Lachie Neale has been rewarded for another dominant season in the Brisbane engine room with the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the 2020 AFL Players’ Most Valuable Player, presented by Torrens University.
Neale, who finished third in last year’s MVP award, was the runaway winner, receiving 1120 votes, ahead of Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak (419 votes) and Melbourne best and fairest Christian Petracca (398 votes).
Recently crowned Coleman Medal winner, Tom Hawkins (370 votes), and St Kilda midfielder Jack Steele (207 votes) completed the top five.
Neale received the Leigh Matthews Trophy from AFL Players’ Association President and the 2016 MVP winner, Patrick Dangerfield, at an industry awards event on Thursday night.
“It’s an award that I’m super proud to have won, to be voted by those who I play with and against makes it a really special award. I really respect the opinion of the other players and to be voted by them this year is something that I will look back on and be really proud of. To be alongside some of the other names who have won this award is a feeling that hasn’t sunk in yet,” Neale said.
Dangerfield said Neale, who led the league in disposals and was top five for clearances, inside 50s and contested possessions, is one of the most damaging players in the game.
“Lachie has been the standout player in the competition and it’s no surprise that he’s won the vote of the players this year,” he said.
“He’s got that balance between inside and outside play that midfielders aim to strike. He’s tough at the clinches and can also hurt teams with his ball use. He saw a former teammate in Nat Fyfe win this award a few years ago and now he’s got a Leigh Matthews Trophy of his own.”
Dual MVP winner Nathan Fyfe, a confidant and former teammate of Neale’s during their time together at Fremantle, said years of hard work was now paying off for the Lions midfielder.
“He’s been incredibly consistent throughout his career and that starts with the way he applies himself with his preparation,” he said.
“Lachie goes about his business quietly behind closed doors and is always looking for avenues to improve – whether that’s seeking out past players, coaching staff or anyone who might help him gain a competitive edge.
“He’s always working to get his body and mind in a position to be able to execute what is required of him to the highest standard. It’s very rare that you’d see him put together two quarters where he isn’t at his best.”
Close friend and Brisbane teammate, Lincoln McCarthy, praised Neale’s coolness under pressure on and off the field.
“He’s really obsessive at wanting to make sure he’s doing everything he can to be the best,” McCarthy said.
“But he’s also super measured and there’s never a time in his game or in his life where you think he’s erratic. He’s just so calm and measured in everything he does.”
Earlier in the week, AFL Players also crowned their Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys, won by Scott Pendlebury; Most Courageous player, presented by Our Watch, won by Dane Rampe; Best First-Year player, presented by MSC Signs, won by Caleb Serong; and revealed the 2020 22Under22 fan-voted team, presented by Big Swing Golf.
Libby Birch, Harry Taylor and Todd Goldstein were recognised with Education and Training Excellence Awards, presented by Torrens University, and Russell Jackson received the Grant Hattam Award for outstanding journalism from the players’ perspective, presented by Thomson Geer Lawyers, for his written feature on Robert Muir.
WINNERS AND VOTES
Leigh Matthews Trophy for the Most Valuable Player, presented by Torrens University
Lachie Neale – 1120
Travis Boak – 419
Christian Petracca – 398
Tom Hawkins – 370
Jack Steele – 207
Robert Rose Most Courageous Award, presented by Our Watch
Dane Rampe – 113
Jack Steele – 95
Jack Viney – 89
Tom Jonas – 61
Liam Duggan – 47
Best First Year Player Award, presented by MSC Signs
Caleb Serong – 340
Noah Anderson – 158
Will Day – 47
Lachlan Ash – 30
Mitchell Georgiades – 22
Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys
Scott Pendlebury – 116
Marcus Bontempelli – 98
Tom Jonas – 90
Joel Selwood – 54
Trent Cotchin – 51
MVP Voting Process
MVP voting is a two-stage process, beginning with each player voting for the three teammates he considers to have been the most valuable this season. Each club’s votes are then tallied to form a nomination list comprising 54 players across the 18 teams.
In the second round of voting, all players vote for their MVP on a 3, 2, 1 basis from the nominees of the 17 other clubs. The votes are tallied and the player with the highest score wins the honour of MVP. Players cannot vote for their own teammates in stage two of the process.
A similar process is followed for Best First Year Player and Most Courageous, but every captain is automatically nominated for the Best Captain Award.