The Brownlow and Coleman Medals are the two of the most admired and bet on individual awards in Australian sport. In 2012, Jobe Watson became the first Brownlow Medallist since Shane Crawford in 1999 to play for a club that didn’t make the final eight. The lowest goal tally since 1975 (Leigh Matthews with 67), saw Jack Riewoldt take the Coleman Medal with 65 goals. Five different players were in contention coming into the final round, keeping punters on the edge of their seat until the last day of the home & away season.
Both awards look to be relatively open coming into 2013. We take a look at all the players you should be keeping an eye on.
GARY ABLETT ($8.00)
The 2009 winner comes into 2013 as joint favourite. He has been a proven vote getter since his breakout season in 2007 and there is nothing to suggest that will change. Some extra Gold Coast wins will help his chances.
TRENT COTCHIN ($8.00)
He became elite in 2012, justified by his All Australian selection, Richmond best & fairest and 2nd placing in the Brownlow with 26 votes. He has developed admiration throughout the league and his attractive style could persuade umpires to give votes even when he has had an average day, just like Judd and Goodes beforehand. A real chance.
JOBE WATSON ($8.00)
Watson took full advantage of Essendon’s 8-1 start and was able to hang on from fast finishers with 30 votes. Should be around the mark once again but keep in mind that the Bombers will ensure he gets more support through the middle, potentially meaning votes get taken from him.
PATRICK DANGERFIELD ($10.00)
The real bolter of 2012. He has flare, extreme breakaway speed, kicks goals and gets a lot of the footy. How can you miss him? He finished 7th with 23 votes last year and looks to have scope for improvement. Adelaide again has a favourable draw which will see another high total of wins. $10.00 is perhaps a little generous.
SCOTT PENDLEBURY ($11.00)
He only polled 15 votes in 2012 after fracturing his leg against the Gold Coast in round 10 and missing four games. He polled 20+ votes in 2010 and 2011. His biggest issues are teammates Dane Swan and Dayne Beams taking votes away, having polled 44 between them in 2012.
DANE SWAN ($11.00)
The 2011 Brownlow Medallist just continues to rack up massive numbers. Expect more of the same in 2013, but be aware that the public seem to be becoming a tad complacent with his performances. Could it have an effect on his Brownlow votes?
JOSH KENNEDY (SYD) ($21.00)
Not really a smokie but this guy has become seriously elite and I’m surprised by his price. Finished 2012 ranked number one in the league for clearances and contested possessions while also kicking 29 goals. He placed 8th in the Brownlow, gathering 19 votes with a relatively low early season profile. Certainly known around the umpiring traps now and based on his outstanding preseason results, looks set to further improve.
KIEREN JACK ($51.00)
Another Sydney player who appears to be underrated by the betting agencies. He averaged 24 possessions last year and is developing a knack of kicking pivotal goals in big games. 15 votes in 2012 is a solid platform to build from and his running game is certainly eye catching. With Adam Goodes’ Brownlow Medal winning days behind him (funnily enough, Goodes is also $51.00), Kennedy is the only major vote taking threat. With Sydney expected to win plenty of games, there will be enough votes on offer.
WAIT AND WATCH
NATHAN FYFE ($16.00)
While Fyfe’s odds do appear to be short, he is an interesting prospect. After a season spent mostly on the sidelines due to a serious shoulder injury, he managed 9 games and produced an eye opening 14 votes. In 2011, he managed 13 votes as a 19 year old. In a midfield filled with low profile hard workers, he is the obvious eye catcher. It’s worth waiting to see if his shoulder can get through the first few rounds before committing.
Prediction: Josh Kennedy (Sydney). I’m amazed he isn’t closer to around the $10.00 mark. His preseason form has been outstanding and suggests he could be even better in 2013.
LANCE FRANKLIN ($3.25)
Buddy is the outright favourite and it isn’t hard to see why. He averaged 3.69 goals per game (Riewoldt averaged 2.95) during the home and away season and would have won it in a gallop had he not missed 6 mysterious games late in the season. But that is the major question, will he play enough games? If he does, I can’t see him not winning the medal.
TAYLOR WALKER ($5.50)
Walker became one of the best goal kickers in the league with 63 goals from 19 games in 2012. He had the second best goal per game average of 3.32 and at 22 (23 in April), he is only going to improve. The Crows have a soft draw once again which will have Tex licking his lips. He is a good option.
JACK RIEWOLDT ($6.00)
Riewoldt didn’t have his best season, but benefited from playing every game and won his second Coleman Medal with the lowest winning goal tally for nearly 40 years. He will kick a lot of goals again with the Tigers having a gentler draw. Only 24 and should have improvement, but I feel there are better options at this price.
MATTHEW PAVLICH ($6.00)
It took Ross Lyon until round 10 to turn Matthew Pavlich into a permanent forward once again and he wasn’t let down. From round 10 onwards he kicked 58 goals in 14 games at an average of 4.14 and almost single handedly took Fremantle to a finals berth. At 31, you need to question whether he is on the verge of declining, but if he continues his second half season form, you can’t rule him out.
TOM HAWKINS ($10.00)
I’m very surprised to see Hawkins in double figures. He became one of the most dominant forwards in the game in 2012, coming equal 2nd for the Coleman with 62 goals and being named the All Australian Full Forward. He is still only 24. Geelong has 7 games at Simonds Stadium in the 2nd half of the season, if Hawkins can get a good start, he will shorten considerably.
TRAVIS CLOKE ($18.00)
Once again, Cloke isn’t necessarily a smoky, but he does offer value if he can return to his 2011 form when he kicked 69 goals. He played like a man who had different priorities on his mind, but still gave a solid return of 59 goals and ranked number one in the competition for contested marks. At his best, 80-90 goals is a realistic target.
JACK DARLING ($51.00)
A potential superstar. The 20 year old finished the 2012 season with 53 goals and won West Coast’s goalkicking. No doubt that there will be more improvement to come. We’ll have to wait and see what the Eagle’s forward structure will look like with Kennedy and LeCras returning, but with Lynch now at Collingwood, there is no reason to suggest he won’t play a similar role.
WAIT & WATCH
JAY SCHULZ ($16.00)
Again, perhaps a little shorter than he should be, but worth consideration. Schulz kicked 42 goals from 15 games in 2012, but he is consistently injury riddled. Since joining the Power in 2010, he has never played more than 16 games. If he can stay out on the park and play a full season, he is a 60-70 goal player. He is due for a change of luck and at 27 (turning 28 in April), is in the prime of his career.
Prediction: Lance Franklin. It is the safe option, but I just can’t see him being beaten if he plays 20+ games.
I’ve been a supporter and follower of AFL for as long as I can remember. Having been born into a family with deep football history and tradition on both sides, you can say it runs through my blood. I’ve got a keen interest in the stats and analysis of the game, which helped me finish in the top 100 of fantasy competitions DreamTeam and Supercoach last year. While my own local football career was cut short due to injury at 22, it has created an opportunity for me to frequently watch and build a deep knowledge of the sport at its highest level. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and views throughout the season.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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