However, it was premier ball winner Tom Mitchell who jumped to the top of 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year leader board.
Mitchell stole the show in Hawthorn’s nail-biting, one-point win over Geelong on Easter Monday at the G in front of 73,189 supporters. It was another epic battle between the teams and, while the Cats big three of Ablett, Dangerfield and Selwood impressed, it was Tom Mitchell who took maximum votes from the coaches with a 40 disposal and two goal best on ground performance.
On Thursday night Adelaide rebounder Rory Laird was given the maximum votes from both coaches for his 42-disposal master class. Laird mopped up everything in defence helping the Crows defeat the Tigers in the 2017 Grand Final rematch. Up forward, Josh Jenkins was also vital for the Crows, providing five goals from seven scoring shots and was given seven votes.
Good Friday footy proved a success for North Melbourne, who grabbed their first win of the year in their 52-point smashing of St Kilda. The Kangaroos tall forward line proved too much for the Saints defence and Ben Brown finished with six majors and the ten coaches’ votes.
It was another key forward who was the difference for the Gold Coast as they travelled to Melbourne to take on the Blues. Tom Lynch was awarded all ten votes from the coaches for his dominating performance. Lynch was everywhere on the day, collecting 21 disposals to go along with his eight goals.
For the Giants it was a midfielder who provided a much needed avenue to goal when Toby Greene was a late out before their block buster with the Pies. Stephen Coniglio kicked two of his three goals in a tight final quarter to help the Giants hold on and win by 26 points at the MCG. Coniglio was judged best afield by both team’s coaches with his 27 disposals to go with his three goals.
Despite a late surge from the Lions Melbourne were able hold on and win by 26 points at the Gabba on Saturday night. It was Melbourne’s key forward turned part time midfielder Jesse Hogan who troubled Brisbane the most, earning nine coaches votes for his five goals, nine marks and 22 disposals. Whilst Demons young gun Clayton Oliver provided his regular output in middle of the ground with 35 touches (22 of them contested), earning him eight votes from the coaches.
Fremantle speedster Nathan Wilson and West Coast captain Shannon Hurn were both outstanding in their sides victories over the Bombers and the Bulldogs as they were both awarded the ten votes by the coaches. Wilson had a team high seven rebound 50’s for the Dockers in their first match at Optus Oval, whilst Hurn lead from the front in defence collecting 29 disposals at an impressive 89.7% efficiency rate.
A huge start to 2018 for Tom Mitchell sees him sit comfortably on top of the leader board of the Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year award with 20 of a possible 20 votes. Stephen Coniglio and Rory Laird sit equal second with 16 votes apiece for their consistent performances. Whilst superstars Lance Franklin (15 votes) and Dustin Martin (14 votes) round out the top five.