It was a tough day all round for the Giants.
The last four AFL seasons have ended with first time Brownlow Bedalists, the question is who will be the next player to join illustrious list of winners?
After a Brownlow shock in 2014 when West Coast’s tough inside midfielder Matt Priddis took out the award, the last three years medal have gone to script. Nat Fyfe from Fremantle took out the award in 2015, Patrick Dangerfield in 2016 and last year Richmond Tigers midfielder Dustin Martin won with a record number of votes.
It goes without question that Fyfe, Dangerfield and Martin are some of the game’s biggest stars. In 2018 there could be a new name to add to this list of superstars with many candidates putting their hand up to go to that next level.
Players around the league such as Luke Parker, Tom Mitchell, Marcus Bontempelli, Rory Sloane, Zach Merrett, Ollie Wines, Lachie Neale and Patrick Cripps will all be pushing this season to move up into this elite catergory.
But the one player that stands head and shoulders above the rest and is capable of winning the Brownlow medal if not this season but definitely in the future is Greater Western Sydney superstar Josh Kelly.
2017 in his fourth season Kelly had a career year, moving from the wing to the midfield permanently averaging 29.5 disposals in 24 games. He broke club records for disposals and tackles in a single season.
This amazing form in 2017 gained Kelly his first ever All Australian selection and won his first club champion award (Kevin Sheedy Medal).
Kelly had 20 games over 25 disposals and ten games over 30 disposals and broke the club record against West Coast for most disposals in a game with 43. He showed he can be a prolific ball magnet for the years to come due to the ability to win the ball in close and on the outside.
After being named a vice captain in 2018 Kelly is ready to take that next step into the elite category of AFL players – Brownlow medalists. Hitting the scoreboard is where Kelly can really be damaging and push himself into the conversation with the likes of Fyfe, Martin and Dangerfield.
The Giants’ injury crisis in 2017 made Kelly have to play more midfield time than intended. Even with this in 2017 he kicked his career best 19 goals. Though this doesn’t compare to Dangerfield who had 45 goals and Martin 37 goals.
Kelly will never have the size and strength of guys like Fyfe, Dangerfield and Martin but hopefully can push forward more this season. With his skill and class imagining Kelly playing at the feet of guys like Jon Patton, Jeremy Cameron and Rory Lobb sounds dangerous and could put some real scoreboard pressure on.
A more damaging Kelly up forward to go along with his class in the midfield could be one of the missing pieces of the puzzle for the Giants, who have been eliminated in two straight preliminary finals.
If Kelly can add this goal-kicking and scoreboard pressure to his game with what we already know he can produce we have a superstar on our hands and without a doubt has the best chance being the next player to win their first Brownlow medal.