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Picking every AFL club's best-and-fairest winner: Geelong to North Melbourne

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28th August, 2018
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With the home-and-away season done and dusted, it’s finals time and awards season.

Yesterday, we looked at the best at six different clubs, including a shining light in Carlton’s disappointing season.

Today it’s time to assess another six teams and pick their most impressive performers.

Geelong Cats

Carji Greeves Medal – Tom Hawkins

In a strange season for the Cats, where individual performances were of high quality despite the team being relatively average, the race for the Carji Greeves Medal will be tight.

Tom Hawkins’ arguably career-best season should move him ahead of the host of midfielders chasing the award, which would be his second, having won it in 2012.

Ranked top three in the competition for goals, marks, goal assists and score involvements, Hawkins’ hard work must be rewarded at the Cattery.

Fighting him for the medal, however, will be Mark Blicavs who had an incredible season as a key defender. Perhaps struggling as a midfielder, Blicavs was able to adapt effortlessly into the main defensive role at the Cats and was a key player in helping the club sneak into the finals.

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Patrick Dangerfield seems a lock for a top-three spot in this count, despite harsh critics labelling his 2018 campaign as a ‘down year’.

Posting elite numbers, Dangerfield is a victim of his own history, and was one of the best midfielders in the league this season.

Tom Stewart also deserves a top-five finish for his emergence as one of the league’s top intercept players. He, along with Blicavs, kept the Cats defensively sound throughout the entire season.

With the likes of Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola, Tim Kelly, Gary Ablett and Mitch Duncan all deserving of a top-five finish, it’s difficult to narrow it down.

However, Selwood remains a smoky for a high finish in the Brownlow, which may translate well in this count.

Predicted top five
1. Hawkins, 2. Blicavs, 3. Dangerfield, 4. Stewart, 5. Selwood

Gold Coast Suns

Gold Coast Suns Club Champion – Touk Miller

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It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Touk Miller will captain the Suns in 2019, which will be well deserved after another strong yet selfless season.

Miller averaged 22 disposals, six tackles and four clearances while performing tagging roles, and will take out his first best and fairest for the Suns.

Touk Miller Gold Coast Suns AFL 2017

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Jarrod Witts was another of Gold Coast’s few consistent contributors in another poor season for the club, averaging 14 disposals, four tackles and 39 hitouts.

Rounding out the top three may well be veteran Jarrod Harbrow, who dropped below 22 disposals just twice after the bye. In terms of impact, it was his best season at Gold Coast.

David Swallow ticks all the boxes as an inside midfielder and has no doubt flown under the radar given Gold Coast’s struggles. Jarryd Lyons should sneak ahead of Alex Sexton in the votes, despite being questionably dropped.

He averaged 24 disposals, seven clearances and five tackles a game, which would have him higher up in the count if not for public perception over his role in the team.

Predicted top five
1. Miller, 2. Witts, 3. Harbrow, 4. Swallow, 5. Lyons

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GWS Giants

Kevin Sheedy Medal – Stephen Coniglio

There’ll be another maiden winner of the Kevin Sheedy Medal this season, with all signs pointing towards Stephen Coniglio.

He has upped his impact on the scoreboard while maintaining his good numbers in clearances and tackles, perhaps benefitting from not needing to play a tagging role as regularly as previously.

Lachie Whitfield has had an excellent season as well, playing off half-back and on the wing. The gut-running ability of the 24-year-old is impressive and it results in him collecting plenty of the ball in the final quarters of games.

Phil Davis wasn’t been spoken about much in All-Australian terms, but it’s shocking that the club captain wasn’t even in the original 40-man squad.

Callan Ward had another prolific home-and-away season, playing a more influential inside role due to the return of Coniglio. Dylan Shiel is interchangeable with Nick Haynes and possibly Josh Kelly in the top five, with the latter playing only 15 games which may count against him.

Predicted top five
1. Coniglio, 2. Whitfield, 3. Davis, 4. Ward, 5. Shiel

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Hawthorn Hawks

Peter Crimmins Medal – Tom Mitchell

The clear Brownlow favourite will likely go back-to-back in the Peter Crimmins Medal come the end of the season after another monster year.

Despite being shut down in the final three weeks of the home-and-away season, Tom Mitchell’s numbers were huge and despite what many may say, he has been extremely influential in getting the Hawks a top-four finish.

Tom Mitchell Hawthorn Hawks AFL 2017

(AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Luke Breust bounced back strongly after a slightly disappointing 2017, kicking 53 goals and returning to his dangerous best.

Jack Gunston’s strong end to the season may well see him jump into the club’s top three in the best and fairest, given he averaged 18 disposals, five marks and kicked 47 goals. The two forwards combining for 100 goals is music to coach Clarkson’s ears.

At the start of the season, Jaeger O’Meara playing 20 games would’ve been seen as a positive. Producing such high quality and moving past the injury issues that have plagued him is fantastic for him and the club.

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He averaged 24 disposals, six tackles, five clearances, four marks and kicked 16 goals, which is what the 24-year-old can easily produce as a minimum.

Liam Shiels rounds out my top five for the Hawks, with 20-year-old forward James Sicily only having played 14 games.

Shiels fulfils his role excellently on a weekly basis and 2018 was as good as he has played throughout his career.

Predicted top five
1. Mitchell, 2. Breust, 3. Gunston, 4. O’Meara, 5. Shiels

Melbourne Demons

Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Trophy – Max Gawn

The Melbourne best and fairest could go either way depending on who you ask.

Gawn is such an important player for Melbourne and has produced a stunning season in the ruck, with his high level of consistency just getting him ahead of Clayton Oliver in my mind.

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The young midfielder has been outstanding as well, though, and should expect to receive many awards in the coming years. With young midfielders in mind, Angus Brayshaw has emerged this season as a future star.

Averaging 26 disposals, five marks, five tackles and five clearances, Brayshaw is the perfect mix of inside and outside to form a partnership with Oliver for a decade.

Tom McDonald wouldn’t have been seen as a 50-goal a year forward, however by the end of 2018, that will be a reality.

Tom McDonald

(Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

He’s adapting to the new position has been fantastic to see and is a key reason as to why the Demons finished with a home final.

Also, a strong positive to see at the Demons is Nathan Jones playing finals. No longer is he heavily relied upon as he was during the tough years, and he is seeing the benefits now.

Jones averaged 25 disposals, four tackles and four clearance a game this year.

Predicted top five
1. Gawn, 2. Oliver, 3. Brayshaw, 4. McDonald, 5. Jones

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North Melbourne Kangaroos

Syd Barker Medal – Shaun Higgins

It’s not often 30-year-old players produce the best season of their careers, but Higgins has had a stunning campaign in 2018.

Injury-free and without a worry in the world, Higgins should go back-to-back in the Syd Barker Medal after his 27-disposal, five-clearance average season.

Ben Brown didn’t quite win the Coleman Medal, but he played a key role in North Melbourne exceeding expectations. Two 60-goal seasons in a row is a fantastic effort.

Ben Cunnington continued his unassuming approach to contested situations and had another excellent season, averaging 25 disposals and seven clearances per match.

He doesn’t earn too many headlines, but Cunnington is a star. Jack Ziebell’s transformation into a permanent forward was crucial to North Melbourne’s moderate success, finishing with the most goals of his career by a fair bit.

Robbie Tarrant is always a reasonably safe selection to perform well in the best and fairest.

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Predicted top five
1. Higgins, 2. Brown, 3. Cunnington, 4. Ziebell, 5. Tarrant