Dustin Martin is on the verge of significant VFL/AFL history.
No player, prior to Saturday’s Grand Final, has ever won three Norm Smith Medals.
Four players have won two medals: Hawks duo Gary Ayres (1986 and 1988) and Luke Hodge (2008 and 2014), Adelaide’s Andrew McLeod (1997 and 1998) and Martin (2017 and 2019).
But Martin heads into Saturday’s Grand Final against Geelong with the odds in his favour.
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Richmond is a $1.85 premiership favourite, according to PointsBet, while Martin a $5 favourite to claim a record third Norm Smith Medal.
Outside of Saints great Lenny Hayes’ BOG performance in the drawn 2010 Grand Final, the past 14 Norm Smith Medallists have come from the winning team.
And most of the winners over the past 20 years have been midfielders that have drifted forward and hit the scoreboard — a trait that’s helped Martin claimed his two medals over the past three seasons.
However Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield is right in the mix, with his time ability to play forward and hit the scoreboard turning into an invaluable asset for Geelong. In fact most of the 24 Fox Footy experts that were surveyed picked Dangerfield to win the medal.
And don’t rule out the defenders either, particularly those with strong rebounding and intercept ability. Both the Cats and Tigers are blessed in those areas.
Foxfooty.com.au analyses the best Norm Smith Medal contenders for the 2020 Grand Final.
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The favourite — Dustin Martin ($5): An unprecedented third Norm Smith Medal would sure cement Martin’s status as the great finals footballer ever. And he’s every chance to win it considering his recent form, polling 18 of a possible 20 votes in the Gary Ayres Best Finals Player award for the past two games. Martin has been solid without being outstanding in his past few games against Geelong, including in last year’s preliminary final win where he kicked two goals from 22 touches. But as we’ve discovered, no player lifts for the big stage better than Martin.
Best roughie — Shai Bolton ($19): One of the league’s most improved players this season — a status that was emphasised during the most recent Richmond-Geelong clash. Bolton was given three Brownlow Medal votes after finishing with 18 disposals, 11 contested possessions and six tackles. His role has changed significantly since his 2019 Grand Final appearance, where he contributed one goal and 11 disposals in the win over the Giants. Add his two-goal semi-final haul against St Kilda into the mix and it’s no wonder why the likes of Dermott Brereton and Nick Riewoldt are tipping him to win the Brownlow.
Best outsider — Dylan Grimes ($41): If the gun defender is allowed to play on his own terms on Saturday, watch out. While he didn’t poll any Brownlow votes the last time Geelong and Richmond played, Grimes was one of the best players on the ground, finishing with 16 disposals, 12 intercept possessions and five intercept marks. We saw how much of an impact intercepting defenders can have on Grand Finals in 2013 when Brian Lake played the game of his life against Fremantle. How much Patrick Dangerfield plays in Geelong’s forward 50, though, could determine how accountable Grimes has to be.
The others: Bachar Houli ($13) has been a bridesmaid to Martin in the Tigers’ two recent flags and must be a chance, with his ability to rebound and drive the Tigers forward crucial in the 2017 and 2019 triumphs. Shane Edwards ($23) is the kind of player that could break a game open within the space of a quarter, as few players in the game have the ability to bring teammates into the game to hit the scoreboard like he does. Dion Prestia ($13) and Kane Lambert ($29) should also be considered, although you feel they have to hit the scoreboard to give themselves a chance.
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The favourite — Patrick Dangerfield ($6.50): Of the 24 Fox Footy experts asked for pre-game predictions, seven tipped Dangerfield to be best on ground in his first Grand Final. You can understand why, considering his recent form spending more time in the attacking arc. Since the Round 17 loss to Richmond, Dangerfield has kicked eight goals and averaged six inside 50s from four games. His work inside the forward half has given the Cats an exciting dynamic — and a dynamic the Tigers haven’t had a good look at. Dangerfield has had some big games against Richmond in the past, but primarily as a midfielder. And he’s every chance to be as damaging as a forward on Saturday.
Best roughie — Tom Stewart ($23): Missed out on All-Australian honours for a third straight season after missing a few games due to injury, but the gun Cat is back in All-Australian form. Since Geelong’s Round 15 bye, Stewart has averaged 21.7 disposals, 446.8m gained, 8.0 marks (2.5 intercept) and 7.5 rebound 50s while going at 81.7 per cent efficiency by foot. Stewart has also been one of the Cats’ best finals performers over the past three seasons — despite the club’s poor record — and played well against Richmond in his past four games. If the game becomes wet and scoring hard to come by, Stewart will undoubtedly come in to calculations for best on ground honours. Cam Mooney has picked him to win.
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Best outsider — Gryan Miers ($81): A genuine outsider — but one that could surprise the Tigers and many punters. Miers’ good games have really stood out this season, hence his Brownlow votes against Hawthorn and North Melbourne. He’s had three games where he’s booted three or more goals and looked ominous in the forward half. The cheeky omen here is that Miers knows what it takes to step up on Grand Final day, punctuated by his ridiculous seven-goal haul in the 2017 TAC Cup grand final that inspired the Geelong Falcons to a thrilling victory. One to keep an eye on …
The others: Mitch Duncan ($15) comes into the Grand Final as one of the most in-form players. He’s polled 19 of a possible 20 votes in the Gary Ayres Best Finals Player award for the past two games and had over 100 ranking points in all three finals. Duncan’s odds have shortened as the week has progressed, with three Fox Footy pundits — including Bulldogs champion Bob Murphy — tipping him to win the Norm Smith. Joel Selwood ($23) could be set for a big game too. He was colossal in his side’s qualifying final loss against Port Adelaide. Cam Guthrie ($17) polled well in the Brownlow, but does he have the Norm Smith Medal ‘traits’? Gary Ablett ($19) does …
NORM SMITH MEDAL 2020 PREDICTIONS
7 — Patrick Dangerfield
4 — Dustin Martin
3 — Mitch Duncan
2 — Shai Bolton, Tom Hawkins, Bachar Houli
1 — Shane Edwards, Cam Guthrie, Dion Prestia, Tom Stewart
NORM SMITH MEDAL VOTES FOR 2020
A five-person panel will determine the winner of the Norm Smith medal, voting on a 3-2-1 basis.
The judges are Leigh Matthews (chairperson), Lauren Arnell, Malcolm Blight, Damian Barrett and Peter Ryan.
The Norm Smith Medal cannot be shared between two players. In the event of a tie, the tie is broken as follows:
— Number of three votes received
— Number of two votes received
— If still unbroken, votes cast by the chairperson will break the tie
NORM SMITH MEDAL WINNERS LIST
1979: Wayne Harmes (Carlton)
1980: Kevin Bartlett (Richmond)
1981: Bruce Doull (Carlton)
1982: Maurice Rioli (Richmond)
1983: Colin Robertson (Hawthorn)
1984: Billy Duckworth (Essendon)
1985: Simon Madden (Essendon)
1986: Gary Ayres (Hawthorn)
1987: David Rhys-Jones (Carlton)
1988: Gary Ayres (Hawthorn)
1989: Gary Ablett (Geelong Cats)
1990: Tony Shaw (Collingwood)
1991: Paul Dear (Hawthorn)
1992: Peter Matera (West Coast Eagles)
1993: Michael Long (Essendon)
1994: Dean Kemp (West Coast Eagles)
1995: Greg Williams (Carlton)
1996: Glenn Archer (North Melbourne)
1997: Andrew McLeod (Adelaide)
1998: Andrew McLeod (Adelaide)
1999: Shannon Grant (North Melbourne)
Here are the past 20 winners and how they’ve performed …
2000: James Hird (Essendon, midfield/half-forward) — 2 goals, 29 disposals (13 contested), 7 marks, 10 inside 50s, 6 clearances and 199 ranking points
2001: Shaun Hart (Brisbane, midfield) — 23 disposals (12 contested), 5 inside 50s and 124 ranking points
2002: Nathan Buckley (Collingwood, midfield) — 1 goal, 32 disposals (12 contested), 9 inside 50s, 8 clearances and 177 ranking points
2003: Simon Black (Brisbane, midfield) — 1 goal, 39 disposals (25 contested), 9 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 9 clearances and 194 ranking points
2004: Byron Pickett (Port Adelaide, midfield/half-forward) — 3 goals, 20 disposals, 9 inside 50s, 11 running bounces and 138 ranking points
2005: Chris Judd (West Coast, midfield) — 29 disposals (17 contested), 5 inside 50s, 11 clearances and 114 ranking points
2006: Andrew Embley (West Coast, midfield/half-forward) — 2 goals, 26 disposals, 6 marks, 6 rebound 50s, 4 rebound 50s and 154 ranking points
2007: Steve Johnson (Geelong, half-forward) — 4 goals, 23 disposals, 9 marks (6 inside 50), 6 inside 50s and 140 ranking points (second-most)
2008: Luke Hodge (Hawthorn, half-back) — 1 goal, 26 disposals (11 contested), 9 marks, 5 tackles, 7 rebound 50s, 8 spoils and 155 ranking points (game-high)
2009: Paul Chapman (Geelong, half-forward/midfield) — 3 goals, 26 disposals (10 contested), 8 inside 50s and 146 ranking points (game-high)
2010: Lenny Hayes (St Kilda, midfield) — 1 goal, 32 disposals (13 contested), 12 tackles, 5 clearances and 174 ranking points (game-high)
2010 (replay): Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood, midfield) — 29 disposals (10 contested), 11 tackles, 6 clearances and 87 ranking points
2011: Jimmy Bartel (Geelong, midfield/half-forward) — 3 goals, 26 disposals, 6 marks and 95 ranking points
2012: Ryan O’Keefe (Sydney, midfield) — 28 disposals (12 contested), 15 tackles, 7 clearances and 109 ranking points
2013: Brian Lake (Hawthorn, full-back) — 22 disposals (11 contested), 10 marks (7 intercept), 5 rebound 50s, 9 spoils and 104 ranking points
2014: Luke Hodge (Hawthorn, midfield) — 2 goals, 35 disposals (10 contested), 12 marks, 5 spoils and 137 ranking points
2015: Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn, forward) — 2 goals, 4 goal assists, 14 disposals, 12 marks (five inside 50), 308m gained and 107 ranking points
2016: Jason Johannisen (Western Bulldogs, half-back) — 33 disposals, 9 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 7 intercepts, 7 marks, 7 score involvements, 876m gained and 92 ranking points
2017: Dustin Martin (Richmond, midfield) — 2 goals, 2 goal assists, 29 disposals, 22 contested possessions, 9 score involvements, 6 clearances and 150 ranking points
2018: Luke Shuey (West Coast Eagles, midfield) — 1 goal, 34 disposals, 19 contested possessions, 9 clearances, 8 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 8 score involvements, 663m gained and 168 ranking points.
2019: Dustin Martin (Richmond, midfield) — 4 goals, 2 goal assists, 22 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 8 score involvements, 372m gained and 137 ranking points.