Werribee forward Josh Corbett has been recognised for his outstanding first half of 2018 by being awarded the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the VFL’s most promising young player at Monday night’s JJ Liston Trophy Count at Crown Palladium.
Despite playing just nine of a possible 18 games, the 22-year old beat an impressive field of candidates that included Collingwood defender Marty Hore, Essendon speedster Nick Hind, Footscray midfielder Will Hayes, and Williamstown midfielder and eventual JJ Liston Medallist Michael Gibbons, becoming the first Werribee player to win the award since Michael Barlow in 2009.
Corbett said he was surprised to even be in contention for the award after not playing since Werribee’s round 12 win over Frankston due to a serious eye injury sustained in that game.
“It was a bit of an interesting sort of year,” Corbett said.
“Injury shot me down a bit towards the middle of the year, but I’m definitely very honoured and humbled to receive the award and looking forward to what could happen in season 2019.
“I thought with nine games, I’d be no chance of [winning], but at the end of the day, I’ve been lucky enough to walk home with an award.”
Corbett finished with impressive totals off 22 goals and 68 marks from his nine game, which at the time of his injury placed him fourth and third on the respective VFL leaderboards.
Among his 68 marks were a whopping 27 contested marks, a figure eclipsed only by teammate Sam Collins at round 12 and which still had Corbett comfortably among the top 10 contested marks in the competition by season’s end.
Previously known as the Fothergill-Round Medal before a name change this year to acknowledge Brownlow Medallist and four-time Hawthorn premiership player Sam Mitchell, the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal has long been regarded as a barometer for future AFL prospects.
The previous 12 winners of the award have all gone on to be drafted, with Richmond premiership midfielder Kane Lambert (2013) and Melbourne livewire forward Bayley Fritsch (2017) among the more recent success stories.
Corbett acknowledged his victory was a promising sign, particularly on the back of his selection as the only VFL player to receive an invitation to trial at the AFL Draft Combine in October, but said he wouldn’t be getting ahead of himself.
“There’s never any guarantee with anything, so it’s just a matter of me putting my best foot forward, and if something presents itself, I’ll grab it with both hands and see how I go,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of getting myself as fit as I can. Hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
Corbett was one of three Werribee players acknowledged on the night, with Sam Collins and Tom Gribble named at centre half-back and rover respectively in the VFL Team of the Year.
Perhaps more notably, Collins followed the lead of midfielder Matt Hanson from last year in finishing third in the Liston Trophy count, storming home after a surprisingly quiet start to finish on 16 votes, three behind joint winners Gibbons and Richmond’s Anthony Miles.
The key defender’s presence at the pointy end of the field in the race for what has typically been regarded a midfielder’s medal is testament to his influence through a season that yielded a whopping 195 marks, 64 more than any other player in the competition.
Gribble’s place in the Team of the Year midfield alongside Gibbons and Geelong VFL captain Tom Atkins sees him add to his 2014 selection and is fitting reward for a season that saw him finish third in the competition for total disposals (496) and sixth for clearances (103).