Sandover Medal front-runner Jye Bolton has played down his chances of winning at the Sandover medal at tonight’s count, instead tipping Perth’s Clinton Jones, Subiaco’s Christ Phelan and Peel’s Matt De Boer to fight it out.
Bolton has had an outstanding season for Claremont and is widely expected to finish among the top vote-getters.
But he was modest when asked whether he expected to finish near the top of the leader board.
“We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not expecting anything, that’s for sure,” Bolton said.
Awarded to the league’s best and fairest player each season since 1921, the Sandover is the WAFL’s equivalent to the AFL’s Brownlow medal.
Sports journalists John Townsend and Dale Miller both said Bolton was a front-runner and was likely to challenge Jones for the medal.
“They’re just prolific players, get a lot of the ball, have a significant impact for their teams, just good footballers in good form,” Townsend said.
Townsend said he expected Bolton would get the nod because he as “the best player in the competition”, while Miller said the Claremont star’s strong finish to the season had made him the deserved favourite.
“Results over the last four, five, or six years show you don’t have to be in a side that makes the finals to win the Sandover,” he said.
“[Bolton’s] rightly the favourite.”
WAFL commentator and dual Sandover medal winner Peter Spencer also tipped Bolton and Jones to finish at the top of the leaderboard.
Others who are expected to challenge for the award include Fremantle player Matt De Boer, who played 15 games for the Thunder this year, and West Perth’s Shane Nelson, whose season was book-ended by injuries.
Miller said De Boer would probably fall short because he played in the AFL in the final round of the seasons.
“The thing that’ll stop him is that he did play some AFL, and in particular, he missed the final round of the WAFL home and away season because he played in the AFL,” Miller said.
“He could easily get pipped, but he was outstanding.”
Miller also said South Fremantle’s Ashton Hams would likely lead the poll until the middle of the count, when he was forced to miss several games through injury and suspension.
“He’s one that could’ve won it,” Miller said.
West Perth’s 2014 Sandover medal winner Aaron Black is also expected to poll well, but is ineligible to win the award because of a tribunal sanction.
The count will be held at the Perth Convention Centre.