GARY ABLETT FIRST CAT TO GO 'BACK TO BACK'
By Ben Jensen (In London) GARY ABLETT JUNIOR has won the AFL Players' Association MVP award for the second year in a row. Ablett, who placed sixth in last year's Brownlow medal behind winner and Geelong midfield teammate Jimmy Bartel, won by nearly three hundred votes from Hawk Coleman Medallist Lance Franklin and Brownlow favourite Kangaroos Brent Harvey. Joel Selwood, in just his second year placed sixth behind Chris Judd.
Speaking on the night, Ablett said "This is a massive honour as it is voted on by my peers. It means a huge amount to me that the players that I play against each week have voted for me and it is very humbling to win this award. While this is an individual award, there is no way that I could be in this position without my team mates and the coaches at Geelong and I want to thank them for everything they have done for me, not only this season but over my time with the club".
Gary's father (Gary Senior) won the award back in 1993, during which he kicked 124 goals in just 17 games. This season, including finals, Gary has played 19 games for a return of 262 kicks, 281 handballs, 24 goals, 89 tackles. Brownlow votes are yet to be allocated. Only new Lions coach Michael Voss, disgraced former Roo Wayne Carey and two time Brownlow medallist Greg Williams have won the award twice previously.
In other major awards, Tom Harley was named best skipper in the AFL, Brisbane's Jonathan Brown most courageous (possibly for standing up to Leigh Matthews), while Freo Docker Rhys Palmer was a shock winner of the best first year player award, beating Hawk Cyril Rioli.
Best Captain Votes
Tom Harley Geelong 141
Chris Judd Carlton 103
Brett Kirk Sydney 80
Jonathan Brown Brisbane 57
Adam Simpson North Melbourne 40
Robert Rose Award for Most Courageous Player Votes
Jonathan Brown Brisbane 137
Brett Kirk Sydney 127
Joel Selwood Geelong 87
Luke Hodge Hawthorn 56
Matthew Richardson Richmond 50
Best First Year Player Votes
Rhys Palmer Fremantle 252
Cyril Rioli Hawthorn 167
Trent Cotchin Richmond 80
Austin Wonaeamirri Melbourne 30
Harry Taylor Geelong 21