Mark Robinson picks a best 22 from the four 21st century AFL dynasties
Mark Robinson picks a best 22 from the four 21st century AFL dynasties

Dynasty teams of 2000s: Robbo names his best 22

This is the super team of the super teams of the 2000s - and only two Richmond players make the cut.

But rather than pillorying the Tigers for their lack of representation from the four giants of this century - Brisbane, Geelong, Hawthorn and Richmond - it only compounds the belief the Tigers were a champion team rather than a team of champions.

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Michael Voss led the Lions to a trio of premierships.
Michael Voss led the Lions to a trio of premierships.

Clearly, those four teams dominated the 2000s.

Brisbane won three flags (2001-03) and lost another (2004).

Geelong won three flags in five years (2007-09-11) and lost another (2008) and made a preliminary final (2010).

Hawthorn won the three-peat (2013-15), lost the preliminary final (2011) and made the Grand Final in 2012.

 

The Cats celebrate the 2009 Grand Final victory, one of three in a five-year stretch.
The Cats celebrate the 2009 Grand Final victory, one of three in a five-year stretch.

Richmond won three flags (2017, 2019-20) and lost the preliminary final 2018.

It's not altogether that a great team will always beat a team of greats, but there's merit in the sense when you assess the Tigers under coach Damien Hardwick.

It's not all together that a champion team will always beat a team of champions, but there's merit in that sense when you assess the Tigers under coach Damien Hardwick.

When the Tigers won their historic 2017 premiership, former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas tweeted: 'Woke up & still gobsmacked. How'd u do it Tigers? Cotchin, Rance, Riewoldt, Martin … who's their next best player? Incredible coaching.'

'Don't get me wrong or misinterpret but possibly worst group of players to win Premiership which only enhances their effort & performance.'

 

 

 

Thomas was ridiculed for his thoughts, but was he wrong?

Two premierships later, the Tigers are written in history, not so much for their individual prowess, but for their collective achievement.

Still, only two players in a best-of 22 from four teams over 20 years - a team selected by this writer - will hardly thrill Tigers fans.

 

Cyril Rioli and Shaun Burgoyne are among Hawthorn’s finest premiership heroes. Picture: Alex Coppel
Cyril Rioli and Shaun Burgoyne are among Hawthorn’s finest premiership heroes. Picture: Alex Coppel

 

According to Rodney Eade, who coached against the Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn teams, having fewer selections makes the Tigers the stronger team all-round.

"It says system, team and they have got a greater input from the full 22 than the others … less reliant on superstars, Dusty's the only one," Eade said.

"He gives them real impetus, and you hate to say this because they are all great teams, but a stronger team than the others.

"There's not as many star individuals."

 

 

 

The equation was simple enough: Pick a best-of from the best teams.

It wasn't the player's total career to consider, instead their performances through their club's golden era.

It counted out Lance Franklin who missed two of Hawthorn's three-peat flags - I didn't count 2008 - and Alex Rance, who only played in Richmond's 2017 success. They are champs, but one flag in the dynasty was not enough to be considered for selection.

Eade was asked to critique the team as a pseudo chairman of selectors. He couldn't change selection, but could offer opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

DEFENCE

The two contentious defensive positions were back pocket and centre-half back. I selected Justin Leppitsch over Harry Taylor and Josh Gibson over Dylan Grimes.

Gibson won because he was twice the best and fairest winner in a premiership year (2013 and 2015).

Eade on the defence: "It's a star backline. Dylan Grimes is the other one to consider. Does he get in? But I suppose they've got enough talls. Maybe Enright goes to Johnson's spot, then Grimes comes as that intercept defender. Gibson is similar to Grimes isn't he? Gibson had a great career and I certainly wouldn't leave him out. It's star studded. You've got good talls, an interceptor with Gibson, got speed and flair with Johnson. They can all win one-on-ones, that's what you like. Grimes maybe comes in on the bench as the rotation."

 

Simon Black was the man in the middle in three premierships, and he gets the nod in Robbo’s team, too.
Simon Black was the man in the middle in three premierships, and he gets the nod in Robbo’s team, too.

 

MIDFIELD

The midfield line-up was like laying down your cards and calling gin rummy.

I wrestled with Jason Akermanis to the wing, Nigel Lappin out and Paul Chapman to the forward pocket to fill Aker's position, but couldn't find a strong enough reason to deny Lappin. He is already a hall of famer.

In the end, the middle spot came down to Simon Black, Joel Selwood and Sam Mitchell - I chose Black - and Brad Ottens filled the ruck ahead of Toby Nankervis.

Eade on the midfield: "This is no disrespect to Brad Ottens, who did play well in premiership years, but it shows you premiership teams win without a dominant ruckman. Even in the era I played in (at Hawthorn), we didn't have a dominant ruckman. Don Scott was early days. Brad was a really good ruckman, but he doesn't go down in the annals of the top 20 ruckmen of all time. Vossy starts in the middle and Gary and Simon Black. I'd have Black over Sam Mitchell and Joel Selwood. I like your wings because they played there a fair bit. Superstar players. Lappin really stood up in big games, which a lot of them did, but I remember home and away games, where they were struggling at times, and Lappin sparked them. He was hard running and he was tough inside and used the ball so well. Bartel is as high a footy IQ I've seen, like Hodge. He kicked the goals when they needed to be kicked."

 

 

 

FORWARDS

The half-forward line was the second game of gin rummy: Dustin Martin, Jonathan Brown, Steve Johnson. Although some Cats fans might argue Chappy for Johnson.

Cyril Rioli is in one pocket and Aker in the other, which meant Chapman missed.

The full-forward position, other than the fourth spot on interchange, was the most difficult to choose, with Alastair Lynch, Tom Hawkins, Jarryd Roughead and Jack Riewoldt in contention.

Roughead kicked 238 goals from 2012-15.

Lynch kicked 163 goals from 2001-2004.

Hawkins kicked 150 goals 2007-2011, which was across his first five seasons.

And Riewoldt kicked 181 goals from 2017-20.

Initially went with Riewoldt ahead of Roughead because in the first flag, Riewoldt was practically one out as the tall forward. Which was a mighty effort.

 

 

 

But, in the end, Roughead won out. He averaged 60 goals a season across the golden era, whereas Riewoldt missed half of 2019 with injury and then endured this pandemic season. It's not his fault, but this team is about performances in the dynasty years.

Maybe for another time the question could be asked: Who is the better player - Riewoldt or Roughead?

Eade on the forward line: "The half forward line picks themselves. It's as good as any best-of side going around. You could make a debate on Jack Riewoldt, Alastair Lynch or Jarryd Roughead. You could argue Roughie for the bench as the back up ruck if you wanted to. The only problem with two smalls in the pocket is it doesn't give you a third tall, but I'm happy with Cyril and Aker in the pockets."

 

 

 

INTERCHANGE

Three players select themselves: Selwood, Mitchell and Shaun Burgoyne. That left one spot.

Considered were Riewoldt, Nick Vlastuin, Dylan Grimes, Trent Cotchin and Dion Prestia from Richmond.

Luke Power and Lynch, from Brisbane.

Joel Corey, Taylor, Chapman, Darren Milburn and Cameron Ling from Geelong.

Jordan Lewis, Brian Lake, Grant Birchall, Jack Gunston, Luke Breust and Isaac Smith from Hawthorn.

I opted for Cotchin, who many Richmond insiders say was the on-field catalyst for propelling the premiership successes. Grimes was incredibly unlucky.

Eade on the interchange: "You've got three midfielders. Yes, Selwood is in. Yes, Shaun Burgoyne is in. Yes, Sam Mitchell is in. I would say Cotchin for me was the one who would miss. And it's either Grimes, or Riewoldt or Paul Chapman. They were the three I was thinking. If you were picking a team to play on the weekend, you'd have to pick another tall to play back-up ruck, but as a best Chapman would have to miss because he's fighting with Akermanis, Martin, Johnson and Rioli. For me, I'd pick Grimes as the back-up defender. I can see from the outside what Cotchin has done as a leader, but in a pure football sense, his effect on games is not what the others are for me."

 

Legendary Hawk Luke Hodge could change his middle name to ‘Premierships’ — he has four of them. Picture: Michael Klein
Legendary Hawk Luke Hodge could change his middle name to ‘Premierships’ — he has four of them. Picture: Michael Klein

 

FINAL VERDICT

The breakdown was Brisbane and Geelong seven players, Hawthorn six players and Richmond two players.

I chose Hodge ahead of Voss as captain.

"That's a toss up," Eade said of the captains.

"You could make a case either way.

"I'd probably go Voss, but there's a bee's whisker in it."

Despite Eade arguing the Tigers might have the most rounded team, he reckoned the Lions under coach Leigh Matthews would win an ol' fashioned lightning premiership.

"I'd back Brisbane," he said.

"I think Richmond can wear you down, Brisbane can go blow you apart with brilliance, individuals can turn it on … Black, Brown, Voss, Aker. Hawthorn is in between … brilliance and they could wear you down as well."

And Geelong?

"They were a bloody good side," he said.

"They were unlucky not to win another one at least.

"But yeah, in a lightning premiership, I'd still put Brisbane first … then it's a toss up.

"I think Geelong is second, equal second with Hawthorn.

"Gee, there's some talent everywhere."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Dynasty teams of 2000s: Robbo names his best 22



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