Star Swan Swoops to PIP Fyfe to Alfca’s Top Player Award
Sydney Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery has come from behind to pip Nat Fyfe by one vote and win the AFL Coaches Association player of the year award.
Hannebery, who was named in the 40-man All Australian squad on Tuesday, has enjoyed his finest season with the Swans and needed seven votes in the final round to clinch the award.
He was rewarded with those votes after racking up 32 possessions, nine clearances and eight inside 50s against Gold Coast.
An All Australian in 2013 and premiership player in 2012, the recognition from the game’s coaches stamps Hannebery as one of the best midfielders in the game after lifting his average disposals (30.3), clearances (4.55) and contested possessions (11.1) to career highs.
The 24-year-old said it had been his most consistent season and returning from the summer break in better condition had been the key to his improvement.
“I was challenged at the end of last season to come back in good condition (because) I’d probably play a bit more inside as opposed to just wing,” Hannebery told Fox Footy.
“I made a commitment to really make the most of that six weeks before we got back and come back in reasonable shape.
“That’s half the battle. If you come back in reasonable shape then you can just get on with training and look to improve.
“(The award) is something you do hold in high regard because you respect the coaches and they’re extremely knowledgeable people who know a lot about the game.”
Hannebery trailed Fyfe by 39 votes at the end of round 13 but he polled 16 votes in the final two rounds to become the seventh different winner of the award in seven years.
His chase was aided by the fact Fyfe, who is the Brownlow Medal favourite, missed four of the last six games because of injury and did not poll a vote after round 13.
Hannebery also missed out on votes in five of his last eight games, but his 40-possession game in round 18 netted him 10 votes and cut Fyfe’s lead to just 15.
It is the second year Fyfe has finished runner-up after Port Adelaide midfielder Robbie Gray won the 2014 award with 111 votes to Fyfe’s 95.
AFLCA Champion Player of the Year top 10
1. Dan Hannebery (Syd) 101
2. Nat Fyfe (Frem) 100
3. Josh Kennedy (Syd) 87
4. Matt Priddis (WC) 75
5. Andrew Gaff (WC) 74
6. Todd Goldstein (NM) 73
7. David Mundy (Frem) 73
8. Sam Mitchell (Haw) 69
9. Scott Pendlebury (Coll) 67
10. Patrick Dangerfield (Adel) 65