By ZAC MILBANK
South Australians loved nothing more than seeing the treasured West End State of Origin guernsey sported by our best footballers on the national stage.
While this is sadly a thing of the past in the modern era, there’s still plenty of intrigue as to how the Croweaters might line-up if this year’s best South Aussies were assembled to tackle the Big V or the Sandgropers.
So here it is, courtesy of loyal State Team sponsor West End, we are releasing the 2020 West End State of Origin Team line-by-line.
After releasing the Interchange and Backline – which included two of the three members of the leadership group including West End State Captain Tom Jonas – here is the Half-Back Line, which includes the third member of the leadership group – Shannon Hurn.
Stepping aside as West Coast captain for the 2020 season, Hurn graciously hands the West End State of Origin leadership mantle to the only current AFL captain in the team – Tom Jonas. But as joint vice-captain, the resolute Eagles defender will play a vital role in organising the back six while ensuring the opposition forwards don’t take control. At 32, the boy from Angaston knows he is nearing the end of his illustrious career, which was built on a solid foundation of back-to-back SANFL premierships with Central District in 2004 and 2005.
Entering his fifth season at Essendon, Francis is only just beginning to scratch the surface of what he’s capable of at elite level. Powerfully built at 193cm and 90kg, the 22-year-old managed to string together 17 games for the Bombers last year while looking at home in the back half. Originally from the tiny Mallee community of East Murray, Francis also played his junior football for Loxton North before featuring in six League games for the Bloods in 2015. His reading of the play to take intercept marks will be vital for the Croweaters.
Adelaide’s reliable ball magnet in the back half will have a huge role to play for the Croweaters in sparking attack from defence. The 26-year-old is one of the best small defenders in the AFL, earning All-Australian berths in 2017 and 2018 together with the Malcolm Blight Medal in 2018. Started playing soccer before beginning his football career with Kenilworth before progressing rapidly up the ranks with West Adelaide. Laird – who has 143 AFL games to his name – played 18 League games as a teenager as the Bloods made a run to the 2012 SANFL Grand Final.