Gary Ablett Back in Brownlow Frame
When Gary Ablett left Geelong to join the Gold Coast Suns, many would have thought his days of winning the big individual awards were behind him.
However Ablett is now being talked about as a serious contender to win his second Brownlow Medal, and former winner Gerard Healy believes the Suns skipper is every chance.
“History is against him winning it in a team with so few wins, but he’s a genuine contender now,” Healy said.
In his time with Geelong Ablett was regularly among the Brownlow medal favourites, however after his move north many wiped him from individual award calculations.
But Ablett showed he is still a force to be reckoned with by racking up 34 possessions and kicking three goals in the Suns weekend loss against Fremantle.
This season the former three time winner of the League’s MVP award has averaged 30.5 possessions and 1.2 goals per game. Those numbers stack up against any he accumulated in his time with the Cats.
However history is against Ablett winning this year. Shane Crawford in 1999 was the last player to win the Brownlow for a club that finished outside the eight. The last player to win the Brownlow with a team that also received the wooden spoon was Hawthorn’s Col Austen in 1949.
Leading AFL media commentator Mike Sheehan believes Ablett faces an uphill task because umpires are less likely to give players from the losing team votes.
“I think now its swung subtly from when it was the best player in the game to being the best player in the winning team – that’s the worry for Ablett,” Sheehan said.
“His team was beaten by 50 points on the weekend but most neutral observers thought Ablett was best afield and would get the three votes.
“He had 40 possessions against Adelaide in round eight and kicked four goals. Now that gets you three votes, I don’t care what the match result is. I think we need to be mindful of what the individual does, rather than who he is.”
However while playing in a losing team is not going to help anyone poll Brownlow votes, last years winner Chris Judd did pick up three votes in a match last year where Carlton were beaten by 50 points.
Gold Coast assistant coach Ken Hinkley believes Ablett is in better form now than he was when he won the Brownlow Medal in 2009.
“He’s probably better because of where he’s doing it. There’s not as much free ball these days. We don’t dominate in that area like Geelong did when he was there,” Hinkley said.
“I think he’s playing as well as any time I’ve seen him. I just marvel at his ability week in, week out to play at such a high standard.
“His enthusiasm to play each week and compete, regardless of the scoreboard, is amazing. He just keeps wanting to go and get the ball.”