Ablett in the hunt for second Brownlow

by Roger Vaughan, AAP

GARY Ablett, one of the greatest players of the modern era, must defy history twice if he is to win his second Brownlow Medal.

The Gold Coast captain has joined Essendon midfielder Jobe Watson and Richmond onballer Trent Cotchin as the popular favourites for the league’s most prestigious individual award.

The leading Brownlow contenders from your club

There is no doubt Ablett has enjoyed another stellar season.

He has won numerous media awards and he also took out the players’ association MVP for the fourth time.

The MVP is particularly notable because fellow players vote on it.

But like Watson and Cotchin, Ablett played in a side that failed to make the top eight this season.

The last non-finalist to win the Brownlow was Hawthorn’s Shane Crawford in 1999.

Ablett’s scenario is doubly tough because the Suns finished second-last with only three wins.

You have to go back to legendary triple Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton in 1963 to find a player who won the award with less than five wins for the season.

Still, Ablett polled a healthy tally of 23 votes last year, only 11 short of winner Dane Swan, and the Suns had three wins then as well to finish last.

He is also a proven performer in the award, having won it in 2009.

The umpires vote on the Brownlow and the 3-2-1 system means that playing on a winning side obviously improves a players’ odds.

If a finals player is to win the award again, Adelaide pair Patrick Dangerfield and captain Scott Thompson have strong claims.

AFL Media reporters call the 2012 Brownlow for Thompson

“He’s obviously a younger type who’s had a breakout season,” Cotchin said of Dangerfield on Channel Seven’s Game Day.

“He’s gone from averaging 17 (possessions) to mid-20s this year, but he also kicks goals.

“His contest work is phenomenal, he really hunts the footy and he’s also one of those guys who gets outside and breaks the lines.”

Cotchin added that Thompson had also enjoyed an extremely consistent season.

Like Ablett, Cotchin and Watson, the Crows pair and fellow contender Josh Kennedy made the All Australian team.

One big name missing from the All Australian lineup was Hawthorn star Sam Mitchell.

He was ineligible last year because of suspension, but finished only four votes behind Swan.

While Ablett, Cotchin and Watson are all around the $4 mark, Mitchell ($11) and Kennedy ($17) are value bets.

Leigh Matthews is in a small group of AFL legends who somehow never won a Brownlow.

Despite missing out, Matthews said there is no doubting the award’s prestige.

“It’s the award – every player would love to win the Brownlow because it’s the official award, big night, big occasion,” Matthews said.

“It’s going to be a very nervous night for Trent Cotchin … I’ve had a few of those.”

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