The number of NSW origin players in the AFL will increase by three when Giants ruckman Matt Flynn and Swans mid-field duo Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden make their debuts in round 1 of the 2021 season.
Matt Flynn, who has waited 1944 days for his AFL debut, will have former school-mate Jacob Hopper in the mid-field with him at the opening bounce against St Kilda at Giants Stadium.
The pair went to school together at St Francis College in Leeton where Matt was a boarder and Jacob’s father, James was in charge of the boarding school.
St Francis de Sales Regional College has become a beacon for AFL in the MIA producing a steadily growing number of AFL listed players in recent years including Jacob Townsend now at the Gold Coast Suns along with in recent years, Kurt Aylett (GWS/Essendon)
Matt’s family live in Narrandera where he played junior and senior football before transferring to the Giants in 2016 after being drafted #41 in the 2015 national draft.
Both Braeden Campbell and Erol Guilden played in the Sydney Premier league last season: Braeden played for Pennant Hills while Errol was a member of the UNSW-Eastern Suburbs team that lost to Sydney University in the grand final.
There are now fifty-one players from NSW on AFL club lists in season 2021.
GWS Giants have the greatest number of True Blues with 13, followed by the Swans (10), Carlton have five, while Adelaide have four, and Hawthorn three NSW players.
The only clubs not to have players from NSW on their list are Essendon and North Melbourne.
The winner of the NSW Player of the Year award each year receives the Carey-Bunton Medal that honours the two greatest NSW players of all time, Wayne Carey and Hadyn Bunton.
Dual North Melbourne premiership player Carey grew up in North Wagga and played 272 games for the Kangaroos and the Crows from 1989-2004, while triple Brownlow Medallist Bunton was from Albury and played 208 games across the VFL, WAFL and SANFL from 1931-1945.
The votes of the AFL Coaches Association provides a credible and valid voting system to determine the winner. Each coach votes on a 5,4,3,2,1 basis after each home and away game and the votes are aggregated.
Last year’s winner Tom Hawkins of Geelong, who also won the Coleman medal for being the competition leading goalkicker, is expected to again to be a strong contender for the award.
The NSW State of Origin team will also be selected at the end of the season.
Following on from the resounding success of last year’s selection of the NSW Greatest Team Ever, the NSW AFL History Society has launched two new annual awards to recognise the Best Player in the AFL and the selection of a State of Origin team from players in the AFL.
Society president Ian Granland OAM said, “The inauguration of these awards will add to the rich tapestry of the history of football in NSW, that is this year, celebrating its 140th year”.
“This initiative has been driven by our Patron, Richard Colless AM, who has secured the support of the AFL Coaches Association for the voting structure for the Best Player and the Daily Telegraph to publish the tally board of the votes each Wednesday, starting today”.
“There are currently forty-nine players from NSW on the lists of the clubs in the AFL. The Giants have the greatest number of players with twelve. Hawthorn are next with six, while the Swans have five. There are only three clubs without NSW origin players” Granland added.
The winner of the NSW Player of the Year award will receive the Carey – Bunton Medal that honours the two greatest NSW players of all time.
The votes of the AFL coaches is highly respected and will provide a credible and valid voting system to determine the winner. Each coach votes on a 5,4,3,2,1 basis after each home and away game and the votes are aggregated.
Meanwhile, Colless has confirmed the addition of two of the players selected in the Greatest Team, Wayne Carey and Mark McClure, will join the selection panel. Carey was named as captain of the team.
The cornerstones of last year’s selection panel for the Greatest Team, Mike Sheahan and Gerard Healy have agreed to stay involved. Colless will be the convenor and History Society vice-president Rod Gillett will be the non-voting secretary.
“I’m delighted to have Wayne and Mark join the panel. All of the selectors are currently active in the media and have a very close view of all games in the AFL each round” Colless said.
“To have the very strong support of the AFL Coaches Association for the Player of the Year award is really a reflection of the status that NSW now enjoys in the AFL landscape. I want to thank the CEO Mark Brayshaw and his staff for their commitment to this award.”
“It is a highly respected award for which the votes are aggregated and available weekly” added Colless.
Votes after round 3 are:
Isaac Heeney (SS) 19 (9 votes Syd v NM);
Harry Perryman (GWS) 13 (3 votes GWS v WB);
Isaac Smith (HAW) 8 (8 votes Haw v Rich);
Jarrod Witts (GCS) 8 (8 votes GCS v Ad);
Dane Rampe (SS) 6;
Jacob Townsend (ESS) 4;
Luke Bruest (HAW) 3;
Jacob Hopper (GWS) 2;
Todd Marshall (PA) 2.
The AFLCA award was instituted in 2004 and it is our intention to award the medal retrospectively to all the winners 2004-2019. Some of the previous winners will include Brett Kirk, Lenny Hayes, Taylor Walker, Kieran Jack, and in 2019, Zac Williams.