Young Collingwood superstar Nick Daicos is still widely tipped to create history on Monday night and win the Brownlow Medal in just his second AFL season.
But after a stunning first half of the year where he became a runaway favourite, the chasing pack has now dramatically closed.
In Round 21 Daicos was tagged out of the game by Hawthorn’s Finn Maginnes and disastrous news followed when it was revealed he suffered a hairline fracture in his right knee that would rule him out for the next six weeks.
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Collingwood also lost in Round 20, while in Round 19 they won by just two points against Port Adelaide – however, the 20-year-old is unlikely to factor in the votes in that game either.
It all means votes will be very scarce for Daicos in the last six games of the season – he may gets one in the Round 20 loss to Carlton – and the door has suddenly swung right open for others to jump through.
As Daicos wobbled, Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli roared, thundering home with some spectacular games to make him the outright second favourite with most bookmakers.
Nick Daicos is still the Brownlow favourite despite not playing in the final few rounds. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
It will be no surprise to see Bontempelli near the top of the leaderboard when the whips are cracking.
He was runner-up in 2021 with a whopping 33 votes (Ollie Wines won with 36), was seventh in 2016, seventh in 2017, and joint seventh (with teammate Jack Macrae) in 2019.
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When is the Brownlow medal?
After a topsy-turvy few years with COVID, including a Sunday night event, the Brownlow is back to normal again in 2023.
The count will take place on Monday, September 25 from 7pm AEST.
Watch Brownlow night
Seven’s exclusive, live and free coverage will begin at 7pm AEST on Channel 7, 7mate and – for the first time on all devices – 7plus.
7AFL commentator Hamish McLachlan and 7NEWS Melbourne’s Rebecca Maddern will be your hosts for the night direct from Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
And the festivities will kick off with the Brownlow Medal’s famous Red Carpet.
All the glitz and glamour from the Red Carpet will be brought to you by hosts Abbey Gelmi, former AFL star Dale Thomas and Emma Freedman.
Head here to watch Brownlow night live and free on 7plus
You will also be able to catch the action on 7NEWS.com.au as we bring you all the action and pics in our live blog.
Daicos v Bontempelli v the field
Unlike previous seasons when ‘the Bont’ has shared the spotlight with his highly respected midfield teammates, this year he is clearly the Western Bulldogs’ best player.
That could spell danger for Daicos.
The only thing working against Bontempelli is his team’s performance, with the ‘three votes’ traditionally going to a player in the winning side.
The Dogs only banked 12 wins for the year, whereas other contenders play for top-four teams.
Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and Brisbane’s Lachie Neale are all considered strong chances with bookmakers.
Neale is a favourite with umpires, too, winning the medal in 2020 and coming a close second (he was only one vote behind the winner) last year.
Butters polled 17 out of a possible 20 votes in the last two rounds to take out the Coaches’ Association champion-player award.
Zak Butters is another young superstar in the Brownlow mix. Credit: Getty Images
Daicos had led the voting on 99, seven ahead of Butters, after round 22.
The Magpies utility missed the last three games because of his knee fracture and is in a race against time to be part of Collingwood’s finals series.
Butters, 22, had a breakout year, named an All-Australian for the first time and taking out the Coaches’ Association Champion Player Award (based on votes from the competing coaches of each game).
In those awards it should also be noted that Bontempelli moved past Daicos towards the end, and Petracca and Neale weren’t far behind.
Others to keep an eye will be Adelaide’s Jordan Dawson and Sydney’s young dynamo Errol Gulden.
Like Butters, Gulden had a breakout season which earned the 21-year-old his first All-Australian blazer.
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Nick Daicos $2.80
Marcus Bontempelli $3
Zak Butters $5.50
Christian Petracca $7
Lachie Neale $13
Errol Gulden $51
Tim Taranto $51
Jordan Dawson $67
Connor Rozee $81
Toby Greene $101
Brownlow favourites by team
Jordan Dawson, Rory Laird, Taylor Walker, Ben Keays, Izak Rankine
Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley, Joe Daniher, Hugh McCluggage, Charlie Cameron
Charlie Curnow, Patrick Cripps, Adam Cerra, Sam Docherty, Nic Newman
Nick Daicos, Jordan De Goey, Tom Mitchell, Josh Daicos, Scott Pendlebury
Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish, Nic Martin, Kyle Langford, Mason Redman
Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw, Luke Jackson, Luke Ryan, Hayden Young
Jeremy Cameron, Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Stewart, Gryan Miers, Tom Hawkins
Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Jack Lukosius, Touk Miller, Sam Flanders
Toby Greene, Tom Green, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Jesse Hogan
James Sicily, Jai Newcombe, Will Day, Conor Nash, James Worpel
Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw
Luke Davies-Uniacke, Nick Larkey, Harry Sheezel, Jy Simpkin, Bailey Scott
Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, Jason Horne-Francis, Dan Houston, Ollie Wines
Tim Taranto, Dustin Martin, Shai Bolton, Daniel Rioli, Dion Prestia
Jack Sinclair, Rowan Marshall, Brad Crouch, Jack Steele, Callum Wilkie
Errol Gulden, Chad Warner, Luke Parker, Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney
Tim Kelly, Luke Shuey, Oscar Allen, Dom Sheed, Andrew Gaff
Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar, Tim English, Bailey Smith
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