2017 Bennett Medal Preview
The 2017 Bennett Medal race is as open as we have seen it in many years, and with so many players in contention for the Division 2 competition's greatest honour, it looms as one of the most exciting counts in years.
SFNL Media has run the rule over the players it tips to feature near the top of the table once the voting is complete.
LIAM WILSON (Murrumbeena)
Without doubt the most influential midfielder in the competition. The addition of the tattooed former St Pauls premiership player transformed the Beena into flag fancies, with Wilson’s Division 1 experience really showing out. A prolific ball-winner, Wilson is an absolute beast in the centre of the ground and his leadership has also been invaluable to the up-and-coming Lions. As a two-time Ellis Medallist, Wilson is a proven vote winner and will no doubt be high up in the final medal tally, however, be wary of his partner in crime, Jake Semmel, pinching votes from him.
TIM WERNER (Keysborough)
Werner has been a revelation for Keysborough this season and a key factor in their ascent up the premiership ladder. Tall, wiry and smart, ‘Burner’ has torched plenty of his opponents with his explosive pace off the mark, and wins plenty of the footy both through the midfield and up forward. Around the big sticks he is particular dangerous, with his superb hands and ability to get to right spots allowing him to impact the scoreboard (he finished the home and away season with 32 majors). A renowned goalkicker and possession winner, Werner is bound to have had the umpires’ attention this season.
ADAM BALLARD (Caulfield)
Another stellar year from the Bears skipper, who contributes week in, week out and is one of the more consistent players in the competition. Not only does the big Brit work hard in the ruck to give his onballers first use, but his ability to win possessions around the ground and contribute at either end is second to none. In short, there is no more accomplished or versatile ruckman in the competition. While he could poll BOG votes in a couple of Bears wins, he will could also pick up multiple 1s and 2s, boosting his tally and ensuring he could be a chance come the pointy end of the count.
JACKSON SMITH (Mount Waverley)
Smith began the year as a bit of an unknown quantity. The teenage speedster polled well in last year’s Flack Medal count, and many were keen to see if he could replicate that form in the higher grade this year. He certainly did. Smith’s line-breaking run and penetrating left foot saw him gain constant metres for his side, a popular statistic in the modern game, and was clearly one of the Mountain Lions best this season. However, while his performances were terrific, the big query is whether or not his side won enough games to ensure he polls enough BOG votes.
PHIL SMITH (Chelsea Heights)
There is no more powerful forward in the competition – in any division – than the Heighters’ premiership skipper. The Big Show kicked more goals than anybody else in Division 2 for the second year running, averaging four per game in 2017, and dominated most of the opponents he played on. Smith showed time and again that he is capable of winning games off his own boot, which will almost certainly lend itself to several three-vote matches, especially given his side didn’t lose too many throughout the year. While Jordy Peryman dominated the voting in 2016, Chelsea Heights had a more even spread of contributors throughout the season, which aids Smith’s chances of featuring up close to the podium.