The race to decide the AFL’s Most Valuable Player, as judged by his peers, is nearing completion – with the nominees for the 2014 AFL Players’ MVP Award released this week.
The AFL Players’ MVP remains the only football award decided by those who know the game best: the players. The winner of the Leigh Matthews Trophy will be announced next Tuesday September 9 at Peninsula, Docklands in Melbourne, broadcast live on Fox Footy at 8.30pm.
Players from all 18 clubs have voted internally to elect their three most valuable players in Season 2014.From here, every player in the competition will award a set of three, two and one votes to the three most valuable players from the 17 rival clubs.
In part five of six, our club-by-club look at the shortlist continues with Port Adelaide.
Part one, featuring Adelaide, Brisbane and Carlton can be seen here
Part two, featuring Collingwood, Essendon and Fremantle can be found here
Part three, featuring Geelong, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney can be found here
Part four, featuring Hawthorn, Melbourne and North Melbourne can be found here
PORT ADELAIDE POWER
Travis Boak has been at the forefront of everything the Power has done well since the beginning of 2013. Their relentless, hard-running style of play has been built from the midfield with Boak at the core of it. He ranks among the competition’s elite players stats-wise and is the perfect on-field leader for Ken Hinkley. Multiple suitors from his native Victoria came at the end of his last contract but his allegiance to the Port Adelaide resurgence looks every bit the right decision.
2014 Coaches Association Player of the Year Robbie Gray enjoyed an incredible season. His move from a small-forward to an inside-midfielder has proved to be crucial to the Power building on their resurgent 2013. He hasn’t lost his eye for goal from this switch either; he kicked four majors on four occasions this year and two goals on seven other weekends, making him a worthy winner in the eyes of the competition’s coaches.
Jay Schulz has certainly made the most of being traded home from Richmond at the end of the 2009 season. He’s finished as the club’s leading goal-kicker in four of his five seasons in the teal, black and white, with 2014 his best season yet. Schulz’s accuracy from the set shot had his name up in lights in the early-mid season where he spoke out on just how much he’s worked on his game and his kicking for goal in particular.
Dustin Martin was the key to Richmond’s incredible run to September. His ability to win a one-on-one contest was unrivalled throughout the competition – meaning he’s not just one of the most valuable Tigers, but one of the league’s most dangerous players. He averaged 25 possessions and a goal throughout the year and stepped up his performances once Hardwick’s men had to treat every game as an elimination final in the back-end of the season.
Trent Cotchin responded to some un-warranted criticism of his leadership capabilities with a superb 26-disposal, four-tackle and nearly a goal a game average in 2014. He and the Tigers proved their critics wrong with a record-breaking charge to the finals; captain Cotchin was pivotal in sparking the run of form, with 31 possessions and five goals in a win over the Saints.
Many experts are pushing for an all-Australian selection for key defender Alex Rance. He enjoyed a breakout 2013 and built on that emergence this time around. The Tigers’ emphasis on defence has been regarded as a big reason why they’re involved in the September action, with Rance playing the role as leader. He was rightly lauded for his performance on the star-studded Sydney forward line in the finals-appearance-clinching win.
ST KILDA SAINTS
If Lenny Hayes’ record for the most tackles throughout an AFL career gets broken, that player will be nothing but a joy to watch. Hayes retires without a premiership but as a champion of the game. His loyalty to St. Kilda, through its rise from wooden spoon territory when he was drafted to competition runner-up on successive occasions, was remarkable. He broke his own tackling record in his final game, befitting his non-relenting desire for a contest. The Saints’ huge win over Fremantle just days after he announced his retirement was a highlight of the season.
Nick Riewoldt is another remarkably loyal Saints champion desperately unlucky to miss out on the ultimate prize. The hard-working forward is now involved in nurturing the young brigade at St. Kilda into a team ready to rise up the AFL ladder once more. Riewoldt was kept goalless for the first time in two years in the final round. Highlighting his ability to contribute consistently over a long period, he averaged nearly 10 marks a game throughout the year, with five goals in a great win for the club in the early-season over Essendon just one of a number of highlights.
St. Kilda’s search for key defenders ended with Luke Delaney crossing from North Melbourne. His first season at Moorabbin has been a highly valuable one in the eyes of his new teammates. Delaney provided real fight on the opposition’s best forwards throughout the season and was never badly beaten. Carlisle, Pavlich, Henderson and Cloke are a few of the names he matched it with throughout the year.
The winner of the 2014 Leigh Matthews Trophy will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 9.