AS Port Adelaide prepares to crown its 2020 club champion at next Thursday’s Best and Fairest count, portadelaidefc.com.au looks at the contenders to take home the John Cahill Medal.
How the voting works: Following the completion of each game, the panel of Senior Coach Ken Hinkley, Senior Assistant Michael Voss, each player’s respective line coach and General Manager – Football Chris Davies cast their votes. Each player’s performance is rated between 0-5, with a maximum of 20 and minimum of zero votes awarded per player, per game.
John Cahill Medal Contender – Tom Rockliff
Tom Rockliff joined Port Adelaide with a reputation as an accumulator with an insane knack of finding the football.
His career with the Power began in a similar fashion, gathering more than 25 disposals in 21 of his first 33 games for the club, however, in 2020 the former Lions captain reinvented himself as a hard-nosed defensive marshal at the stoppages.
After being dropped following an unsatisfactory showing in the Round 5 loss to his former side, Rockliff returned to Port Adelaide’s line-up in Round 9 and was a mainstay there on in thanks to his unrelenting tackling pressure.
While he still finished top two for disposals per game at Alberton – his 22.8 per contest narrowly eclipsed by reigning best and fairest Travis Boak’s 22.9 – he laid 23 more tackles than any other Port Adelaide player and won the third most clearances and contested possessions despite missing three games.
Across the competition he ranked second for tackles per game (6.3 – rated elite) and fourth for total tackles, while still a respectable 18th for disposals per game and maintaining his reputation amongst the AFL Fantasy community ranking ninth in score per game (90.3 – rated elite). His 20.8 pressure acts per contest also rated him in the elite category.
The shelves of his new home in Adelaide are decorated with best and fairest accolades from his time with the Lions, so Rockliff is a proven vote-getter on the night of nights, having finished seventh in last year’s count despite missing time due to injury.
Could his team-first attitude and steadfast dedication to playing his role in a winning side see Rocky add a John Cahill Medal to his collection of Merrett-Murray Medals?
Three of the best:
Round 9 vs Melbourne
Rockliff returned to Port’s side with a vengeance as they faced Melbourne at his old stomping ground. He matched his desire for the ball (21 disposals) with his hunt for the man (10 tackles) and played a critical role in the whitewash victory.
Round 10 vs Western Bulldogs
Rockliff was the barometer in Port’s win over the Bulldogs – its first at Adelaide Oval since returning from the Gold Coast Hub. His 15 tackles and 23 disposals set the tone for an important win to reward the club’s loyal supporters.
Round 18 vs Collingwood
Back at his old playground at the Gabba, Rockliff helped Port Adelaide secure its fourth McClelland Trophy and complete its remarkable stand atop the AFL ladder for the entirety of the season. The 30-year-old collected 30 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal to take some blistering form into his first finals series.