Throughout the 2017 AFL season, the AFLCA will shine a spotlight on the most outstanding players of each week.
Round 17 saw the top eight squeeze get even tighter, with six players rising above the pack to earn a perfect score from the coaches. Essendon’s Zach Merrett, Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield, Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingard, Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom, Sydney’s Lance Franklin and West Coast’s Shannon Hurn all tallied 10 votes, with Dangerfield’s gutsy performance meaning he retains a nine vote lead over Richmond’s Dustin Martin in the 2017 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award after Round 17.
Merrett continued his ascent to elite midfield status, with another huge performance in Essendon’s 61-point thrashing of St Kilda. The young Bomber tallied 37 disposals, 10 tackles and six clearances, with the win keeping his side’s finals hopes alive.
Dangerfield couldn’t be stopped, even on one leg, as the Cats fought out a three-point nail biter to get the four points against the Hawks. ‘Danger’ overcame what appeared to be a serious first quarter foot injury to provide a spark up forward for Geelong. It was quality over quantity, with his 20 disposals yielding five goals (and six behinds), to go along with 12 marks as the Cats snuck into second place on the ladder.
Wingard delivered an excellent performance for Port Adelaide, as they defeated North Melbourne by 70 points. The versatile forward made the most of his increased time in the midfield, collecting 30 disposals, six clearances to go along with three goals as the Power boosted their percentage, and remained in the top four.
Sidebottom ran amok in the Collingwood midfield, as they held on to defeat Gold Coast by 15 points. The classy ball-winner finished with 32 disposals, five clearances and a goal to help the Pies to their sixth win of the season.
Franklin proved to be the X-factor for the Swans in an absorbing Sydney derby that saw them defeat the Giants by 13 points. ‘Buddy’s’ 18 disposals, eight marks and four goals helped Sydney secure their ninth win from their last 10 matches, and has them well-placed to secure a finals berth.
Hurn lead from the front to guide the Eagles to a vital 30-point Western Derby victory. The West Coast skipper earned the Ross Glendinning medal for best afield, with his 34 disposals, 14 marks and eight rebound-50’s crucial to overcoming the Dockers, and keeping the Eagles in eighth spot on the ladder.
A summary of the 2017 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award votes from Round 17 can be seen below: