Departing Werribee senior coach John Lamont knows Sam Collins will have the weight of history against him at the JJ Liston Trophy count on Monday night.
The Werribee key defender’s outstanding season has put him at the forefront of discussions on who will claim the VFL’s top individual honour for 2018, but Lamont knows full well how difficult it is for a player in Collins’ role to receive sufficient recognition.
“We know that most of the league best-and-fairest medals tend to be the domain of the midfielder,” says Lamont.
“There are so many possessions in the modern game and more stoppages and clearances.
“You go back through the Liston Trophy and even TAC Cup medallists, and they’re all midfielders. The Brownlow is the same.”
Still, Lamont knows Collins’ extraordinary year puts him well beyond the realm of most standout key-position players.
The former Fremantle defender – who is considered one of the VFL’s most likely candidates to be picked up by an AFL club at this year’s draft – finished the year with an incredible 195 marks, 65 clear of second-placed Marty Hore of Collingwood.
Within that total number, he topped both the contested and uncontested categories (64 and 131 respectively), and he also led the competition for spoils with 126.
Lamont believes such dominance mirrors that of another key-position player who donned the black and gold at the other end of the ground a decade ago and showed the odds could be overcome.
“In 2008, a Werribee player, James Podsiadly, won the Liston Trophy,” Lamont says.
“He kicked 70-odd goals in that particular year, and Sam has probably stopped 70-odd.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the umpires, but he’s had a terrific year, as Pods did back in 2008, when he won by a vote and beat a few of the midfielders.”
Lamont also says the increase in external commentary as the season progressed could help Collins’ voting prospects through the back half of the year.
“He’ll definitely have some standout three-vote games. There’s no doubt about that,” says Lamont.
“We just hope there’s been that increased awareness as the season went on.
“There were a couple of games where we got beaten but he played well, so he might sneak in for one vote there and challenge a couple of the midfielders in the competition.
“We’re hopeful that ‘Collo’ is going to be right up there when the whips are cracking at the tail end of the vote count.”
If not for the Liston itself, Collins is considered a near certainty to secure VFL Team of the Year selection on Monday night and could be one of several Werribee players recognised with that honour.
Forward Josh Corbett has been touted as a strong chance to claim the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the VFL’s most promising young talent but could also come into Team of the Year contention thanks to his 22 goals and 27 contested marks from just nine games.
Tom Gribble could also add to his 2014 selection on the back of a big year in the middle that saw him finish third in the competition for disposals (496) and sixth for clearances (103).
“Tom Gribble has had a good year through the midfield, as have Michael Sodomaco and Kurt Aylett. They’ve been really good players for us,” says Lamont.
“Josh Corbett’s numbers were really good before his injury, so it’ll just depend on whether they’re judging over the course of the whole year or whether he is looked upon favourably for his nine games.”