Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield is an almost unbackable favourite to take out the Brownlow Medal tonight.Dangerfield had an outstanding first season for the Cats, who missed out on this year’s grand final after losing to Sydney on the weekend.
The West Australian chief football writer Mark Duffield said Dangerfield had a dominant season and should “easily” claim the prize.
“I’m not sure that he’s actually the best player in the competition, but I think he’s going be the one that stands out this year,” Duffield said.
“(He’s) a very, very good player. It’s a midfielder’s medal, he’s a midfielder, he wins a lot of contested ball, he takes marks, he’s eye catching because he surges away from stoppages, and surges out of traffic and that sort of thing.”
Duffield pointed to Geelong’s impressive season as another important factor.
“Geelong won a lot of games, and in the games that they won he was the one who was a standout player. So I get the feeling he’s going to dominate the count, a bit like Fyfe did last year up until the point that he got injured and then others nearly ran him down.”
Former Fremantle and North Melbourne player Peter Bell also chose Dangerfield as his top pick.
“He’s been the dominant player in the AFL and I would be absolutely astounded if he didn’t win the Brownlow Medal,” Bell said.
Duffield said Richmond’s Dustin Martin was another contender, but played down his chances of winning because of the club’s lacklustre season.
“Dustin Martin would’ve been one who is probably going to poll quite a few votes. That said, Richmond haven’t won many games, so that’s probably going to affect his ability to get three votes,” Duffield said.
Bell agreed with Duffield’s assessment.
“Martin’s been a very good player and he’ll be right up there, that’s for sure, but I don’t actually think that he’ll even be close with Dangerfield,” he said.
Duffield’s other top picks included Western Bulldogs player Marcus Bontempelli, Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell, the Sydney Swans’ Daniel Hannebery, and Greater Western Sydney young gun Stephen Coniglio.
Bell said Adelaide player Rory Sloane would poll well but could not win the Medal.
“He’s ineligible but I think he’ll poll massive amounts of votes, particularly in the first two-thirds of the season,” he said.
Others he expected to poll well included Sydney’s Luke Parker and St Kilda’s Jack Steven.
“As a bit of an outsider, if I was to give you one that’s not in the favoured four or five, I think Jack Steven will get a lot of votes also in the first two-thirds of the season,” he said.
“St Kilda had a much improved year and I think he was a real eye catcher in the midfield and, let’s be honest, it really has become a midfielder’s medal.”
Duffield and Bell both said West Coast’s Luke Shuey was the leading WA contender , while Duffield said Fremantle’s Lachie Neale’s had little chance of winning the medal because of Fremantle’s poor season.
“With Fremantle only winning four games, it doesn’t really leave much scope for Lachie to get enough threes to seriously figure in the count, particularly not in a year like this where I would imagine that Dangerfield’s winning tally is going to be in the thirties,” Duffield said.
“You’ve basically got to poll in ten to fifteen games and you’ve gotta have a lot of games where you’re polling three votes to get that high and compete with him.”