By CAMERON SMITH
Aspley made the finals for the fifth time in a row but it could be a somewhat different Carl Herbert Medal to previous years on Friday night.
With four-time winner, Matthew Payne, missing a month of football this year the floor is now wide open for a new club champion. Dismiss Payne at your peril though, with the two-time NEAFL MVP winning the last three counts.
It would be an incredible effort for Payne to win his fifth, with a number of players having consistent seasons for the Hornets in 2017.
We take a look at the top contenders for the Carl Herbert Medal.
This year’s NEAFL representative had one of his most consistent seasons, giving Toye a great chance of winning this season’s Carl Herbert Medal. Toye was constantly named in their best players, before injuring his finger and being unable to play in the last minor round match as well as the Elimination Final against Sydney University.
Defining game – Round 3 v Gold Coast: Toye’s most influential game came in Round 3, when the Hornets fell 14 points short of the Suns in a thrilling contest at South Pine Sports Complex. Toye led the Hornets midfield with two goals, 1 disposals and seven clearances.
New recruit Daniel Joseph will be another strong contender for this year’s medal, partiular after his sensational last half of the season. The 23-year-old, who also played in the representative side against Tasmania, was invited to the NAB AFL State Combine, hoping to find his way on to an AFL list. A Carl Herbert Medal win would put his name on the mature-age AFL Draft radar.
Defining game – Round 10 v Canberra: Joseph was also consistently named in the best players for Aspley, with one of his better games coming against Canberra in Round 10. Joseph had a season-high 28 disposals and polled eight NEAFL MVP in a dominant display in the nation’s capital.
Hornets stalwart Gavin Grose produced one of his best seasons of his career in 2017 when the inspirational defender was named the NEAFL Team of the Year and representative captain. Known for locking down the opposition’s best forwards, Grose can also float forward or pinch-hit in the ruck, adding an ‘X-Factor’ status to his game.
Defining game – Round 12 v Sydney: Other than the NEAFL Representative game against the Tasmanian State League, Grose’s best game was against the minor-premiers Sydney in Round 12. Despite losing comfortably, Grose was very solid in defence with 21 disposals and 6 rebounds against a quality Sydney Swans outfit.
ONE TO WATCH
Despite missing a fair chunk of the season, Payne still had the most number of votes from Aspley in this year’s NEAFL MVP count. Payne was also named on the interchange of the NEAFL Team of the Year, proving that you cannot discount him from winning his fifth Carl Herbert Medal.
Defining game – Round 2 v Canberra: Matt Payne showed his class in Round 2 against Canberra. The Hornets finished 68-point winners, thanks mainly to a Matthew Payne master-class in the middle. Payne finished with 33-disposals, eight clearances, nine tackles and a goal, being awarded with the full 10 MVP votes for his effort.
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