“As a player, there are two things you are always striving for – a premiership, and the respect of your peers.” – Leigh Matthews
Which player will join the likes of Paul Kelly, Glenn Archer, Jonathan Brown and Joel Selwood as a winner of the Robert Rose Award for the AFL’s Most Courageous Player?
Just like the AFL Players’ MVP, the Most Courageous Player of 2015, presented by The Line will be decided by the players.
In the first round of voting, players from all 18 clubs were asked to nominate their most courageous teammate. The player with the most votes at each club was then listed as a Most Courageous candidate for the second round of voting, in which all players were asked to vote for the most courageous player from the other 17 clubs.
Each club’s nominee can be found below. The winner will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday night.
Adelaide crows – Rory Laird
The 21-year-old has enjoyed a career-best season for the Crows, running across half back and through the midfield with great consistency.
The ball magnet finished second at the club for total disposals and third for total marks, but it was his bravery that caught the attention of his teammates throughout the season.
Brisbane lions – mitch robinson
The ex-Blue has flourished in his new surroundings up north in 2015, averaging more than 20 disposals per game for the Lions.
The 26-year-old hard nut has injected a new level of defensive pressure to the Brisbane midfield, leading the club for tackles this season.
carlton – SAm docherty
Docherty has proven a great acquisition for the Blues since leaving the Brisbane Lions at the end of 2013.
The 21-year-old collected 20 or more disposals on 13 occasions in 2015, showing plenty of grit in the back half.
Collingwood – tom langdon
Hard-running defender Tom Langdon continued his promising 2014 form this season, averaging 20 disposals per game for the Magpies.
Trusted with a majority of the kick-ins, Langdon also showed a willingness to play in front of the opposition’s key forwards, winning him the respect of his teammates.
Essendon – mark baguley
The 28-year-old enjoyed another consistent season for the Bombers playing as a small defender.
In a tough year for the club, Baguley’s ruthless approach to his footy allowed him to lock down on small forwards such as Shaun Higgins, Steven Motlop and Luke Breust.
fremantle – matt de boer
The tough midfielder has come back strongly after an injury-plagued 2014, providing tenacity in Fremantle’s midfield, laying more than five tackles per game.
His best game came in round 18, when he gathered 25 disposals and registered seven tackles in the Dockers’ win over Greater Western Sydney.
geelong – joel selwood
Though 2015 wasn’t Selwood’s finest season since taking the reins as Geelong skipper, the 27-year-old – a four-time winner of the Robert Rose Award – was as brave as ever.
His best game came in round 18 against the Lions when he gathered 27 disposals, laid 11 tackles and booted two goals.
gold coast suns – steven may
The 23-year-old key defender went from strength to strength in 2015, rising to the occasion against the best forwards in the competition.
In a disappointing year for the Suns, the 190cm defender was able to hold his own against far bigger forwards such as Lance Franklin, Jack Riewoldt and Jeremy Cameron.
greater western Sydney – callan ward
In a year of progress for the maturing Giants, skipper Callan Ward once again led the way by example, leading the club for tackles, clearances and contested possessions.
The 25-year-old played every game in 2015, averaging 25 touchers per outing, and led the way at the coalface.
hawthorn – luke hodge
The Hawks are in contention to win a third consecutive flag after another brilliant year from their courageous captain.
Averaging 26 disposals throughout 2015, the 31-year-old’s best game came in round 3 against the Bulldogs, when he racked up 44 disposals and kicked two majors.
Melbourne – jack viney
The son-of-a-gun midfielder enjoyed his best year for Melbourne, averaging over 20 disposals and six tackles per game.
The hard-working young gun’s courage was on show throughout 2015, but his 30 disposals and 13 tackles against the Dockers in round 22 were a highlight.
north Melbourne – jack ziebell
Fan-favourite Jack Ziebell continues to put his head over the football with little regard for his own safety.
The 24-year-old enjoyed another great season, gathering 20 or more disposals on more than 10 occasions, averaging almost six tackles per game.
port Adelaide – tom logan
Though Logan hasn’t played a senior game this season – the rookie-listed 30-year-old is comfortable knowing his primary role at Port Adelaide is to educate the Power’s younger brigade – it’s clear his teammates value the contribution the 117-game hard-nut has made to the club this season.
“I’m not the type of player who thinks I should play every week,” Logan told afl.com.au in 2014.
“I’m trying to do my best for the boys who are playing in the SANFL to help them mature into AFL footballers.”
Richmond – alex rance
Arguably Richmond’s most important player, the 25-year-old continued to beat bigger opponents most weeks.
He played a blinder in round two against the Dogs, keeping Tom Boyd to just four disposals, while gathering 28 of his own.
st Kilda – sean dempster
The hard-working veteran played a significant role down back in an inexperienced Saints line-up, often having to play above his size.
He showed his ability to rack up disposals against the Bombers in round 14, registering 28 disposals and taking nine grabs.
Sydney swans – luke parker
The 22-year-old midfielder enjoyed another stellar season in 2015 before succumbing to a foot injury in round 20.
Averaging 26 disposals per game, Parker’s skills and footy nous were matched by his courage and hard running.
west coast eagles – brad sheppard
The West Coast Eagles’ back six has been integral in their rise up the ladder in 2015.
Critical to the Eagles defence, 24-year-old Sheppard has played on small and tall opponents this season and has rarely been beaten.
western bulldogs – dale morris
After suffering a pectoral injury in Round 3, Morris spent eight weeks on the sidelines before coming back into the side in round 13.
The Bulldogs have lost just two games since Morris’s return, highlighting his importance to their defensive structures. His courage and ability to play on bigger, stronger opponents in an undersized backline has been critical to his side’s success.
Who’s your tip to take home the Robert Rose Award as the AFL’s Most Courageous Player? Let us know in the comment box below.
The Most Courageous Player of 2015 will be crowned at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 15. The event will be broadcast live on Fox Footy.