Preview: 2018 JJ Liston Trophy

The VFL’s night of nights is almost here, and if the industry whispers are anything to go by, Werribee players could feature heavily among the proceedings. Take a look at the best hopes for the black and gold across the three major awards being presented.


League best-and-fairest awards are notoriously difficult for key-position players to win, but if anyone is in a position to buck the trend, it’s Sam Collins. The former Fremantle defender is clearly Werribee’s best chance at taking home the VFL’s top individual honour thanks to an extraordinary first season at Avalon Airport Oval that saw him top the league marking tally with an incredible 195, a figure that put him 65 clear of second-placed Marty Hore of Collingwood and included a whopping 64 contested marks. Big seasons in the midfield from the likes of Michael Gibbons and Anthony Miles in successful Williamstown and Richmond sides respectively present a significant obstacle, but the Werribee faithful will nonetheless be daring to dream of the chance to celebrate their club’s first Liston Medallist since Ben Ross in 2012.


Having grown an extra name this year in recognition of 2002 Liston Medallist and four-time AFL premiership player Sam Mitchell, the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal recognises the VFL’s most promising player under 23. Despite missing almost all of the second half of the season, forward Josh Corbett has been touted by pundits as a strong contender thanks to his impressive hauls of 22 goals and 27 contested marks from nine games, though he will obviously be relying on heavy weighting on his relatively small sample size of games, which is no guarantee. He will also need to have made a bigger impression on the judges than the likes of Gibbons, Hore, Coburg’s Marcus Lentini, and Footscray’s Will Hayes, who are all considered to be in the mix on the back of outstanding seasons.


Collins is perhaps the closest thing to a certainty Werribee could hope for in the VFL Team of the Year stakes, but he is by no means the club’s only candidate for that honour. Corbett could again come into contention here should the selectors look favourably on his limited appearances, and Tom Gribble’s numbers around the contest could also put him the frame for a spot among the 22. The prolific midfielder collected 238 contested possessions among his 496 total and racked up 103 clearances, placing him fourth, third, and sixth in those respective categories across the league and leaving him well placed to add to his 2014 nomination.

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