in the League for metres gained, behind only Richmond Brownlow Medal favorite Dustin Martin and Adelaide’s Brodie Smith, fifth in tackles and seven in score involvements.
The 28-year-old Gold Coaster, set to win his third consecutive Merrett/Murray Medal as the Lionbs B&F winner, also recorded career-best numbers for possessions (526), contested possessions (219), goals (34), tackles (147) and clearances (113).
Ironically, the last two players chosen from wooden-spoon teams have now both been Queenslanders – Zorko this year and Riewoldt in 2014. And Riewoldt was vice-captain.
But, a little surprisingly, it’s not such an uncommon thing.
Since the AFL All-Australian Team concept was introduced in 1982 it has happened 12 times.
Others to match the two Queenslanders have been GWS’ Jeremy Cameron (2013), Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett (2011 – vice-captain), West Coast’s Mark LeCras (2010), Carlton’s Brendan Fevola (2006), Western Bulldogs’ Rohan Smith (2003), Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley (1999), St.Kilda’s Danny Frawley (1988), Richmond’s Dale Weightman (1987), St.Kilda’s Greg Burns (1984) and St.Kilda’s Geoff Cunningham (1983).
Zorko was one of only four players from teams outside the top eight picked in the All-Australian side, joining Melbourne’s Michael Hibberd, Carlton’s Sam Docherty and Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell.
The team is
B: Michael Hibberd (Melb), Alex Rance (Rich – capt), Jeremy McGovern (WC)
HB: Sam Docherty (Carl), Michael Hurley (Ess), Rory Laird (Adel)
C: Josh Kelly (GWS), Dustin Martin (Rich), Zach Merrett (Ess)
HF: Robbie Gray (Port Adel), Lance Franklin (Syd), Dayne Zorko (Bris)
F: Eddie Betts (Adel), Josh Kennedy(WC – vc), Joe Daniher (Ess)
R: Paddy Ryder (Port), Patrick Dangerfield (Geel), Tom Mitchell (Haw)
INT: Joel Selwood (Geel), Dylan Shiel (GWS), Matt Crouch (Adel), Elliot Yeo (WC).
Eight players retained their spots from the 2016 team – Betts, Dangerfield, Franklin, Kennedy, McGovern, Martin, Rance and Selwood.
Franklin was named All Australian for the seventh time – the most in this team.
There are 12 first-time choices – Zorko, ex-Lions Docherty and Yeo, Hibberd, Laird, Kelly, Merett, Ryder, Mitchell, Crouch, Daniher and Shiel.
Minor premiers Adelaide, after having seven players named in the 40-man squad, finished with only three in the team – the same representation as seventh-placed Essendon and eighth-placed West Coast.
Twelve clubs are not represented, with Collingwood, Fremantle, Gold Coast, North Melbourne, St.Kilda and Western Bulldogs missing out.
Not selected from the 40-man squad were Sam Jacobs, Jake Lever, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker (Adel), Matthew Kreuzer (Carl), Jeremy Howe, Adam Treloar (Coll), Toby Greene, Tom Scully (GWS), Jeff Garlett, Neville Jetta (Melb), Ben Brown (NM), Tom Jonas (Port), Dylan Roberton, Seb Ross (StK), Josh Kennedy (Syd), Marcus Bontempelli (WB).
By Peter Blucher