TLA’s Marcus Bontempelli has been lauded for his outstanding Home & Away season in 2021, voted AFL Player’s Association’s MVP and Best Captain as well as being recognised with his fourth All-Australian blazer (2016, 2019, 2020, 2021).
The Western Bulldogs skipper was the runaway MVP winner in the peer-voted system, claiming the Leigh Matthews Trophy with 1176 votes, well clear of Carlton’s Sam Walsh (426) and Gold Coast’s Touk Miller (411).
Bontempelli was also voted Best Captain in the league, becoming just the third player in 40 years to win both awards in the same season – joining Michael Voss and Chris Judd.
“It’s very humbling to be seen this way by the competition, and by my peers,” Bontempelli said.
“It’s also an honour to be in the company of previous winners who’ve also had some special seasons.”
“I couldn’t really do it without the football club, and without my teammates, who make the game and being a football player as enjoyable as it is.”
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The accolade caps off a remarkable week for Bontempelli, who was also named Vice-Captain in the AFL’s All-Australian team.
Fellow TLA players Tom Stewart (Geelong, Back Pocket), Bailey Dale (Western Bulldogs, Half Back), Zach Merrett (Essendon, Wing) and Tom Hawkins (Geelong, Centre Half Forward) were also named in the team.
Defender Stewart was named in the side for the third time in his five-season career (2018, 2019, 2021), a distinction no other current AFL player can lay claim to. A rightly deserved acknowledgement for the 28-year-old, who was named in Geelong’s best in 15 of the 20 games he played during the home and away season.
A maiden blazer for Bailey Dale, the Bulldog’s forward-turned-defender was recognised after his revolutionary switch from attack to defence paid dividends for the Dogs in 2021. Named on the half-back flank, he averaged 24.5 disposals, 528.5 metres gained, and 5.3 rebound 50s while travelling at an average disposal efficiency of 80.3%
Bombers ball-magnet Zach Merrett was named on the wing, awarded the honour for the second time in his career (2017, 2021). The ultra-consistent Merrett has gone from strength to strength in 2021, ranking inside the league’s top 10 for disposals, effective disposals, inside 50s and goal assists.
300+ gamer Tom Hawkins was named in the team’s forward line for the third consecutive year, and the fourth time in his career (2012, 2019, 2020, 2021). The 33-year-old ended the home-away-season with a second-place finish in the Coleman Medal with 54 goals and was ranked fifth in the competition for total goal assists.
Hawkins’ all-round dominance can be highlighted by the fact he was ranked the number one player in the game for forward 50 ground ball gets, marks inside 50, marks on the lead and fifth for tackles inside 50. He also recorded career-highs for hit-outs and clearances and is on track to break his career-best haul for disposals over the Cats next two games.
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