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The Australian Football League has modified its interchange rule and that leads one to think that a relatively young player is likely to take out the competition’s most prestigious individual honour, the Brownlow Medal.
Australian Rules football is a physically demanding sport and, by reducing the number of interchanges per match from 120 to 90, the Australian Football League has made it even tougher from a cardiovascular perspective moving forward. Australian Football League stars will get fewer in-game breathers and one suspects that may impact negatively on some of the sport’s elder statesmen. For example, three of the top five men in Bet365’s Brownlow Medal market are 30 years or older and many of the players a little bit lower down the list are also into their final few campaigns.
Gary Ablett, Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell are the three thirtysomethings who are prominent in Bet365’s Brownlow Medal market. One has nothing in particular against the Gold Coast, West Coast and Hawthorn superstars but time waits for no man and they feel likes lays in the light of the various Australian Football League rule changes. Patrick Dangerfield is Bet365’s Brownlow Medal fourth favourite but, even though Geelong’s new recruit is 25, he did not rack up big minutes during his eight seasons on Adelaide’s books, at least not compared to many of the Australian Football League’s other gun midfielders. Dangerfield is a champion player who may grow an extra leg now that he is playing for an Australian Football League team close to his home town but one thinks that there are better Brownlow Medal betting options.
Nat Fyfe won last year’s Brownlow Medal for the Australian Football League’s best and fairest player and one would argue that the Fremantle dynamo should be trading at odds shorter than the 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20 that Bet365 is offering. Fyfe polled Brownlow Medal votes in seven of last season’s opening nine Australian Football League rounds and no-one could haul in the Fremantle star even though he missed four of the last half a dozen weeks due to injuries. Fyfe’s 18 Australian Football League matches were the fewest that anyone in the Brownlow Medal’s top 17 votegetters played and he received nine best-on-ground awards – three more than Mitchell and the Josh Kennedy who sports that name for Sydney. Had Fyfe remained fit throughout the entire Australian Football League regular season then he may have finished 10 votes ahead of his nearest Brownlow Medal rival, Priddis. Fyfe earned more Brownlow Medal votes in the first 14 Australian Football League rounds than any of his peers accrued in 23 – each side plays 22 games with one week off as a bye.
Fyfe is the standout Brownlow Medal candidate and it may be a positive for his chances of retaining the prize if his Fremantle coach, Ross Lyon, chooses to deploy him in an advanced position for significant spells of Australian Football League matches. Spending a good chunk of time forward would enable Fyfe to catch his breath without leaving the field and he was an excellent goal kicker throughout his junior career. Fyfe is an Australian Rules football player who makes things happen irrespective of where he is on the ground and he catches everyone’s eye, which is a key requirement of Brownlow Medal chances.
Sydney’s Daniel Hannebery is one’s idea of the chief threat to Fyfe becoming the first player since St Kilda legend Robert Harvey to go back to back in the Brownlow Medal and that was in the late 1990s. Hannebery will turn 25 before the Australian Football League gets under way and he has been thereabouts in the Brownlow Medal on a couple of occasions, including last year when he finished fifth.
The Australian Football League regular season will start on 24 March and run until 28 August, with the Brownlow Medal vote count scheduled to take place on 26 September.
Nat Fyfe to win Brownlow Medal
Starts 24th March
Odds: 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20