AA highlight of bumper AFL awards night

The 2020 All-Australian team will be named among a host of individual accolades in a virtual presentation of some of the AFL's major awards on Thursday night.

MARCUS BONTEMPELLI
MARCUS BONTEMPELLI Picture: Racing and Sports

For the first and likely only time, the AFL has consolidated a host of awards to be presented on the same night in a bumper virtual event.

On Thursday night, the league will announce the 2020 All-Australian team along with the Rising Star Award, AFL Players' Association MVP, the AFL Coaches' Association player of the year and Coleman Medal winner.

The presentations are usually held on separate nights during the build-up to the AFL finals series, but have been brought together in a television broadcast in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions on events.

The final make-up of the All-Australian team will be a hotly-debated topic as always.

Reigning premiers Richmond enter this year's finals series as favourites to defend their title and had Dustin Martin, Nick Vlastuin and Dylan Grimes nominated, but are no certainty to have any players picked in the 22-man side.

Ten players picked in the initial 40-man squad - Harris Andrews, Marcus Bontempelli, Nat Fyfe, Max Gawn, Tom Hawkins, Jack Macrae, Lachie Neale, Scott Pendlebury, Patrick Dangerfield and Grimes - could earn selection in consecutive years.

Melbourne defender Steven May and Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy were left out of the squad and will no doubt be joined by other players who miss out on the final 22 that could consider themselves unlucky.

Brisbane midfielder Neale is the hot favourite to claim the two major individual honours on offer on Thursday night.

The prolific accumulator led with 85 votes in the AFLCA player of the year award when voting went in-camera after round 16, with Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak (69) the only player able to catch him.

A maximum of 10 votes are awarded in each game and Neale's stellar final-round performance in Brisbane's win over Carlton will likely put him beyond Boak's reach.

Neale has never previously won the top AFLPA or AFLCA awards.

Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong is a good chance to win the Rising Star honour after he was named the AFLPA's best first-year player this week on the back of an outstanding debut season.

The 19-year-old faces competition from Gold Coast duo Noah Anderson and Izak Rankine, and St Kilda forward Max King.

Suns midfielder Matt Rowell was the firm favourite after a hot start to the year but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in round five.

Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins will be presented the Coleman Medal as the league's most prolific home-and-away goal kicker this season with 42 majors in the shortened campaign.

He is the Cats' first league leading goal kicker since Gary Ablett Snr a quarter of a century ago.