Coach David Teague, who replaced Brendon Bolton through the season, said Cripps had elevated his game.
” ‘Crippa’ is exceptional. To have won three John Nicholls Medals at just 24 is amazing. He now puts himself alongside some of the club’s best and he thoroughly deserves that,” he said.
“He is just such a competitor who works tirelessly to get his job done week in and week out. He sets the standards for our group and works to get the best out of not only himself but the whole group. It’s exciting for us to think that he has only just played 100 games and we think his best footy is still ahead of him.”
We think his best footy is still ahead of him.
Carlton coach David Teague
Cripps finished equal third in the Brownlow Medal count, including three best-afield performances and 13 votes after five rounds. In a year when the Blues had only one win through the opening 11 rounds before finishing the season strongly under Teague, the midfielder’s ability to dominate was shown in that he finished only seven votes behind Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe.
He averaged 28 disposals, 17 contested possessions, nine clearances and six tackles, while also booting 13 goals.
His excellence was recognised by his peers when he claimed the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player for the first time, and was an All-Australian for the second year in a row.
The hard-nosed Curnow thrived when shifted back into the midfield at the season’s mid-point, averaging 23 disposals, five tackles and five clearances.
“He is a real asset to our club, not only as a player but as a person. Lachie [Plowman] had a break-out year at AFL level and really showed off his ability to intercept the ball. He is an integral part of our defensive group. To finish third in the vote count is a fantastic reward for him,” Teague said.
Emerging star Sam Walsh polled in more matches than any of his teammates, earning votes in 21 of a possible 22 matches, to finish fourth. This capped off a fine season where he was voted the AFL’s Rising Star.
JOHN NICHOLLS MEDAL
Patrick Cripps 143 votes
Ed Curnow 138
Lachie Plowman 134
Sam Walsh 125
Levi Casboult 116
Jacob Weitering 110
Liam Jones 95
Marc Murphy 88
Kade Simpson 87
Sam Petrevski-Seton 68
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.