Fresh faces dominate AFL awards

Brisbane star Lachie Neale took home two prized individual honours from the AFL's awards night as the All-Australian team featured 12 first-time selections.

LACHIE NEALE
LACHIE NEALE Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

A dozen first-time selections have given the AFL All-Australian team a fresh look for 2020 on a bumper night of firsts for the competition.

Brisbane midfield star Lachie Neale took home his maiden AFL Players' Association Most Valuable Player and AFL Coaches' Association player of the year accolades as a host of the game's biggest awards were presented in a one-off broadcast event.

Fremantle young gun Caleb Serong won the Rising Star Award after a stellar debut season and Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins was presented with his first Coleman Medal.

Neale and Hawkins were among the seven players selected in the All-Australian team for the second successive season, including Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield.

Dangerfield equalled the record with his eighth All-Australian blazer and was named captain for the first time, with Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak selected as his deputy.

More than half of the 22 All-Australian players were selected for the first time.

They were Brad Sheppard and Liam Ryan (West Coast), Nick Haynes (GWS), Darcy Moore and Taylor Adams (Collingwood), Luke Ryan (Fremantle), Charlie Dixon and Darcy Byrne-Jones (Port Adelaide), Christian Petracca (Melbourne), Jack Steele (St Kilda), Cam Guthrie (Geelong) and Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs).

Dustin Martin was premiership favourite Richmond's only representative, his fourth All-Australian selection in five years, while West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui was selected for the first time since 2012.

Neale (1120 votes) was a convincing winner of the AFLPA Most Valuable Player award ahead of Boak (419) and Petracca (398).

The same three players filled the podium in the AFLCA champion player of the year award, with Neale (93 votes) again the clear leader ahead of Petracca (78) and Boak (77).

Neale is also the red-hot favourite to take home the Brownlow Medal on October 18 after a stellar season in which he led the AFL for disposals and ranked in the top five for clearances and contested possessions.

Dangerfield said Neale had been the stand-out player in the competition this season.

"He's got that balance between inside and outside play that midfielders aim to strike," Dangerfield said.

"He's tough at the clinches and can also hurt teams with his ball use."

Serong, 19, became the third Fremantle player to win the Rising Star award after Paul Hasleby (2000) and Rhys Palmer (2008).

Midfielder Serong received 48 of a possible 50 votes from the 10 judges to top the poll ahead of Gold Coast's Noah Anderson (39) and St Kilda's Max King (28).