The winner of the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group Best Young Player of the Year Award is Tom Stewart of the Geelong Football Club.
Stewart built upon his fantastic 2017 season to average 20.3 disposals, 6.2 marks, and 5.6 rebound 50s per game in 2018, and proved to be a key cog in Geelong’s stingy defense, which conceded a league-low 70.6 points per game.
The South Barwon mature age recruit ranked third in the AFL for total rebound 50s, showcasing his run-and-carry and elite ball use from day one at the club. His seamless transition into senior football in 2017 helped the Cats reach a preliminary final, with the club poised for another September run in 2018.
After suffering a syndesmosis ankle injury that threatened to prematurely end his home and away season, the 25-year old missed just one match in 2018, and in the process cemented himself as one of the most reliable defenders in the game.
AFL Coaches Association CEO Mark Brayshaw congratulated Stewart on his first two seasons in the AFL which see him crowned the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group Best Young Player of the Year.
“The AFL Coaches Association’s Champion Player of the Year votes are a real badge of honour. The coaches don’t give them away lightly!” Brayshaw said.
“That Tom has earned 40 in the first two years of his AFL career is a wonderful endorsement. He should be very proud to have been judged the Best Young Player by the AFL coaches in 2018.”
Stewart received 40 votes from the AFL coaches during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, finishing 17 votes ahead of runner up Sam Powell-Pepper (23 votes), with Hugh McCluggage (20 votes) a further three votes back in third place.
The Best Young Player of the Year Award is presented in recognition of the player who, based on his performance in his first two seasons of AFL Football, deserves to be acknowledged as the Best Young Player and is determined by the weekly votes of the AFL coaches.
Previous winners including Clayton Oliver, Scott Pendlebury, Joel Selwood and Brownlow medalists Chris Judd and Nathan Fyfe.
2018 SHADFORTH FINANCIAL GROUP AFL COACHES ASSOCIATION BEST YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR LEADERBOARD
|Place||Name||Club||Votes 2017, 2018|
|1st||Tom Stewart||Geelong Cats||40|
|2nd||Sam Powell-Pepper||Port Adelaide||23|
|3rd||Hugh McCluggage||Brisbane Lions||20|
|4th||Luke Ryan||Fremantle Dockers||19|
|5th||Hugh Greenwood||Adelaide Crows||17|