The All-Australian team and most of the major AFL individual award-winners will be announced on Wednesday night, with the footy world to celebrate and honour the game’s best players.
The AFL, in conjunction with the AFL Players’ Association and AFL Coaches’ Association, will host the 2023 AFL Awards at Centrepiece in Melbourne, with coverage of the awards show to be broadcast on live on Fox Footy from 7pm (AEST).
The night will see Carlton’s Charlie Curnow presented with the Coleman Medal for the second consecutive year after kicking a competition-high 78 goals during the home and away season.
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But there’s ample intrigue around which young gun will be named the AFL Rising Star, as well as who’ll captain the 22-man All-Australian team.
2023 AFL RISING STAR NAMED
North Melbourne rookie Harry Sheezel has claimed the 2023 Rising Star award.
Sheezel, who played all 23 games for the 17th-placed Kangaroos and broke the all-time record for most disposals by a first-year player, finished with 54 votes to claim the title.
He finished ahead of second-placed Will Ashcroft on 39 votes and third-placed Saint Mitch Owens (33 votes).
Sheezel praised the influence of North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson in his winner’s speech.
“It was a crazy start – I wasn’t really expecting to play half back,” he said after winning the award.
“I trust him (Clarkson). He’s obviously got an unbelievable footy brain.
“I think the number one thing is just be yourself, play footy the way you’ve always played footy. He’s instilled so much belief in me, like sending me to half back.
“It’s a lot of trust.”
PROUD DAD REVEALS HOW HE WATCHES GAMES
Adrian Fletcher has revealed how proud he is watching son Jaspa run out for the Brisbane Lions in his debut season.
Jaspa Fletcher, who is a Rising Star nominee, played 11 games in his first season in the AFL.
Dad Adrian, who played more than 230 AFL games, said it was “pretty hard” to be a spectator rather than player.
“To be able to hand the baton over to your son and watch him run out his first game was amazing,” he said,
“I go to the Gabba, hide up the back.
“I try to stay on my own as I don’t want to say something the wrong way where the players are!
“He’s going well, we are proud of him.”
PORT STAR WINS PRESITIGIOUS AWARD
Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters was named the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year for 2023.
Presented his medal by Sam Mitchell, the Hawks coach was full of praise for the 22-year-old.
“As an opposing coach I’ve admired this player’s toughness and skills this season and the last couple to be honest,” Mitchell said.
Butters claimed the award on 109 votes – seven ahead of Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli.
Collingwood’s Nick Daicos was third on 99 votes, just one ahead of Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and eight ahead of Brisbane’s Lachie Neale.
“It’s definitely an honour, coming from the coaches,” Butters said.
“They probably see the game best out of everyone.
“It’s a privilege to be awarded this tonight.”
DAICOS CLAIMS FIRST AWARD OF THE NIGHT
In the first announcement of the night, the Coaches Association best young player award went to Collingwood young gun Nick Daicos.
“I came back very motivated as a group we got training and just got to work,” he said.
“Justin Leppitsch put a lot of pressure on me not to have second year blues!”
Daicos was presented the award by Hawks coach Sam Mitchell.
ROSS THE BOSS COPS AN EARLY BAKE
Outgoing AFL CEO Gil McLachlan took to the stage to open the 2023 AFL Awards and didn’t hold back with his early jokes.
St Kilda coach Ross Lyon was in his sights first.
“Ross the Boss returned to the Saints where he was for a little while at least ‘Happy Ross’ – until we left the roof open at Marvel and he became an expert on precipitation and the difference between mist, light drizzle and a few droplets,” McLachlan said.
Even Magpies star Scott Pendlebury wasn’t spared as he copped another basketball jibe.
“No one in the history of our competition has touched the Sherrin more than Scott Pendlebury,” McLachlan said.
“An achievement that some in the media might say comes down to Pendles’ basketball background – Jay Allen told me that would be funny, I don’t know.
“Apparently the media talk about that a lot.”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON AWARDS’ NIGHT?
The AFL on Monday announced a 44-man All-Australian squad, which will be halved to 22 on Wednesday night.
Footy pundits remain split around who this year’s All-Australian captain should be, with club skippers Darcy Moore (Collingwood), Toby Greene (Giants), Marcus Bontempelli (Bulldogs), James Sicily (Hawthorn), Lachie Neale (Brisbane), Harris Andrews (Brisbane) and Jordan Dawson (Adelaide) all nominated in the squad.
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But Fox Footy experts Jonathan Brown and Gerard Whateley both believe Greene, who’s in line for a third All-Australian blazer after a career-best 60-goal season, should get the honour.
“I thought it was almost a case of Greene or Bontempelli – who would lead their team to finals. And Greene hits all the right legacy markers, as well as it’s been a stirring rise – and the Bulldogs ended up missing the finals,” Whateley told AFL 360.
The 2023 All-Australian selection panel is Gillon McLachlan (chairperson), Eddie Betts, Jude Bolton, Nathan Buckley, Kane Cornes, Andrew Dillon, Glen Jakovich, Laura Kane, Cameron Ling and Matthew Pavlich.
The Rising Star award looms as a four-man race, with Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne), Will Ashcroft (Brisbane Lions), Mitch Owens (St Kilda) and Jye Amiss (Fremantle) all having strong seasons.
While Ashcroft starred for the second-placed Lions, he played just 18 games after rupturing his ACL in Round 19, while Sheezel played all 23 games for the 17th-placed Kangaroos and broke the all-time record for most disposals by a first-year player.
Ashcroft and Sheezel are also eligible to win the Best First Year Player Award, which is one of four AFLPA awards that’ll be handed out on Wednesday night.
The AFLPA gongs are headlined by the Leigh Matthews Trophy for the Most Valuable Player, along with the Robert Rose Most Courageous Player and Best Captain.
The AFLCA’s two awards — Champion Player of the Year and Best Young Player — will also be crowned.
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