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Eight All Australian contenders

August 28, 2017 11:07 AM

AFL 2017 Round 20 - Adelaide v Port Adelaide

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Rory Sloane, Sam Jacobs and Eddie Betts of the Crows celebrates a goal during the 2017 AFL round 20 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power at Adelaide Oval on August 06, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media)

A League-high eight Adelaide players have been selected in the 2017 All Australian squad.

Crows forwards Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts and Tom Lynch, midfielders Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch, ruckman Sam Jacobs and defenders Rory Laird and Jake Lever have been included in the squad of 40.

The final 22 will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Betts, 30, is in line for his third-consecutive All Australian jumper.

The brilliant forward has been nominated a total of six times (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and been selected in the team twice (2015 and 2016).

Betts, who missed just one game after having his appendix removed, continues to excite the football world with his skill and uncanny goal sense.

He’s kicked more goals than any other small forward this season to be equal with his captain Taylor Walker on 49 goals – ranked sixth in the AFL at the end of the minor round – and earned three Goal of the Year nominations along the way. Betts booted three or more goals nine times.

The selfless forward is also third in the competition for goal assists (25), score assists (38) and forward 50m tackles (40).

Walker (2012 and 2015) and Lynch (2016) have both been previously nominated as All Australians, but never made the final 22.

Despite missing two games through injury, Walker ranked second in the AFL for total scoreboard impact behind only Coleman Medallist Lance Franklin and was equal-first for goal assists (29) in the home and away season.

The influential 27-year-old averaged a career-best 15 possessions, six marks and four inside 50ms per game.

He’s kicked at least one goal in every game he’s played this season, and bagged three or more in nine of his 20 matches including hauls of five against Richmond (Round Six) and Essendon (Round Four).

Lynch, who also missed two matches, averaged a career-best 21 disposals, seven marks and three inside 50ms per game in the home and away season.

The hard-working 26-year-old kicked five bags of three goals for a season total of 28 and ranked top 10 in the League for score involvements (161).

He has taken more marks than any other Crow (141) this year, including 14 against Hawthorn in Round Two when he also notched 30 possessions for just the second time of his career.

Selected for the first time and named vice-captain of the team last year, Sloane is shooting for a second All-Australian crown.

The heart-and-soul midfielder has enhanced his reputation as one of the best two-way players in the game in 2017.

Sloane, 27, led the League for tackles (176) in the minor round, breaking his own Club record for most tackles in a season.

He also accumulated more pressure points (1,374) than any of his peers.

Playing every game, the tenacious onballer started and finished the season in formidable fashion.

He averaged 25 disposals, 14 contested possessions, eight tackles and six clearances across the home and away season and also kicked 18 goals.

Sloane recorded a personal best 38 disposals and 14 clearances against West Coast in Round 23.

He finished top 10 in the competition for contested possessions (296), clearances (139) and inside 50ms (101).

A two-time All Australian nominee (2012 and 2014), Jacobs was a model of consistency again in 2017.

The reliable ruckman played every game, topping the AFL for hit-outs (882) and finishing level with Giants ruckman Shane Mumford for hit-outs to advantage (254).

He attended more ruck contests than any other player (1,732) and ranked fourth among ruckmen for disposals (320).

Jacobs averaged a career-high 40 hit-outs per game to go with 15 disposals, four marks and three clearances. Jacobs recorded a career-high 74 hit-outs against Melbourne in Round Eight. He also set a new personal best high for disposals (26) against Richmond in Round Six.

The 29-year-old won his third Showdown Medal with two goals, 42 hit-outs and 12 touches against fellow All Australian nominee Paddy Ryder in Round 20.

Laird, 23, will also be hoping to earn his first All Australian blazer after being nominated but missing the cut in the previous two seasons.

The small defender played all 22 games, averaging a career-best 30 disposals at an elite 81 per cent efficiency, five marks, and five rebound 50ms.

He ranked fourth in the AFL for total disposals (662), second for effective disposals (536) and equal-fourth for intercept possessions (167).

The fourth-ranked defender in the League according to Champion Data, Laird was also top 10 for loose-ball gets (92), handball receives (333) and combined inside 50ms and rebound 50ms (162).

Laird, who amassed a career-high 40 possessions against GWS in Round One, is second at Adelaide for metres gained (9,107) behind only Brodie Smith.

Matt Crouch and Lever have been nominated for the first time in their short careers.

In only his fourth AFL season, Crouch averaged a career-best 33 disposals, five tackles and six clearances.

The prolific ball winner averaged a disposal every 2.9 minutes of game time (ranked No.1) and was second in the League for total disposals (726) behind only Hawthorn recruit and All Australian contender Tom Mitchell (787).

He amassed 30 or more possessions in 16 of his 22 home and away matches, including a career-high 45 against the Eagles in the final round.

Crouch finished top 10 in the competition for contested possessions (294), hard-ball gets (130), loose-ball gets (97) and handball receives (350).

He currently ranks second at Adelaide for clearances (126) behind Sloane.

Lever is averaging a career-best 16 possessions, six marks and four rebound 50ms in his third season.

The 21-year-old has maintained a disposal efficiency of 80 per cent.

The budding defender ranked third in the competition for intercept marks (67) in the minor round and equal-fourth for intercept possessions.

He sits second at Adelaide for spoils (91) behind Daniel Talia.

Lever is one of the youngest players in the squad along with Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli and Essendon ball magnet Zach Merrett.

A massive 26 players are jockeying for their first ever selection in the All Australian team, while 12 players from last year's team have been nominated for back-to-back selections.

Walker is one of three club captains named in the squad, alongside Geelong skipper Joel Selwood and Sydney leader Josh Kennedy.

Greater Western Sydney (four) has the second-most representatives behind Adelaide.

Fremantle and Gold Coast were the only two clubs not to have a player included in the squad of 40.

The final team will be selected to "best fit team balance as if to play a match".

The All Australian selection panel is Gillon McLachlan (chairman), Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Andrew Dillon, Danny Frawley, Glen Jakovich, Chris Johnson, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson and Warren Tredrea.

The squad of 40 is:

Adelaide: Eddie Betts, Matt Crouch, Sam Jacobs, Rory Laird, Jake Lever, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker
Brisbane: Dayne Zorko
Carlton: Sam Docherty, Matthew Kreuzer
Collingwood: Jeremy Howe, Adam Treloar
Essendon: Joe Daniher, Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett
Geelong: Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood
GWS Giants: Toby Greene, Josh Kelly, Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel
Hawthorn: Tom Mitchell
Melbourne: Jeff Garlett, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta
North Melbourne: Ben Brown
Port Adelaide: Robbie Gray, Tom Jonas, Paddy Ryder
Richmond: Dustin Martin, Alex Rance
St Kilda: Dylan Roberton, Seb Ross
Sydney: Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy
West Coast: Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo
Western Bulldogs: Marcus Bontempelli