Who will win the 2019 Brownlow Medal?

Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale are right up there in Brownlow reckoning.
Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale are right up there in Brownlow reckoning.

FORMER teammates Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale headline a crowded field of contenders for what is shaping to be the closest Brownlow Medal count in years.

With two rounds remaining, 2015 winner Fyfe is favourite again to take out the AFL’s most prestigious individual award.

Bookmakers rate the Fremantle skipper a $3 chance, ahead of Brisbane star and former Dockers midfielder Neale who is hovering between $4.50 and $5.

Geelong duo Patrick Dangerfield and Tim Kelly, Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps and Western Bulldogs gun Marcus Bontempelli are the other leading contenders.

The lack of a clear favourite at this point in the season is something that hasn’t been seen for several years.

Each of the previous three winners – Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell, Richmond’s Dustin Martin and Dangerfield – were short-priced favourites.

Martin, in particular, was at unbackable odds before storming to a record 36-vote total in 2017.

Last year’s count threw up several surprises.

Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw wasn’t even invited to the black-tie function but he polled 21 votes to finish third.

Runner-up Steele Sidebottom also polled considerably better than expected.

Fyfe’s chances this year are helped because he is unlikely to have particularly strong competition from teammates.

Michael Walters started the year in excellent form but has dropped off somewhat and has never been a prolific vote-getter.

Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko could pinch votes from Neale, while Dangerfield and Kelly both look certain to poll well.

Cripps astonishingly polled 20 votes in a Carlton side that won just two games last year.

But with notable exceptions – Gary Ablett, for one, in an eight-win Gold Coast side in 2013 – the Brownlow is typically won by players whose teams play finals.

The Blues have six wins this year and it is hard to see Cripps polling strongly in the first half of the season when they battled under former coach Brendon Bolton.

GWS spearhead Jeremy Cameron leads the Coleman Medal tally with 58 goals, six clear of North Melbourne’s Ben Brown and Geelong’s Tom Hawkins.

The AFL has tinkered with rules in a bid to boost scoring but the glory days of a 100-goal season remain a distant memory.

Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt won the honour last season with 65 majors and a similar haul is likely to be enough this year.

Riewoldt booted five goals in round 23 to secure the 2018 honour, and Cameron could also fill his boots given the Giants’ last game is against lowly Gold Coast.