The 2022 SBF AFL Awards

As Carlton fans around the world struggle to comprehend the emotional roller coaster they were subjected to over the weekend, the AFL home and away season comes to a close with eight teams now set to vie for the flag. Over the year, we’ve seen a number of new and old stars excel to embed themselves in award races, with the SBF accolades slightly different to your traditional AFL awards. From Defensive Player of the Year to the Fantasy MVP and everything in between, here are the award winners from 2022!

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Rookie of the Year

Winner – Nick Daicos
Podium Place – Nic Martin, Josh Gibcus

No surprises here, Collingwood’s first-year phenom Nick Daicos will waltz to victory as the Rookie of the Year with daylight finishing second. Leading his team in effective disposals and uncontested possessions, only Toby Greene back in 2012 averaged more disposals as a rookie, with Daicos’ 26.0 touches per game good for 31st in the AFL. Numbers aside, the younger Daicos brother provided Collingwood with a classy ball user off the halfback line, with his versatility allowing Collingwood to swing him through several different positions. They’ve found one for the future in Nick Daicos.

Coach of the Year

Winner – Craig McRae
Podium Place – Justin Longmuir, Chris Scott

Sticking with the Collingwood theme, first-year head coach Craig McRae takes out the honour as the best leader in 2022. Having inherited a playing list with plenty of question marks, McRae galvanised the group and led them on an unprecedented 10-game winning streak in the back half of the season, culminating in a top-4 finish. From 17th to 4th is a massive single-season turnaround and Fly deserves a ton of praise for getting them there.

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner – Sam Taylor
Podium Place – Tom Barrass, Steven May

Emerging as perhaps the premier defender in the AFL, Sam Taylor had another stellar season for the Giants. The case could be made for Tom Barrass or Steven May to finish in pole position, however, Taylor’s defensive exploits saw him lose just 13.9% of his defensive one-on-ones while finishing second overall for total spoils and intercept marks this season. I’d hate to imagine what GWS’ backline would’ve looked like without him, and with Phil Davis either retiring or entering the final chapter of his career, Taylor is now the king of the back six for the Giants.

Offensive Player of the Year

Winner – Tom Hawkins
Podium Place – Shai Bolton, Christian Petracca

Finishing among the league leaders for goals, goal assists and score involvements, Tom Hawkins is more than deserving of the Offensive Player of the Year title. The powerhouse Geelong forward produced another epic season in the front half of the ground, 10 times finishing the game with the most goals for his side. Hawkins’ impressive ability to set up his teammates saw him register 26 goal assists on the season as well, with Christian Petracca (28) the only player with more. Petracca was his biggest threat for this award, leading the AFL for inside-50’s this year, but I can’t go past the Tomahawk.

Most Improved Player

Winner – Tyson Stengle
Podium Place – Keidean Coleman, Will Brodie

Having kicked just 15 goals in his career prior to 2022, Tyson Stengle thrived for the Cats and, in my eyes, is the clear pick for this award. Finishing the season with 46 majors, the third club is proving to be the charm with Stengle firmly in the mix for an All-Australian blazer after reviving his AFL career. Having played every game this season, Stengle gave Geelong another dynamic threat in front of goal in a forward line that already boasts the likes of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron and he’s shaping up as an important player for the Cats in September.

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The All-Australian Teams

There’s always an argument about which players should make the All-Aus cut each year, so why not create two teams to make sure the worthwhile players get some recognition?

First Team
FB: Jack Sinclair, Sam Taylor, James Sicily
HB: Adam Saad, Tom Barrass, Sam Docherty
C: Josh Daicos, Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluggage
HF: Shai Bolton, Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins
FF: Tyson Stengle, Charlie Curnow, Charlie Cameron
FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Andrew Brayshaw
INT: Christian Petracca, Mark Blicavs, Touk Miller, Patrick Cripps

Second Team
FB: Tom Stewart, Steven May, Nick Daicos
HB: Bailey Dale, Paddy McCartin, Angus Brayshaw
C: Sam Walsh, Tom Liberatore, Will Brodie
HF: Mabior Chol, Peter Wright, Connor Rozee
FF: Bailey Fritsch, Tom Lynch, Isaac Heeney
FOLL: Jarrod Witts, Callum Mills, Rory Laird
INT: Lance Franklin, Daniel Rioli, Marcus Bontempelli, Brayden Maynard

While all 44 players included in these teams are worthy of their place, there were a few that were tough omissions from the first side. I ended up rewarding Tom Barrass for keeping West Coast’s backline afloat all year with Steven May the unlucky one demoted to the second team. Missing a handful of games also cost the likes of Tom Stewart and Rory Laird from pushing for first-team honours and once again spots in the midfield were highly sought after. In the end, I gave Neale, Brayshaw and Oliver the first team slots, but you could make the case for Mills to push his way into the first team, or for Cripps/Touk to promote themselves from the bench and enter the starting 18. Players like Chad Warner, Jordan Dawson, Luke Davies Uniacke and Josh Kelly were the toughest omissions, failing to crack the rotation in either of the All-Aus teams.

Goal of the Year

Winner – Jamie Elliot Rd. 19
Podium Place – Sam Draper Rd. 18, Josh Daicos Rd. 19

Let’s be honest, Jamie Elliott’s goal after the siren probably won’t win the Goal of the Year award this season, but it deserves to. Both Sam Draper and Josh Daicos’ goals seem like better contenders for the award, however, the theatre behind Elliott’s match-winner and the narrative of the 2022 Magpies makes it hard for me to go past this epic snag. It wasn’t like this kick was a run-of-the-mill set shot either, with Elliott’s clutch heroics one of, if not THE highlight from this season.

Mark of the Year

Winner – Mitch Lewis Rd 4
Podium Place – Will Hoskin-Elliott Rd 8, Toby Greene Rd 19

I found it bloody tough to find a clear winner from this year’s Mark of the Year candidates. There are quite a few contenders, but no clear standout that will steal the majority of the votes. It’ll be hard to go past Mitch Lewis’ juggling hanger from Round 4 against St Kilda though. Using Ben Paton as a stepladder, the Hawks forward nearly snagged the ball with his left, before bringing it down with his right hand to complete the spectacular grab. Most importantly, even though the game was all but over, Lewis went back and kicked the goal to earn extra brownie points.

Fantasy Player of the Year

Winner – Rory Laird
Podium Place – Andrew Brayshaw, Callum Mills

Over the course of the 2022 season, I’ve been tallying the votes for the SBF Fantasy MVP award using a 5-4-3-2-1 voting system. Votes are given out based on the highest scorers in each individual game with Rory Laird pacing the way for all players finishing on 62 votes. Despite missing the first two matches of the year, Laird polled in 18 of his 20 games to beat out Andrew Brayshaw and Callum Mills who tied for 2nd on 55 votes. My personal votes aside, Laird recorded the highest average of all fantasy players by a solid margin and still managed to finish 5th in total points. You can check out the entire SBF vote count using the link below.

2022 SBF AFL Fantasy MVP

MVP

Winner – Andrew Brayshaw
Podium Place – Jeremy Cameron, Clayton Oliver

It remains to be seen whether Andrew Brayshaw can become the second Dockers player ever to take home a Charlie, but there’s no denying his outstanding season was a catalyst for Fremantle’s success. Emerging as one of the best two-way midfielders in the entire league, Brayshaw’s coming out party saw him finish 6th for total disposals, 5th in tackles, 1st in fantasy points and 4th for pressure acts. Playing in all 22 games, Freo’s captain in the making never registered fewer than 20 disposals and remained consistent throughout the entire campaign, steering the Dockers to their first final appearance since 2015. Even though Jeremy Cameron and Clayton Oliver deserve to be in the conversation, Brayshaw has earned the title of MVP this year.

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