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Crows veteran Taylor Walker has capped off a remarkable season by being named in his first AFL All-Australian team in his 16th season.
A dominant key forward, this season marked the fourth time Walker had been picked in the extended squad – the previous three times missing out on the famous blazer.
Named at centre-half forward, the 33-year-old kicked a career-best 76 goals in 2023. This included 12 occasions where he bagged three or more goals to finish just two goals shy of the Coleman Medal.
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Reviving his career in the twilight years of his career, Walker reflected on how he was able to turn things around.
“A couple of years ago I thought I was a bit buggered, to be honest,” he said on stage following the announcement.
“My knee was causing me a bit of grief (so) I changed a bit of what I was doing in my strength program and I’ve been able to train under (Crows’ high performance manager) Darren Burgess – he’s been enormous for me – and Josh Manuel who is our strength and conditioning coach. He’s been able to help me get back to being physically fit.
“Being mentally fit, I’ve got three kids at home, my beautiful wife, Ellie, so I think my life balance has allowed me to go to the football club and just enjoy it for what it is.
“I’m very grateful for what I do. I went to Perth on the weekend and (walking) out, I treated it as though it was the last time I was ever going to play there. So, to be able to enjoy moments like that, I think it allows me to play and enjoy football for what it is, and have a real passion inside to play for as long as I can.”
Alongside Walker, 11 other players including James Sicily, Tim English and Nick Daicso were named in their first All-Australian team.
Only five members defended their positions from last year’s team.
Giants’ skipper Toby Greene was bestowed the honour of captain, with Western Bulldogs leader Marcus Bontempelli named vice-captain.
With his selection, Bontempelli, and Geelong stalwart Tom Stewart, became five-time All-Australians.
Minor premiers Collingwood and Port Adelaide were the best-represented clubs with three selections a piece.
This included Josh and Nick Daicos, who became the first brothers to be picked in the same All-Australian team since Chad and Kane Cornes in 2007.
On Monday, the AFL unveiled its All-Australian squad for this season, with all 18 teams represented for the first time in league history. Half of the squad was named in the final team at the AFL award night on Wednesday.
Notable omissions included Dustin Martin, Jack Viney and Tom Liberatore.
2023 ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM
B: James Sicily (Hawthorn), Callum Wilkie (St Kilda), Tom Stewart (Geelong)
HB: Jack Sinclair (St Kilda), Darcy Moore (Collingwood), Dan Houston (Port Adelaide)
C: Josh Daicos (Collingwood), Marcus Bontempelli (VC) (Western Bulldogs), Errol Gulden (Sydney)
HF: Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide), Taylor Walker (Adelaide), Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
F: Charlie Cameron (Brisbane), Charlie Curnow (Carlton), Toby Greene (C) (GWS)
FOLL: Tim English (Western Bulldogs), Zak Butters (Port Adelaide), Nick Daicso (Collingwood)
INT: Caleb Serong (Fremantle), Zach Merrett (Essendon), Jordan Dawson (Adelaide), Nick Larkey (North Melbourne)