THE 2021 AFLW best and fairest will be crowned on Tuesday night at the W Awards.
There will be five different events held simultaneously across the country – the Gabba, the SCG, Crown Palladium (Melbourne), Adelaide Oval and Optus Stadium – with six awards presented on the night.
>> The 2021 W Awards will be shown live on Fox Footy as well as simulcast in a two-part broadcast on womens.afl, the AFLW Official App, AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App
Darcy Vescio will be formally recognised as the leading goalkicker, the Four'N Twenty AFLW Mark of the Year and the rebel AFLW Goal of the Year will be named, the NAB AFLW Rising Star crowned and the All-Australian team confirmed.
Then, all attention will turn to the big one – just who will be named best and fairest?
A reminder, last year's winner Maddy Prespakis is ineligible due to suspension.
ELLIE BLACKBURN (Western Bulldogs)
Ave. 19.6 disposals, 351.9m gained, 4.1 inside 50s, kicked five goals
The Dogs skipper is expected to get off to an absolute flier in the votes, having set the competition alight in the first three rounds. A strong ball-winner with a powerful burst of speed, Blackburn was particularly dangerous around stoppages and streaming towards goal. Her incredible output slowed somewhat as the season progressed, but she was still first overall for average inside 50s and fifth for metres gained.
BRITTANY BONNICI (Collingwood)
Ave. 23.3 disposals, 311.5m gained, 9.4 contested possessions, 5.5 marks
Bonnici managed to have yet another breakout season in 2021, taking her hard-running midfield game to a new level. She found plenty of the footy and covered the ground with ease, running both ways and helping out the defence on numerous occasions. Her form tailed slightly as the season progressed, and she will have to share votes with Brianna Davey and Jaimee Lambert.
KIARA BOWERS (Fremantle)
Ave. 21.1 disposals, 318.5m gained, 11.0 tackles, 6.5 clearances
The Dockers' midfield bull is hot favourite for the AFLW best and fairest, having already banked the AFLCA player of the year award in her trophy cabinet. Bowers also finished a close second in the AFLPA Most Valuable Player count. She was consistently Fremantle's best player and is unlikely to have too many other teammates polling, and her elite stoppage work (the numbers above speak for themselves) means she has often been under the umpires' noses.
Ave. 23.8 disposals, 11.6 contested possessions, 4.8 clearances, kicked six goals
Davey already has the AFLPA Most Valuable Player award under her belt this year, and is expected to put in a strong showing on Tuesday night. The Collingwood co-captain started the season comparatively slowly to the rest of her matches, but was a level above after the halfway mark of the year. She may have to share Collingwood's votes with fellow midfielders Britt Bonnici (see above) and Jaimee Lambert, while Chloe Molloy and Ruby Schleicher may also bob up for a few.
Ave. 23.5 disposals, 387.6m gained, 4.5 clearances, 6.0 tackles
Marinoff has had a career-best year in an already decorated CV and the sheer ground she is covering from stoppages has been a big factor. The Crow has found plenty of the footy and her kicking has been dangerous, with Adelaide's high-scoring game in part down to the supply she produces. Will have to share votes with Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips, which could affect her final tally.
Ave. 23.9 disposals, 385.3m gained, 5.6 clearances, 5.1 tackles
Parker has been far and away GWS' best player this year, and shouldn't face much opposition from teammates for votes. She's had a consistently strong season and has dominated around the stoppages, sending the Giants into attack with her long kicking. Parker's form was recognised with second place in the AFLCA player of the year award.
Ave. 23.9 disposals, 360.1m gained, 4.9 tackles, 3.8 clearances
St Kilda probably hasn't won enough games for Patrikios to win the AFLW best and fairest, but she still should feature heavily in the count. The silky mover was comfortably the Saints' best player this year, finding plenty of the footy and carrying the midfield with four-quarter performances. She got better and better as the year progressed, and should finish strongly.
Others expected to feature:
- Anne Hatchard (Adelaide)
- Erin Phillips (Adelaide)
- Ally Anderson (Brisbane)
- Karen Paxman (Melbourne)
- Emma Kearney (North Melbourne)
- Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne)
- Monique Conti (Richmond)
Ineligible due to suspension:
- Maddy Prespakis (Carlton)
- Jenna Bruton (North Melbourne)
- Emma Swanson (West Coast)
- Aliesha Newman (Collingwood)
- Tarni Evans (GWS)
- Vivien Saad (North Melbourne)