Throughout the 2017 AFL Finals series, the AFLCA will shine a spotlight on the most outstanding players of each week.
Week three of the finals series saw Richmond and Adelaide each secure a place in the 2017 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Huge performances from Richmond superstars Dustin Martin and Daniel Rioli earned them eight votes apiece, while the Crows’ Charlie Cameron and Rory Laird polled nine and eight votes respectively from the coaches.
Martin and Rioli were unstoppable for the Tigers, with the former using his trademark ‘don’t argue’ to help Richmond punch their ticket to the club’s first Grand Final appearance since 1982. The Brownlow Medal favourite had 20 disposals as well as three goals, while Rioli broke the game wide open with his sublime skill on his way to 14 disposals, eight inside-50’s and four crucial goals as the Tigers defeated the GWS Giants by 36 points in front of 94,258 at the MCG.
Laird expertly marshaled the Adelaide defence, while Cameron provided the spark in attack that proved to be the difference as the Crows put Geelong to the sword to the tune of 61 points. Laird, the All-Australian halfback, had 32 disposals—at an incredible 90.6 per cent efficiency—to go along with 15 marks, while at the other end Cameron was the livewire as his 19 disposals and five goals helped the rampaging Crows secure a place in their first Grand Final since their 1998 premiership success.
Votes for the Gary Ayres Award are issued after every game of the AFL Finals series by the competing coaches, with each coach providing their 5-4-3-2-1 for the match. The award was first introduced by the AFLCA for the 2016 season, and is named in honour of one of the game’s great finals players.
A summary of the 2017 AFLCA Gary Ayres Award votes from week three of the AFL finals can be seen below: