WITH five or six games remaining the race for ladder positioning is starting to heat up. As the weekend’s results filter in and the ladder is sent into flux, another tight race is unfolding in the AFL. A few players have put their hands up this season as serious Brownlow Medal threats, but the door remains still remains wide open. One of these players could hit their stride and storm into medal contention if things fall their way and some of them are more underrated than others.
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Shaun Higgins, North Melbourne Kangaroos
OK fine. This one doesn’t really classify as a dark horse after Higgins’ sparkling season so far. Having the best year of his career, North’s midfielder maestro is moving his way into serious contention. Throughout the first two-thirds of the Kangaroo’s season Higgins has been leading the charge and if they can sneak into September action it will only enhance his Charlie chances.
Andrew Gaff, West Coast Eagles
CONSIDERING West Coast has already won 12 games (maybe even 13 by the time you read this) they will have a fair share of votes coming their way this year. With goalkicking guns Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling on the sidelines, Gaff helped to keep the Eagles afloat and for sure, he will benefit from a lot of umpires attention. As the big names return, he seems to only be getting better and I would be surprised if he didn’t at least place inside the top-5. Bonafide star.
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Max Gawn, Melbourne Demons
SOME might not classify Max Gawn as a smokie for the Brownlow, considering his outstanding 2018 to date. After shrugging off injury woes from a season ago, Gawn has battled his way to a likely spot in the All-Australian side. Averaging over five hitouts a game more than any other ruckman, Gawn is on track for an all-time season when it comes to hitouts. Melbourne’s big man isn’t just hitting the ball to advantage, he is averaging a career-best 16.7 touches per contest while plucking almost five marks each time out. Regardless of their final ladder position, the Demons’ icon should poll well this year.
Clayton Oliver, Melbourne Demons
IF Gawn doesn’t snare a share of the votes, then they will likely be going Clayton Oliver’s way. In recent weeks Oliver has launched himself into contention with some monstrous performances. Currently, he leads the league in total handballs and has averaged 32.8 disposals during the last seven outings. Melbourne has a formidable run home, but don’t expect the fiery Dee to slow down. Underestimate him at your own risk.
Jack Riewoldt, Richmond Tigers
SOMEONE from Richmond has to poll votes right? Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin will no doubt hear their names called once or twice, but don’t surprised if Jack polls better than any of his teammates. Riewoldt has been everywhere for Richmond in recent times and even though his numbers aren’t eye-popping he has a huge impact on the contest. If he can catch a bit of fire we could see a late-season bolter.
Jack Macrae, Western Bulldogs
THE only thing that can hold Macrae back from seriously accumulating a lot of votes is the Dogs record. That and a hamstring twang that cost him three games during the middle of the year. Aside from that, Macrae has hardly put a foot wrong averaging the third most disposals in the entire league. He seems set to finish like a wrecking ball though and even if Footscray can’t grind out W’s, their star midfielder might force the umpires to give him some acknowledgement.
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