For the second year in a row, the players have voted dual Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett the best player in the AFL.
The Gold Coast skipper looked set to win a sixth Leigh Matthews Trophy and third Brownlow Medal in 2014 before a shoulder injury derailed his campaign in Round 16. But that absence didn’t stop him from getting the top votes in the Players’ Top 50.
“he’d rather drop dead than let his opponent beat him” – Gary Ablett Snr on his son
Ablett has taken his game to another level since joining the Suns in 2010, averaging more than 30 disposals a game in all four years at the club and recording above the 30-possession mark on 10 occasions last year.
The 30-year-old still managed to win an All-Australian guernsey and a fourth placing in the Suns’ Best and Fairest award in 2014, despite playing only 15 games.
Amazingly, Ablett has collected more than 20 Brownlow Medal votes in each year since 2007, at an average of 24 votes per season.
In a sign the eight-time All-Australian is still improving, he averaged career high numbers in tackles (six), clearances (seven), and contested possessions (17) per game in 2014.
With Ablett’s ability to find the ball, distribute it, and evade opposition defenders consistently still at its peak, many pundits rank the ‘little master’ among the top few to have ever played the game.
Last year, Ablett’s father, Gary Snr said his son has exceeded all expectations since joining the Suns.
“I do think he’s starting to get into that stage where he arguably could be the greatest player to ever play the game. Perhaps he’s not as spectacular as some, but when it comes to consistency, leadership and setting an example around the club you couldn’t ask for a better guy,” Ablett Sr. said.
“With Gary, you have a combination of my competitive nature – he’d rather drop dead than let his opponent beat him – and the desire and the hunger to reach his potential.
“That’s taken him from where he was to where he is today, and going to the Gold Coast has been the catalyst for him to grow in other areas such as leadership and character.”
AFL PLAYERS’ TOP 50 2015
1. Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)
2. Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
3. Joel Selwood (Geelong)
4. Lance Franklin (Sydney)
5. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
6. Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
7. Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)
8. Luke Hodge (Hawthorn)
9. Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
10. Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
11. Josh Kennedy (Sydney Swans)
12. Jobe Watson (Essendon)
13. Trent Cotchin (Richmond)
14. Matt Priddis (West Coast Eagles)
15. Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
16. Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)
17. Steve Johnson (Geelong)
18. Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
19. Tom Rockliff (Brisbane Lions)
20. Aaron Sandliands (Fremantle)
21. Dayne Beams (Brisbane)
22. Jordan Lewis (Hawthorn)
23. Tom Hawkins (Geelong)
24. Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
25. Harry Taylor (Geelong)
26. Brent Harvey (North Melbourne)
27. Luke Parker (Sydney)
28. Chris Judd (Carlton)
29. Callan Ward (Greater Western Sydney)
30. Marc Murphy (Carlton)
31. Nathan Jones (Melbourne)
32. Bryce Gibbs (Carlton)
33. David Mundy (Fremantle)
34. Brendon Goddard (Essendon)
35. Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney)
36. Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide)
37. Pearce Hanley (Brisbane Lions)
38. Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)
39. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
40. Dan Hannebery (Sydney)
41. Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn)
42. Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)
43. Josh Kennedy (West Coast Eagles)
44. Ryan Griffen (Greater Western Sydney)
45. Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle)
46. Luke Breust (Hawthorn)
47. Travis Cloke (Collingwood)
48. Dane Swan (Collingwood)
49. Brett Deledio (Richmond)
50. Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)